• Yoav Efrati

Israel’s Striking Eagles - Hasegawa 72scale F-15D/I

Updated: Jul 29


Introduction:

Hasegawa’s 1/72 scale Eagle kits set the industry standard for accuracy and detail when they were first released in 1988. Twenty five years later, new tooled injection molded CFT, wide clear HUD, bulged main landing gear doors, revised cockpit instrument layout, optional exhaust feathers and ECM antenna bulges keep Hasegawa’s Eagles at the razor’s edge in accuracy, molding sharpness and detail.

Hasegawa’s latest release in IAF F-15I Ra’am boxing (kit number 02028) includes all the parts needed to build any version of the two seat Eagle. This kit review will show the difference in building 2006 Second Lebanon War vintage Israeli F-15D “Improved Baz” and F-15i “Ra’am” versions of the Eagle. The airframes I chose to depict are F-15D Baz number 957 named "מרקיע שחקים" of the 106 squadron and F-15i no.271 Ra'am of the 69 squadron.


Enter the Baz (McDonnell Douglas F-15A/B/C/D) into IAF service:

Israel’s interest in the high flying F-15 Eagle began in it’s mid-70’s prototype development stage. Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat over flights over Israel began in March of 1971. Russian pilots of the 63rd Independent Air Detachment flew MiG-25RB Foxbats on recon flights sporadically between 1971 and 1974. IAF attempts to down the Foxbat using Mirage IIIC and F-4E Phantom IIs were to no avail.

To thwart Foxbat over flights, the IAF rushed into service four prototype Eagle airframes, which landed in Israel on December 10th 1976. Show down between the Eagle and Foxbat occurred for the first time on 13 February 1981, when Syrian MiG-25s attempted to intercept a pair of IAF Recon Phantoms on a mission over Lebanese air space. The first Eagle to shoot down a Foxbat was F-15A no.672, using an AIM-7F Sparrow radar guided missile.

The Eagle’s combat supremacy was under scored in air to air engagements against Syrian MiG-21, 23 and 25 airplanes between 1981 and 1982, where 51.5 MiGs were downed by Israeli F-15 Baz fighters for no loss to the IAF (1/2 a MiG-25 was credited to Hawk SAM battery).

By the summer of 1985, the Eagle’s air superiority mission was supplemented with the long range precision strike mission. The Eagle’s longest strike mission code named “Wooden Leg” occurred on October 1, 1985. 8 or 10 IAF Eagles were sent on a reprisal strike to destroy the PLO head quarters situated on the coast of Tunis, 1,280 miles (2060 km) away from Israel. Making use of GBU-15 optically guided bombs, the PLO head quarters was destroyed, putting the PLO on notice that terrorist operations against Israeli citizens anywhere in the world will not go unpunished.

F-15D Baz number 957 named "מרקיע שחקים" of the 106 squadron - In September 1984 it was involved in a mid air collision with 116sq A-4N Ahit no.374 which tore off its right wing. In spite of the loss of one wing, it's pilot managed to land. The lost wing was replaced and the aircraft was returned to service, attaining the last kill for the "Baz" and attaining the wold record for the number of kills for a single F-15 Eagle at 4.5 (final kill shared with F-15C no.840).

As Israeli F-15 A/B/C/D Eagle’s reached their mid-life, after 15 years of service, they too were upgraded with avionics similar to that used on the Ra’am. Mid life upgraded Eagles are named “Baz Meshupar” and are adorned with a black eagle silhouette on the outboard sides of their vertical fins.

Enter the Ra'am (Boeing F-15i Strike Eagle):

In the mid-80’s the IAF’s 1970’s vintage built Phantoms reached their aluminum airframe fatigue limit life. To succeed the Phantom, the Strike Eagle version of the F-15 was chosen. Offensive and defensive avionics changes made to the Strike Eagle warranted a new designation for Israel’s Strike Eagle, the F-15i was born, and with their arrival in 1999 they were given the name Ra’am (Thunder). For additional reading on the Ra'am, i recommend the following link: http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_fighters/f15_22.html

F-15i Ra'am walk around photos:

For depicting the Ra'am, I chose airframe number 271 in a unique 2006 "Second Lebanon War" configuration, fitted with a centerline GBU-28 laser guided bomb and a pair of GBU-31 GPS guided bunker buster bombs. The F-15E/I is the only aircraft currently able to carry the lengthy GBU-28, which was first dropped from the F-111 during "Desert Storm" in 1991. On the night of 06 September 2007, Ra'am number 271 participated in the night time bombing of the Syrian nuclear power plant situated not far from Deir al-Zour. Markings commemorating the mission were applied to the F-15I and F-16I's participating in the mission only in the year 2018. F-15i numbers 209, 223 and 271 are adorned with the bombing mission markings; of note it the affectionately nicknamed "R2D2" (of Star Wars movie fame) satcom antenna fitted behind the cockpit several years after the mission.

For further reading on the Syrian "Cube" nuclear powerplant and the mission, I recommend the following link: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/MAGAZINE-no-longer-a-secret-how-israel-destroyed-syria-s-nuclear-reactor-1.5914407

Hasegawa 1/72 F-15D/I kit assembly:


Baz vs Ra'am differences:

The F-15D Improved Baz instrument panels were altered by scribing additional viewing screens seen in photos found in IsraDecal Publications book on the Baz. The wheels and main landing gear doors used on the Baz are the non bulged type, so be aware of the difference in the optional kit parts. CFT’s used on the F-15D have only four attachment points for the carriage of air to air missiles, and their rails are found on the CBU parts trees.

The HUD used on the Improved Baz is the small triangular type option found on the clear parts tree.


Assembly steps common to both versions:

To give the F-15D precision strike capability, the forward and aft instrument panels were fitted with viewing screens, these were replicated by scribing them onto the kit’s instrument panels. Improved Baz and Ra’am versions of the Eagle have black painted instrument panels and cockpit tubs. For scale contrast, the cockpit tubs were brush painted dark gray 32, dry brushed with 64 light gray, and given a thin wash of 33 flat black. Select switches were picked out with 19 red, 154 yellow, 2 green and 21 gloss black.

To the kit provided ACES II seats, canopy shattering bows were added atop the head rest, and the aft seat base reduced in height in order to fit under the closed canopy.

Humbrol colors used paint the seat include numbers: 2, 11, 32, 64, 72, 76, 154 and 174.

To keep the model from sitting on its tail, 40 gram fishing weight were added to the nose tip. A plastic strip shim was added underneath the cockpit tub in order to push up the instrument panes against the instrument combings. To ensure proper nose drop angle, part E8 canopy aft fairing was attached to the cockpit nose halves.


Brass pins were used to reinforce the vertical and horizontal stabilizer root joints. The vertical fins, part D1, locating pins are molded too far aft, relative to the fuselage locating holes resulting in the fins being positioned forward of the fuselage molded base fairings. To correct this miss match, elongate the fuselage attachment holes aft using a sharp hobby knife. Cynoacrylate filler is required and the vertical fin joints for gap filling and strength.

Windshield C1 was fitted in place after the mating surface was softened with orange top Tamiya thick liquid cement. Once the windshield had set in its location, Tamiya green top extra thin cement was applied to the joint. After a 24 hour waiting period, the joint was sanded and polished using Albion Alloys polishing pads.

To pose the canopy in the closed position, actuator bar E3 needs to be trimmed in length and cemented directly to the rear cockpit instrument panel combing. To the kits clear canopies, rear view mirrors were added to the forward canopy bow and sheet plastic DASH helmet queuing sensors added just aft of the bows.

The “hot section” aft fuselage areas of both airplanes were painted first with Xtracolor X502 Natural Steel and sealed with Future Klear.

The interior of the exhaust nozzles were detailed with Evergreen no.102 (.010” X .040” plastic stripes) and painted Humbrol 121 Pale Stone.

The exhaust outer petals were sprayed X506 Gunmetal, with the outer petals of the F-15i rubbed with a 2H led pencil and sealed with acrylic clear coat. Oil paints were used to make the inner and outer areas of the exhaust sections stand out.

Baz armament suite:

The weapons fit I chose for the 2006 vintage Baz includes GBU-142 Popeye optically guided bombs and data link pod found in Skunk Models IDF weapon set 72001. To fit the Popeyes under the F-15D’s wing pylons, the missile rails were removed from parts D3, leaving only the adapters attached to the pylons.

The pylons, missiles and relevant guided munitions were sprayed along with the fuselage of both airplanes with Testors Model Masters f.s.36375 Light Ghost Gray. The upper surface camouflage pattern of the F-15D Baz was given a free hand application of f.s.36320 Dark Ghost Gray. 2006 Second Lebanon War vintage Improved Baz markings were found in Sky’s Decal sheets no.16 and SD-45. Decal sheet no.16 clear film is brittle and required a brush application Micro Decal Fix prior to immersion in water.

Ra’am armament suite:

Hasegawa provides the F-15I Ra’am's external intake mounted sensor pods on a parts tree taken from one of their weapons sets, which includes an AN/AAQ-28 Lightning pod which they show attached to under the left intake. This option is incorrect for the Ra’am and needs to be replaced with an AN/AAQ-14 Targeting pod that is found in Hasegawa’s weapon set X72-12. The AN/AAQ-13 Lantrin navigation pod provided is correct. Another error to watch out for is the attachment of CFT vents J2 and J3 which need to be opposite to where shown in step 8 of the instructions.

To avoid inadvertent breakage, the nose gear strut part A24 was drilled through and a metal rod inserted through it and the nose wheel. The Ra’am makes use of a wider nose wheel than used on the Baz, this option is provided in the kit. A plastic rod shimmy damper counter weight was added to the Ra’am’s nose gear strut. Along with a wider nose wheel, the Ra’am makes use of wider main wheels and bulged main gear doors that are also provided in the kit.

For self defense, the Ra’am is flown with AIM-120C and Python 5 on it’s wing pylons. Hasegawa weapon sets X72-9 and X72-13 were needed to equip the Ra’am with LAU-129A/A and AIM-120C missiles on the inboard missile stations. To the kit’s outboard missile rails, Python IV missiles were fitted from Skunk Models IDF weapon set 72001.

The Ra’am is the only aircraft in IAF inventory that is capable of delivering the GBU-28 bunker buster laser guided bomb. The GBU-28 bunker buster laser guided bomb, 72 scale overall length 85mm and 6.4mm diameter, was made up from parts found in Skunk Models US/NATO weapons set 72002. A GBU-24 Paveway III forward section, an additional GBU-24 Paveway III mid section, GBU-10 Paveway II aft fins and an additional 8.5 mm of plastic rod. The f.s.34087 Olive Drab.

To the mid fuselage CFT bomb attachment points, a pair of GBU-31(V)3/B JDAMs painted Humbrol 159 Khaki Drab and 127 Light Ghost Gray were added.





The Ra’am’s camouflage color demarcations had to be precise to match this aircraft’s standard color scheme. With the undersurface f.s.36375 lower areas masked, the radome was painted Testors Model Master f.s.36307. With the radome masked, the upper fuselage was sprayed Xtracolor X105 f.s.33531 Sand. The Ra’am’s sharp camouflage demarcation lines were made by enlarging the kit’s paint instructions on a copying machine. To obtain a 1/72 scale masking template, the kit’s top view painting instructions were enlarged to 142 percent, and the side views enlarged to 122 percent. Blue Tack adhesive was applied to the contact surface of the paper pattern and applied to the area requiring masking.

Weathering of both aircraft consisted of panel line enhancement using an ordinary HB .05 diameter pencil, using pencil eraser to reduce the line darkness. For best effect I recommend a 2H pencil lead hardness be used which limits excess graphite from smearing on the paint. After enhancing the panel lines, the model was sprayed with a coat of Future Klear to seal the pencil lead in the recessed detail prior to decal application.

Decal Application: all decals are sandwiched between brush layers of Future Klear. Once decal application was complete, the upper surface colours were bleached by blending white oil paint on upper surface areas using a brush. Areas where this was found excessive, a cotton squib moistened with turpentine restored the original colour.

Final Assembly - consisted of wing pylons and external stores installation, lower nose section antenna replacement using True Details photo etched antennas and thin brass wire, needle angle of attack probes and the kit’s angled pitot tubes, nose gear landing lights made of reflective lenses, white vertical fin and wing tip antennas, and last to be added, red and blue position lights.

Completed 2006 "Second Lebanon War" vintage F-15D "Baz" and F-15i Ra'am model photos.

Hasegawa 1/72 F-15D Baz Meshupar no.957 "מרקיע שחקים" of the 106 squadron, in 2006 Second Lebanon War strike configuration:

Hasegawa 1/72 F-15I Ra'am no.271 of the 69 squadron, in 2006 Second Lebanon War strike configuration:

Special Tools and Accessories:

Hasegawa Weapon sets: X72-9, X72-12, X72-13, X72-14.

Skunk Models weapon sets: 72001 and 72002.

Paragon Designs set 72070 Elta 8222 ECM pod.

IsraDecal IAF-45 IAF F-15i Ra’am 1/72 scale

Sky’s Decal #16 1/72 IAF F-15A/B/C/D Baz/Improved Baz

Sky’s Decal SD-45 1/72 F-15 stencils

ArmorCast Decals ACD72003 IAF Victory Marks 1948-2012

True Details 1/72 scale assorted photo etched antennas

Paints Used:

Testors Model Master: MM1728 Light Ghost Gray f.s.36375, MM1741 Dark Ghost Gray f.s.36320,

MM1726 Light Sea Gray f.s.36307, MM2049 RAF Sky Type “S” ANA610 (f.s.34424),

MM1742 Dark Tan f.s.30219, MM1723 Gunship Gray f.s.36118.

Xtracolor: X105 Sand, X502 Natural Steel, X506 Gunmetal.

Tamiya: X2 Gloss White, X19 Smoke, X21 Flat Base.

Humbrol: 2 Emerald Green, 11 silver, 15 Midnight Blue, 19 Bright Red, 21 Gloss Black, 32 Dark Grey,

33 matt black, 34 matt white, 54 brass, 64 Light Grey, 67 Tank Gray, 70 brick-red,

76 Uniform Green, 85 Coal Black, 121 Pale Stone, 127 Light Ghost Gray,

154 Insignia Yellow, 155 Olive Drab, 159 Khaki Drab, 174 Signal Red, 220 Ferrari Red.

Weathering Agents:

Van Gogh Oil paints: Burnt Umber, Titanium White, Paynes Grey.

Reference:

Aircraft in Detail no.2 – F-15I Ra’am in IAF Service, IsraDecal publications 2006, Ra’anan Weiss, Alon Koren and Ron Feldman.

Aircraft of the Israeli Air Force no.5 – McDonnell Douglas / Boeing F-15 Baz; IsraDecal publications 2006, Ra’anan Weiss, Alon Koren.

Detail and Scale Vol.40 – US Aircraft and Armament of Operation Desert Storm, Bert Kinzey 1992.

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