1/72 Hasegawa & Academy F-15I Ra'am x4

Gallery Article by Ian Buick on June 24 2011

 

Hi all, it's been six years since I set out to make a Ra'am four-ship and finally, in June 2011, the job is done.  As there still isn't a definitive F-15E on the market in 72nd scale, it can take a bit of slight of hand to get an F-15I without breaking the bank, so I've included some text from all four builds which I hope someone may find useful someday. Or you can just scroll down to the dozens of varied pics at the bottom if you wish. 

 Nice thing about the R'am is that it's colourful and comes loaded for any eventuality, a mean machine that's missions have become as secretive as it's 'Bird of Prey' motiff is imposing.

 One F-15I serves with the Israeli test and evaluation centre, but the remaining twenty-four serve with 69 Squadron 'The Hammers' at Hatzerim Airforce Base in Southern Israel. I have modelled four F-15I Ra'am from this squadron, 217, 234, 246, and 250, after making sure that each machines number matched the markings I intended to give it as these have varied over the years, this is when good reference comes into it's own.

 Anyway, hope you enjoy!     

Click on images below to see larger images

  

  

  

1/72 Academy Ra'am 217, completed December 2005.
This is the Academy F-15E in 72nd scale converted to F-15I status. As of 2005, the Academy kit seemed to be the best choice for this version due to its' various extras which includes 'turkey feather' exhausts. 

The GBU-28 'Bunker Buster' LGB, some cockpit details, HUD, radar warning receivers, CFT air scoops, landing lights, and internal detail of 'turkey feather' exhausts are scratchbuilt. Python AAMs are from Paragon, other stores are from Hasegawa as is the crew members. Some Eduard PE in the cockpit.

I built this kit before I had access to Isradecals F-15I sheet so markings are a mixture from sheets by Hi-decal, Academy, Hasegawa, Almark, and Revell. Humbrol paints and diluted wash. A nice kit for its' age with plenty of options but watch for the weak nosegear, poor forward fuselage assembly and missing middle CFT pylons. Aircraft is serial #217 of 69 Squadron (The Hammers), Hatzerim 2005.

1/72 Academy Ra'am 234 , completed June 2006.
Another 1/72 Academy conversion carrying a GBU-28, but this time with Isradecal''s Ra'am sheet. Very nicely detailed and with an excellent grouped stencils innovation, but overly prone to silvering. Also new out was Isradecal's superb F-15I Ra'am reference book, still the authorative publication on the subject in 2011.

1/72 Hasegawa Ra'am 246 (Revell re-boxing), completed January 2009. 
Revell provided the bulk of build, Academy provided CFT, Turkey-Feathered 'burner cans, spare pylons for conversions, Isra provided bulged gear doors, PE pylon swaybraces, and their superb decal sheet.
In-progress comments;

1- To avoid light glare in the cockpit during night missions, Israeli F-15I cockpits were painted entirely black, therefore the pre-painted Eduard parts must be also, taking care to avoid blacking out the MFDs and controls. The side consoles are kit parts so can be painted black with controls picked out in silver (to make them stand out a little more than the correct grey colour) and the odd yellow, and red controls. Then some light weathering. Next, The WSO side stick to be added etc...

2- Referring to the magnificent Isra book on the F-15I, I got the notion that Eduard had misplaced some levers (or maybe this was an Israeli configuration), and I put this right.
I dusted down and restored a scratchbuilt Rafael SPICE GPS bomb I made from a Hasegawa Paveway and plasticard a couple of years ago for an F-16. It is now going on the centreline of my Ra'am.

The Eduard displays were a PE metal piece stuck on the sanded kit display, (I used the old style kit displays so that I may use the new ones at some other point, the kit parts are the same size when sanded), there then came the clear film to give the 'glass' screen effect, then overlayed with the final controls PE piece. Each layer has to line up exactly or the effect is lost.

Then, to round off, add all the little levers that drive one daft trying to stick on without loosing them, or glueing over the MFD screens.

I love the effect. However, I have the zoom set and the ejector seats getting nothing like the same detail on the PE fret as the displays so a little DIY work is needed.
As for the CFT, I'll decide when I dry fit the two choices, although Hase is edging ahead as it is crisper round the edges whiles Academy CFT meanders with a mind of it's own. Whichever I choose, there will have to be additions, not least of which is the middle CFT pylon (why do so many companies miss this out? 

I don't know the Airfix kit so I'm afraid I can't compare, but I have heard that their CFT are best.

My dilemma was the downward firing expendable boxes on the tail booms. Isradecal's superb book shows them in lines of five, their equally excellent decal sheet has lines of three, whiles the Isracast add-ons have lines of five. I was going to use the decals (as they look crisper) until I saw the pic that showed different colour cartridges in either dispenser (red/green).

A sucker for this kind of anorak detail, I've cut down the boom to use the Isracast part.
The arrestor hook on The Ra'am has no shroud so this must be removed from between the engines, from both fuselage halves 
A scratchbuilt hook will be added later.

Then, the tail boom sections must be removed, right along the panel line to make way for the Isra pieces.  The square gap between the engines, where the arrestor-hook used to be, will need filling when the halves are joined.  It is worth noting that Israeli Ra'am have no electronics pod atop either tail unit, fortunately this kit provides three tails (one with, two without) so that the desired version is easily modelled. 
I did the filler work on the Ra'am and was stunned at how little was required for the Revell (Hasegawa) kit compared with the Academy kit. I had so much Miliput left over I made armchairs for the ground crew.

The Hasegawa kit is starting to show it's limitations. The CFT pylons are hopeless (probably from the earlier tool F15E prototype kit from The Bronze Age) and there is NO inner pylon that runs most the length of the CFTs. Spares from Academy F-15E kits have been used and can be seen in the pics to be a lighter shade of gray plastic than the Hasegawa parts.

I've also nabbed a pair of 'Turkey Feather' exhausts from the Academy kit. The Academy kits won't be wasted as I plan to turn them into Israeli F-15D with CFT and 'Featherless' cans.

I've used the Hase CFT and will need to do a bit of scribing on them, but they fit a lot better than Academy CFT do on the Hase kit and even on their own kit!
The locating pins for the Hase CFT pylons was way off and had to be filled.

I began filling the CFT and pylon gaps, and there were plenty. This ended up taking most my time, with the test shot curing, and I added the strakes to the inside of the cans and painted their outside in an aluminium basecoat.

More detail work on The Ra'am. I had to remove and re-attach the canopy when I found plastic shavings had rolled onto the transparencies, from inside the model, and would not shift, GAH! A basic, but annoying mistake.

I filled the gaps with Humbrol 'Clearfix' which has the consistency of porridge. It is a clumsy substance to put on, but when it dries, you can remove exactly what you want, sealing your canopy, without leaving stains or fear of running glue/paint into the small spaces between canopy and cockpit items.

I just remembered the blade aerial that has to be added just ahead of the canopy.
1- The two small blades between the two larger ones under the forward fuselage must be removed as well as the small one behind the forward gear well.
2- Two small sensors in the shape of an upside down 'L' shape must be added P/S just behind the forward gear well.
3- Scratchbuilt arrestor hook added.

A bit of filler added to the kit doors and sanded to shape can simulate the 'bulged' main gear doors, I used the Isracast ones here. The coffin shape just forward of the stbd main gear is the ejector of gun ammo cases. The CFT airscoops and the expendables boxes on the tail boom are quite nicely executed by Isracast but can also be readily fashioned from scratch. 

Every time I consult the superb Isra walkaround book on The Ra'am, I find something else that needs doing. 

I may now be ready for primer, but don't bet the house on it!
Things went well tonight, and the primer went on without drama, and revealed very few blemishes. So-much-so that I began prepping Paragon Designs Python 4/5 AAM. They needed straightened a bit and I filled some minor flaws with superglue, but this doesn't detract from what is a very nice product from Paragon. Very nice and crisp detail, and at a reasonable price.

I got some silicone rubber for making moulds and this is finally up to the job, a little too much maybe, as I can see small scratches where I've used rough sandpaper on the master replicted in every detail in the mould. WOW, this stuff is good! I'll be casting four bomb racks presently.

Sixteen 'stores are coming together, and a final light dust of primer has shown just a few more areas need a little more attention.

The engine area, and top sides camo (Humbrol mid-stone #121) painted.
Things rather gathering pace again with the build.

First off, I added the missile rails the wing pylons. I'm going to fit a Python SRAAM and an AMRAAM on each, so each needs two different kind of launch rails. The AMRAAM has a blunter end to it and the Academy part fits the bill, even though, I suspect, it is suppossed to be an identical Sidewinder rail to the Hasegawa version. Whatever, the Academy fits nicely, even it's locating pins match the Hasegawa holes........handy! 
The 'pointy' rail needs to go on the outside facing away from the aircraft to advantage the high off-boresight firing capabilities of Python 4/5, with AMRAAM fitting comfortably on the inside rail.

Brown camo went on without too much fuss (Humbrol #29 Dark Earth).

I'm sticking two quad launchers on on each of the two long CFT pylons, that is why I've been trying to cast them so I get four identical items. Then four Small Diameter Bombs on each rack.
Pale green camo went on tonight (Xtracolour Israeli Green), the arrestor hook was painted white, and the tank assemblies were spryed gray.
almost forgot that a small round vent, just behind the cockpit on the starboard side had to be filled as these don't appear on Israeli machines.
Python SRAAM going together also, and I have started moulding SDB racks. Fuel tanks looking ready to go.

Some touch up work required on paintjob. In particular, the AoA sensors either side of the cockpit are ready moulded and are in a lousy place for masking the camo demarcation line, but that's easily sorted.

The SBDs are coming along nicely, metal work (grills, cannon port etc) touched-up, I think it is time for some weathering.

GBU-39 SDB are almost ready, their BRU-61/A racks are now ready for detailing.
Ra'am is weathered and ready for gloss.

Finished the last of the minor touch-up work on the airframe; silver tip on radome, green expendables boxes on underside tail-booms, and added the GPS reciever. The GPS is a small green dot STBD of the airbrake, and in 72nd scale it just needs a dot of paint to represent it. I started glossing up The Ra'am for decaling, tonight.
The GBU-39 are ready, their BRU-61/A racks are close behind.
I also began the AMRAAM, and Nav/Targeting pods tonight.
I've been trying to charge on with The Ra'am, so hence fewer updates.
Last few days saw decaling completed, and the matt varnish coat went on tonight.
All that is left is canopy frame, U/cart, and stores.
Small plastic rod added tp fwd gear just above wheel.
Just finished The Ra'am!

The R2-D2 'dome' just behind the cockpit was added at a later date.
1/72 Hasegawa Ra'am 250 , completed June 2011.
This time used the Sky's Decals set for the Ra'am and found them superior, in most ways, to the Isradecal sheet. Skunkmodels' Popeye missile and pod were also used. 
All in all, I reached the following conclusions, in early 2011, on how to set about constructing a Ra'am in 72nd scale;
"The two kits closest to a Strike Eagle in 72nd scale are Academy and 'newer'Hasegawa. The Academy has very poor fit, cockpit and other details BUT it does have some (not all) of the CFT pylons that you need. The Hasegawa kit is really a protoype of the 'E', namely an F-15B with bombs, but the detail is nice as is the fit.
So here are two of the ways of getting an F-15I:

THE EXPENSIVE WAY
1- Hasegawa kit (currently boxed as 'Iraqi Freedom) around 30.
2- Isracast set (pretty poor quality and instructions, but has the corrected CFT pylons and enclosed 'Turkey Feather 'burner cans) 17.
3- Isradecals F-15I Ra'am sheet in 72nd 17.50.
4- Eduard Zoom set which will need blacked out in places but gives REAL nice cockpit MF displays 4-5.
Giving a grand total of 65 to 70 for a fighter in 72nd scale.
OR........

THE NOT SO EXPENSIVE WAY
1- Find the Revell F-15E rebox of the identical Hasegawa kit for half the price.
2- Get the Academy F-15E kit that can supply the same range of spares for 7 less than Isracast set PLUS you have another F-15 airframe and a load of bombs left over. If you have the skill to use the Isracast set, then you have more than enough skill to get the parts from the Academy kit for a lot less money and hassle. 10.
3- Sky's decals F-15I Ra'am set has turned out to be slightly superior to the Isradecal set and is cheaper as well at 15.
4- Eduard Zoom set 4-5.

Giving a revised total of around 45 pounds in UK money. Cheaper and better IMHO.
It is possible to get excellent and sufficient reference on the F-15I from the internet, but I have to add that Isradecals' book on the Ra'am is a superb piece of reference work, gets right in where even static airshow pics don't quite reach, highly recommended."

Hasegawa has announced a limited edition F-15I Ra'am in 1/72 for release in July 2011. Whether this will be up-to-scratch as the definitive Ra'am in 72nd scale remains to be seen.

Ian Buick

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Photos and text by Ian Buick