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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby # SH48188
Saab ASJ 37 Viggen "Show Must Go On" -- 1:48 Scale



The Viggen was a single-seat, single-engine multirole attack jet produced and flown by Sweden.  It featured a radical delta wing and forward mounted canards.  Viggens were at the forefront of deterrence in northern Europe for the second half of the Cold War.  Unfortunately, there have not been a lot of kits of this interesting and unusual airplane.  The rather inaccurate Esci kit was the only game in town for 1:48 scale Viggens, but in 2014, a collaboration between Tarangus and Special Hobby produced the first new tool 1:48 scale Viggen in decades.  Special Hobby’s second issue of this kit in their product line is features a 1.Div/F10F. AJS 37 Viggen retirement scheme, and here, we take a look at this kit.  

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In the Cold War, Sweden was a neutral country but nonetheless was a frequent recipient of provocative Soviet actions.  If World War III ever erupted, Sweden needed to maintain its readiness to defend against an all but certain Russian attack.  Many incidents occurred between the between the two nations and Sweden had fighters and fighter-bombers on 5 minute alert and maintained constant radar surveillance of their airspace.  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 some 100 different concepts for this new aircraft, each offering solutions to meet the requirements of 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 most the their operations in WWIII would involve short, dispersed, and improvised runways).
     
In late 1961, Sweden’s defense establishment approved the design known as System 37 that would ultimately become the Viggen that emerged as the largest and most expensive single industrial effort in Swedish history.  Even today, the Viggen’s configuration was 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. The canards allowed the Viggen to balance STOL performance with stability at supersonic and low altitudes.  A thrust reverser also allowed for the required 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 on schedule in February 1967.  By April 1968, the Swedish government formally issued the authorization for Viggen production.  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 of the jet 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 25 AJS 37s were JS 37s airframes upgraded with modern avionics and software between 1993 and 1998.

Overall, the career of the Viggen was successful and distinguished and it thrived in its low-level, high-speed attack regime operating from improvised and decentralized operational subarctic settings.  Time and time again, they maintained the airspace around Sweden.  It was also successful in making ‘friendly’ intercepts of the SR-71 Blackbird as it overflew Sweden and reportedly was the only aircraft able to break the Blackbird’s powerful jamming and maintain a radar lock on the Mach 3+ black jet.  The Viggen’s safety and reliability record also exceeded expectations.  The jet continued on until 2005 when the last airframe was retired with the Saab Grippen eclipsing the venerable Cold War warrior.

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Special Hobby’s 1:48 scale Viggen kit shares the same molds as the Tarangus kit.  It contains 137 medium grey parts on seven sprues, 10 additional clear parts on one sprue, and one fret of 34 mostly pre-painted photoetched metal parts.  Decals are provided on two sheets.  Markings are provided for a single AJS 37 Viggen in the issue of the kit: 

Strengths: The Viggen has long been among my favorite European combat aircraft of the 20th century, and the Tarangus/Special Hobby 1:48 scale Viggen has been a very 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.

The 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 injection molded 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).  Two styles of centerline drop tanks are included, but only one is used on this AJS 37.

The clear parts are very well done, and there are no centerline seams on the canopy or windscreen.  Optical quality is excellent.  The decals are very well printed and just look great.  All is in register.  The white “The Show Must Go On” and ghost emblem adorning the wing and tail look to be printed quite thick, so something I always worry about – the specter of translucent white decals on a darker background – should not be a problem. 

Weaknesses:  A few critiques to come to mind.  The overall surface texture is a little rough, so a pass or two of a 100+ 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.  There’s a canopy actuator sitting behind the ejection seat in the real jet, but here, it is missing.  An open canopy can only be achieved by setting the canopy’s mounting tabs into the back of cockpit bulkhead.  Also, it’s too bad the flaps are not separate positionable pieces, and no external stores of any kind beyond the centerline drop tanks are included.     

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Special Hobby’s “Show Must Go On” issue of their 1:48 scale AJS 37 Viggen will provide a unique, high-visibility markings option, quite different from the splinter scheme or overall low-visibility gray schemes flown on the Viggen.  Still, there’s more detail and corrections that can be considered here, and one should check out the many different sets from Maestro Models and CMK that will add a lot more detail and accuracy to this kit, from the wheel wells, the ram air turbine, speedbrakes, the tail fin fold mechanism, canards with separate trailing flaps, and various munitions.  In my opinion, this kit is truly promising, and it deserves some extra special care to elevate it into a great model of the iconic 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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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
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Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
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