by: Milan Mitev [ ]
IntroductionThe mysterious F-23 Black Widow II never flew because the F-22 Raptor was the chosen winner from the ATF competition nearly three decades ago. Nevertheless, Northrop built not just 1, but 2 beautifully operational prototype aircraft. Designated the YF-23, they really took an unforgettable place in everyone's mind. Nowadays, if you want to make a wonderful replica in 1/48 scale of this gorgeous prototype plane, you definitely need to pick up the HobbyBoss kit of the USAF YF-23. See why!
ContentA rather big, yet thin, box of this HobbyBoss kit shows an impressive artwork of the Black Widow II flying with full afterburners. The markings are for an operational aircraft, but overall the picture and the kit itself allow you to assemble the prototype version. The box is very sturdy, typical for HobbyBoss, and houses just a small amount of components. Another great touch are the completed dimensions on the top right corner which show the size of the model once built. We are talking about some 45 by 30 centimeter model, in 1/48 scale!
The fuselage is made out of two big halves, the upper and lower, which are carefully wrapped in a plastic bag, then sealed with some type of protective foam around the nose section. It is quite vulnerable due to the sharp edges of the chines and the pointed nose. The next big part of this kit is the sprue which covers the entire floor of the box and contains the parts for the wings. The YF-23 features not that many wings. The main wings, however, are definitely huge, as are the rudders. And that's pretty much the bulk of the entire kit.
There are two more smaller sprues, each with a number of smaller details and parts required to jazz-up your model even more. The cockpit is definitely one of the best and most detailed 1/48 cockpits that I know of. It's filled with knobs, buttons, and even wire and pipe imitations. The landing gear are massive and very solid, and they as well are filled with nicely engraved and recessed elements. The landing gear bays are also highly detailed. Of course, there is one small bag with the transparent parts for the canopy and is gently wrapped in a protective foam covering. The canopy is good but not flawless. It's very clear and transparent, but there are some bad distortions when put over letters.
The paper parts include the color scheme, decals, and the instruction manual, which are all very simple and easy to understand. The instructions are displayed over a few pages, as this kit features less than a hundred parts. The markings allow you to choose from just 1 option. Interestingly enough, though, this option consists of decals with serial numbers and other markings that belong to the operational aircraft, but, once again, the kit itself is the prototype version of the YF-23 Black Widow II. Hopefully, one might find the appropriate aftermarket decals, yet their accuracy will be something to consider.
ConclusionThis kit is a good choice for beginners and modelers who prefer modern and futuristic looking US aircraft. While only being a prototype, this kit will let you make a wonderful replica of The Black Widow II. A plane with an extraordinary shape, unsurpassed super-cruise, greater maneuverability and stealth characteristics, which unfortunately never went into full production.