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Platz English Electric Lightning F6

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/144 scale plastic model aircraft kit
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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A Cold War icon, the English Electric Lightning fighter was all about brute force in an era when speed was king.

Platz has boxed two Lightnings, along with three decal options: one in overall natural metal, one in green/gray camo over natural metal, and one in dark green over natural metal.

As you might expect, construction is fast — just don’t forget to add nose weight. The interior consists of a simple seat, floorboard, and instrument panel. No cockpit decals — not that you’d see them anyway.

Be careful with the rudder and all other flying surfaces — they are razor-sharp and easily bent or damaged. The wings and stabilators are one piece with substantial tabs that aid alignment. The ventral fins are also razor-sharp, but suffer a bit from large alignment pins. I opened the holes in the fuselage halves for a better fit.

There are holes in the upper wing for mounting over-wing fuel tanks. Not all Lightnings carried them at all times, so it’s unfortunate that Platz didn’t make their use optional without filling. I filled the holes on one plane and put tanks on the other.

These kits were originally a prepainted product, leading to some compromised detail and fit in spots. Platz includes parts for a gear-up option, but no stand — even though there is a slot for one molded in the lower fuselage. I filled it on both kits. A part representing the rear of the engine is included to mount inside the exhausts, but the fit is vague. I chopped most of the exhaust mount off the fuselage for better fit.

None of the joints needed filler, only light sanding. I left off the delicate refueling probe and nose-mounted pitot until later. The landing gear is petite and nicely detailed, although the main wheels only have hubs on the outboard side. The single nose gear door is mounted to the gear leg — great for simplifying the build — but the door itself has a molded ridge that’s hard to trim. The auxiliary nose gear doors have the same problem.

I left the doors and landing gear off until the end and saved the Firestreak missiles for later, too. They have many sink marks and mismatched seams, the only disappointing parts in the kit.

I was surprised by the fit and clarity of the canopy — better than many larger kits I’ve built. I attached the canopy and masked the framework before painting.

I had decided to do the natural-metal option using Alclad II aluminum. First step for this paint is a gloss black undercoat — convenient, since the inside of the canopy frames and the tail on the overall silver version need to be black. Pictures show the spine is black as well for the silver 74 Squadron option. I thought it looked better, so I added that. After masking, the Alclad II covered the entire airframe and the over-wing tanks.

The other kit was finished in 92 Squadron’s dark green over metal scheme, which also required a black undercoat.

I finished with Tamiya dark green and Alclad II aluminum.

Comprehensive decals include stripes on the belly fuel tank. They are a bit thick, and I had a hard time keeping the wing-walk stencils from silvering. Alignment is easy, as the stencils are included in the same carrier film as the major nose markings. I was impressed by the fit of the nose antiglare panels — they hugged the canopy perfectly.

After decals, the landing gear and missiles were mounted along with the fragile refueling probe and pitot probe. Extras are provided if you need more than one try, but they are flexible and, with care, won’t cause a problem.

I spent slightly more than 10 hours on my little Lightnings, and I’m happy with how they turned out. The molding is first-rate, and detail sufficient to satisfy most modelers.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the April 2018 issue.

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