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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby SK 37E Stör-Viggen -- 1:48 Scale



The Saab Viggen was a single-seat, single-engine multirole attack jet produced and flown by Sweden.  It featured a radical design featuring delta wing and forward mounted canards.  Viggens were at the forefront of Soviet deterrence in northern Europe for the second half of the Cold War.  Unfortunately, there have not been a lot of kits of this interesting airplane.  The rather inaccurate Esci kit was the only game in town in 1:48 scale, but in 2014, a collaboration between Tarangus and Special Hobby produced the first new tool 1:48 scale Viggen in decades.  Special Hobby’s third issue of this kit in their product line includes something new indeed: parts and markings to build a two-seat SK 37E: the electronic warfare training variant of the Viggen.  While this kit has been out for a little while, a review sample just reached our bench - so let’s take a look. 

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During the Cold War, Sweden was a neutral but nonetheless was a frequent recipient of provocative Soviet actions.  If World War III ever erupted, Sweden needed to defend against an all but certain Russian attack.  In 1955, the Saab Draken flew for the first time just as the Swedish Air Force (or Svenska Flygvapnet) was already considering requirements for its follow-on aircraft.  A series of design studies between 1952 and 1955 explored 100 different concepts for this new aircraft, each offering supersonic low dash, a top speed of Mach 2 at combat altitude, and the ability to make short landings at low angles of attack (anticipating that WWIII operations would involve short, dispersed, and improvised runways).
     
In late 1961, the System 37 design was selected.  It would ultimately become the Viggen and emerged as the largest and most expensive single industrial effort in Swedish history.  Even today, the Viggen’s configuration is unconventional.  It featured an aft-mounted double delta wing with small, high-set canards equipped with powered trailing flaps mounted ahead of and above the main wing to balance STOL performance with stability.  A thrust reverser conferred short landing ability.  The Viggen’s powerplant was the Volvo RM8 afterburning turbofan, itself a heavily modified Pratt & Whitney JT8D built under license.

Work on the prototype started in 1964 and it first flew in February 1967.  In 1971, the first production AJ 37 aircraft flew, and the production run continued until the last of 329 jets was delivered in 1990.  More than 10 variants were produced, from the primary AJ 37 and JS 37 attack variants (with air-to-air combat as its secondary mission) to the smaller numbers of trainers, recce, and electronic warfare versions.  The career of the Viggen was successful and it thrived in its low-level, high-speed attack regime operating from improvised and decentralized operational subarctic settings.  They maintained airspace integrity around Sweden and were even capable in making ‘friendly’ intercepts of the SR-71 Blackbird.  The Viggen’s safety and reliability record also exceeded expectations.  The SK 37E Stör-Viggen was an electronic warfare (EW) trainer that simulated a real-world hostile EW environment for other Swedish aircraft to train against.  Ten SK 37Es were built as conversions from 10 of the oldest SK 37 two-seat trainers between 1998 to 2000.  The last SK 37E was retired in 2007 and was the final Viggen of any type in service.

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Special Hobby’s 1:48 scale SK 37E Stör-Viggen comes on nine injection molded polystyrene sprues containing 162 parts.  Fourteen clear parts come on one clear sprue, and 74 photoetched metal parts (most pre-painted) are included on one fret.  The instruction booklet organizes the build over 41 steps.  Markings for four schemes are included:

Strengths:  The Tarangus/Special Hobby Viggen is now a rather well known kit, and has been a welcome addition to the modeling community.  It is in all ways superior to the previous 1980s-era Esci kit in terms of tooling engineering, detail, and accuracy.  Shapes and sizes appear quite accurate.  At the same time, it is not on par with the quality of an Eduard or Tamiya offering.  But still, it’s a very good kit indeed, and there’s a lot of high points to consider.  All the good things we described in a previous review of Special Hobby’s AJS 37 kit (read the review HERE) are mostly all applicable here.

But to recap:  the Tarangus/Special Hobby Viggen kit has very well executed recessed panel line and fastener detail throughout, and there’s some raised detail where it’s appropriate such as on the thrust reversers.  Molded detail fidelity is quite crisp.  While the kit’s cockpit is pretty good for an injection molded kit, the photoetched instrument panel, side consoles, rudder pedals, and ejection seat details in the Special Hobby edition are really excellent and will make a good kit cockpit become something excellent in the hands of most scale modelers.  Full intake trunking is also provided.  

The landing gear themselves look great, and the detail that can be achieved on the main gear is really something, with all the linkages, sway arms, and disk brake assemblies nicely molded in many separate pieces.  The gear wells are good but there’s a lot more plumbing and wiring that can be added, as these details are pretty much absent in this kit.  I very much like the detail on the injection-molded afterburner flame holder and thrust reversers themselves, and you can build the thrust reversers open (retracted) or closed (deployed).  There are also parts to build a deployed RAT (ram air turbine).  Two styles of centerline drop tanks are included.  The clear parts are very well done, and there are no centerline seams on the canopies or windscreen.  Optical quality is excellent.

The new parts for the Stör-Viggen come on Sprues B, M, and L, along with new PE detail parts.  The plastic additions include a new upper forward fuselage and hump-back second cockpit, the second cockpit interior, a corrected canard set, a new tail for the SK 37E, a new centerline pylon, ECS air scoops, rear cockpit periscopes, the twin ventral air intakes, the spine transponder blade antenna, and the rear canopy.  The photoetched metal parts are excellent, and they really elevate the level of detail for both cockpit and ejection seats – providing great instrument panels, side consoles, rudder pedals, and ejection seat harness and belt details.  The decals for this “electric Viggen” are also very well done. Printed by Cartograph, they appear to be technically flawless.

Weaknesses:  While the box top to my review sample got banged up on the trip from the Czech Republic, the contents inside were unharmed.  With the kit, a few critiques come to mind.  The overall surface texture is a little rough, so a pass or two of a 1000+ grit Micro Mesh sanding pad might be a good idea.  I don’t really care for the kit’s injection molded ejection seat, however, the photoetched metal parts here including the shoulder harnesses and lap belts will really elevate the details on the seat.  I consider them as “must-use” parts.  The intake trunking, for all its full-length goodness, will produce a heck of a seam that will not be easy to fill in such a deep and tight space.  I’d recommend using the technique involving pouring white latex paint down the intake trunk, filling the seam and painting it all the same time.  The wheel wells are missing all the piping and wiring details, and in looking at my Viggen reference photos, the one big pipe in the kit’s wheel wells just doesn’t look right in its layout and placement.  Maestro Models does a far better resin wheel well set, and I highly recommend it.  Also, it’s too bad the flaps are not separate positionable pieces.

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Special Hobby’s SK 37E Stör-Viggen in 1:48 scale will provide the basis to build perhaps the most unique of all the Viggens in terms of both looks and mission.  You could also probably build a two-seat trainer out of this kit as well with little effort.  Still, there’s more detail and corrections that can be added here, and one should check out the sets from Maestro Models and CMK that will add a lot more detail and accuracy to this kit, from the wheel wells, speed brakes, the tail fin fold mechanism, canards with separate trailing flaps, and various munitions.  In my opinion, this kit is immensely promising, and for me, at least, it deserves some extra special care to elevate it into a great model of the iconic Stör-Viggen.
 
Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample.  You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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