The top 5 is loved when it comes down to kits. Quite often though, only scale is under TOP category, or eventually only subject. Good example for that are the endless threads about best Spitfire or best 109 on the market. So to narrow things down, let’s present Top 5 Jet kits in 48th scale available today.
In TOP, we should consider few factors. Engineering, accuracy /of course/, up-to-today’s standards, how the kit stands OOTB and detailing. The 5 kits I will share with you are known to be top notch for each of these factors and even though they differ in their release dates, all of them are pretty much close one to another. Not only being jets, not only being modern, but being more or less recent on the market.
I was tempted to put a number in front of each, TOP 5 being labeled thing, but I decided that this won’t do. Here are the reasons why: we are talking different style of aircraft, different size, different era and different clients.
So neither of those is THE BEST, but they all find their way to the top line. Let’s call them – top favorites.
Let’s start with the oldest one of them. F-16C/N Aggressor from Tamiya is not the latest release from the brand. But is well known to be the best 48th scale kit of the year of its release, and probably the years right next to it. It features accuracy, superb engineering, great material and of course – it is Tamiya. This kit is not a cheap one but is not something way too expensive either. This F-16 is great deal for Viper lovers, with its superb camo schemes and great accuracy.
Next is something very fresh on the market – Zoukei-Mura F-4J Phantom II. This kit is the best Phantom ever made in the scale. Academy came close, especially with their superkit re-releases from Eduard, spiced up with resin and PE. But as a stand-alone kit with its engineering and detail, Zoukei-Mura is probably competitor for The Very Best in our line here. This is famous airplane, still in use 60 years after its first flight, and you can guess the competition for the best Phantom here is harsh. And I mean HARSH.
AMK MiG-31 is absolutely stunning too. Not only in size, but in accuracy and engineering. It is the kit that comes very close to The Very Best too. I guess that in my book, Zoukei’s F-4 and MiG-31 are at the same level. AMK’s BM/BSM was a huge hit when it came out, but their second version is a bit refined. I am talking MiG-31B/BS here. It features improved canopy, wonderful decals and great PE set. Stunningly big, this airplane is very attractive due to many reasons, but most of all – being one of the very best kits on the jet market in 48th scale.
F-14A Grumman from Tamiya is the latest thing from the Japanese maker just recently released on the market. It is superb kit, maybe not at the engineering level of AMK, but with Tamiya’s clever approach and troubleless building process. Again, we have a huge kit here, comparable with MiG-31. Although we might not encounter the finesse of AMK and Zoukei-Mura, we have a superb subject here, which soon will be attacked by AMK with their upcoming F-14D Tomcat and might be dethroned.
Last, but not least we have Kinetic Su-33. What I am obligated to add is, that this kit is not purely Kinetic. Probably if it was, it wouldn’t have been here too. This kit is engineered by a different company and it fixes most of the flaws of the Flankers that Trumpeter released in the recent years in 32nd scale. The thing here is, that this is 48th. We have nothing that comes close in the Flanker subject and it sits perfectly OOTB. Great nozzles, superb wing folding, wonderful accuracy. The problem here /and this is me speaking only/ are the instructions. They are black and white and rather simple, not corresponding to the level of this kit. On every other level though, the kit is comparable with all the others mentioned and its well worth the money.
In conclusion, these kits mentioned above are not something that should be compared and measured in between. They are simply the best in business and whichever of those you get, you will be aiming at the highest. They do cover very different roles and please different modeling groups of course. However it is worth mentioning that they are all jets, relatively modern /yes, F-4 is flying still too!/ and they are up to every single modern standard in scale modeling.
Be sure, that whatever you choose to get, you will not waste money here. Truly it is hard to choose for all-around-aviation fans, but they can get them all without any doubt!
P.S. Eduard MiG-21 is definitely one of the top 5 kits on the market. I though quite long do I need to add it here, but then I decided no. Not because it is not worthy – just the contrary. However, MiG-21 is a long line of real aircraft released throughout couple of decades, so its deserves a separate article. That is the reason why this kit isn’t listed above. My deepest respect to Eduard for that kit.