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Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk
Ground Attack Aircraft

U.S. Air Force

United States Air Force
37th Tactical Fighter Wing
Tonopah Test Range Airport
(Senior Trend project site PS-66)
Nevada, 1990


This model added to on April 22, 2012

Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
The Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk was the result of a top secret program dating back to the early 1970's to invent "low observable technology" (aka "Stealth technology"). The faceted shape of the Nighthawk was designed to deflect radar signals and had to be made up entirely of 2-dimentional flat surfaces because of the limited capability of 1970's computers to calculate radar cross-sections.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
This single-seat, twin-engine, stealth ground-attack aircraft was optimized for night bombing missions and is reported to have a radar signature of about 0.025 m2 (0.269 sq ft), roughly the size of a small bird.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk

The production F-117A made it's first flight on 15 October 1982 from the remote flight test facility (Area 51) at Groom Lake, Nevada. The aircraft was not acknowledged and revealed to the public until November 1988 and was still not widely publicized until the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Italeri F-117A Nighthawk

The F-117A's split internal bay carried up to 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) of ordnance. Typical weapons were GBU-10, GBU-12, or GBU-27 laser-guided bombs, BLU-109 penetration bombs, or Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs).

Italeri F-117A Nighthawk

To lower development costs, a large number of systems and parts were derived from the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet and McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle. Many parts were acquired as spares for these other aircraft types in order to keep the F-117 project (and budget) secret.

Italeri F-117A Nighthawk

The F-117A was powered by two non-afterburning General Electric F404 turbofan engines (developed for the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet) and has quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight controls.

Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
During the 1991 Persian Gulf War 1991, the F-117A flew approximately 1,300 sorties and scored direct hits on 1,600 high-value targets in Iraq over 6,905 flight hours.[1] Only 2.5% of the American aircraft in Iraq were F-117s, yet they struck more than 40% of the strategic targets. F-117As dropped over 2,000 tons of precision-guided munitions and struck their targets with over an 80% success rate.

Italeri F-117A Nighthawk

The Air Force retired the F-117 on 11 August 2008 with a total of sixty-four aircraft built. Although officially retired, the F-117 fleet remains intact, and photos show the aircraft carefully mothballed. F-117s have been spotted flying in the Nellis Bombing Range as recently as 2010.

Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
In the past, Italeri/Testors has been guilty of releasing top-secret aircraft kits a bit too early with the result of highly inaccurate models (F-19, Mi-28, etc.) but overall they did a good job with this kit.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
Some customizing was required to display the bomb compartment correctly, but I think it was worth the extra effort.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
The Airwaves after market ladder was a nice extra detail, and would really help in a nice diorama.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
The Airwaves HUD and seat harnesses are very well done. I replaced the kit-provided IR sensor cover with one cut from a pearlized sequin.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
The kit-provided instrument panel is not bad to begin with, but the Airwaves upgrade is better. I used bits of green sequins to fill in the MFDs.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
With a bit of customizing, the bomb compartment and wheel bays can look reasonably accurate.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
The Airwaves photo-etched metal details really helps bring the kit to life. The intake mesh especially adds to the realism.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
Here's a better look at the modifications I made to the bomb compartment. A centerline partition was made from sheet styrene and simplified trapezes were made from spare parts from other kits. Other bits of styrene were used to represent framing within the bays.
Italeri F-117A Nighthawk
Here it is on the bench nearly completed. I was very pleased with the kit overall and happy with how it turned out.

Italeri F-117A Nighthawk #189
Kit: Italeri #189
Aftermarket Parts: Airwaves #AC 7242 (AW2042 - MMD)
1/72 scale
Scale: 1/72

This kit retails for as little as $14.00 (US) at the time of posting this page which is an excellent value in today's market.

Decals are provided for an aircraft belonging to 37th Tactical Fighter Wing – Tonopah Test Range Airport 1990.


The kit is comprised of 2 large sprues molded in black containing 40 parts and one small transparent sprue for the cockpit canopy and IR sensor cover. One decal sheet and a tri-fold black and white instruction sheet are included. Painting and decal indications are printed on the back of the box.

All parts are flash free with no warping. Transparent parts are thin and very clear. Panel lines are raised.

Construction begins with the cockpit tub which consists of a fairly well done ACES II ejection seat, a raised detail instrument panel and control stick. Overall the cockpit is pretty good but there is plenty of room for improvement for modelers who enjoy the challenge.

The wings and fuselage are integrated so the majority of the kit consists of only 2 parts, upper and lower halves. Fit is very good.

The landing gear is reasonably accurate and the doors are molded to be displayed open or closed. Lifts are included so that the canopy can be displayed open or closed.

The bomb compartment is the most noticeable accuracy-problem of the kit. The bay doors can be positioned closed which will solve the problem, otherwise some customizing is required. The kit is designed for the bay doors to attach to the outer sides of the compartment like the majority of other bombers, however the F-117s doors actually open on the centerline. To solve this problem a center divider must be fabricated. Another issue is how the ordnance mounts in the bay, Italeri includes 2 traditional style pylons but the F-117 has trapeze style mounts that swing the ordnance down and forward until they clear the bay. These trapeze must be fabricated or replaced with alternates. Finally the laser guided bombs included in the kit have standard tail fins, the compact size of the F-117 bay require special shorter tail fins which is easy to fix with sanding and trimming.

With the exception of correcting the bomb compartment, this kit is a breeze to build.

Scratch Additions:

The center bulkhead in the bomb bay was fabricated with Evergreen sheet and strip styrene, with plumbing made of wire and stretched sprue. Bomb trapeze were created from spare model parts. Sheet styrene was used to build exhaust and intake ducts. Stretched sprue was used to make break lines.

This is a reasonably priced kit, readily available and easy to build. Considering the top-secret nature of this aircraft, Italeri did a good job of capturing an accurate look and feel overall. With the addition of the Airwaves photo etched parts, this builds into a great kit. Highly recommended for fans of modern bombers and/or Skunkworks designed aircraft.

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