December 2018

F-35B Lightning II - PWLS

F-35B Lightning II - QNLZ

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Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II

809 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, HMS PRINCE OF WALES.

Fujimi 1/72  with speculative markings

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Have a look at many more of my models of RN aircraft on my RN Jets pages

October and November 2018 saw the first deck landings of an F-35B aircraft on a Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier, as First of Class Flying Trials took place off the eastern seaboard of the United States.  The honour of the first landing fell to Royal Navy pilot Commander Nathan Gray, with RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell making the second landing.  

Two aircraft from the multi-national F-35 Integrated Test Force conducted vertical landings, ramp take-offs and the first ever Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landings (SRVL) in  a range of weather conditions (including a hurricane!) To prove and establish initial flying operating limits for the aircraft when operating from this class of ship.

As of the end of October 2018, 9 of 16 UK production aircraft had been delivered to their main shore operating base, RAF Marham where they are developing operational tactics and experience before an expected declaration of initial operational capability in 2019. A further order, bringing the total ordered thus far to 35 was placed by the UK MOD in early November.


Background: an amazing image from Lockheed Martin photographer Dane Wiedmann showing one F-35B on deck, whilst another hovers to land (RN Public Image Archive website) - © UK MOD Crown Copyright.

Used under conditions of the Open Government Licence of the UK National Archives

Building the Fujimi Kit:

This is my second build of the Fuimi F-35B kit, this time using the Japan Self Defence Force land-based issue, slightly less speculative than the bright blue shipborne version I used for my previous build. However, despite its imaginative markings, this is still a very good kit; in comparison with the Hasegawa issue, it is a case of swings and roundabouts - in some respects I prefer Fujimi’s interpretation, not least for its weapons bay and tinted canopy. The lack of extenrla weapons pylons (likely to be fitted in most operational scenarios) is a little disappointing and th eJDAM bomb is not applicable to the UK version (which will use Paveway and SPEAR 3).

The kit builds easily with generally excellent fit. Many parts are “snap-build” and the tight attachments to enable this can cause some problems, so I removed many of them. Its one main failing is the lack of the prominent  auxiliary air intake on the top surface, something that I hacked out for my previous build.

For this build, I wanted to show the lift doors closed, but retained the open weapons bay (which does open as a “lift fence” on landing),  mainly because the Hasegawa kit does not have this feature. As the JDAM bombs are not appropriate, I added four of the supplied AMRAAM air to air missiles (form this kit and my previous build) with clipped wings for internal F-35 carriage.  The UHF antenna on the upper spine may be a mistake - I left this off my previous build as none of the current aircraft have them.  I also left off the nose pitot for the same reason.

Decals are a mix of the kit detail, some from the spares box and some home made inkjet printed tail markings for 819 Sqn. Sadly, the real thing, shared with the RAF, is not likely to have RN specific markings, but who knows, It could happen yet!

Images from First of Class Flying Trials (RN Public Image Archive website) - © UK MOD Crown Copyright.

Used under conditions of the Open Government Licence of the UK National Archives

Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II

809 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH.

Fujimi 1/72  with speculative markings

This is  a quick update of the kit that I built in 2017, when HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH first sailed from build at Rosyth Dockyard for her sea trials.

As well as general markings,  I produced some custom inkjet decals for the ships badge of each ship (QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCE OF WALES) for the outer tail surfaces, and added a greyed out version of the 819 Sqn badge to the inner surfaces.  

I was never happy with this last part (they were a little too large), so the emergence of the Integrated Test Force marking has provided a perfect excuse to change them.  The image came from Youtube, printed on white inkjet decal paper with a grey border, then trimmed and attached.  Once again this was surprisingly effective, although my issues with the red dye bleeding were apparent again.

A very worthwhile update to celebrate this latest milestone for the F-35B. !