I thought I'd present something colorful for the holiday season so let's take a look at Hasegawa's original 1/72 scale F-15A Eagle kit, number JS-097.
Don't expect the detail of current Hasegawa offerings but the fit of the medium gray parts is typical of most of their products - very good, and my early example appears to be virtually flash-free. Good quality decals are provided for any of the first seven aircraft as delivered in Air Superiority Blue. Adequate drawings are included on the instructions for masking out the orange painted areas.
The kit features the square wing tips and small speed brake of the first F-15 (71-0280) but the later 'sawtooth' horizontal stabs (which I'm not sure were ever actually added to this particular airframe). Except for the recessed outlines of the control surfaces and speed brakes, scribing is delicately raised and generally accurate, with a few flaws such as an incorrect grid pattern on the intake bleed doors and no indication of a refueling receptacle. The main gear wheel spoke pattern is wrong and the gun port is the wrong shape. The two pitot leads on the sides of the nose are missing and the test boom has to be scratchbuilt.
There's no representation whatsoever of the equipment bay behind the seat; in fact, there's a completely fictitious cover molded over the bay area. It would take a lot of work to represent this properly so a closed canopy model is probably your best bet. There's little detail in the cockpit to show off anyway, just a decalized instrument panel and very basic side consoles and bang seat, crude pilot figure, and no control stick.
Four AIM-7 Sparrows and a centerline fuel tank are included, but no underwing pylons or other external stores.
Despite its faults and omissions, the scale, accuracy of outline, and other basics of this kit are generally good, and it's worth searching out if you'd like to add the Eagle's prototype to your collection. Kitbashing with a later Hasegawa F-15 could yield a very nice model indeed.
Until next month, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope Santa leaves lots of plastic under your trees and in your stockings! :)