Building a jet: Hobbyboss’ 1/48 AMX A-11A Ghibli

I’m not sure why I’ve never built jets. Up until now, I’ve never looked at a jet kit and thought “Oh, I must build that one!” Spitfires, yes. P-40s and P-39s, yes. Yet for some reason, the desire to build a jet has eluded me.

Then along comes the May 2016 issue of Airfix Model World. There was a build report of the Kinetic AMX kit, and as I looked through that, I thought it looked really cool. I don’t recall who built it, though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Wayne.

Now, I must confess- I never actually read jet articles in model magazines. I scan through them, look at the pics, but I never read them. (Unless they are written by Mike Grant. I always study his work carefully!) But this AMX plane- one I had never even heard of- stuck in my mind.

Then, not long after that, I was perusing through Youtube kit preview videos, and came across an inbox review of Hobbyboss’ 1/48 AMX kit by Flory Models. And for the first time in quite a while, a kit called out to me.

And it was a jet.

Now, please understand, I don’t mean that literally. I wasn’t having delusions or hearing voices. (I think.) Seriously…. strange men talking in videos distributing kits is no basis for a system of building.

Yet I realized I wanted to build that jet.

A quick look comparing the Hobbyboss to the Kinetic kit confirmed what I wanted to know- the Hobbyboss kit was cheaper. And while Hobbyboss can often have faults in shape and detail, I’ve never been able to fault them for fit. And I figured for my first jet, I may as well choose something simple.

So it was happily off to the best hobby shop on planet Earth, Hayes Hobby House in Fayetteville, NC, to pick up my new kit.

In some ways, this has been a “brand new” experience. Though I’ve built over 220 aircraft in the last 10 years, this is the first time in a long time I’ve really had fun doing research. Reading about techniques for weathering and detailing has been a real pleasure. You’d think the process would be virtually identical, but there are some finer points that do make a difference. And that process of discovery has been rejuvenating.

The kit itself is not overly impressive. It’s not bad, but it’s really a basic, simple kit. While there are over 150 parts, a large number are ordnance- bombs, missiles and drop tanks, so the actual number of parts used for a build will be significantly under that. And while I haven’t compared the overall shape to any drawings, it seems to be reasonably shaped when I compare things to photos. I have noticed a few small details that were missed, but nothing egregious. The biggest omission I’ve seen is the lack of rudder pedals- how do you miss those? But in looking at photos, they’re difficult to see anyway, so perhaps they thought “why bother?” Easy enough to scratch build though.

I did order a resin seat for the kit. Though the kit seat looks decent enough, the belts provided are photoetch, and I do not like using photoetch. A little research showed that the seat used is a Martin Baker Mk. 10 seat, so a quick visit to Hannant’s turned up one. I just hope it fits….

To start off I decided to build as many major sub-assemblies as I could prior to adding any paint. The wheel wells look busy enough, and because the larger portion of the gear door is closed up anyway, very little will be seen of it. The parts fit like a snap-tite kit… perfect. The landing gear look quite nice, and in comparing them to photos of the real thing, do a fair job representing the aircraft’s legs. Test fitting showed it won’t be a problem to leave the gear legs off until after assembly and painting, a departure from the instructions. (C’mon, we all know they’re really suggestions anyway…) I did leave the wheels off, as those can wait until the end.

The cockpit simply required gluing in the control stick, and now I just wait on the resin seat to arrive. I do think I may add a few bits and bumps to the cockpit sidewall just to dress it up, but nothing crazy. The kit does provides decals for the ip and side panels.

I also drilled out the gun barrels. They actually had small indents, but I thought drilling them out a bit more would look nice. I think it did!

And I’ve built missiles for the first time. I actually swooshed them around as I sat at the model desk and made explosion sounds, all the while hearing the “Danger Zone” music running through my head. (Maybe I am hearing voices…?)

So far, the fit has been stellar, and the project has been very fun. My plan is to take my time with this build- no slapping it together like I typically do. Just enjoy the process.

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