Trumpeter F-117A Nighthawk – 1/32DN Models
by Mr. Milan Mitev
The F-117A Nighthawk is one of the best stealth aircraft ever and this is primarily due to its unique faceted shapes. That’s exactly what makes it one of the most recognizable among the US aircrafts too. For modelers, it is available in different scales and it can be sourced by a number of kit manufacturers, however, the Trumpeter’s F-117A Nighthawk in 1/32 scale is the best kit among others and now I’ll explain you why.
During the unboxing of the kit, it is easy to notice the magnificent packing regarding sturdiness, size, arrangement and safety. The thick cardboard illustrates a flying F-117 at dawn or dusk, and plenty of white spots are visible throughout the glossy box. At first glance I thought that these are scratches or some imperfections on the surface but actually they are tiny little stars everywhere. The box is very beautiful. Inside, we have an even more beautiful sight – the giant fuselage of the F-117 held in place by two huge cardboard pieces. The two huge plastic parts of the fuselage (top and bottom) can’t move at all so it’s safe to say that the packing is perfect.
By carefully removing the fuselage parts, we have another beautiful sight reveled in the box – the bags with the plastic sprues and a long brown cardboard tray right in the middle. It is for the “special parts” like the metal landing gear and the crystal-clear canopy. At that moment I was still quite impressed by the boxing of the kit so it took me a couple of minutes to enjoy the gorgeous white drawings of the F-117’s contours on a black background. Then I started to unpack the plastic sprues and the other stuff. Let’s get started from the instructions manual first.
- The Instruction manual: it is a rather large manual from thin matte paper, B&W, nothing special, yet it has all the info needed to build your F-117.
- The Sheet with the color callouts: it is just one big page folded in two, fortunately it is glossy and contains detail on where to place the decals, as well as which paints to use. The F-117 has just white, black and some metalizer, so this is the easy part.
- The Decals: again, just one small sheet with decals for 3 different airframes though. The decals look perfect in registry but there is one little mistake in the printing of the serial numbers – the year of manufacturing of the airframes is depicted with the upper case letter “B” instead of “8”. It’s a bummer but quite easy to correct because this is 1/32 scale and these rather large numbers are not so tricky to play with.
- The Fuselage parts: the two halves of the fuselage are firmly attached to the black inner cardboard via wires and some cutouts in the cardboard. It’s a very clever design! The plastic itself is rather thin for this scale and thus the wings can bend easily. Especially the bottom fuselage which is almost one flat piece can be bent if held from the one corner. The quality of the plastic is very good though. It is white gray plastic with only a couple of raised pin marks here and there and plenty of gorgeous details. The bottom fuselage features fine grills and screens for the AUX engine exhausts, etc. There are also provisions for the antennas and some slightly raised RAM panels. There recessed panel lines are very fine and subtle. The fit of the two halves of the fuselage is just about perfect too, while the four pitot tubes at the nose are very well protected with an extra piece of sprue.
- The Clear, Rubber and Metal parts. The canopy is crystal-clear and is wrapped in a soft sheet and then all is packed in a separate bag. The canopy has some longer plastic rods alongside the periphery and they will be very tricky to cut/sand properly. However, what’s most important is that the canopy offers perfect visibility with no distortion whatsoever. The rest of the clear parts are packed in another plastic bag and include all that’s needed like lights and the tips of the bombs. There are even covers for the FLIR and DLIR, which is not the best way to do it, but it’s better than nothing. Whilst for the rubber tires – it’s just about the same situation – nothing impressive in terms of quality but still, it’s better than most plastic tires. Well, the metal landing gear are nothing else but an absolute excitement! They are huge and heavy, and the NLG pylon also includes the entire main mechanism casted at once. They are pretty solid and certainly look legit! These metal landing gear will be a great replacement of their respective plastic parts. Moreover, Trumpeter included a small PE sheet as a replacement of the plastic intake screens. You can see in a close-up pic a comparison side by side of the original plastic intake screens and the PE parts. In a word: unparalleled improvement with these PE pieces!
- The Plastic parts: for its size in 1/32 scale, this F-117 contains not that many parts actually – only around 300, of which the plastic parts are a little over 250. They are spread over about a dozen sprues packed individually in plastic bags. The mirror-sprues and some other sprues are packed in single bags. The good thing is that there is plenty of free space inside the box and under the inner cardboard plate, so there is not a chance of bent sprues and of scratched or cut parts. In terms of key advantages of the plastic parts: well, the sharp and thin trailing edges of all the control surfaces (including the rudders) take the first place. Secondly, the availability of 4 different types of ordnance amazed me. It’s not possible for a bomber to carry air-to-air missiles, but we have two in the kit as well. Thirdly, I would put the canopy because it is one of the greatest signature sides of F-117 and here we have it in a perfect transparent piece with thin walls and perfect visibility. It has an additional framing from the inside made out of a huge plastic part, so it will add a nice depth effect. It is also important to mention that the plastic parts allow plenty of freedom in the displaying of the model. For instance, that’s what you can make differently:
- Landing gear – up or down;
- FLIR/DLIR sensors – exposed or hidden;
- Canopy – closed or open;
- Bomb bay doors – closed or open;
- Bomb launcher ramps – extended or retracted;
- Selection of 4 different loadouts;
- Moveable rudders;
- Moveable wing control surfaces;
- Optional external antennas, RCS augmenters, and lights.
Overall, the greatest highlight of this 1/32 Trumpeter kit is in the detailing and in the additional parts like the PE intake screens and the one-piece metal landing gear. As little disadvantages, I could mention the clear parts for the FLIR and DLIR because the real place does not have any. Also it would be awesome if the two halves of the fuselage were from a bit thicker and sturdier plastic, and if there was a pilot figure included in the kit. It might be designed for a parked display, but that does not excuse the lack of a pilot figure. Nevertheless, you need to get this kit and build it, because it’s the finest one of F-117 in any scale!