We have been waiting a long time for a new tool Foxbat in 1/48, the only existing offering being the ancient Revell mould which is seriously geriatric by today's standard, and I've been itching to get my hands on this one.
Once this new kit appeared, it was, inevitably, pounced on by the modelling community who fairly quickly identified a string of inaccuracies and failings in that way they do. If you are interested in the detail, a particularly thorough appraisal is given by Gary Wickham with his excellent build review here. However, with a couple of exceptions (see below) I do not consider any of these problems a show stopper, nor do they stop the model looking every part the Foxbat. Neither did my customer, so I steamed ahead with what was in the box.
The kit itself is well moulded, very little flash, with extremely fine panel lines and surface detail. In fact, perhaps a little TOO fine for my liking. I always prime my models and by the time I've added various layers of paint and finishing on top, it is possible to lose the details if you are not careful.
Fit wise, it's not perfect. Generally the fit is as good as you would hope from a modern CAD designed kit, but there are a handful of problematic areas that really should not be present. The fuselage is constructed horizontally, which is good, saving top seams. It is in four parts, consisting of the main rear wing and tail section, then the intakes and cockpit, then a forward section and finally the nose cone. There is some nice radar detail inside the nose but I was not going to leave this open so left it without spending much time there.The main problem is the intake/cockpit section. Firstly, there is no internal intake trunking and you are force to build the intakes with the inlet ramps fully down to hide the interior. There is some debate as to whether this is accurate for this aircraft, but I chose to hide them later with Eduard F.O.D. covers anyway, which seemed a good compromise. However, building the intake section in isolation results in a forward unit that does NOT match up to the main body well at all. It is too narrow. I had to break it apart and artificially force a large gap down the side of the inlet ramps to get this section offered up to the main body without a large step. Even then much filling and sanding was required. Fortunately, the Eduard PE intake set allows you to cover this gap up nicely.
Fortunately, to depict this machine, I did not need to include any ordnance or stores as Belenko took a completely unloaded machine to Japan. He needed to - Soviet policy meant that the aircraft were kept with a minimal amount of fuel on board to prevent just this type of incident, but he just managed to make it!
The sheer size of this model is impressive. The Foxbat is a big plane, and in 1/48 is as big as many a 1/32 fighter jet I have built. But when all is said and done, despite the problems, this builds into a fantastic representation of this iconic aircraft, and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to build it.