Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sanshoh F-15A Eagle in 1/100 Scale

Peterson Hobbies and Crafts in Lancaster stocked many imported model kits from Japan. I liked these kits because they were different from the usual Monogram and Revell lineup at department stores, and they were cheap. Sometime in 1976 I spotted the Sanshoh F-15 Eagle and bought it. I don't remember being a big fan of the F-15 because it was too new and common. But I do remember putting it together, leaving it mostly unpainted in the original but incorrect Air Defense Command gray-colored plastic.
Finding this old kit again on EBay wasn't hard; there are lots of them being auctioned off, still unbuilt. It was interesting though to find this kit, and it's companions (Mig-25, F-14, Mirage IV) were produced in Japan by both Mania, and Sanshoh sometime in the mid 1970s (the Japanese kit makers except for Tamiya never put a date on anything!)Who made it first? I don't know, but it's still available today by Academy.
At 1/100 scale, it's small, but fits nicely on a bookshelf. For the casual, non-airbrushing builder like myself, the paint scheme presents a bit of a problem. Early F-15s were painted in the USAF's proud new "Air Superiority Blue" (ASB)color scheme. F-15s were solid in this scheme, while the Air Force experimented with it in a two-tone camouflage for a couple of early F-16s, a YF-17, and an A-10 or two. In 1974, both Revell and Monogram molded their F-15A kit in the correct ASB, so quick-building kids could have a realistic looking model without painting. If one wanted to build Hasegawa's or Sansho's F-15 however, the builder had to mix blue and white paint together to get the proper shade. Serious modelers who airbrush do this all the time without much ado. On this rebuild, I wanted to brush paint it, and so wanted a pre-mixed ASB. The only pre-mixed bottle of ASB I could find at my local hobby store was by Mr. Hobby. It's a thick, goopy acrylic that requires a special thinner. I brushed it on, unthinned, and it covered well, but dried semi-gloss with some visible streaks. Oh well, it sure looks better than my original one. The decals went on just fine with no breakage. I chose to make it gear up on the display stand. Unfortunately the gear door pieces did not fit well into their respective places, and required a lot of trimming, making the bottom area rather rough. All other pieces fit very well - it's a pretty crisp and accurate little kit. I would have liked to applied the prototype's day-glo red/orange panels, but again, nobody makes a pre-mixed bottle of this color, and I didn't want to mix-and-brush it. So, it complies with the scheme of the first production F-15As to come off the line: all ASB, with minimal USAF markings. A fun kit to revisit, and brings back good memories of those trips to Peterson's in search of inexpensive Japanese airplane kits.

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