Most people - especially those reading Internet Modeler and this article - should know the story of the Lockheed F-117A. It was born under immense secrecy and was kept hidden from prying eyes until its unveiling in 1982. How it was instrumental in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, bombing Iraq with no loss of aircraft. How it was the "go-to-aircraft" when needing to take out a target without anyone none-the-wiser. And how there was one unfortunate incident in Bosnia when one was shot down.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the history of most aircraft, the Wobbly Goblin (being one of the monikers worn by the aircraft) didn't have a long life. It was born after the F-16 and F-15, yet was the first to be taken out of commission. Granted, there are reasons for that, but it is a little sad when an aircraft of its importance is taken out of the inventory.
The Hasegawa 1/72 Lockheed F-117A is actually the second iteration of the aircraft put out by Hasegawa. The first release had accuracy issues so as more became known about the aircraft, Hasegawa re-tooled the model. The new release is not only more accurate, but the latest releases of the kit also comes with a nicely detailed bomb-bay. There are 32 pieces of gray injected plastic for the main airframe, and 37 pieces of white plastic for everything that goes into the bomb-bay, including the bomb-bay itself. There is also a fret of clear plastic containing the main canopy, both top and bottom FLIR covers, gun-sight and nose-gear landing light. Also included in the kit is a nose weight, molded to fit snuggly in the nose of the upper fuselage. There are decals for four aircraft:
- 48th Fighter Wing "Farewell", April 2008, which had the stars-and-stripes painted on the underside
- 49th OG Commander's Aircraft
- 8th FS Commander's Aircraft
- 9th FS Commander's Aircraft
Do I really need to state that all aircraft were primarily painted overall in "black"?
As with most model aircraft, construction starts with the cockpit. There is a three-piece ejection seat (five pieces if displaying the canopy open), a control stick, cockpit tub and instrument panel. To the sides of the cockpit tub and instrument panel are applied instrument decals, providing a decent cockpit if closing the canopy. One aspect not well covered in the kit is the F-117's unique gun sight. For that it's best to look to an aftermarket piece. Before continuing to the next step, you'll probably want to paint the exhaust area since it is all internal.
After the cockpit is assembled then it is added to the lower fuselage half while the nose-weight is added to the upper half. If you're going to display the bomb-bay open, then assemble it with the required parts and glue it to the bottom fuselage half. Now you can glue the fuselage halves together. (Whether you want to add the bomb-bay anyway if you're displaying the bay doors closed is up to you. I can see it both ways - leave it out so you have less to work to do/worry about, but on the other hand, maybe it will provide strength to the assembly - I really don't know.)
The next instruction step has you glue the wing halves together, then glue them and the vertical tail pieces to the fuselage. After you glue the intake covers to the fuselage (which I would prefer to see as etched brass) then you have a complete Nighthawk, ready for painting. After painting is complete, then you add the landing gear and gear doors, and other final pieces making a finished F-117A.
Of all the aircraft models one could pick for ease-of-assembly, nothing is easier than building a Wobbly Goblin in any scale. This 1/72 example from Hasegawa is considered the best in the scale and is truly worth picking up. With the unique markings - especially the 48th FW bird with the stars-and-stripes on the underside - this will definitely make a great addition to your finished model shelves.
Many, many thanks to Hasegawa USA for sending this model to review.