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F-117A Nighthawk from Trumpeter

By Larry Schramm
Published: August 14, 2012

Product: The F-117 Nighthawk was a star of Operation Desert Storm, famous for penetrating Baghdad’s heavily defended airspace.

The kit came molded in medium gray plastic on 10 sprues. The top and bottom fuselage halves each came molded in one piece. The kit provided one sprue of clear parts and two sprues of bombs and rockets. I only used the 2,000-pound GBUs, though. I don't know why the rockets were included, because they aren’t used.

The kit gave a choice of metal or plastic landing gear with vinyl tires, and plastic or photo-etched metal screening for the engine intakes. I chose photo-etched metal, but be careful — it would be easy to stick a finger through one or both.

Among the options in the kit was a poseable canopy. Bomb bays could have been displayed open or closed, which would make building the bays unnecessary. The kit had a refueling receptacle that could have been posed open, but I kept it closed to show the model's beautiful lines.

The Build:
Construction started with the cockpit. It was nicely detailed with side consoles, sidewalls and a seat. The instrument panel was molded in relief, and decals were provided for the instruments. I saved time by painting the instruments, giving them a wash and a quick dry-brushing. The decals would be nice if you wanted to take the time to get them to settle onto the raised instrument moldings.

Step 3 had me build the bomb bays with extended bomb racks. This went together well. Steps 2, 4 and 5 were for the landing gear. I just glued the bays to the bottom fuselage half and left the struts off until the final assembly.

Step 7 pertained to the engines. All I needed to do was assemble the basic engine components to ensure the exhaust and intake ducting was properly located. I won’t see the engine anyway.

Steps 11 and 14 had me assemble the FLIR balls and their compartments. There were no instructions on what colors should have been used, but I figured they were flat black like everything else.

When I joined the top and bottom fuselage halves (Step 16), it was best to install the control surfaces first.

Steps 19 and 20 had me cover the left and right empennages. There were movable parts, but their fit was loose and sloppy; I just glued everything tight.

For attaching the landing gear doors in Step 23, the instructions were vague about where Part C40 connected in the wheel bay. I just installed it straight up and down.

Painting was easy: gloss white and flat black. I used scale flat black — very dark gray — with straight black pastels to vary the monochromatic look.

The decals went on over a gloss coat of Pledge Future floor polish without any problems. A final flat coat and installation of the canopy, landing gear, doors and antennas finished the job.

The model’s size and some of the problem solving necessary make this kit best suited for experienced modelers. But if you have an experienced customer who has never tackled a big 1:32-scale aircraft, this is a good place to start.

Operation Desert Storm-related aircraft and armor are popular subjects. The F-117 is especially popular, because its stealth capabilities remain a fascination among modelers. With its size and detail, this model will be sure to please.

Product: F-117A Nighthawk
Maker: Trumpeter
Scale: 1:32
Stock number: 3219
MSRP: $164.95
Availability: Stevens International

• Fascinating subject
• Big model of a war hero
• Straightforward assembly