Mitsubishi F-2 is a jet fighter resembling Lockheed Martin F-16 to the untrained eye. Both are quite similar in many ways, but in the same time very different too. F-2 is a jet based on Fighting Falcon, but named Viper Zero. Combination of the unofficial F-16 nickname and Japanese WWII icon. It is made in Japan and only JASDF use it. It is also a pioneer of a sort. The first active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar used on a jet fighter was introduced exactly on Viper Zero back in 1995. Currently this is one of the hottest features on a jet fighter, nearly two decades later. It is bigger than F-16 and features different canopy. But you can read and watch a lot about it, so we won’t bore you more with history.
Scale-modeling-wise, one of the latest and probably the very best toolings of Mitsubishi F-2 was presented in 2022 by Fine Molds. A company needing no introduction to 72nd scale modelers, they exceeded a lot of expectations producing the latest representation of Viper Zero and are quickly adding new kits to the line. We are at the beginning of September 2023 and already 7 versions have been announced with the last one being F-2 with j/DAM, kit #72748. Both single and dual-seaters are available.
Fine Molds are one of the kings in 72nd scale. Therefore, it is worth noting their F-2 releases, in case you are a fan of JASDF and their toys. We definitely are, as you have probably grasped from the numerous F-4 J.A.S.D.F. representations in terms of mask sets. Besides find them fascinating in appearance, we hold deep respect for the way Japanese producers approach modeling business. It is not by accident that Tamiya, Hasegawa, Zoukei-Mura, as well as abovementioned Fine Molds are among the best out there. We won’t even start with Iwata and their airbrushes.
This latest release from Fine Molds reminds about the fact that if you want to go up in scale, your only option is Hasegawa in 48th. Unfortunately though, this is not a new tooling and it can hardly be called “contemporary”. Hase’s Viper Zero dates back from 2003. It is not a bad kit by any means, as we mentioned above, it comes from an A-player…but we believe it can get better for that Mitsubishi plane in the future.
Somewhat overshadowed by the numerous F-16 options on the market and forgotten by fans due to its similarities with the latter, Mitsubishi F-2 has a lot to offer actually. There are Digital Camo Schemes, anniversary and special liveries and such, that can make this kit worth a lot in 48th or even 32nd scale. Plus the fact that it is beefed up F-16 in its core and we all know that F-16 is modest in appearance even in 48th scale. Still beats us how come Tamiya or Zoukei-Mura has not approached that subject yet.
So for 72nd scale lovers, this latest Fine Molds release is great news, but leaves larger scales in waiting for something new and hopefully unexpected. In other words, we long for bigger F-2, both single and dual-seater, with variations in camouflages and packings. Something that will make Hasegawa obsolete, just like latest F-4 releases from MENG, Zoukei-Mura, Tamiya and Academy did with Hase’s brilliant /but already obsolete/ F-4.
Who will knock on that door is still a mystery. But we grow impatient.