MB-339 in 1/72 scale: kit review & modelling report of the ITALERI kit
The Aermacchi MB-339 is a two seat Italian light military jet trainer and light attack aircraft aircraft designed in the 1970s. It was to be a replacement for the MB-326, particularly for the Italian Air Force.
photos made at Le Bourget of a company MB-339
The design has many similarities with the MB-326 but got a redesigned nose and wing, tail and fitted with a Rolls Royce Viper 632. First flight was August 1976 with deliveries to Italian Air Force beginning in 1979.
The MB-339A and -PAN and -RM were the first versions. The Italian aerobatic display team "Frecce Tricolori" used several MB-339PAN jets with a smoke generator but no tip tanks.
(The MB-326K was a single seat attack version with only a prototype made).
The MB-339C series had a modernized cockpit, redesigned nose section with laser rangefinder, a vertical tail with extra antenna fairings and other wing tip tanks. It was fitted with a Viper 680 and could fire Sidewinder AIM-9L and Maverick missiles.
The MB-339CD was an Italian C with digital cockpit but still the Viper 632 engine.
A FD full digital version and MB-339 USAF T-bird competition aircraft were also developed.
Some 230 MB-339 were manufactured for: Italy (72x A and 30x CD), Argentina (10x A), Ghana (4x A), Dubai (7x A and NAT), Nigeria (12x AN), Peru (14x AP), Eritrea (5x CE), New Zealand (18x CB), Malaysia (13x AM and 8x CM) and U.A.E (10x NAT). Some are also flown by commercial defense training contractors.
Argentinian MB-339A's saw combat during the Falklands War in April 1982. Eritrean MB-339CE were used in the conflict with Ethiopia in 1998 - 2000.
Aermacchi is now part of the bigger Leonardo Aerospace company.
See also the references...
Italeri issued a nice 1/72 kit (no. 1354) for a MB-339A released in 2014. I think it originates from "Supermodel". It is the initial version -A with the standard nose and tail. Later on, the -C version was developed with a pointier nose, some antenna fairings on the vertical tail and often long wing tip fuel tanks. (so for a -C kit if desired, modifications are needed, to be built later).
It has about 65 parts in soft light grey plastic and a few transparant parts. It has 2 types of wing tip tanks and wing pylons and stores for rocket pods and extra fuel tanks.
You also get peculiar wing leading edge canon pods:
Decals are for:
- camouflaged Argentine navy ARMADA as used during the Falklands War in 1982;
- Italian Air Force overall grey of 61 Stormo/ 213 Group at Lecce Galatina, 2014;
- camouflaged Italian Air Force of the experimental group, 1983;
- desert camouflaged United Arab Emirates, Air College, 2005.
On the sprues no part numbers are engraved, use the instruction drawing to identify the parts. The rocket pods seem very large but are in fact not bad. Some panel lines are raised and there is not jet pipe inside.
This Italeri model will be made almost straight out of the box. It was decided not to engrave the few raised panel lines. But I drilled open the few vents in the fuselage, gun firing opening and in the cockpit from bits and pieces some more detail. The cockpit interior will be detailed later on.
Before closing the fuselage, add a jet pipe from scratch and nose weight! The lower airbrake was set closed and needed putty and sanding. When assembled, small amouts of putty closed the smaller gaps.
The horizontal stabilizer is horizontal.
Note the small wing leading edge air flow fences.
After sanding a grey based coat was applied using Revell 75 Aqua "steingrau" / grey with the airbrush.
The fins also needed putty and sanding to close gaps.
The aileron and flap sides/ ends were sawed in with a razor saw to suggest movable controls.
This model will be made in a scheme for the Peru air force MB-339AP of the aerobatic display team "Los Diablos Rojos" in the mid 1980s with a splendid white and red finish. I am a member of the IPMS U.K Aerobatic Display Teams SIG (ADTSIG).
The decals had to be home designed and OKI laser printed after considerable hours spend of searching the internet to get the specific markings. The design was made in a graphics program on the PC.
I made a data sheet as seen above.
The scheme needs first a white coat. I airbrushed a matt white base coat with Revell Aqua 05 weiss, than a gloss white with Gunze Sangyo H1 white acrylic for easier coverage.
The wing leading edge even has the raised "stall triggers" so do not sand these off.
Than large areas were masked for the red-white pattern with fine tape; than followed the red airbrushed with Gunze Sangyo Mr Hobby H23 red acrylic. Do not forget the gear doors.
Masking was now done and the anti-glare panels are not black but blue for which Gunze Sangyo H15 acrylic was used.
The home designed decals were applied. These are OKI laser printed by a third party on decal paper and each had to be cut out. Looking at photos found on the internet I concluded that probably no roundels were applied. You will see on the photo a 1/48 print design that I made for my modelling friend Henk also a member of the ADTSIG.
Some stencilling was added from the kit decals.
After decalling completed, the smaller bits were now added such as cockpit details like seats, controls and decals for the instrument panels. For the seats a PAVLA resin set #72027 can be used. The main cockpit colour
The landing gear was installed. The nose gear doors are a bit thick and replaced with thin card.
The pitot tubes were installed. The canopy was set open and a few mirrors installed from scrap. Fix these with white glue and not superglue "to avoid fogging".
The canopy edges were made black with a black marker. Small blade antennas were set on the vertical tail and the anti-collision lights painted red and dark blue.
The final step to do is to add a gloss varnish layer for which Johnson Future/ Pledge was airbrushed with a tiny drop of Glycerine to improve the flow.
[ area: 1,285,216 sq.km | population: approx 32,4 million | capital: Lima | GDP nominal 7,000 USD ]
From 1981 a dozen Aermacchi MB-339 jet trainers were acquired by Peru from Italy.
For more information about the Peru Air Force, look at the Mirage page here...
Another MB-339A kit #1354 was made but in a scheme of the Al Fursan aerobatic team from the United Arab Emirates that was established in 2010. The colour scheme is complex with black and gold trim and at the lower wing surfaces black, green, white and red flag colours.
The model did not get the wing tip tanks installed but was made in a similar fashion as described above. The lower air brake was set drooped down, the 2 holes in the brake were made opened up.
I had a small decal sheet for the Al Fursan from unknown origin but most of this set was unusable and translucent. So I had to design my own decals with graphics program for some areas of the Al Fursan scheme. It takes a lot of effort as they also need to be of perfect size.
The black overall colour airbrushed was Gunze Sangyo Mr Hobby H2 acrylic. Masking was done with fine tape and the gold colour after with ALCLAD II pale Gold metalizer paint. IMPORTANT: wear a face mask when airbrushing this stuff in a well ventilated area!
Some clear decal paper was also airbrushed in this colour.
The lower wing colours are partly home designed decals and red leading edges airbrushed red after masking.
The decals were set. Some handpainting was still needed.
The result is not perfect but it was decided to finish the model nevertheless. Smaller bits were added and the landing gear as described for the earlier made model. A gloss varnish was set on the model.
United Arab Emirates
[ area: 83,660 sq.km | capital: Abu Dhabi | population: 9,5 million | GDP US 42,000 nominal per capita ]
United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is one of the Gulf states along with Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimab, Sharjah and Umm al Quwain.
The Al Fursan ("The Knights") aerobatic display team was established in 2010 with the MB-339 and also regularly performed during European air shows.
Read more about the U.A.E. air force on my MB-326 page here...
Some more MB-339 models to be made.
Air International magazine: Volume 14 no.6/ June 1978; Vol 43 no. 3 / Sept 1992; Vol 76 no 4/ April 2009.
IPMS UK Aerobatic Display Team SIG
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Created August 7, 2022