by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The latest kit from Platz in their 1:72 range is of Japan's first indigenous post war jet fighter the supersonic Mitsubishi F-1. The aircraft was developed from the T-2 trainer, changing as little as possible of the well-proven airframe. The most obvious differences are the replacement of the rear cockpit by a faired-over avionics bay, and an increased weapons capacity.
77 Mitsubishi F-1's were built, entering service with the JASDF in 1977 and finally retiring in 2006
Platz's new kit arrives in an attractive top-opening box, with all the sprues bagged separately. It comprises:
120 x grey styrene parts 10 spare)
9 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
The first thing that strikes you when examining the parts is the sheer quality of the moulding. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this is among the very best-moulded 1:72 kits I've yet seen, with a crispness and finesse that matches (and in some ways surpasses) the output of top Japanese producers such as Tamiya and Hasegawa. There's no flash or sink marks, and ejector pins seem to have been kept well out of harm's way. Surface detail consists of very nicely engraved panel lines and fasteners.
Test fitLogically enough, just as the full-sized aircraft, Platz's F-1 has been designed to accommodate both single- and two-seater arrangements using the same core parts. The fuselage construction is clever, with a separate belly section that both captures the contours and allows excellent surface detail to extend right round the underside. The fit is excellent in the sample kit, likewise the full-span wing top surface that clips neatly into place. Separate lower wing panels stop at the control surfaces, giving really sharp trailing edges. Oddly, the base of the front of the fin is moulded with the fuselage halves, but matches the one-piece fin itself precisely. The stabilisers are nice and thin with, once again, realistically sharp trailing edges.
A few detailsDespite this being a single-seater, the kit uses a tandem-seat cockpit tub you simply don't build the rear office. Ten parts go into the front section, including a nicely moulded seat, control column, and instrument panel with integral pedals. The detail looks good straight from the box perhaps the only obvious omission being a set harness. As often with their releases, Platz will be teaming up with Eduard to offer an etched upgrade set for the kit, so we can look forward to a really detailed office in due course..
The air intakes comprise five parts each with ducting to prevent a see-through look, while each exhaust is built up from three parts with delicate petals and afterburner detail at the base of the pots.
The nose wheel well and fuselage Vulcan cannon are drop-in sections that fit neatly the former showing good depth and detail. The kit has optional open/closed air-brakes, with well moulded interiors. The landing gear is crisply moulded. There are four parts for the nose gear, and seven for each main gear including clear landing lamps. The main wheel wells have some interior detail, but the gear doors close when the wheels are lowered, so there's no point going to town superdetailing.
Seven hardpoints are provided with a choice of stores:
3 x 220 lt drop tanks
2 x ASM-1 anti-shipping missiles
1 x CBLS-200 carrier with four practice bombs
4 x AIM-9L Sidewinder AAMs
A load-out chart is included, along with full painting instructions and stencils for each item.
The kit's transparencies are thin and crystal clear. There's a choice of windscreens (frameless curved, or with a flat centre panel), while the canopy has a separate interior frame. This could be a tad overscale for 1:72, but the proof will be in the building. Either way, be careful to use PVA or similar to attach, or else you risk fogging the canopy.
Instructions and decalsThe assembly guide is well produced with bi-lingual Japanese/English text. It's pretty straightforward to follow, with well drawn and clear diagrams. The construction sequence seems logical although I'd probably fit the canopy parts later. Mr. Colour and Modelmaster paint matches are keyed to most details.
Platz provide markings for 5 aircraft, all sharing the same camouflage scheme and offering some very attractive unit insignia:
1. 247, s/n 00-8247, 3 Sqn. - Late
2. 210, s/n 80-8210, 3 Sqn. - Early
3. 264, s/n 20-8264, 6 Sqn.
4. 238, s/n 00-8238, 3 Sqn. - Early
5. 269, s/n 30-8269, 3 Sqn. - Late
The decals are custom printed by Cartograf and look quite superb. The registration is perfect on the sample sheet, and the items are thin and glossy. There is a mass of stencils for the airframe and weapons, and Platz follow their usual practice of making life easier by combining a number of tiny items into one, easier to apply, decal.
conclusionPlatz's Mitsubishi F-1 is a real beauty of a kit! While it will clearly appeal primarily to the Japanese domestic market, it deserves to be a success everywhere. Recommended.