The majestic Raven is a well-known kit by HobbyBoss and it originates back to the very beginning of the decade, and is the last of a series of Aardvark kits, and I had the opportunity to crack up the box just a few days ago. This is one huge piece of a monstrous kit and is something that I experienced for the first time – in terms of rivet detailing of the plastic surfaces and just the size of such a 1/48 scale kit. At the top right corner of the box, one can see that the finished EF-111 model measures some half a meter by half a meter, while the box is… BIG.
The boxart is captivating due to the serenity that these clean planes provide, especially when flying in tandem and when viewed from a distance, in the sky. Inside the box, there is no empty space and in the meantime – all is packed justly and is organized in an easy to understand manner. There are two gigantic sprues that take place on top of the other “things”, while the other “things” are subdivided into a small cardboard box with parts, as well as numerous typical (smaller) sprues in plastic bags. This ensures enough rigidity and therefore safety for the most delicate parts, while the clear parts are hidden in the smaller box so any chance of unwanted frictions or scratches is avoided. Let`s take a look at what`s inside this EF-111 Raven by HobbyBoss.
At first glance, the good amount of rivets took my attention, because it is essential for the final look of the model. The more the rivets – the better. In this EF-111 case – the rivets are everywhere and the best part is that they are flawless. Neither too deep, nor too big, just perfect. The panel lines also. They all are very subtle and clean, which will make the combination of rivets/panel lines really unobtrusive – just like on the real Raven. When viewed from far – it is a clean and picturesque plane, but when viewed from close – this monster is quite dotted by rivets and is highlighted by clearly visible panel lines. My next big impression about this 1/48 Raven was about the content of the small side box – it holds clear parts, rubber tires and both main parts of the fuselage. They are these two major upper and lower parts of the fuselage that are a true showcase of the beauty of the riveting, and all this is provided OOB by HobbyBoss. Then, while strolling through the sprues, I came across the sprue with the ejection cockpit module and with the major parts from the nose section. These big pieces helped me imagine the final size and scale of the model, which will really be spectacular. Maybe because of the wide two-seater cockpit with side-by-side seats, which I see such a part for the first time, I don`t know yet. Or maybe it`s because of the strange cockpit module, which looks like a small flying vehicle by itself. However, this sprue is beautiful.
The EF-111 kit is amazing not only because of the quality of the plastic parts, which is absolutely amazing, but also because of the numerous options provided when assembling this model. First, let`s start with the plastic details – they are really nicely molded with no dramatic (major) traces from pin marks, ejectors or other imperfections. Just about every sprue is packed in its own individual plastic bag and thus all the tiny little details are stored safely and the organization is easy although the hundreds of parts.
The Instruction manual is also perfect – neither too long and overwhelming, nor to short and simple. Only a quick trip through the pages was enough to get more insight into how to build this 1/48 Raven. Along with the instruction manual are stored the decal sheets, which interestingly enough, have much more decals than I have expected. EF-111 is a rather clean of markings plane, but indeed it has a lot of small instructional markings. There are two EF-111 airframes, which can be made out of the decals in the box: EF-111A 67-0037 and EF-111 66-0013, both from the USAF. My preferences are for the first airframe (67-0037), because of the beautiful cat sign on the nose, perhaps it symbolizes a leopard or a puma, I don`t exactly know.
This EF-111 from HobbyBoss is so impeccable that I don`t know from where to start with the pros. The cons are almost non existing here. So, I will try to organize only the pros in the form of the greatest benefits from this kit:
Benefit 1: Extensive rivets and panel lines. I already mentioned this exceptional feature of the kit, but I can`t miss to add it to one of the kit`s greatest benefits too. There are rivets everywhere – on the wings and on the fuselage parts, as well as on the smaller details like bay walls, doors, etc. Yet the riveting is not perfect, because there are rivets from just one type. If you want to make them more abundant and different – just add a small amount of different rivets and you will get the desired result. But most of them are already on the plastic parts and they really look gorgeous!
Benefit 2: Flawlessly crystal-clear canopy. Beside from the two options to display the cockpit – with open and closed canopy – the clear parts are simply flawless. The clear surfaces are embraced by thicker frames, which are riveted and finely engraved. The clear surfaces themselves are so thin that their transparency permits to read letters with almost no distortion at all, no matter the angle or the distance. There are no seamlines in the mid of the parts too, which will mean no overwhelming sanding and polishing of these delicate parts. This is very important, because after all – this is EF-111 and its cockpit is a gigantic side-by-side cockpit, and respectively the canopies are much larger than in most of the 1/48 models.
Benefit 3: Positional wings. Actually, they are designed to choose from two modes – fully swept back wings or wings in a max-span mode. However, with a couple of little modifications – the wings can easily be made movable. Probably it would be enough only to cut the smaller inner pins, make a linking mechanism for both wings, and replace the plastic piece for the glove behind the wings with a textile one. Plus, the detailing of the wings is outrageous. They have rivets everywhere, as well as flaps, slats, spoilers and other surfaces as separate parts.
Benefit 4: Optional parts. There are so many parts throughout the sprues that after a more comprehensive look, you can see things (or options), which are not mentioned in the manual. Others are discretely mentioned as “unused part numbers” in a small corner of the second page of the instruction manual. For instance, such parts are the cowlings for the intakes – there are two types of inlet cowls, respectively two with smaller auxiliary intake veins, and two with movable inlet cowls. Other optional parts are the numerous jamming pods in the kit, which are typical for the Raven, but there is also a huge laser guidance pod with its huge rotational base, which is a really big and interesting addition.
Benefit 5: Pretty accurate and detailed landing gears, and landing gear bays. The Raven has unsurpassed landing gears, which function is normally hard to understand. In the real plane, the landing gear bays are overwhelming in cables, wires, hydraulics, struts and other details. In this 1/48 scale Raven – there are overwhelming details on some parts too. The complexity of the landing gears and their bays is very well represented into this model. An amazing benefit if you display the Raven with lowered landing gears!
I can`t miss in this inbox review one major issue about the kit though. It is something really major. It`s true that I have not assembled this kit before and I can`t be certain, but at least it looks like a major issue. Luckily – it can be corrected with some complex modifications. What I`m talking about is the location of the engines and their compressor faces. They are, simply put – partially hidden behind the side walls of the main landing gear bays. This will interrupt the clear sight of the compressors through the inlets, which is just not pleasant, especially if you like the beautiful sights of the compressors through the intakes. For a plane with long almost straight inlet ducts, such as the EF-111, the compressors of the engines should be clearly visible from the intakes. Without assembling this kit by myself, I could suggest the following tips:
1 – Reshape part C41 according to the red highlights. This will widen the locations of the compressor fans and will put them closer to the fuselage walls, and thus will free the view from the edges of the main landing gear bay side walls;
2 – Thin the side walls of the bay from the outer sides (from the intake sides) according to the red highlights and wipe off away as much material as possible. This should free the view through the intakes even more and thus will reduce the distance between the engine compressors.
3 – Make a simple scratchbuild duct to insulate the inlet path. The duct is almost perfectly round closer to the engines, so it should be easier to make. The goal is to create a clean inlet path to the engine faces and make them visible as circles. And that`s it – it should work or at least will provide a better view to the engines.
(copyright Luc Colin, www.primeportal.net)
And another small disadvantage, which is nothing important, but just makes me a little annoyed. It comes to the huge bomb bay, which is gigantic – it covers just about the entire space between the two landing gear bays. Most of all – in the kit are provided very well detailed parts for this bomb bay. Unluckily, the Raven features a huge canoe-like transmitting pod on the underbelly and that`s exactly where is located the bomb bay. This means that the bomb bay with its huge size and well-detailed parts, have to stay closed. But that`s the Raven – its transmitting equipment is internal and that`s why it is unique. Not to mention that this inbox review is for the EF-111 kit, but it can easily be converted in other versions thanks to the numerous optional parts.
Overall, after unboxing the 1/48 scale EF-111 Raven, I quickly saw that it could become a monster model and this is mostly due to the unique construction of the plane. The cockpit is with two side-by side seats, which leads to a much wider nose section, and therefore the fuselage is longer, and the wings are bigger. Not to mention the enormous vertical stabilizer of the EF-111, which is so huge, because there is only one vertical stabilizer for such a big plane. And it is topped by the massive receiving pod, which finishes the iconic silhouette of the EF-111 Raven.
The price is different, depending in which part of the World you live in. Honestly put, it varies a lot, but with deeper research, you can still find this relatively old tooling at a lower quotes. Having that in mind, you probably should look at the model as an investment, rather than a standart scale model kit purchase.
Highly recommended kit!
You can get Hobby Boss’ F-111 variants here: