The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) selected the F-111 as their next generation tactical strike aircraft in 1963. The configuration adopted by the RAAF was the standard F-111A airframe with the long wings used by the FB-111 and F-111B coupled with the stronger landing gear from the FB-111. This unique combination was designated as the F-111C. While the first aircraft arrived in 1968, development problems delayed acceptance of the type until 1973.
Over the years, the RAAF adopted a series of updates to keep the aircraft combat ready including avionics upgrades, updated cockpit similar to the F-111F, adoption of the PAVE TACK targeting system used by the F-111F, and re-engined with the TF30-P-109 rated at over 20,000 pounds of thrust in afterburner (reheat).
With over 25 years of flight time, the F-111Cs developed wing cracks and in 2001, a wing replacement program was undertaken. Since there were no spare long wings available (the available FB-111A/F-111G airframes had already been sold to Australia), the wings were taken from the F-111Fs in storage at AMARC and sent to Australia. These short wings were completely overhauled and in the process, lengthened to match the standard F-111C wingspan. The RAAF F-111C is the only version of the Aardvark still operational today.
When Academy first released their F-111 series, they created some generic tooling which allowed for the mixing and matching of different sprues to render the F-111 series from the F-111A to the F-111G (FB-111A) with the exception of the F-111B. While these kits were superior to the only other 1/48 F-111 kits on the market (at the time) from Monogram, they still needed some aftermarket help to get more of the unique details presented. Like the other releases in the series, the F-111C was fairly generic while still having the right combination of wings and intakes.
This new release from Academy is in line with their current trend of updating their existing product line. While the original F-111C kit is still available, it doesn’t have some of the new features presented in this release.
Molded in dark gray styrene, this kit is presented on seven parts trees, plus a single clear tree with the one-piece canopy. This special edition also includes a turned metal pitot tube.
So what’s different in this release over the ‘stock’ F-111C kit? Three parts trees (and the pitot tube).
Tree O has the Pave Tack pod and the distinctive GBU-28 bunker buster LGB that appeared in one of Academy’s previous F-111F updates
Tree N has parts that I believe came from the F-15I included
Tree S is completely new for this kit
Among the features of this release:
New cockpit CRT layout
New nose gear
New nose gear well
New rear antenna fairings
New antennas and sensors
New ECM pod
Metal pitot tube
New choice of wing gap positions for swept or unswept
Pivoting wing pylons
New main wheel hubs
1 x AGM-130 + datalink pod
1 x AGM-142 + datalink pod
Plus there will be some nice spares not used in this kit for future projects as well.
Markings are provided for four examples:
F-111C, A8-131, Red Flag 2006
F-111C, A8-131, F-111 30th Anniversary 2003
F-111C, A8-125, 25th Anniversary 1998
F-111C, A8-125, 90th Anniversary 2007
The decals in this kit are a VAST improvement over the earlier F-111C kit. First, they’re printed by Cartograf and second, they were laid out by someone who knows the aircraft. The decal artwork is spot-on with everything in register and some very colorful subjects. The sheet provides all of the distinctive markings as well as a thorough set of airframe stencils and even stenciling for the weapons and pods.
Once again, kudos to Academy for updating this kit. There are some nice options for an F-111C fan in this box as well as some nice parts that could be redirected to update the F-111E or F kits as well. With these colorful anniversary schemes in the box, the modeler who loves colorful tails will want to do more than one!
This kit is definitely recommended!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!