The F-35 is such a divisive aircraft. For some people it’s the crème de le crème. The future of manned combat aircraft. To other people, however, this is a disaster. Even though it’s combat effectiveness is being proven more and more, the legacy of it’s development and runaway costs have tainted the memory of many.
Airfix have decided that the future of aircraft is also the future of bringing people to the hobby – with a brand new starter set being developed for the F-35.
I was shocked by this aircraft being announced by Airfix in January 2023. As someone who often looks at modern aircraft and thinks of the many unexciting parts that are often accompanying such kits, the idea of an easy to make kit for the F-35B was wildly exciting to me.
My kit was pre-ordered and it arrived the Saturday before Easter Sunday – nipping off in my hungover state to pick it up from the store I asked for it to be delivered to. I spent the day making the model and thought we should examine it together.
The model kit is £19.99 / €23.00 on Airfix’s store – and is technically out as of the day of writing – 10/04/2023 – but many stores have noted that they expect it in about a week. It’s well priced as an entry set with the beautiful shadow stands that we’ve seen with other Starter Sets from Airfix – like the Hawk and Spitfire we looked at before here. I love these stands – they’re so simple and mean you can present the model in so many unique ways…but even more so when it’s an F-35B that has the parts for conventional flight or hovering!
I spent a grand total of 30 minutes putting the kit together when you factor in the 10-15 minutes of me not understanding one part, and messing up another! The parts I messed up, however, are not due to the instruction but instead my own mind being so absorbed by the joy of the model that I didn’t think that this is a simpler and easier kit to make. As a result I cut off two long prongs off the from landing bay cover that meant it was more annoying to hang…this is not the kits fault though – just makes me remember not to let my mind wonder as much!
The model does come with paint, but I did not use it. I personally despise the pots of paint that Airfix, Heller, Zvezda, and Revell all include with their sets (though Heller are starting to include their standard paints now). These pots are never preserved as well and the ones I had were fine but very thick and gluepy. I just wish Airfix sold this with the Humbrol paint sets that I used before – that’d be a nice starter set and could entirely be justified in the price. Plus replacing the glue with a proper needle-glue or glue with brush…those tubes are a nightmare for kids and those with lower dexterity!
I opted to use Lifecolours Essential Paints No1 and mixed my own grey with a mix which was a white base, with maybe 4 drops of black, 3 drops of blue, and 2 of red. I didn’t measure it exactly and instead did it all by eye – my first time testing colour theory. For the pilot however I used Revell Aquacolor Olivegreen and Humanflesh with the matt black of Lifecolour. Also the silver on the undercarraigen and exposed parts was also Aquacolor with washes of thinned Lifecolor black and Citidel Nuln Oil.
However, ignoring these gripes that are not unique to Airfix, this kit is absolutely fantastic. I was sceptical; was this going to be so divine that I’d live to not regret my Dambusters Anniversary pre-order? Turns out yes – it’s beautiful! Everything is so well designed that it almost feels like assembling a snap fit or Lego kit. The simplicity is matched with intricate design. The details on the surface are good enough to be appreciated but not so over-complicated that it’d increase retail price more so.
Buy or Fly?
I wholeheartedly recommend this kit. I know it may not appeal to everyone who loves the higher part count and intense detail, but I genuinely found this refreshing. Being able to build it after an exhausting Saturday night out with friends (an d also edit the video the same day) I’m genuinely impressed. If I didn’t have issues with me Airbrush I could imagine doing this whole model in less than 2 hours including decals and varnishing.
Airfix – keep doing these, they are amazing…but we do need a helicopter…maybe the Westland Lynx? 😏😏
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