|Out Of The Box: Revell-Monograms F-117A Nighthawk Whats Not To Like?
By: Steve Filak Sr.
There's little doubt that the F-117A probably received the most publicity of any Coalition aircraft used during the Gulf War. It certainly was an effective aircraft, scoring numerous Air-to-Ground kills on various types of high priority targets, with not a single aircraft lost to enemy action. This owes largely to its design, which by nature is geared around stealth and survivability. From its black color, to its odd profile, the F-117A was purpose built to avoid enemy detection, and that's exactly what it does.
I started building the Revell/Monogram kit just before the Tamiya offering came out, and frankly, I can't understand the hoopla over the Tamiya kit. Sure, it's probably easier to build, but where's the fun in that? Not that I have a problem with Tamiya, mind you, I just can't figure out why everyone is trashing the Revell-Monogram offering.
Construction of this kit started with the cockpit, as usual. Since I was planning on building this kit out of the box for a change, I was pleased to find that the cockpit was very well detailed. In fact, the ACES II seat is one of the best kit seats I've seen yet in 1/48th scale. After painting, the cockpit was attached to the upper fuselage, and construction continued as per the kit instructions. The only problem I really encountered during the entire construction process was the large seam that needed to be filled at the wing/body joint, as well as the seam in the forward fuselage. These were filled with red auto glazing putty (my favorite for filling most seams), and sanded out.
The next step was to attach the profusion of photoetched grilles to the fuselage. These were attached with small amounts of CA, with the intake grilles needing some filing and sanding around the edges to sit down properly.
Painting and Decals:
The canopy, FLIR windows, gear bays, and bomb bays were masked, and the model was sprayed overall Model Master Flat Black. I then made a mixture of white glue and Micro Set, applied it to the areas where the decals would go, and immediately applied the decals over top of the mixture. This eliminated the need to gloss coat the entire model.
Since these planes are usually kept in pristine condition, I decided to keep weathering down to a bare minimum. Using an old T-shirt, I very lightly polished the vertical surfaces and facets of the aircraft to subtly bring out the surface detail. This gave a slight sheen to the facets of the aircraft. The model was finished off by attaching the canopy, landing gear, and GBUs, and a very light dusting of dark gray pastels over the surface.
All in all, the kit only took about 18 hours to build and paint from start to finish, which for me is a new world's speed record. This was a nice change of pace, since I've had a tendency to overbuild the last few kits I've done. Sure, there may be accuracy problems with this kit, but it sure looks like a Nighthawk to me.