Dassault is a legendary brand in aerospace. They have developed aircraft that have served across the world, from Asia to South America. They have shown defiance in the world of military aviation, going alone against the likes of the Eurofighter and the F-35 – all being efforts by multiple nations.
The Rafale stands as a versatile platform. It, like its contemporaries (the Eurofighter and Gripen) follows the canard design. Personally I think the Rafale is the most beautiful of the three (sorry for all my Swedish friends) – with graceful lines, and it’s uniquely curved wings. The aircraft has been adapted for naval use, and also more conventional multirole aircraft which have become the standard over the last 40 years. It is now in service with France and Egypt, with contracts for both India and Qatar awaiting deliveries.
You can see the Rafale in action at RIAT 2016 below.
The kit I had was actually the ‘gift set’ which came complete with paints and glue, more on that in a bit. The box art is rather nice, showing the special scheme that you are suppplied with in the box. The instructions are pretty clear, but I wish Revell had followed their competitors and started doing colour sections for the decals (as when it’s ‘grey, grey, and grey’ it would be helpful for those who don’t have perfect site).
The spruces were typical of most modern fighters. Fuselage was in a couple of parts, wings were similar. They require very little construction beyond alignment and some sanding. The cockpit was also relatively simple, but makes a decent cockpit for the 1/72 scale (as you know, I despise cockpits but it still came out looking rather grand). I don’t think I had any major issues with this kit at all. The canards were lovely! They come on a single connected part, meaning they have easy free movement without the need of the old fashioned method used on the Revell Eurofighter (the same fuss used to make rotating propellers).
Remember how I mentioned that it came with paints? Well I used them. I know, “heresy!” I hear you cry. But I wanted to build it from the box, with all that came with it. As this was one of the earliest models I was going to airbrush, it took some experimentation with thinners to get the right consistency. I think I ended up with a 40/60 mix (paint to thinners). It went on like a breeze. It has a really lovely flat finish. Colours (such as the black and blue on the tail) were vibrant after 2 coats over the grey base.
Decals were equally satisfying. I did find they crumbled fairly easily – I won’t say where mine did, as to not draw attention to it (not that you’ll struggle to find it in the pictures). It was only 2 that I found suffered this fate, but it was easy enough to rectify by pushing all the smaller parts back together as they didn’t entirely disintegrate. Colour wise, they look great – again, very bright and with good consistency.
The under-wing options are pretty good in the kit. I opted for the same as the box art, and again I found this very satisfying. Parts fit together easily, required very little work to look right, and were very easy to position and lock in place with a dab of glue.
You do have the option for the canopy to be open – I opted not to do this, but it’s easily done. The whole canopy alignment is incredibly easy due to 2 small tabs on the rear main section, and the front section being designed to ‘fit’ over the centre console with a small lip on the model.
Overall I found this kit enjoyable. Thanks to Revell’s free (take note Airfix) part replacement service, the canopy was replaced within a couple of weeks after finishing the main bulk of the model (mine was cracked in the box – this was probably due to it surviving a house move). This is a very straightforward kit which gives a striking result, despite my average capabilities.