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Updating the 1/48 Revell F-15E to Modern Standards

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Modeling the F-15E and variants in 1/48 scale using the Revell kit.

Hello all

I do not claim to be an expert on the F-15E, having never served around it or anything, but it is my favorite airframe, and I have built several over the years, and done countless hours of research on it. First thing is first. In 1/48 (which I will be concentrating on, because that is what I build), the only game in town is the Revell Strike Eagle. It is the only kit in 1/48 that represents a production Strike Eagle.

As a note, throughout this write-up, I will be referring to the Modern Eagle Guide by Jake Melampy. This book is a must-have for anyone who is building a model of any F-15, regardless of model or country. The page numbers in () refer to this book.

There are three main boxings of this kit, all with the same basic plastic. There is the Revell release, the Revell of Germany release, and the ProModeler. Both the Revell and RoG boxings contain four Sidewinders for armament and nothing else. The ProModeler boxing, however, adds four GBU-10's, two GBU-15's and the associated AN/AXQ-14 data link pod, and two AIM-120 AMRAAM's, all of which have various problems with accuracy (i.e. my recommendation is to pass on the PM kit, get a Michaels 40% off coupon, buy the regular boxing for $15.00, and then source your weapons from Hasegawa weapons sets or the like). As for decals, you have the choice of the 391st Bold Tigers and 335th Chiefs in the original boxing. The RoG boxing gives you a choice of doing a Strike from Nellis AFB (WA tail code), or a Tiger meet scheme from RAF Lakenheath (LN tail code) while the ProModeller has the LN Tiger Meet decals and a Strike from Luke AFB.

Out of the box the Revell kit can be made into an extremely accurate Desert Storm Strike Eagle with no additions or corrections, other than the JFS stack (See below). However, in order to make a post-DS bird, some minor changes are needed. First of all are the missile launchers.

After Desert Storm, the AIM-120 AMRAAM was integrated into the Strike Eagle program, and required a new launcher, the LAU-128. Despite them being different than the Sidewinder launchers, the ProModeler boxing does not contain accurate LAU-128's and ADU-552 adapters. In the mid 90's, it was possible to see a combination of the new and old launchers on a single aircraft. This is no longer the case, as the LAU-128's can launch both AIM-9L/M/X (AIM-9X is just now being tested on the Strike and will slowly make its way into the fleet in the coming years) and AIM-120A/B/C and are used exclusively now. LAU-128's are produced by Doctor Pepper Resins, Wolfpack Design and Shawn Hull. (See Page 135)

The second change to the Strike Eagle of today is the GPS "dot."(Page 67) This antenna allows the Strike Eagle to communicate with the GPS constellation, gaining extremely accurate navigation and targeting coordinates. It is found behind and to the right of the WSO, about halfway down and beside the speed brake (see pictures below) having the GPS allows carriage of JDAM-class weapons, such as the GBU-31 and GBU-38, as well as the Small Diameter Bomb, which is also GPS guided. This antenna can easily be scratch-built using a piece of sprue sanded to shape, the tip of an AIM-9M Sidewinder, or a small drop of thick CA glue, with depressions drilled at the 10, 2, 4, and 8 posistions.

Originally the F-15E carried both the LANTIRN targeting and navigation pod. Although the targeting pod is still a viable option, other pods have come along to improve/replace it. The most recent of these is the Sniper XR targeting pod, which made its operational debut in January of 2005, and since about 2006 is almost always seen on Strike Eagles flying combat missions in the Middle East. Shawn Hull (shull24.com) makes an excellent resin copy. As an interim measure to bridge the gap between LANTIRN and Sniper technology, the LITENING AT pod was used by the F-15E for a very short while.

It is important to note that the LANTIRN targeting pod is no longer used in combat, but is still very frequently (i.e. almost always) carried by Strike Eagles at home. Because of the limited supply of Sniper XR pods, the Snipers are reserved for combat missions, and are usually kept in-theater. LANTIRN pods are carried when Strike Eagle units are at home in a training environment to teach the basics of targeting pod use.

The LANTIRN navigation pod is always carried, and houses the FLIR (Forward Looking IfraRed) and TFR (Terrain Following Radar) that allows the Strike Eagle to fly in all-weather conditions and at night.

The LITENING AT is produced in resin by both Wolfpack Design and Doctorpeper resins, and can also be found in the Hasegawa Night Attack Harrier kit, and the Tamiya Block 25/32 F-16C kits. The Hasegawa Weapons Set D contains improved LANTIRN navigation and targeting pods, as well as the F-15E adapter pylons for them.

Early in the life of the Strike Eagle, it was noticed that the heavier takeoff weight compared to the Fighter Eagle was causing nasty oscillations and vibrations in the nose gear upon takeoff, taxiing and landing. In order to fix this problem, a shimmy dampener was added to the nose gear beginning in 1999, and was installed fleet-wide by some time in 2002. (Page 120)




These are the main, fleet-wide updates to the Strike Eagle. Also of note are a few smaller changes. The original top-front CFT pylons (stations RCT/LCT-6) have a forward slant to them, as the ones in the Revell kit portray. There have been numerous instances of these developing cracks in them, and they are gradually being replaced with straight pylons. The front of these pylons is perpendicular to the ground, and curve back at a 90 degree angle (Page 95) The new-style pylons are included in the Wolfpack Design F-15E OEF/OIF update set.

Also, the antennas under the nose and at the rear of the tail may be different from airframe to airframe. There are two under the nose, and two at the rear of the fuselage, behind the horizontal stabs. Both nose antennas are molded straight on the Revell kit. Although they serve the same purpose, a different manufacturer has made slanted antennas, and these are used on some Strikes. This is an either/or kind of thing, and any combinations thereof would be considered "correct". As for the tail boom antennas, it is most common to see one "rounded" and one "square" antenna mounted there. (Page 102) In order to determine the correct combination of both the CFT pylons and antenna, reference pictures of your particular airframe are needed.

There have been two different types of engines used on the Strike Eagle (pages 103-108). Originally, the F-15E was powered by the Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-220 engines. These produce a maximum of 23,700 pounds of thrust. F-15E's from the beginning of the production line through S/N 90-232 have the -220 engines. S/N 90-233 introduces the more powerful, and more reliable, F100-PW-229 engines, which produce 29,100 pounds of thrust. When modeling Strikes with the -229 engines, you must use parts 97, 98, 197 and 198. These are the intake scoops which provide extra air to the engines, and there are two flashed-over holes on the inside of each CFT that need to be opened up for these parts to go into. As far as modeling goes, there are no visible external differences between the two engine types, but the fan section (the one visible when looking down the intakes) is different inbtween the -220 and -229 engines (Page 104).

For those of you "rivet counters" out there, Revell has a molded seam line in the nosecone/radome. This should be sanded smooth, as the Strike Eagle does not have the rubber "boot" that the fighter Eagles do. If you really, really want to be accurate, the vertical panel lines of the CFTs should be filled. The real CFTs are actually three different sections, but unless you are really looking for them, the panel lines are nearly invisible. (Pages 90-95)


The wheels of the Strike Eagle are wider and larger (pages 120, 126 and 127) than those found on Fighter Eagles, and this is something that Revell missed. The nose wheel is the correct width, but the mains are almost a full milimeter (~0.82mm) too thin. This can be corrected by adding plastic sheet between the wheel halves, or replacing them with resin wheels. Royale Resin will be releasing a set with the proper width in the near future.

Lastly, the JFS (Jet Fuel Starter) exhaust on the bottom of the jet should actually be an open hole, not a grated one as molded. Prior to 1994 the F-15A-D had a louver over this area, but the F-15E never has, and the A-D as since been modified to this type. After drilling out the grate, a good way to replicate the piping is to put two small brass tubes, one inside the other, of the appropriate dimensions over/around this hole to give some appearance of depth (Page 112).

The F-15E is made of several different materials; including aluminum, steel, titanium and composites. Because of the high temperatures created by the two afterburning engines, titanium is used for the engine compartments and the surrounding areas, and is not painted due to the high heat. This metal, while originally shiny, can be varying degrees of color due to various factors such as age of the airframe, weather conditions, heat staining etc. On the top of the fuselage the length of the unpainted titanium starts just behind the leading edge of the vertical stabs (There is a panel line there on the Revell kit) and extends to the rear of the fuselage, just a little back from the edge of the burner cans. The width of this area covers the entire area between, and right up to, the vertical stabs. The rest of the tail booms are painted the same color as the rest of the fuselage, whether it be camouflage (f-15I), Mod Eagle gray (F-15S) or Gunship Gray (F-15E, F-15K and F-15SG). On bottom, the unpainted titanium begins just forward of the JFS (also a panel line there), and extends back towards the rear of the plane to about the same area as the top, and covers the entire width of the bottom fuselage, including the area under the CFTs (all titanium areas are similar on all variants of the Eagle, including the A-D)

The F-15E has also been fitted with different speed brakes over the years than the fighter Eagles have. While the same dimensions as the fighter Eagle's speed brakes (they are interchangeable with each other) the F-15E was fitted with a speed brake that has a small depression on its trailing edge that serves as a hand hold. (Page 65) This style has now been retro-fitted to all Eagles, but it did start with the F-15E. Also, it was found that water would seep into the honeycomb composite structure of the speed brake, causing cracks, breaks, and other unwanted things to happen. Thus, a new speed brake has been designed, and is making its way into the Eagle fleet on an attrition basis. This new brake has the internal structure visible (you can see the stiffening ribs criss-crossing the underside of the brake) whereas the old-style appeared smooth underneath, and is being made of one-piece milled aluminum. At this time, there are no after-market alternates for either the handled version or new-style speed brake, you would need to scratch-build that by yourself, or let it slide, your choice.

As with all F-15's, the Echo has been fitted with stiffening plates on the vertical stabs to reinforce the torque box that supports the ECM bullet and ballast weight. This area was prone to cracks before the plates were added. Steel Beach Accessories (found at www.spruebrothers.com) has a set of F-15 stiffener plates designed for Hasegawa, but should also work on the Revell kit.

My next point is references. The most invaluable, one-shop-stop on the Strike Eagle for me on the internet has been www.f-15e.info. Here you will find thousands of sorted reference photos; weapons load outs, including those used in various conflicts; histories of both the aircraft and the squadrons that fly it; and a complete serial number table, with clickable links to a short history of each airframe. There are also several books published out there about the Strike Eagle. As mentioned in the beginning of the article, Jake Melampy's The Modern Eagle Guide, The F-15 Eagle/Strike Eagle Exposed is the absolute best of these, and covers both Strike and Fighter Eagles inside and out from front to back.

The Strike Eagle has been updated and improved constantly since the very first F-15E rolled off the line. Today it is one of, if not the, premiere attack aircraft in the world. It can carry virtually every weapon in the USAF inventory, including nuclear gravity bombs. In the near future the F-15E will be upgraded with AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) Radar, AIM-9X and JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) as budget allows. The growth potential of the Strike Eagle will allow the aircraft to stay in the USAF inventory well into the current century, and as of now, there is no airframe that is capable of replacing it in inventory or in planning stages.

This longevity and growth potential has made the F-15E extremely attractive to the foreign market, and there are currently four sub-variants of the F-15E flying throughout the world today. Israel flies the F-15I Ra'am (thunder). Unlike the USAF F-15 fleet, Israel still uses the “turkey feathers” on their aircraft, and the India is powered by the newer F100-PW-229 engines. The F-15I is camouflaged in the standard Israeli desert camouflage, and is perhaps the most recognized variant because of it. Wolfpack Design's (Now Out of Production) F-15I update set includes the turkey feathered engines, new front and rear instrument panels, and new, longer centerline pylon needed to covert Revell F-15E into an F-15I.

Saudi Arabia currently flies 72 F-15S airframes. These jets are also powered by the F100-PW-229 and are the aircraft most like their USAF cousins. The F-15S is painted in Mod Eagle colors, similar to Saudi and USAF F-15C/D's.

Both South Korea and Singapore also have variants of the F-15E, the F-15K and F-15SG respectively. Both the K and SG are powered by the General Electric F110 engines (similar to those used in USAF F-16 Block 30/40/50 aircraft) and unlike the F-15E/I/S, have AESA radar, JHMCS and AIM-9X capability from delivery. Also of note is that the F-15SG will be using the Sniper pod, and both the K and SG have the "Tiger-eye IRST (InfraRed Search and Track) mounted above the LANTIRN nav pod (Page 163), as well as slightly different CFT pylons with extended aft fairings (page 95) The Tiger-Eye allows the F-15K/SG to track targets by their infrared signature without giving away their position, as it does not emit any traceable energy as radar does. Both the F-15K (known as the Slam Eagle) and the F-15SG are painted in overall Gunship Gray, as are USAF Strike Eagles. Wolfpack Design also produced an F-15K update set (now also out of production), which also could be used for the SG.

There are many aftermarket parts and accessories made for the Revell Strike Eagle. In order to make an OEF/OIF Strike Eagle, I would strongly suggest picking up the Wolfpack-D update set (available direct through Wolfpack or at Sprueborthers) which has the GPS dot, LAU-128's, new-style CFT pylons, bullet fairings, and better detailed LANTIRN pods. There are at least two cockpit sets out there, one by Verlinden and one by Black Box/Avionix, but I would not spend the money on them, as they are both basically resin copies of the kit parts. The only thing you may want for the cockpit is resin ejection seats. ACES II seats are available from several different companies.

Just about all the major aftermarket companies out there make decals for the Strike Eagle. Afterburner Decals has three sheets out currently that allow you to build Strikes from the 389th at Mountain Home, the 90th at Elmendorf (now flies the F-22) and their newest sheet allows you to build several jets from RAF Lakenheath. The great part about AB decals is that they provide you with top-notch instructions that include weapons loadouts for different timeframes and color placement guides. The way that AB lays out their decals is also great, as you usually get a selection of “special” airframes, such as the Wing King, as well as line jets all on one sheet.

Again, I am in no way an expert, but I hope that this write-up helps you guys in the future as you build my favorite aircraft...the F-15E Strike Eagle.










Special Thanks to Jon Catling, Guy Wilson, Chris Holmes and Jake Melampy for their help and input.

All pictures attached were either taken by myself or Jake Melampy, and are used with his permission. Please respect his copyright.

Edited by strikeeagle801
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This information is too good to be pinned. It should be its own article here on ARC!

Like this one on the CF-118.

I will gladly submit the article to Steve to put on the ARC main page as well. Thank's for the suggestion.

An orthographic showing all the stiffeners in color would help. It would allow builders to find where they arent and add them as needed.

The only stiffeners that I am aware of are the ones on the veritical stabs, and if you get the Steel Beach vinyl, it shows you right where to put them.


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I will gladly submit the article to Steve to put on the ARC main page as well. Thank's for the suggestion.

The only stiffeners that I am aware of are the ones on the veritical stabs, and if you get the Steel Beach vinyl, it shows you right where to put them.


Thats all fine and dandy. Id just like en example so i dont have to shell out money for something i could do myself with really thin sheet styrene.

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An orthographic showing all the stiffeners in color would help. It would allow builders to find where they arent and add them as needed.

Just in case this question comes up again. The F-15E only has the top two stiffener plates included in the Steel Beach set installed. One on the front top of the fin, and the other along base of the ECM/Ballast extension on both sides (inside and out of both stabs).


Edited by strikeeagle801
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Very timely. My wife just picked up the kit for me two days ago.

I want to make the Israeli F-15I and had found the Wolfpack upgrade was out of production.

I hear the Aires 1/48 F-15C exhausts can also be used for the F-15I tail feathers. Where can I go to get Aires products?

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  • 4 months later...

Outstanding information. Right now I only have the basic F-15E kit in 48. Luckily I don't have to go scouring around for 391st decals. I've been thinking of photographing my bird once it's finished with the 391st patch that I got when I went to the Abbotsford Airshow back during the 80s, when the BOLD TIGERS were still flying the F-111.

Aw...bloody crap. Now that means I have to get myself an Academy F-111A in 48 too to build in 391st colors. Does this model-collecting ever stop. Don't answer that. It's a rhetorical question, I already know the answer... it's "NO!"

Edited by The_Animal
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