The English Electric Lightning is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft of the Cold War era, remembered for its great speed and unpainted natural metal exterior finish. It is the only all-British Mach 2 fighter aircraft. Renowned for its capabilities as an interceptor, RAF pilots described it as "being saddled to a skyrocket". English Electric was later incorporated into the British Aircraft Corporation (now BAE), later marks being developed and produced as the BAC Lightning.
The Lightning was used throughout much of its service life by the Royal Air Force, the Kuwait Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force. The aircraft was a regular performer at airshows and was the first aircraft capable of super-cruise.
The English Electric Lightning is credited with a single kill, ironically a British aircraft- a Harrier pilot ejected, but the pilot-less aircraft continued to fly. The order was given to shoot down the aircraft and the Lightning achieved this successfully.
In their final years of UK service, all RAF Lightnings were based at RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire and many were camouflaged to make them less conspicuous when flying at low level. They tended to defend the Flamborough Head Sector of airspace above the North Sea. These later aircraft were the single-seater F3 and F6 and the twin seat trainer variant T5, all constructed by British Aircraft Corporation and distinguished from earlier versions by their flat topped fins. In their last year of service their pilots regularly pushed the aircraft to their limits as they used up the remaining hours of fatigue time. Lightnings were slowly phased out of service between 1974 and 1988, although much testing and modification was needed to keep them in air-worthy condition due to the high number of flight hours accumulated.
Even though the box has Mono Chrome emblazoned on it I do believe it is a re-boxed Trumpeter kit. How Mono Chrome are related to Trumpeter I'm not sure, perhaps they are an off shoot (explanations welcome lol).
Packed in a large sturdy box, the box artwork is rather disappointing as it shows a rather grainy photo of three lightnings flying away from the camera. Things do get better once the box is opened. Four light grey and one clear sprue holding approximately 84 parts, a set of instructions, a colour decal and painting guide and two sets of decals.
Profile-wise this kit looks to be spot on and going through my rather limited references, and actually managing to find a line drawing of the Lightning, the kit is spot on with length, height and wing span and angle (I would like to point out that the book might be wrong lol).
The kit is flash free but there are a lot of ejection pin marks. Most I believe won't be seen but there are also a few that will require some work to remove, inside the undercarriage doors, inside the air inlet and the inside of the forward wheel bay to name the most obvious.
The kit is adorned with some very fine recessed panel lines, with some very nice rivet detail in the areas that should have them.
Detail overall is pretty good, with the cockpit instrument panels embossed with raised dials and switches. A decal is supplied for the main instrument panel. The seat is pretty basic with no harnesses moulded onto or supplied as decals, so adding some should liven the seat up.
The air inlet pipe and tail pipes are both detailed with fans inside, which stops the "see through the plane" syndrome. The tail pipes should be fun to paint as the fans are at least one and a halve inches inside the tail pipe tubes lol.
The wheel wells are nicely detailed with spars, raised lines and actuators moulded into the bays. The undercarriage legs and wheels have some nice detail, but no brake lines are moulded on them. The only area of concern with the undercarriage is the main wheel wells on the wings do look a little shallow in depth.
Other variants of the Lightning will be produced as the tail fin is a separate piece and the ventral belly area is interchangeable depending on what variant you are building. In this kit you have the choice of building a F.2A, which were F.2s upgraded to near F6 standard, or a F.6 variant, basically the ventral pack is different, with the F.6 variant having a couple of 30mm cannons in the forward part of ventral pack. The F.6 doesn't have any nose cannons, so using the supplied "plug" is necessary. Also the F.6 has the option of having the over-wing fuel tanks and armed with the two Red Top missiles.
The external stores supplied with the kit are two over-wing fuel-tanks, two Red Top air to air missiles and two Firestreak air to air missiles. All the ordnance is nicely rendered, the fins on the missiles seem a little thick, but they probably couldn't be moulded any thinner without some problems. One point on this kit is that the Firestreak missiles are moulded in clear plastic, on the canopy sprue.
The canopy is free from blemishes and quite thin. The frames are frosted so painting should be easier. The canopy is in two pieces so that it could be modeled in the open position, but the instructions don't show that it can be.
The instructions are printed on a folded piece of paper which ends up slightly smaller then A4 size. the build sequence is in the usual line drawing and is broken down into 16 parts. It is easy to follow with alternative parts for the two versions given along the way. Internal colours are given for cockpit and undercarriage areas and are for the Gunze Sangyo Aqueous Hobby colour and MR Color range of paints.
painting and decals
The decals are numerous and well printed. the decals are thin with a little carrier film around the edges. The decal sheet holds about 200 stencils in all shapes and sizes, so patience (and good eyesight) is needed for applying them.
Three units can be modelled form the box, the first is
BAC Lightning F.6, XR753, 23 Sqn, RAF Leuchars, Scotland, 1970. The profile for this aircraft shows the inclusion of the nose cannons, for accuracy these need to be deleted. This aircraft is in a Natural metal finish.
BAC Lightning F.2A, XN781/B, No.19 Squadron Royal Air Force, 1974. This aircraft has a Dark Green upper surfaces with a Natural metal finish underside
The third scheme is for a foreign air force, no not the Kuwaiti or Saudi Arabian air forces (who both flew the Lightning)but a Japanese aircraft (who didn't). Very unusual for a company to add a "what if" scheme as standard, especially as there are plenty of great real schemes already available. On the bright side, at least I have some spare decals :).
Monochromes BAC Lightning F.6/F.2A was kindly provided for review by HobbyLink Japan. Visit HLJ for Japanese kits at Japanese prices.