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F-111
Wheel Bay/Intake Trunk Set


Scaledown, 1/48 scale

 

S u m m a r y

Catalogue No., Description & Price Available from Scaledown's website:
SDA48020 - F-111 wheel bay/intake trunk set; $80.00
Contents and Media: 15 parts in caramel coloured resin.
Scale: 1/48
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: High quality casting; ready for use (casting blocks already removed and cleaned up); simple engineering; vast improvement over Academy kit parts.
Disadvantages:  
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

 

Reviewed by "Bondo" Phil Brandt


HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron.com

 

Aardvark Kit Archaeology 101



Circa 1966, Aurora released two 1/48 versions of the then-new F-111, an A and a soon-to-be-cancelled (by the Navy) blunt-nosed B. The large kit was typically Aurora, that is, simplified, with fanciful details. Fast forward to 1981, when Monogram did a moderate rework of the Aurora kit and released it as a straight A-model, even including your correspondent as a crew member on the decal sheet. There were still significant discrepancies; Monogram related to me that the acquired Aurora steel molds were extremely hard, making modifications quite difficult. Intake lips, windscreen/canopy, landing gear and radome profile all still need to be redone, unless the modeler is satisfied with a "stand-off" presentation. Enter the Academy Minicraft Vark a decade later (1990).

This new Academy Minicraft release saw the disappearance of most of the Monogram complaints, leaving mostly detailing to be addressed by aftermarket entrepreneurs; and address 'em they did! First Verlinden and then Black Box released resin--plus PE for Verlinden--cockpit sets. I prefer the BB set because of the labor intense fabrication of the PE. Neil Burkill of about-to-be-reborn Paragon fame released (about ten years ago) a very nice resin flaps/slats set as well as corrected burner cans/nozzles.

Removed from the USAF inventory in 1991 to free funding for the F-22, it's truly sad for this nine-year Vark crew dog to view the seemingly endless rows of F-111s arranged at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson. There has been a silver lining to the dark demise of the USAF F-111 fleet, though, because the Vark lives on, flown in numbers by our friends and military comrades in Oz. The presence of this still most capable weapon system--possibly until 2020--has captured the interest of many Aussie modelers. One such individual is the talented Stephen Thrum, honcho of Scaledown, who has taken his fascination with the Vark to new levels by designing and producing a varied line of desirable 1/48 F-111 resin detail products--his wing/flaps/slat set is IMO the easiest to install and best available. But, his latest and perhaps greatest project is the subject of this review.

 

 

FirstLook

 

This is a lotta resin! Among the fifteen components are: monolithic upper and lower maingear well halves which are integrated with intake trunks; separate compressor faces; a very busy maingear forward wall; a hefty one-piece nosegear bay, including avionics/airconditioning bays on each side of the bay; new nosegear strut and large retraction arm; the spider web-like maingear well frame; and various gear retraction parts. Not included is the separately available speedbrake door.



Evaluation

The complexity of the F-111's gear bays is finally represented properly! I know this area is not readily visible to the casual observer, but just look at the accompanying pic that contrasts the shallow, toylike Academy effort with the Scaledown set. They're from different planets!

 



Stephen has obviously done a group of research before undertaking the masters for this serious effort. Molding is crisp and accurate; I especially like the large trusslike maingear well brace and the overall wealth of "busy-ness." I remember well the preflight pressure check of the large accumulators on the maingear bay ceiling, faithfully represented in the Scaledown set. Re the individual avionics/airconditioning bays on either side of the nosegear well, I'm assuming here that the modeler will have to remove the applicable sections of lower fuselage himself.

The cleverly integrated intake trunks solve a longstanding, difficult problem for the modeler, that is, the cavernous interior empty space once the modeler gets past the intake lips. There will now be a completely enclosed trunk from the intakes back to the engine. Filling the seam created by the joining of the lower and upper maingear bay halves should be relatively easy; use your little finger to apply your favorite putty, and then smooth the seams with lacquer thinner (brush or finger).

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:



Instructions

Stephen includes a four-page pamphlet complete with color pix and a step-by-step assembly guide. The assembly pix on my copy are slightly fuzzy, but easily portray what needs to be done. The modeler will have to carefully remove the existing Academy maingear well, but that's no big deal; after all, if you're strictly a shake-and-bake modeler, you wouldn't be here reading this, would you? :)) A page of actual F-111 gear bay shots are included, and show the great complexity of that huge, dirty metallic cavern; modelers who love to use washes will have a field day doing their thing.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Scaledown has marketed an acutely-needed, very well done embellishment for this middle aged, but best of currently available 1/48 F-111 kits. You can choose to wait for the years it will probably take our CHICOM friends to release a new tool Vark, or you can go the "Bird in Hand" route through which, together with the available detail sets from Scaledown and Black Box, the discerning modeler can crank out a museum quality Vark.

This curmudgeon is very glad there are entrepreneurs such as Stephen Thrum willing to make the commitment in time and money to produce quality aftermarket details. This truly is the Golden Age of Modeling.
 


These and other Scaledown accessories are available direct from Scaledown's website


Review Copyright 2005 by "Bondo" Phil Brandt
Page Created 09 February, 2005
Last updated 09 February, 2005

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