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1:48 SAAB JA37 Viggen

James H

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1:48 SAAB JA37 Viggen

Catalogue # TA4803
Available from Hannants for £64.99







The iconic SAAB 37 Viggen was a Swedish multirole aircraft which was introduced into service in 1971 and finally retired in 2005. It was a short/medium range aircraft that performed with success in a range of roles including reconnaissance, maritime surveillance and of course as a fighter aircraft. The Viggen was designed to replace the SAAB 32 Lansen and the SAAB 35 Draken in their respective roles. The canard configuration used for the Viggen, was designed to increase agility, and the design itself stemmed from an agreement between the US and Sweden, in which they offered to share aeronautical designs and developments. This made sense to the USA at a time when then perhaps feared a Soviet attack against Sweden.


Powered by a single Volvo RM8 turbofan engine, the Viggen was capable of a maximum speed of Mach 2.1, and also featured afterburner technology, as well as a reverse thrust capability. As well as various underwing store solutions, it also carried a 30mm Oerlikon cannon, and the JA37D also carried a U95 ECM pod. The version of the Viggen in this kit (JA37) was introduced in 1979, and some were upgraded to JA37D specification.



Now, come on. If there was really one subject that you'd expect a Swedish model manufacturer to produce, it surely has to be the most iconic machine that SAAB ever designed; the timeless JA37 Viggen. In 1:48, this is still a reasonably large model, as you'll see, and I'm sure there are Viggen fans rubbing their hands with glee at this release. I will sort of rain on your parade a little as the first think that struck me when flicking through the sprues, was the lack of underwing ordnance. I'm afraid you might have to wait for a company to sort that for you, or find compatible stores. Anyway, let's take a look at this 'clean' Viggen.


I quite like Tarangus's box art. It's certainly not of the amazing CAD-render standard that we've come to see from Airfix recently, but it most certainly holds its own in terms of style, even if lacking a little of the inspirational action that some manufacturers employ. Two Viggen are seen just over cloud base, and one of them is peeling away, revealing its underside, sans weapons. This kit it packed into a regular box with an upper lid (no side opening box here!), and there's certainly no shortage of plastic within either. There are NINE sprues in this release, with all of them moulded in mid-grey styrene, with the obvious exception of the canopy sprue. Apart from the latter, all sprues are also packed into the same re-sealable sleeve, and as a result, one part has broken from its sprue, and there are some minor scuffing marks on some exterior parts. This isn't a cheap kit, so separate sprue sleeves would have been a nice touch.





One thing I have noticed with Tarangus is that their kits are becoming more refined with every release. In other words, they are learning. First glimpses of this kit show a model whose surface rendering is now way beyond their first attempt, and certainly more than on par with the best of the short-run kit manufacturers. In a lot of respects, I would say that Tarangus is even surpassing a number of its peers. This sprue contains a number of the Viggen's larger parts, namely the vertical fin, a two-part nosecone and also the upper fuselage.




Looking at that fuselage section, you'll appreciate the efforts that Tarangus is making in order to up its game in this market. The surfaces are smooth (if not shiny), and the panel lines are evenly and precisely engraved, as are the various access plates. The exterior isn't riveted, although there are a number of fasteners which have been rendered, typically around those access plates. The fuselage is designed so that the lower and rear sections are separate. This is why this part looks a little odd in approach. One thing I do note is that this part, as with others, have locating pins to aid alignment. To fit some external parts, holes will need to be drilled from within.






The upper, vertical fin is moulded as a single piece, with no awkward seams to eradicate. The rudder is also integral, but so moulded as to make it actually look like a separate part. Again, panel line engraving is excellent, and rudder hinge detail is fine. There two vertical fins included in this release, although the plan only shows one. One of these actually has a pitot moulded in situ, so be careful when handling this. I'd actually remove it anyway and fit with a length of hollow tube.




Nose cone detail is also refined, and this should present no difficulty.


I do feel the cockpit tub and instrument panel are perhaps a little rudimentary in their approach, and would benefit from the addition of some of the upgrade sets that we are now starting to see appear. If you're going to spend this amount of money, I would have liked to have seen a cockpit which was befitting the beautiful exterior that Tarangus has designed.




Other parts on this sprue include a small number of external parts, such as air inlets, and also a pylon.


Sorry, there isn't one in this release!






You now get an idea about the size of this model, as the full span lower wing is moulded here. The span is actually around 220mm, and of course, the fuselage it significantly longer too. Elevators are moulded in situ here, but look very reasonable. An extra scribing will add more definition. External detail is superb, with evenly scribed panel lines and port detail, and internally, a recess is moulded for the inclusion of the main gear bays, as with the nose bay on the lower forward fuselage.




The canard wing is just gorgeous. On the real aircraft, this mini wing is very thin, with a slightly curled leading edge. This is beautifully portrayed here, and a small number of screw type fasteners are neatly represented. Only one of these is moulded here, with the other being on the next sprue.




Tarangus did a pretty reasonable job of the main gear bays, with some nice structural detail and also some hefty plumbing work. I think just a little lead wire in these, and you'll have a pretty convincing representation.




Thankfully, this kit provides an internal air ducting tube for the jet intake, moulded as upper and lower halves. I'm sure you'll struggle to remove any internal seams, but I don't know just well you can see within this area. The actual intakes themselves are moulded as separate parts, thanks to slide-mould technology, so no immediate seams to remove in this area.





More large parts here, and Tarangus's failure to pack the sprue separately is evident here, as the upper wing panels exhibit a degree of scuffing that will need to be buffed out of the parts. As with the fuselage, no rivets are moulded here, but we do have those excellent panel lines, with some minor access port detail. The elevons are moulded in situ, and I would have perhaps like to have seen some extra depth/definition between these and the regular panel lines. I think an extra scribing would enhance this area perfectly.




The lower forward fuselage is moulded on this sprue, with the same definition of detail as we saw on the upper part, and within this, a recess is provided to precisely hold the forward wheel bay.




Only one wheel way and one canard wing are to be seen here (with the others being moulded on sprue C). More pylons are included on this sprue, and also a couple of extremely fine and fragile parts for the main undercarriage retraction mechanism.





The jet exhaust on the Viggen is enormous. You almost feel that you're looking at something in 1:32 scale here! This part is actually pretty stunning, with the exhaust being seen at the foot of the short tube, which is detailed along the interior wall also. I hope you'll be able to gauge that detail in my photograph. Another rig sits atop this, onto which you'll fit the thrust petals, and then the rear external fuselage cone.




Tarangus has split the rear fuselage into two parts, being split vertically. The seams will be totally hidden by the overlapping section of the forward fuse, plus the installation of the fin. Some smart thinking there!




This sprue also includes the main gear doors with hollow hinges and some great interior detail, as well as the intake pipe bulkhead, fin fairing, wheels (un-weighted, but I believe this to be correct due to Viggen tyre pressure), and the ventral belly pod (well, half of it anyway).








There are a number of repetitions here, with the rear port side fuse and the other half of the ventral fuel tank unit being amongst the other parts. Those parts include the un-weighted main gear wheels (also correct!), small airbrakes, interior nose bulkhead and also the beautifully detailed engine thrust petals I mentioned earlier. The instructions provide information on posing these in either an open or close position, and I presume you can set at any angle in between the two.






Other sprue parts include cockpit console detail which is reasonable, and a few parts relating to the undercarriage.





Strangely enough, the ventral fuel tank I mentioned was moulded on the previous sprues, isn't shown as for use in this kit, and there are some anomalies with other areas too, such as the two different cockpit tubs (we'll see soon), but Tarangus does clearly show which to be used. I wish they had shadowed out the parts not in use, on their sprue plan. It would certainly make things a little easier for the impatient amongst us.






This sprue is quite undercarriage-heavy, containing a multitude of parts for this area, such as the oleo struts and their associated linkages etc. The Viggen has two wheels per main gear leg, in tandem, and the main strut is moulded as two parts which include that main leg, and also the beam which sits across it onto which the wheels mount. This beam incorporates the disc brake too. The oleo scissors are moulded as one part, and I think you might need to drill out the holes on one face of this, as they are moulded solid, presumably due to moulding restrictions. I feel the nose gear bay is a little sparse, but unless you produce this in parts, this will always happen. A little more lead wire, and it's problem solved.




There are also a small number of external parts moulded here, and also in the intake fan which sits at the end of the intake trunking.





Ah, two seats included! Does this mean we'll eventually see an SK37 two seat variant, or does this relate to the two different cockpit tubs? Well, the answer is that I honestly don't know. I'm thinking there could be a two-seat machine eventually as all the parts on this sprue are duplicated; even the part numbers. Let's hope for that SK37 :)


The seat for this is split into left and right halves, with a separate seat cushion, seat top and blast tube. Also moulded here are the rudder pedals, and the control stick. Again, two of each of these are included :)




I think the seat will make up into quite a nice representation of the real thing, and they are also moulded without belts. Whilst this is good in terms that some of plastic versions can look quite ugly, it does unfortunately mean that you'll have to source your own belts, as none are supplied in the kit. Again, that's a little disappointing, as a small PE fret with them on would have been a nice touch.





This is the last of the grey sprues, and contains another cockpit tub and instrument panel (the ones slated for use in this release), which have the same standard of passable detail as the previous pit we looked at. I do think the detail is a little rudimentary, but passable if you add a little extra wiring etc. Other than that, I would look at using an aftermarket set.




The only other parts here are the superbly detailed belly weapons pack parts, an interior bulkhead and a small fin which sits to the rear of the rudder.





And finally, the clear sprue. The canopy is moulded in two parts, to allow both open and closed poses, and you'll also find the various wingtip navigation lights and the gun sight reflector lens. Clarity is very good, but the canopy is slightly faceted when you view through it, and that of course causes the eye to wander a little. Having said that, when installed, I doubt you'll notice this due to the proximity of the interior detail. One of my canopy parts had come adrift in the packaging.





A single decal sheet contains a set of stencils and individual machine markings for THREE machines. The difference in schemes is quite stark, with one being a simple bare metal finish, and another being in two-tone grey. The third scheme is the most ambitious, being a five colour splinter pattern. This will test your patience (and masking skills) to the max!




The decals themselves are beautifully printed, being both thin and in perfect register. The carrier film is also quite minimal. One thing that does concern me is that a couple of the colours are ever-so-slightly patchy when viewed closely. This may or may not be the case when wetted and applied.








The schemes on offer aren't identified, but here you can see them for yourself on the glossy scheme insert. This is beautifully printed, containing a full stencils drawing within.





Tarangus have provided this as a small A5 booklet that is printed on quite thick paper. All drawings are simple line format, and appear easy to follow. Text is in English, and simple colour notification is supplied right at the beginning of the book. Your best option is to also check this against online photo reference.


Whilst not a perfect kit, it certainly is a very good one, with excellent external detail and some great engineering. It screams build me as soon as you flick through the sprues. The lack of weapons is a little disappointing, as is the exclusion of any PE parts for things like the seat belts. If we ignore that, then this is one model which I imagine you'll have immense fun building...especially if you do that splinter pattern scheme! Now, all I want from Tarangus is a SAAB J29 'Tunnan' in 1:48, and I'll be very happy. In summary, the Viggen is a great kit, and you really should think about buying this one if this canard format machine appeals to you even in the slightest.


Highly recommended


My sincere thanks to Tarangus for this review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.


James H




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Great review James- what a lovely jet!


My ex neighbour was type safety officer on the type.. on his 60th birthday one came in so low and slow we could see the grin on the pilots face!! (Bellow xxx.ft)..


It builds really well.


thanks for great review!





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