Starting this kit, I decided to do a rough dry fit to see where I was going to have to spend my time. I figured that with a kit like this, if there were going to be fit problems they would either be around the intakes or the wings.
Piecing the cockpit together I was surprised at how sparse it seemed. Not that it lacks detail, but it just doesn’t have that ‘busy’ look of modern cockpits. This is especially pronounced due to the fact that the F-35 doesn’t have a HUD.
Quality reference photos are hard to find – I’ve found some with detail around the top (where the HUD would go) and some as bare as the kit has molded. So I’m still deciding if I want to add any additional detail here or not.
Moving onto the intakes I was shocked to find 2 main issues. Firstly, there are 12 significant ejector pin marks on the inside of each intake – 4 of which are visible when the kit is complete.
These were pretty easily taken care off with a combination of gloop and Mr Surfacer 1200.
The bigger issue though is that there are 2 locating pins inside each intake that are clearly visible:
I get that the shape of the intakes is pretty complex, but internal locating pins is pretty lazy design. Most serious modelers will spend a lot of time on aircraft intakes and any model show judge will shine a light up them to really see what the quality of the build is like. Hell, its the reason why so many companies make aftermarket intakes. Italeri could have easily put locating pins on the other side of the intakes as many other manufactures do.
I decided I had to remove them, but I was going to need to make some new locating pins on the outside. I did that with 4 strips of plasticard and it worked surprisingly well.
Moving on, I took a closer look at the weapons bay and landing gear bay. Each weapons bay has 10 ejector pin marks! The bays have a basic level of detail which makes removing the marks difficult. In fact in the next photo there are 86 ejector pin marks, at least 75 of which will be visible on the finished model.
I’ve got to say, this is excessive. Parts like the weapons bay could have moulded in five parts which would have avoided the need for 10 ejector pins to get the out of the mould. As much as I often think Meng kits are a bit over engineered, Italeri could have taken a leaf out of their book. I personally don’t find anything fun about filling and sanding in awkward places – Italeri should have had a bit more respect for the modelers time.
What also became obvious was that I was going to have to add some detail to these bays. I wanted to build this out of the box, but after looking at some reference photos for the weapons bay the kit just doesn’t do it justice. So using a combination of lead wire and copper wire I built up a few layers of detail. I didn’t go overboard – the weapons sill cover a lot of the detail.
All that is left is to detail paint and weather the bay. Then start the other one.