Hasegawa’s venerable 1/48 F-15 is a surprisingly nice build that stacks up well against more modern toolings. Other F-15 kits are embarrassingly poor efforts in comparison.
The F-15 was developed from a combination of lessons from Vietnam, and worst-case assumptions about the USSR’s emerging MiG-23 and MiG-25 fighters. The result was a pure air superiority fighter which represented such a step change over existing designs that it remains one of the world’s leading types almost 50 years after its first flight.
Air combat over Vietnam showed that predictions of future air war relying on beyond visual range (BVR) missiles were simplistic, and that design compromises to manoeuvrability could easily be fatal for pilots. It is worth pointing out that the failure of BVR combat was not primarily due to technical issues but rules of engagement that required visual target identification. This meant that close-range combat was always likely, hence the increased focus on this was a recognition of real-world conditions, though this requirement for wider battlefield awareness and target tracking led to the development and subsequent centrality of AWACS systems.
Hasegawa’s F-15 dates from 1985 and as you might expect lacks the level of detail that is common today, with rivet detail being the most prominent omission. The exhausts, missiles and seat all appear a bit dated, but these are also the easiest parts to replace, as indeed I did. There is a slight suggestion of a funny shape around the nose, which could just be me. However the instruments and side panels in the cockpit are really quite nice. They are simple, but have a crisp relief which makes them easy to paint. I added a few Anyz detail decals and the result is quite nice.
As an older tooling, it should be no surprise that this kit best represents an early (1980s) F-15C variant. That is fine if like me you want to represent a plane from this era, but it might not be the best choice for a modern one. Happily in that case both the Academy and GWH Cs represent 2000s aircraft.
I was expecting to have to fight this build, as the age made me think it would have poor fit. There were a few areas which looked to promise trouble: separate wings are always a pain to smooth to a lifting body fuselage and the forward / rear fuselage join is a menace on every F-15 kit.
As it turned out, the kit fits reasonably well and its simplicity helps. There were no big steps across joins, nor gaps. Even the difficult parts were quite straightforward to mate and smooth. That isn’t to say that it fits perfectly by any means: most seams required some filler and smoothing. But compared to the newer Academy and GWH kits, this one is the best fitting. The advantage of the GWH is that the wing is moulded into the fuselage, but that one is a mare around the rear fuselage join. Meanwhile the Academy’s intakes don’t want to align anywhere, and you still have to attach the wings separately.
To represent a 1980s aircraft in the high vis Compass Ghost scheme, I bought a resin seat, Eduard’s Brassin AIM-7 and AIM-9M missiles, and a set of Ka Model 3D printed exhausts. Also the decals had not aged well so they got replaced too. Paints as usual were MRP. Note that while the three-tank configuration is not flown today (apparently there were aerodynamic flutter issues, and the development of conformal fuel tanks mitigated the need), it is present on many photos from this period.
Note on paint process
More Detail Photos