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Meng Convair F-106A Delta Dart

RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT | MILITARY
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It’s only natural that modelers want better, more-accurate kits with more detail. Meng’s new kit of the U.S. Air Force’s ultimate interceptor, the F-106A, is certainly better, more accurate, and more detailed than the 45-year-old Hasegawa kit. And if it isn’t detailed enough for you, Meng offers finer detail in two resin part sets: No. SPS-022, Cockpit & Electronic Compartment; and SPS-023, Wheel Wells & Exhaust Nozzle.

But let’s get back to the base kit. Meng provides just about every option and equipment change possible on the single-seat Delta Dart, including: two different canopies, the original and blown; two types of ejection seats; two instrument panels and coamings; two types of main wheels; and short and long external tanks. But wait, there’s more: an M61A1 Vulcan cannon; opened or closed weapons-bay doors; raised or lowered infrared detector ball; detailed radar with separate radome; exposed electronics bays with separate covers; intake FOD covers; opened or closed speed brake; separate elevons; and a posable canopy. And that’s not all! You also get a well-detailed weapons bay and extended missile launch rails, a wheeled dolly for the AIR-2 Genie missile, cases for the AIM-4F and -4G Falcon missiles, and even a photo-etched boarding ladder! Decals provide markings for Montana and New Jersey Air National Guard jets and an early F-106 from 539th FIS in 1960.

Whew! All those parts and options make for a complex kit. Generally, fit is good throughout. It is clear Meng’s kit designers knew what they were doing.

But I can’t say the same about the folks who laid out the instructions. Some illustrations are tiny and difficult to see, while others are large and lack information. I had trouble figuring out the locations of the endpoints of the retraction struts for the main landing gear and had to test fit each piece several times before gluing. Also, the presence or absence of the gun pod in the rear of the weapons bay isn’t fully explained; apparently, the New Jersey ANG bird can be built with or without it. Alternate short, front, inner bay doors for the gun-equipped version are shown floating in space in Step 14. Meng doesn’t show where they should be attached; a bottom view of the completed assembly would have been a great help.

The PE boarding ladder is a nice touch, but the illustrations don’t show clearly how the flat etching should be folded. I folded it backward first, and when I corrected it, the fragile rungs fell off. I replaced them with thin styrene rod.

I had trouble fitting the afterburner ring at the back of the nozzle. I sliced a section of the ring out with a razor saw and reinserted the ring for a better fit.

I didn’t install, but did test-fit, the gun pack. The instructions seem to show two squared-off pins fitting into sockets in the top of the missile bay, but there are no sockets. Just slice off the pins.

The landing gear bays, weapons bay, a neat bifurcated intake trunk, afterburner structure, and cockpit all go into the fuselage. If you’ve fit everything precisely, you shouldn’t encounter trouble mounting the wing. However, adding the intake trunk to the wing, then lowering the fuselage over it, went smoother for me.

I thinned the right side of the vertical stabilizer so it fit flush in the cavity on the left side.

I posed everything open, painting the electronics bay in the nose from color photos in F-106 Delta Dart in Detail & Scale by Bert Kinzey (Squadron/Signal, ISBN 978-0-8168-5027-3). I noticed that the cockpit, seat, interior canopy framing, and electronics bay structure on Montana Air Guard birds were painted in a bright light blue, so I mixed enamels for that.

The decals went on fine and looked right. Final assembly included mounting the missile bay doors. The tiny PE hinge scissors were difficult to install between the inner and outer doors. Apparently, the radome of the F-106 was not hinged, so to show off the radar, you need to place it aside. I like the Genie dolly and AIM-4 cases but wish the kit included the stretchers that were used by crews to lift the Falcons into the bay.

In the end, Meng delivers what is probably the best 1/72 scale single-engine jet model ever. I spent 29 hours on mine with everything hanging out. If you choose to close the bays, canopy, and radome, you can do it quicker. But you paid for all that detail — why not show it?

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2016 issue.

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