In the early 1980s, the USAF recognized that a replacement platform
was required for the aging General Dynamics F-111 strike aircraft fleet.
After looking into a variety of alternatives, the USAF selected the McDonnell
Douglas F-15 Eagle to be the platform for the follow-on strike role. Based
on the two-seat F-15B/D, the F-15E Strike Eagle would retain the time-proven
two-man crew configuration in an airframe that could incorporate the latest
in avionics and weapons capabilities.
Externally, the only thing that really distinguishes the F-15E from
its air superiority brothers is the dark grey paint job and different
mounts on the conformal fuel tanks (CFTs). While the F-15C/Ds also have
the CFT, they only have AIM-7 launchers installed, whereas the F-15E CFT
has a variety of weapons store mounts to support a number of weapons capabilities.
Up close, the F-15E back office is a state-of-the-art station with multiple
glass displays for the APG-70 radar, LANTIRN sensor and laser designator
system, and aircraft management systems. The LANTIRN pods mount underneath
the intake trunks, though it is not uncommon to see the F-15E without
the LANTIRNs installed. There are a variety of other differences (strengthened
landing gear, EW sensors, etc.), but while the F-15E is a solid strike
platform, it also retains the air-to-air capabilities of the earlier F-15s.
In Desert Storm, the F-15E proved to be a versatile deep strike platform,
roaming deep into Iraqi airspace to hunt Scuds and other targets of opportunity.
During one such mission, the F-15E crew spotted an Iraqi helicopter below
in a hover. Rather than descend and engage the helicopter with a missile,
the crew fired off the LANTIRN laser designator and rippled off a laser-guided
bomb. A kill is a kill...
For those of us that have long anticipated the release of the
Revell F-15E Strike Eagle in 1/48 scale, the wait is finally over.
It was well worth it, however. "The Eagle has finally landed." The
box art features a Strike Eagle in the markings of Seymour Johnson
AFB on a Scud hunting mission during Operation Desert Storm. Upon
opening the large box you will find five sprues of gray plastic,
along with a sprue of crystal clear transparencies. The moulding
of the parts is nothing short of fantastic, with no flash evident
on any of the parts. The recessed panel lines are very delicate,
and could be the best that Revell has done for a plastic aircraft
kit. But the best thing about this kit is that we finally have an
accurate 1/48 scale kit of the F-15E.
The kit includes the clip-load fairing on the bottom of the fuselage,
along with bulged main wheel well doors molded in the closed position,
which is the correct position when the aircraft is parked on the
ground. The correct stub pylons and long pylons are also included.
None of these items are included in the Hasegawa release, which
is nothing more than the original demonstrator aircraft with the
original wing weapons pylons. The reinforcing plates at the top
of the vertical tails are also scribed onto both vertical tails
in the kit.
The cockpit has fine molded detail, but there is room for improvement
for those that desire to add it. Black Box will be issuing a cockpit
detail set for those that wish to have greater detail in their cockpit.
This should be available around May 1 if my source on this is correct.
You will also find a beautiful set of afterburner nozzles and
control rods all molded in plastic, along with two wing fuel tanks,
and AIM-9L Sidewinder missles. There are no other weapons included
in the kit. However, for the price of this kit, one could go out
and buy a Hasegawa Weapons Set, and still be money ahead. In order
to bring the Hasegawa kit up to production standards, you will have
to purchase a Paragon Productions update set, or do a lot of scratch
building. So for the cost of the Hasegawa kit and an update set,
you could buy two or three copies of the Revell kit and Hasegawa
Weapons Sets, depending on where you purchase these kits.
There is also a stiffener that runs along the horizontal stabilizers
that must be a late modification to the aircraft. Also included
for late model Mudhens is an intake scoop that is not mentioned
in the instructions, but is on the parts tree for addition if the
model you are building needs them. This is particularly true for
aircraft stationed at Lakenheath, England.
The decal sheet contains the markings for two aircraft. The first
is for an aircraft from the 335th TFS of the 4th TFW from Seymour
Johnson AFB that particiapated in Operation Desert Storm. The other
is for the squadron commanders aircraft of the 391st FS of the 366th
FW based at Mountain Home, Idaho. These markings are so complete
that they include the tiger stripes that are painted on the main
wheel hubs. There is also a complete set of stencils for one aircraft
on the decal sheet.
On my kit there was a probe on the left fuselage that had broken
off in shipment. I called Revell for a replacement part and was
told it should arrive in about 10 days. It showed up neatly packaged
in 5 days.
The only negative item that I can find on the kit is that the
horizontal stabilizers are molded attached to the main fuselage.
It would have been nice if we would have been given the option to
place them in other than the neutral position.
When all things are considered, this is a very fine aircraft kit.
I am tempted to call this probably the best aircraft kit that Revell
has ever produced. "The biggest bang for the buck" is definitely
there in this kit.