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I bought the Collect-Aire resin YF-23 when it came out, I think in 2002.  Big price, big box and some big hunks of resin, it was awesome. Although well designed and molded it did require extra skills and I was fairly new to resin, I think at that point I had made a handful of resin kits including Collect-Aire's MiG-19, which was fairly straightforward. For those who never built any kits by this company the detail and quality differed substantially. Their YF-23 was good however, good cockpit, decent shape, metal gear, rubbish missiles and wheels and a good attempt on the decal sheet (it had decals for the two prototypes plus some for an active duty what-if - Hobbyboss only had what-if decals so this project is made easier thanks to the more accurate Caracal decals release).

A really great effort by Collect-Aire considering how much reference was out at the time and the budgetary limits of a small company.  The nearly 20 year later Hobbyboss offering didn't have those limitations and while applauding them for making the kit it does have a handful of odd errors. More on that later. 


My plan in 2002 was to make a what if F-23A so I had made it an Eduard F-22A instrument panel and was going to rework the missile bay. With the Paul Metz YF-23 ATF book arrival, (a Northrop ATF test pilot) I now had good published detail shots of the two aircraft prototypes, called PAV 1 and PAV 2. I had the HobbyBoss kit in the stash and got out the (fuselage assembled) Collect-Aire and decided it was time to get them done.  I didn't want to correct both kits to look like each other- too much work, merely make them each as close to a prototype as possible. The ATF competition made this a little easier: both the YF-22 and the YF-23 prototypes were also using two different engines each (P&W and GE were competing for the winning design contract too).  Visually the only difference was the size of the engine exhaust area, the P&W engine was a little bigger and so its exhaust area was wider.

The Hobbyboss was better for the PAV 2 because it has the sawtooth detailing on top and seems wider because it's shorter.... With the outer fixed flap on the PAV 2 and the movable ones on PAV 1 I hope the two will look a little more similar in size.



The PAV 1 also had operating weapons bay doors and no sawtooth engine detailing, so Collect-Aire (resin) was better for that aircraft.

Here I've used Milliput underneath the HB fuselage because there are strange fictional shapes above the intakes that needed to be sanded down.




Some fuselage modifications below. The left side is untouched, there's a strange square ledge that shouldn't be there, on the right side it has been sanded away as well as some of the squared off engine hump.


The modified shape on the bottom, top still showing original.


The Collect-Aire had nice full intakes with good sized compressor blades, the HB started well but ended in small oval wall. I cut off the ends and found some tube extensions that did the job and looked much better.



HobbyBoss did a good job with the cockpit instrument panel but everything behind the seat was a strange bit of fiction. Collect-Aire did a pretty good job with the whole thing, their metal instrument panel was ok, a bit small and the detail soft, I had filed it down to remake the displays but instead I made a resin copy of the HB one. It looks much better in scale and accuracy.  

I plan to have both canopies open so at least now each cockpit will look similar. Next step is rear cockpit details to be added. The C-A has the right architecture and will be easier to modify, the HB is pure fiction and will need more work.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I've made some progress on the double build.

All ready to paint and.... My reshaping of the HB intakes didn't take well to tape. Easily fixed though.


That repair made and the cockpits are pretty much finished and I finally got some painting in.




I decided to get the HB nearly finished first so I can concentrate on the Collect-Aire with it's dropped flaps and it's weapons bay.  Caracal decals pretty accurate and went on fine.




A painted kit needs landing gear so I plumbed up the landing gear for both. HB did a great job on the gear. They added the connections for the red nose gear shimmy weight added to both aircraft but not the scissor link itself. I guess they thought it was one of those oleo attachments often seen on museum aircraft and omitted it.



Wheels are from vintage Monogram F-18s.  I used the SAC gear for the HB but honestly I think the plastic might be stronger.... The idea was to make both landing gears match and the SAC was for the C-A but there's no way that soft powdery metal would hold up the 1.6lb (700g) of resin. I keep having to bend it back into shape from handling the model. I gave up on SAC years ago but still have some to use up but this gear design doesn't bode well. The Collect-Aire is proper metal and although less detailed it should have no problem.

Note for PAV 2 The forward area of the weapons bays are not serrated. The intakes need re-profiling and the nose needs a strong arm of sandpaper.



This shows how big it is, the new J-20 below is huge too. HB YF-23 on the bottom, Hasegawa F-22 in the middle and KH F-35 on top. few6qUe.jpg



Flaps attached and the vac canopy successfully cut out (they provided 2) on the Collect-Aire and it's front section attached. 





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