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BOOK REVIEW


How to Build Kitty Hawk's F-35B Model (Initial Version)
by Glenn Hoover -- CreateSpace Publishing



As scale modelers, we all know that there can be glitches, oversights, nuances, and occasionally counterproductive elements to the instructions included in a kit.  Often, this owes to the manufacturer compressing assembly steps into as few steps as possible.  Sometimes, that’s motivated by the need to make instructions short and inexpensive to print.  Personally, I always consult the instructions.  At the same time, it is also sometimes necessary to re-order, modify, or alter the sequence of assembly.  Sometimes, it involves leaving off an antenna or two until the very end of the project (though the instructions might have you putting that on in Step 2), or it spans more significant issues regarding fit conflicts between entire subassemblies.  Deviating from the instructions can be a smart idea.  At the same time, it also carries elevated risks and potential headaches.  In this series of books, Glenn Hoover takes a systems engineer’s look at kit assembly.  He considers all the potential issues in kit assembly and how to solve them – so you don’t have to.  Here, let’s take a look at his book on the first issue of the 1:48 scale Kitty Hawk F-35B Lightning II.            

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Glenn Hoover spent six years in the U.S. Navy followed by a 35-year career as a systems engineer in the aerospace industry.  Over that timespan, he has written hundreds of user manuals, test instructions, systems requirements, and system design documents.  He is also an avid scale modeler and brings systems thinking to the process.  This led him to begin publishing this very helpful instructional series.

Hoover’s process begins by researching the aircraft’s history (as young as it is for the F-35B) and design.  He then photographs the box and each individual sprue sheet along with any photoetch frets or other detail parts if they are in a kit.  Applicable aftermarket detail parts or sets are then added to the mix.  From this, Hoover carefully scrutinizes each instruction step as he builds a detailed and logical checklist illustrated by the pertinent element of the manufacturer's instructions.  Once the checklist is complete, he builds the kit, making any adjustments or further corrections as needed, from small little improvements to making sure you are aware of major fit issues or items omitted by the instructions.  Accompanying this narrative are lots of photos of the assembly process and the finished model.

Hoover’s 117 page-long F-35B volume takes on the 1:48 scale Kitty Hawk version of the VTOL F-35 as operated by the U.S. Marine Corps.  In this project, he includes as alternate building options the Eduard photoetched metal sets of for the F-35B’s interior and exterior along with Eduard’s pre-cut masks and the Scale Aircraft Conversions metal landing gear.  The book’s contents start with a very brief summary and characterization of the F-35B’shistory.  This is followed by a detailed, sprue-by-sprue look at the kit’s contents, and that’s followed by sections called “Get Organized” and “Build Flow.”  He then lists all the paints one will need (nearly all in the Tamiya line), and lists the typical list of tools (and where you can get them) needed for the job at hand.  The next 96 pages of the book cover the sequential process of the modified build itself, illustrated by a mix of construction photos and annotated versions of the kit instructions.  The process itself is broken down into 790 individual steps.  All these steps are there in the kit and aftermarket instructions, but they are broken down and reorganized into smaller, individual processes.  Any incorporation of aftermarket parts (here, the Eduard PE sets) are highlighted in yellow, and if you don’t have those, just skip the highlighted steps.  There are also some valuable reference photos of the real thing added here and there.  The book is then capped off by informative photos of the build itself and the completed F-35B kit.

I found Hoover’s build guide on Kitty Hawk F-35B to be absolutely spot-on.  This book covers the first issue of the kit – which I have, and I’ve been collecting decals and aftermarket parts for a few years.  I’m looking forward to building it, and when I do, this book will have some serious usefulness.  The first edition of the kit is pretty well known to have some problems, from fit issues to errors in the instructions.  Probably the worst of these involves an egregious fit conflict between the upper and lower nose halves, cockpit floor, and lift fan assembly.  Hoover worked out the fix in a seven-step protocol.  It works, and I will follow his lead to the letter when I build the kit. 

I also commend the book as it demonstrates the most optimal way to incorporate all the great Eduard photoetched metal parts.  He also worked out an interesting do-it-yourself solution to masking the elaborate conformal antenna farm on the surfaces of the F-35B using Adobe Illustrator and an electronic cutter.  Details are at glenhoovermodels.com.  The results were awesome.    

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Not a shortcoming, but an observation – the book is published in two formats- one spiral bound, and one spine-bound.  While it costs a little more, I suggest the spiral bound edition – it is FAR more workbench friendly.

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Glen Hoover has done a great job in producing this build guide.  Hoover’s book is clear, detailed, and consistent.  The logical flow is impeccable, and it really represents the most optimal way to build the Kitty Hawk F-35B and how to incorporate the Eduard detail parts in the best way possible.  Further, with a complex kit such as this, this guide will serve builders well as a rather valuable companion through their build.  Looking forward, I am glad I will have this book when the time comes (relatively soon) to start working on this kit!       

Sincere thanks to Glen Hoover for the review sample.  You can find out more Glenn Hoover’s other titles and more at https://glennhoovermodels.com/.  This book and the others in his series are available at amazon.com. 

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale


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F4F & FM Wildcat in Detail & Scale
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Quick Links to Available Special Editions and Colors & Markings Series Publications.

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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 Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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