Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (JSF)

F-35A joint strike fighter  in 1/32 scale:
kit review & modelling report of the ITALERI kit
page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7 (finished)

The F-35 is a multirole fighter with stealth technology to prevent early radar detection. It has an internal weapons bay but also pylons with stores can be carried. The F-35 design started as part of the Joint Strike Fighter competition in the nineteen-nineties. Lockheed and Boeing came up with JSF prototypes. Eventually, the Lockheed Martin design was declared winner of the JSF competition and was designated F-35. Several versions are developed including a SVTOL aircraft, whereas the F-35A is a conventional take-off and landing aircraft. 

Still, as of end 2013, three U.S. services and eight international partners are involved in the F-35 program. The Netherlands is a member of the international F-35 program as a Level 2 partner. For the US armed forces, over 2,000 F-35 aircraft are in the budget plans. The Netherlands ordered 37 F-35A aircraft and started end 2013 testing their F-35 aircraft and train the first pilots at Eglin AFB Florida. First test aircraft arrived end May 2016 at Leeuwarden for a first evaluation like noise measurements. Operational F-35A aircraft of the KLu will arrive not earlier than 2019 in The Netherlands. 

Still today, the F-35 program has difficulties with timeframe overruns, cost overruns and technological problems.



IPMS Nederland  Walk Around
 and the  references below...

F-35A box
ITALERI  from Italy is the first plastic kit manufacturer to release a F-35 in this 1/32 scale. The kit #2506 for a F-35A arrived in the shops 16 March 2017.  It was purchased at a special price of EURO 92.50.  The kit is for the F-35A, the "conventional take-off and landing" version. This version was ordered by the Royal Netherlands Air Force ( KONINKLIJKE LUCHTMACHT ).
dutch roundel KLu
The contents in the box looks impressive.

The kit instructions are really good with no less than 45 build steps and using the CAD mo(u)ld drawings. Some supporting print colours are used in the instructions as well such as for the weapon colours.

The 8 sprues contain light grey plastic parts. The clear parts have a slight "yellow" hue and really suggest the "gold tinted" stealth canopy of the real F-35.

The parts are almost flash free and crisp. But some ejector pin marks are present, notably on the insides of doors and bays. These need some putty and sanding to remove them but it can be done.

The panellines are many raised zig-zag panels suggesting stealth RAM materials, they look crisp and consistent. A later check will be done with detail photos to see if these raised panels are not a bit "too thick". But in that case some fine and carefull sanding will resolve this.



Next in the box is a sprue with the transparant parts with a very light yellow sheen. The real canopy of the F-35 is also tinted and it seems ITALERI captured this well. The central canopy framing is to be set on the INside, as on a real stealth like F-35 canopy. The shape looks at first glance good as well. The canopy can be set open, though in that case you will need to install the braces quite early in the assembly.
The kit also provides a very good etched metal fret and this contains details for the cockpit and some stores. A small acetate plastic sheet is provided for the main (touch sensitive) instrument panel.
etched parts
The cockpit interior is rather clean but so is the real F-35 cockpit. Only  a few raised details are seen with a decal provided for the main instruments. The Martin Baker US16 ejection seat is well captured with about 10 parts and full harness and straps provided in etched metal. For the cockpit seal and edges, a very good etched metal detail set is provided as well. But on the insides of the cockpit, no further detail is seen. Note that a real F-35 cockpit is rather clean... so a bit boring. For example no Head Up Display is seen as all is integrated in an advanced helmet.

The undercarriage and its bays look great with many details. Even some of the hydraulic lines are seen well moulded on the gear legs. "Weighted" tyres are moulded though the nose wheel tyre is a bit "too much weighted".  In STEP 13 part #25D is mislabelled, it should be #29D.

The vertical tail fins have separate rudders and the two horizontal stabilizers need some tiny gap filling but look good.

Inside the fuselage a full length intake duct is provided as well as a basic F135 engine with its exhaust to be fitted inside. A hatch in the lower belly can be set open, revealing a bit of the engine set inside. This is shown in STEP 18.

The exhaust parts are a bit basic and need removal of many awkward "pips" and filling the many small gaps.

The wing is remarkably small! The kit has separate slats and trailing edge flaps, they look good. (On real parked F-35 aircraft almost always the slats are seen in the normal "up" position with indeed drooped "down" flaps).

Although the F-35 flies clean on "stealth" missions with all weapons inside the fuselage, the F-35 can carry also stores on external pylons. ITALERI provides these as well including well detailed weapon bays with very good details with actuators, hinges and so on. Also, the kit provides you with no less than 2x3 external optional pylons.

Weapons and stores look great as well and comprise:  2 x AIM-9X Sidewinder, 2 x AIM-120C AMRAAM missiles and 2 x GBU-31 JDAM bombs. For the JDAM etched metal details are provided and they look great.
Typical for the F-35 are the stealth designed panels with zig-zag patterns. ITALERI provides a small masking set for these with instructions. Note the full lengths are provided as masks so still some challenging masking with tape is needed. The raised zig-zag patterns look a bit thick on the kit. (More on that later on).

A very large and impressive DECAL sheet completes the contents with decals for no less than 6 F-35A aircraft:

(1) F-35A, USAF, Bu.no 11-5027 of the 33 FW based at Eglin AFB, 2015;
(2) F-35A, USAF, coded  09-5007 of the 422 TES, Nellis AFB, 2016;
(3) F-35A, Italian Air Force (on order) , coded 32-01/MM7332 of the  32 Stormo/13 Gruppo, Italy;
(4) F-35A, Australian Air Force , coded A35-002, 61 TES, to be based at Williamtown AB, Australia;

(5) F-35A, Royal Netherlands Air Force (KONINKLIJKE LUCHTMACHT) KLu, coded F-001, RNLAF, as seen also at Leeuwarden AB, Holland, 2016. This was the first official KLu aircraft and it was first at Eglin AFB and later at Nellis AFB, USA.
dutch roundel
and a...
(6) F-35A (F-35I called "Adir"), Israeli Air Force (on order), coded 901 , the first one;


The decals sheet looks really good and provides also the various stencilling, small panels as decals and decals for the weapons as well.

Instructions with the kit are very good and indicates colours as well.

The general outside colours suggested in the ITALERI instructions are two greys of Fed.Standard: FS 36270 overall with FS 36375 for the zig-zag panels and lighter areas. However, the overall Official USAF colour is FS36170 (the smaller panels and area colours are unclear). 


fs36170-grey   vallejo 71.280
White Ensign Models (WEM) has an enamel paint ACUS41 for FS36170. As I use acrylic paints, I will use acrylic from Vallejo paint no.71.280 (it seems AKAN no.72071 is also of this colour).  May be I will mix in some drops of metal silver paint in the base colour or in a separate clear coat later on to suggest a bit the "stealth" look. To be investigated later on as well as the lighter grey colours that seem to vary a lot depending on light conditions outside.

On first impression the ITALERI F-35A model in 1/32 looks really good.


OK, let us look at accuracy...

On to next [ Page 2... ]  


-  J-35A KLu pilot training, Flight International, March 11-17, 2014 (Flight no.5430)
-  Air International magazine: Vol.52, pag 78 / Vol.63, pag 28 / Vol.78, 01.32 / Vol.79, 04.50 / Vol.80,05.80 
-  F-35 Lightning II,  E-Forlag  (im Deutsch)
-  Van JSF naar F-35 Lightning II, Pieto van Buysen, Violero publishing, NL, 2014  (a very good book in Dutch language)




- IPMS Nederland  Walk Around (this includes detail photos of my modelling  friend Cees Hendriks). EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE!

- IPMS Nederland KLu F-35 information pages here...

Back to 1/32 Models

3KB back to home
(c) Copyright "designer"/ All rights reserved. Your comments are welcomed by  webmaster

Created this page
March 22, 2017