Home > Valiant Wings Modelling > Kit Builds

SAAB AJ37 Viggen 'Attack Version'

Scale: 1/48th
Manufacturer: Special Hobby
Ref No: SH48148
Material: IM, PE
UK Distributor: Hannants
UK Price: £55.99

See our preview of this kit here.

Kit Build
One of the most important new release’s at Telford last year was only the second ever 1/48th scale kits of the SAAB JA37 Viggen by relative newcomers to the market Tarangus in collaboration with Special Hobby. This second kit from Special Hobby is of the AJ37 Attack version. Apart from the obvious colour scheme the main difference between the two is a slight difference in length, more on that later though. As far as the kits are concerned the main differences are the inclusion of a colour photo-etch set in the Special Hobby kit and the price. The kit consists of eight sprues containing one hundred and sixty nine parts and thirty six on the photo-etch fret. When I built the Eduard MiG-21 recently (see here) I mentioned the fact that they have improved their production methods. It’s been a while since I have built a Special Hobby kit and the first thing I noticed on looking at the sprues was a lot more finesse with the smaller parts and the use of sliding moulds. In the past these parts would have been supplied as resin. The instructions are spread over nineteen pages with three of them being in colour for the three schemes provided. Two are in the classic splinter scheme and the third is an early bare metal aircraft. The decals are beautifully printed with good colours and perfect register. The only real disappointment is a complete lack of stores provided. With the fighter version this isn’t much of a problem as they carried the usual Western stores of Sidewinders, Sparrows, Skyflash and AMRAAM missiles. For the attack version most of the stores are fairly unique to the Viggen or Swedish aircraft in particular. A browse on Hannants will show you a good selection of appropriate stores and accessories by Maestro but to load your model up would be an expensive proposition on top of the purchase price. One item that they have produced that would make life a lot easier is a set of pre-cut masks for the splinter paint scheme but of course that would be too easy. With that prospect to look forward to I started building.

The first job was to give the sprues a bath to remove any oils or mould release agent. With everything dried off the main components of the airframe were cut from the sprues for a test fit. It was at this point the length issue came to light. With the various fuselage parts taped up there was a gap of around four millimetres between the front and rear halves. In the Tarangus kit there is a bulkhead that sits in that position but it’s not on the sprues. There is nothing in the instructions so what was going on? It was time to fire up the laptop and see if there was any word on the internet to explain the problem. Fortunately the answer was yes there was. If you look on the inside of the upper spine (part101) there is a line engraved. If you cut the rear of the spine and sand it back it all fits nicely. The actual build began with the cockpit and here you have the option of painting the well detailed plastic parts or using the pre-painted photo-etch. I went with the etch so the first job was to remove the moulded detail the various panels before giving them all a coat of H308 Grey Fs36375. With that dry the tub was given a wash MIG Prpdictions Dark Wash. When that had dried a drybrushing of light grey picked out the highlights. The etch was all added now and it all fitted perfectly. The ejector seat was left aside for now and fitted near the end of the build. The forward fuselage is split horizontally and the cockpit tub was fitted into the upper half. The next step is to build up the intake trunking and the forward compressor face. This is then fitted into the fuselage along with the nose gear bay before closing the two front fuselage halves. If I were to build another I would change things slightly here. The only joint that proved troublesome was the main air intakes and the joint along the side of the intakes. My alternative would be to build up the trunking and then separate them. They could then be added after the fuselage halves are joined making it easier to get a good join around the intakes. Attention now turns to the rear of the fuselage and jet pipe. The Viggen had an unusual layout for thrust reversal with three petals in the jet pipe and outlet slots around the rear of the fuselage. Putting all this together looks like it will need three hands but if you take your time and line it all up carefully it all fits nicely into the fuselage halves. The front and rear sections can now be joined up without any dramas. The underside of the wing is a one piece moulding onto which the main gear bays are added before slotting it into place on the fuselage. The top surfaces are added next along with the radome and tail fin. There is an insert panel to one side of the fin, don’t fill the joint as this is an opening for the folding fin. The instructions would have you move onto the undercarriage now but I jumped ahead to finish the airframe first. There are several small intakes and outlets which were cleaned up added along with the air brake doors and canard foreplanes. After a check around the various joints and seams I could start thinking about some paint. The undercarriage bays were given a coat of H8 Silver and left to dry. I then gave them a wash to bring out the detail. For the wash I used the Roy Sutherland mix of Johnson Clear, water and Gloss Black acrylic. While that was drying the undercarriage was built up and painted ready for later fitment. The only part of the kit that doesn’t look right are the main wheels. They’re not that big in diameter in reality but they are a bit on the thin side. 

Moving back to the airframe it was time for some masking. The wheel bays, cockpit, intakes and exhaust were all sealed up with a combination of sponge and Tamiya tape. A coat of H12 Black on the radome was first. That was masked up and the underside was given a coat of H308 Grey. With the Grey masked up that was the easy part done. The splinter scheme consists of four colours, black, tan and two greens with hard edges. That means a lot of complex masking. My grand plan for this was to scan and rescale the camouflage drawings. These were then traced onto clear film and cut along the lines. The first of the greens H303 was sprayed overall and when that was dry the first of the masks were applied. Next up was the second green H73 and some more masking. This was starting to get a bit over the top now so everything but the largest Black areas of the scheme were covered up. The H12 black was sprayed and then all the masking was removed. The smaller areas of black and H310 tan were added and any tidying up done with a fine brush before sealing it all with a coat of clear. The decals went on now and I have to say they were very good needing just a touch of Micro Set/Sol to bed them down. Once decals were dry the whole airframe was given a wash of MIG Productions Dark wash. In service aircraft would appear to be fairly scruffy on the underside so the wash was wiped off in the direction of the airflow to start the weathering process. The clear/black wash was splashed onto the underside and then using the airbrush blown back to make oil streaks. The finishing touch was a light application of thinned Tamiya X-19 Smoke along the panel lines and around the jet pipe and thrust reversal outlets. The undercarriage, drop tank and seat were added now and the whole model was given a coat of Vallejo satin clear. The final touches now with the addition of the lights, pitot and canopy to finish the build. A final word of caution here regarding the front screen. The joint is along the edge of the glass so be sparing with the glue.

Between them Special Hobby and Tarangus have given us a superb couple of kits. It must be said they’re not cheap and if you want to load it up with aftermarket accessories be prepared for a big bill at the end of it. The other side of the coin is that the only other option you have to this is the old Esci/Airfix kit that would need just as much help and a lot more work to bring it up to the standard of the new kits. It’s been a while since I have built anything from Special Hobby I have to say this new standard is now bordering on mainstream quality. As such I am now really looking forward to the 1/32nd scale Tempest when it comes out.

Our thanks to Special Hobby (www.cmkkits.com) for the review sample.

Reference material.
International Air Power Review, Volume 14.

Paints Used
Games Workshop/Citadel
Boltgun Metal
Blood Red 

Gunze-Sangyo (CSI Creos) Mr Aqueous Hobby Color
H12 Flat Black
H73 Dark Green
H303 Green FS34102
H308 Grey FS36375
H310 Brown FS30219

X-19 Smoke
XF-16 Flat Aluminium