The first Hunter prototype took to the air in 1951, with initial operational examples entering service by 1954. The early Hunters experienced a number of teething problems from engine surges to fuel capacity. By the time the Hunter F.6 became operational in 1957, most of the ‘bugs’ had been worked out and the Hunter became one of the principal fighters of the RAF. The Hunter was a solid machine and stable through all flight regimes, including supersonic. A good example of the Hunter’s solidity was an incident where the engine had flamed-out on a long final approach to the runway. The pilot ejected from the aircraft and the unmanned Hunter continued to glide down final approach and slide to a stop on the runway on its belly. Damage to the aircraft was light enough to have the aircraft back in service within a few weeks. The pilot took a few weeks longer to mend from his ejection seat ride and subsequent parachute landing.
When the English Electric Lightning entered service as the RAF’s supersonic fighter/interceptor, Hunter F.6s were being released for conversion into the FGA.9 (Fighter, Ground Attack Mark 9) configuration. Like all good fighters that have become ‘second string’, the Hunter was promoted to air-to-ground strike duties. The Hunter served in Air Forces around the world, some well into the 1990s! In addition to Great Britain, Hunter operators included the Sweden, Denmark, Peru, India, Switzerland, Jordan, Iraq, Abu Dhabi, Rhodesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Singapore, Qatar, Kenya, and Oman.
Academy has re-released their Hunter kit once again with a limited edition decal sheet. The kit is about 19 years old now and for better or worse, remains the best Hunter kit in this scale. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. All panel lines and rivet details are nicely scribed.
Features and options in this kit:
Basic cockpit tub that is too shallow
Reasonable ejection seat that wants to grow up to 1/48 scale, but for now is more like 1/72
Intake ducts lead to engine compressor face
Choice of F.6 or FGA.9 rear fuselage
Positionable speed brake
For whatever reason, Academy designed the cockpit to be too shallow and then shrank the ejection seat down to fit. The result is a cute ejection seat that is the wrong scale, but fortunately there are aftermarket cockpit sets which add nice details and the appropriate proportions back into the front office.
External stores include:
2 x external tanks (two sizes)
2 x rocket pods
24 x RP 3″ rockets
2 x bombs
This release has seven markings options:
Hunter F.6, XF526, 4 FTS, 78, RAF, 1979
Hunter F.6, XF526, 56 Sqn, C, RAF, 1960
Hunter F.56, BA360A, 20 Sqn, IAF, 1970s
Hunter FGA.9, XJ642, 54 Sqn, L, RAF, 1967
Hunter F.58, J-4026, ‘Patrouille Suisse’, Swiss AF, 1990s
Hunter F.58, J-4032, ‘Patrouille Suisse’, Swiss AF, 1990s
Hunter F.58, J34, ‘Acro Hunters’, G, Swedish AF, 2014