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KIT REVIEW


AvantGarde Model Kits 88001-A
IAI Kfir C2/C7 -- 1:48 Scale

The IAI Kfir is one of the more notable aircraft that took part in several Middle Eastern conflicts.  Based on the French Mirage, this highly capable Israeli-produced fighter-bomber has made its mark over Lebanon, Syria, and beyond since the 1970s.  Kit manufacturer AMK (AvantGarde Model Kits) similarly made their mark with their first kit in 2013 – a 1:48 scale Kfir.  They have since produced other outstanding kits including their widely-lauded MiG-31, and in late 2017, a new issue of their inaugural Kfir came on the scene.  Let’s take a look and see what’s new in this second release of the AMK Kfir.      


The origin of the Kfir dates back to 1968. In the wake of the 1967 Six Day War, France levied sanctions against Israel.  The French embargo put the brakes on the delivery of a previously placed order of 50 Dassault Aviation Mirage 5CJs.  These new jets were to complement and eventually replace the IAF’s French-built Mirage IIIs that were the backbone of Israeli air power at the time.  In response, the Israelis reverse engineered and produced their own (and thoroughly unlicensed) Mirage airframes much to the displeasure of the French.  This plane was designated the Nesher, or Vulture.  Yet, an eye was put towards further improvement, and several years later, a new airplane emerged from this effort that went beyond a straightforward upgrade.           

The Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) Kfir (or Lion Cub in Hebrew) emerged from the goal of creating a multi-role Nesher.  The initial focus was on an uprated engine.  The venerable General Electric J79 powerplant, common to the F-4 Phantom II family, was selected, first fitted in an IAF Mirage IIIc in 1970 and a Nesher testbed in 1971.  By 1973, the first definitive Kfir took flight, fitted with indigenous Israeli avionics, canards, and reconfigured internal fuel cells.  Initial operational capability was reached in 1975.

More than 220 were built, and 12 variants of the Kfir were eventually produced by IAI for Israel, the United States, Columbia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka.  In Israeli service, Kfirs were the IAF’s principal air superiority platform before the F-15 came into the inventory.  In 1979, it recorded its first air-to-air kill against a Syrian MiG-21.  During Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982, the airplane’s air-to-ground capabilities were used, and the Kfir’s self-defense capability allowed them to fly strike missions without fighter cover.  This freed up IAF F-15s and F-16s to focus exclusively on the destruction of opposing air assets, and this was one factor leading to the Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot.  By the mid-1980s, IAF C2s were upgraded to the C7 variant that featured enhanced performance, upgraded avionics, new cockpit displays, and a new ejection seat derived from the Martin Baker Mk.10 seat.  By the mid 1990s, the Kfir was retired from IAF service after nearly two decades of service.

In 1981, Ecuador was the first export customer to operate the Kfir, and they eventually acquired upwards of 20 of C2s, C10s and TC2s. Ecuador used their Kfirs during the Cenepa Border War with Peru as escorts and interceptors, and on 10 February 1995, an FAE Kfir C2 shot down a Peruvian Air Force A-37B with a Shafrir 2 air-to-air missile.  The C10 features a helmet mounted display system and can carry both the Python 3 and Python 4 air-to-air missile.  Columbia took delivery of a batch of 12 ex-IAF Kfir C2s and one TC2 between 1989 and 1990.  Since then, their C2s were upgraded to C7 specs and had been widely used in ground-attack counterinsurgency roles against the FARC.  Sri Lanka acquired 15 Kfir C2s and a single TC2 beginning in the 1990s.  These saw action against the LTTE rebels during the Sri Lankan Civil War and several have been lost in accidents and through rebel attacks.

The United States has also been a notable Kfir operator.  Between 1985 and 1989, the United States Navy and Marine Corps leased 25 Kfirs designated in U.S. service as the F-21A Lion.  The Kfir was an ideal adversary aircraft and was an excellent simulator of the MiG-23/27, as it shared both the MiG’s speed (Mach 2+) and its modest turning ability.  While they were eventually replaced by the F-5E in the DACT role, Kfirs can still be seen in American skies.  Six Kfirs are currently among the bandits operated by the private American firm Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) who contract out their services as aggressors and adversaries to the USAF, Navy, and Marine Corps.

The AMK Kfir kit was, in fact, the very first kit we reviewed here at detailandscale.com when we launched our scale modeling reviews in 2016 (and you can see that review HERE).  This new issue of the 1:48 scale AMK Kfir contains the same basic plastic and the tooling seen in the first release.  This edition of the kit contains 242 dark gray injection molded parts across 32 sprues (20 of those sprues hold single, slide-molded munitions and pods) placed in clear re-sealable plastic bags.  Eleven clear parts are found on one sprue.  The well-illustrated and easy-to-read instruction booklet guides the build over 13 steps.  Markings for five airplanes are provided on a single decal sheet:    

Strengths:  All of the comments and observations that were offered for the 1:48 scale Kfir kit in our earlier review still apply here.  But to recap, the kit itself is hands-down excellent and can be characterized as a very high-fidelity injection plastic molding.  Overall detail, inside and out, is really quite outstanding.  The kit’s size and shape appear accurate (but see below for one minor possible shortcoming).  Recessed panel lines look great and align perfectly across the seam from the left fuselage half to the right.  Test fitting of the major assemblies reveal airtight fits and great alignment.  The canopy and windscreen are crystal clear and were produced in a slide mold that eliminates the presence of the aggravating seam that goes down the middle of the clear parts in so many other kits.  AMK also molded the wheel hubs separately from the tire halves which saves time and energy when doing wheels.  

This edition of the kit comes with a new and expanded set of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions along with two different captive carry pods used in DACT training scenarios.  You get six slide-molded, single-piece Mk. 82 slicks, four GBU-12s, four Griffin LGBs, four Python 3 air-to-air missiles, one AN/ALQ-167 Bullwinkle ECM simulation pod, and one SAIP TACTS (Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System) telemetry pod.  The latter two are used on the ATAC jet in their role as OPFOR (opposing force) bad guys.  These underwing stores all look awesome.  They are very well made, well detailed, and otherwise impressive and accurate in appearance.  If readers recall, the slide-mold produced weapons in the AMK MiG-31 kit represented exceptional molding (see our review HERE), and you get the same quality for the Kfir in this release.  The kit still has Sprue Y with the traditionally-molded Mk. 82s, but they’re redundant now.
   
The decal sheet is beautifully printed, with great color, crispness, and everything is in perfect register.  I also really like the expanded choice in schemes, giving something for fans of Israeli, Sri Lankan, Latin American, and adversary aircraft to really enjoy.

Weaknesses:  Only a few nitpicks can be considered here.  The trailing edge flaperons and speedbrakes are molded integrally into the wing rather than being separate, positionable parts.  I have heard a few scale modelers discuss the curvature of AMK’s canopy could be more accurate (needing just a slight inward “dip” towards the bottom of the canopy frame).  The ejection seats also lack shoulder harnesses and lap belts.

AMK’s new issue of their 1:48 scale Kfir receives very high marks, and the new ordinance, pods, and markings options/decals really make this a substantially fresh offering with lots of different build options and other opportunities.  Scale modelers of nearly every skill level will have an enjoyable experience building this model, and there’s a range of aftermarket sets for the Kfir (e.g., Eduard, Quickboost, Aires, and others) to bring out even more detail to your build if you wish.  It’s nice to see the Kfir get such excellent treatment by AMK.

Sincere thanks to AMK for the review sample. You can find them on the web at http://amkhobby.com/home/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/avantgardemodelkits.

Sincere thanks to AMK for the review sample. You can find them on the web at http://amkhobby.com/home/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/avantgardemodelkits.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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