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JAS 39A Gripen


Italeri, 1/48 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Kit No. 2638 - JAS 39A Gripen
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: Grey and clear styrene
Price: Currently available in Europe for approximately £11.99
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Good shape; engraved panel lines; nicely detailed wheel wells and wheels; ample ordnance
Disadvantages: Cockpit lacking in detail; some detail issues with canopy, cockpit framing and upper nose.
Recommendation: Recommended

Reviewed by Robert Westerberg

Italeri's 1/48 scale JAS 39A Gripen will be available online from Squadron.com



Here are my initial thoughts on the Italeri JAS 39 Gripen in 1/48 scale, plus a few suggestions for simple improvements. 

Upon opening the box I realize just how long Iíve been waiting for this moment. Itís finally here! A Gripen in 1/48 scale, unbelievable! At first glance the kit looks quite good, with its engraved panel lines.

Compared to its 1/72 sibling greater care has been taken into detailing the wheels and wheel wells. But other than that, this is basically an up scaling of the 1/72 kit.

For those who are unfamiliar with the 1/72 kit I can say that it follows the Italeri tradition of deep and wide panel lines and soft details.   



The cockpit lacks any kind of detail. And for a kit in this scale it feels somewhat disturbing. Hopefully there will be some resin kits fixing this in the near future! The ejection seat is a Martin-Baker Mk 10L, and luckily the seat is already available in resin form. 

The kit includes decals for two RSwAF Gripens and one Czech. Most of the decals look ok, but the ID numbers for the Swedish Gripens are much too large and are best to be replaced.



Armament offered in the kit consists of two AIM-9 air to air missiles, two AGM-65 ground attack missiles and two RBS-15 sea skimming missiles. There is also a fuel tank and a jammer pod available. The Czech alternative can carry close to everything in the NATO inventory, so thatís up to the imagination of the builder. However it must be mentioned that the kit represents an A version of the Gripen, whereas the Czechs will be getting the C version. The main external difference is some new antennas fitted on the vertical fin and a new APU outlet. Go here http://www.gripen.com to get some nice pictures .

C Version Antennas for Czech Option

New antennas on the Czech version. One for each side of the fin.(not included in the kit):


C Version APU Exhaust

Notice the distinct bulge, and the flaps for the intake and exhaust.(not included in the kit)




Modifications and Improvements


What good are nice details if a fully built kit doesnít mirror the real thing?

Remember how good the Revell 1/32 Gripen looked un-built in the box? Well, I sure do. I also remember how poorly it resembled a Gripen when it was put together. Sad memories for sure. 

The new 1/48 scale Italeri kit on the other hand does resemble a Gripen, in fact very much so.

The kit will look okay if it is built right out of the box but of course, there is always room for improvement. I will now describe some small modifications that can help to improve the look of this kit a great deal.

Cockpit Framing

First, the framing around the cockpit needs to be fixed. In the kit these are too deep and needs to be heightened by about 1,2 mm. See below: 

1. Unmodified kit cockpit.


2. Improved kit cockpit 


The kit's canopy, although nice and crisp in detail, also needs some modification. The framing on the bottom of the canopy is much too high in profile. In order for it to fit, it needs to be sanded down by about 1.2 mm. This will also make it look like the real thing.

1. Unchanged canopy

2. Area to be sanded down

3. Improved canopy


Upper Nose

The upper part of the nose needs to be corrected as well. The windscreen in the kit rests on an elevation which isnít there on the real thing. However, some putty will fix this right away. See below.



Now for the canards! These needs some work. Firstly they need to be corrected in shape. Compared to the real thing they are too large on the inner and outer chord. They are also much too thick. The thickness is easily fixed, 10 minutes of sanding is all that is needed to make them look thin enough. See below.



Additional Hints and Tips

Another tip is to get rid of all the antennas on the kit and replace them with new thin ones made from plastic card.  

If you plan to build your Gripen in ďrestingĒ mode, here are some things you might need to know. 

The inner section of the trailing edge flaps will have a noticeable droop.



The outboard trailing edge flaps can be put in any position the builder would want. The same goes for the canard fore planes. But normally they have a slight forward droop of a degree or two.

When on the ground the leading edge slats are always locked in place, unless they have been deployed by a technician, but this is most likely to happen when the plane is going through maintenance.  

The landing gear doors are always open when the plane is between missions. They close during taxiing when the plane gets up to speed, and opens again when the engine is shut off.






I hope this review will help you should you decide to build this beautiful machine. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me at robbanwesterberg@hotmail.com I will gladly answer all your queries.


Kit purchased with reviewer's own funds

Review Text and Images Copyright © 2005 by Robert Westerberg
Page Created 19 January, 2005
Last updated 19 January, 2005

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