When Japan announced that it wanted to replace its aging F-4EJ Kai Phantoms with something new, the world’s fighter makers entered their best into the fray. The Japanese, to the surprise of many, chose the troubled JSF over the Typhoon, Rafale and Super Hornet. This came as a surprise to many because of the cost of the JSF and the fact that it is a smaller, single-engined aircraft; generally the JASDF prefers the safety of two engines.
The announcement in late 2011 that the JSF had won the F-X competition was a big boost for the JSF, especially in the Pacific. However, as delays with the program mounted, the Japanese informed Lockheed-Martin that they would reconsider their purchase if there were additional delays or cost increases. This, for a brief time, opened up the possibility of Japan re-evaluating the other aircraft it had previously rejected.
That’s when I got the idea for a JASDF Typhoon. I mean, the JASDF did evaluate the Typhoon, and as a replacement for the Phantom it makes good sense. There’s a two-seater version and it has two engines for over-water safety. I also had a two-holer Typhoon in the stack and the Hasegawa Japanese weapons set right close by. Thus was born the F-13B Typhoon.
As I write this, in 2013, the Japanese have solidified their decision on the F-35 and there will be no re-evaluation of other aircraft. Whether this proves for the better is not something I’m going to get into here. History will judge that. This is an article on my What-If build of what the JASDF could have had.
The Revell Germany two-seat Typhoon is a pretty decent looking kit. Typical of RoG kits, there are many fine panel lines and details all over the aircraft, and one gets the impression that it will fit together well. The detail on the Typhoon is about the same level and size as one finds on a newer Academy WWII kit, so there’s nothing to sneeze at. The canopy looks pretty nice, and you get a few extra pieces in the two-seater; namely, the parts that would be for the single-seater.
Dry fitting the kit gives no indication of any major problems; the wings and fuselage all fit nicely, the canopy fits on the body without any major hassle, and the pylons also seem to snug up to the bottom of the wing well. There is a problem, though, and that’s in the intake. I’ll get to that in a bit. The only other disappointment is in the weapons; because the two-seaters are generally (as yet) not used in a combat role, the kit only comes with a few Meteor AAMs. These aren’t badly done, but I was kind of hoping for more. Also, while you get the single-seater’s pylons, you don’t get weapons for them.
The decals that come with the kit are typical for a RoG kit; there are quite a few stencils and there are markings for a German aircraft. Of course, I needed Hinomarus for my kit, so the factory decals were only a secondary concern for me.
Building/Modding the Typhoon:
The first major change that I ran into on this Whif project had nothing to do with the “whifness” at all. This is the issue of the intakes that I mentioned earlier. On older kits, you often find that the intakes are “less than complete”. By that, I mean that they are gaping holes that look into a completely hollow airframe. This is actually normal for kits made 30 years ago; see my Lansen for details. In cases like that, it is incumbent on the modeller to do something to seal off the intakes and reduce the apparent hollowness. Normally, you can just block the offending intake pipe off with sheet styrene and be done.
Having to do this, though, is not something I expected on a RoG, especially one that has tooling that was not previously owned by FROG or Matchbox! That having been said, the entire “roof” of the intake system is missing, and there aren’t any compressor faces for the front of the engine! Thus, I had to make an intake box out of sheet styrene. I just blanked the end of the box off and painted it black to simulate “holes”, and then use thin styrene to build a contoured “ceiling” to the intake. This had to match up with the existing intake ramps and splitters, so it was a bit of a contortionist’s act! Thankfully, the styrene was quite flexible, and in the end, the result was pretty good. Still, it’s a tight fit inside the fuselage, and it was a lot more work than I think a reasonable person would expect.
I am aware that there are indeed resin intake trunks for both this and the Hasegawa Typhoon, but I didn’t feel it was that important to go to the trouble and expense. That, of course, is entirely up to the individual modeller; the fact that these aftermarket pieces exist at all proves that this is a trouble spot on a couple kits!
Once I got the intakes done, I proceeded to modify the aircraft in many ways, to make it more suitable for JASDF use.
1.) Vertical Fin: I got rid of the UHF aerial housing on the top of the fin, and lowered the fin as well. I’ve always thought the tail on the Typhoon was too tall for my liking, and seeing as the F-13B would operate at low levels, the taller tail wouldn’t be required.
2.) Tailcone: I wanted to give the F-13B a drag chute, like the Phantom, so I used Aves Apoxie Sculp to make a new tailcone for the plane. Rather than the short, stumpy inter-engine spacer plate on the normal Typhoon, I now have a nice, contoured tailcone that looks similar to that on a Phantom, and which could, conceivably, hold a chute. I painted it as bare metal because I doubt paint would survive back there!
3.) DASS Pods/Wingtip Rails: The Typhoon carries the DASS (Defensive Aids Subsystem) on its wingtip stations, in two pods. One has a towed decoy, the other EW gear. However, the DASS isn’t something the Japanese would use, I don’t think, at least not in the European form. However, the F-2 (also tasked with anti-shipping) carries wingtip missiles, like its F-16 forebears. This also makes sense for the F-13B, so I chopped up a twin Sidewinder rail from one of my weapons sets and glued them to the wingtips.
4.) Refueling Access: The Japanese F-4s and F-2s have a standard USAF flying boom receptacle on them, but the Typhoon uses a probe/drogue system. I used the decals from a 1/72 F-16XL as a template to cut a new refueling door in the spine of the aircraft, similar to where it is on an F-2. This necessitated several changes:
4a.) Airbrake Deletion: The dorsal airbrake was glued into place and filled in, allowing a place for the boom receptacle.
4b.) Probe Deletion: The nose-mounted FR probe was removed, and the hole filled. The bulge that normally houses the probe was sanded flush with the nose.
5.) Cannon Installation: The Japanese use the M61 Vulcan 6-barrel 20mm cannon in most of their aircraft that carry guns. It makes no sense that the Typhoon would retain its 27mm Mauser cannon in Japanese service; this would be logistically impractical and un-Japanese in its non-standardization. Thus, I figured that the F-13B would have a Vulcan installed. I used Apoxie Sculp to create a new, larger cannon bulge on the Starboard side wing root, and I drilled out a gun trough using my pin vise.
6.) IRST Sensor: Given that the F-13B is optimized for anti-shipping (technically “anti-landing craft…), having the dogfight-optimised PIRATE system up on the nose didn’t make sense. Thus, I used a spare component to put an undernose optical fairing in, something that looked more like a FLIR or Laser sensor than an IRST.
7.) ECM System: The Japanese use the AN/ALQ-131 jammer pod on the F-4EJ Kai, so it only makes sense that they would use the same pod on its successor, in this case, the F-13B. I used one of my Hasegawa -131 pods and drilled out two small holes on the centerline so I could mount it. The pod fits perfectly between the gear doors, too, which was a nice surprise!
8.) Pylons/Weapons: The F-13B would use Japanese weapons. I have the Hasegawa Japanese weapons set, so I used AAM-3’s on the wingtip and AAM-4’s in the semi-conformal bays on the intake. I figured that, since this isn’t a dogfighter, four AAMs would be enough, and didn’t mount the rear two AAM-4’s. The big problem was for the anti-shipping weapons. I built up two ASM-2s for under the wing, and I wanted to use some laser-guided bombs as well. However, the two-seaters aren’t well armed, so I didn’t have pylons. But I did!!! The kit does come with additional pylons that aren’t called out in the instructions. After some fiddling and modifications to make the bombs fit (and the pylons fit under the wings, around the landing gear), I was able to get a Typhoon armed with two ASM-2’s and 2 bombs, PLUS tanks!
The only other iffy part was the wing/body junction. There is a bulge in the wing where these two join; it’s not quite a fillet, but it’s not a smooth joint, either. There is a cut in the wing right through this bulge, and I wasn’t sure whether to fill it or treat it as a panel line. I chose to fill it, and this was quite a bit of work. As it turns out, I could have left it as a panel line; I think it’s more correct that way. Oh well, live and learn!
Painting and Finishing:
I have always found the two-tone blue on the F-4EJ Kais and the F-2s to be very attractive. I wanted the same for my Typhoon, so I used Testors Model Master Acrylic Intermediate Sea Blue and Dark Sea Blue. First, I did the body in the Intermediate Blue, and then masked off the Dark Blue blobs using Tamiya Tape. As always, any leaks were very easily touched up because the Testors paints don’t change colour when airbrushed.
I painted the wheel bays white, and washed them with a light grey wash to bring out the detail, but not dull the whiteness. This worked well, and was the first time I’d tried something like that. I also washed the AAMs and ASMs using a slightly darker version of the Light Ghost Grey that they were painted.
All optical windows were done using Bare Metal Foil. The windows were then overpainted using Tamiya clear acrylics. This gives a very nice “optical” look, and the various “windows” on the Typhoon really “pop”, even at a distance! The engines were done in Jet Exhaust with a black wash to bring out the detail. A thin coat of blue metallic was then hand brushed over the engines to give them that “heat-stained” look.
All the panel lines were done with a filed-down mechanical pencil and were highlighted using appropriately-mixed chalk pastels. This technique, to simulate pre-shading, is very easy and fun to do, and I did the whole aircraft in a matter of an hour and a half or so. Once the pencil and pastel was on, I glossed the plane using Future.
For the decals, I used a mix of kit decals and spares. The spares came from the Hasegawa 1/72 ACE COMBAT “Shinden 2” kit. This is a model of a fictional plane from a video game series and one of the suggested paint schemes is the “overwater” blue on blue, like my Typhoon! From this kit, I used the Hinomarus, aircraft numbers and squadron markings. After all, if I’m going to make an imaginary plane, it makes sense to use markings from another imaginary plane, right?
I finished the plane in a satin finish made from Future and Delta Ceramcoat Matte Varnish. Final assembly was simple; just glue in the landing gear and pop on the weapons, and “POOF”. Of course, it wasn’t really that simple; the engine nozzles wouldn’t fit into the body once it was together, so I had to sand a significant lead on them and force them into the holes. This blew the body apart and the rear wing/body junction, but thankfully the crack was only a hairline one, and a bit of glue swiftly, and invisibly, put things back right!
As a kit, the RoG Eurofighter Typhoon two-seater is a solid “meh”. It has nice detailing and good fit, for the most part, but there are some things that bugged me, not the least of which was the intake trunking. The cockpit detailing was only so-so, and the lack of weaponry was downer. Overall, I got a vibe of something great cut just a bit short. However, as a basic kit for someone who doesn’t care about “hollow plane syndrome”, it’s also only a “meh”, because there are some fragile and fiddly bits on the FR probe (if you use it) and landing gear.
Thus, overall, I would say that this kit is something of an orphan. It’s not good enough for good modellers, but it’s a bit too much for the inexperienced. It’s likely good for folks somewhere in between, or, as a canvas for extensive whiffery!
I think there are better kits of the Typhoon out there, and I’d suggest trying those before this one. However, if you want a cheap alternative for either what-if work or as a “family build” with a more junior modeller, this one could do the trick.