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[Stock 1:1] Lockheed F-117A "Nighthawk"


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The Stealth Fighter

This is another one of those planes that needs no introduction - it redefined the face of modern warfare in much the way that its spiritual ancestors from Clarence "Kelly'" Johnson's and Lockheed's Skunkworks design group did, but under the leadership and vision of a new generation. I'd bet that anyone who's into aviation in the slightest has seen this plane, and many aircraft nuts like myself have read (or in my case, are currently reading) the tale of its creation right from the metaphorical horse's mouth. Ben Rich was the successor to Kelly Johnson as the head of Lockheed's Advanced Development Projects division, more commonly known simply as the Skunkworks. Rich was one of the first to see the value of radar stealth to an attack aircraft, and championed the project from its conception to delivery in 1983. His excellent memoir (aptly titled "Skunkworks") has an image of his iconic fighter on the cover, and as soon as I picked up the book, I knew that I wouldn't be satisfied until I could see that view myself, in KSP.

How'd I do?




Chasing screenshots aside, this is my favorite build in a long time, for a large number of reasons. Probably the most important is the fact that the Nighthawk is a plane that has vexed me for a long time. My early forays into replicas were consumed with the Jet-of-the-Day project between @NorthAmericanAviation and myself, in our attempt to replicate every single military jet aircraft that the U.S. has ever flown. We succeeded in all but two. The first was Kelly Johnson's magnum opus, the SR-71 Blackbird, partially because we couldn't top the absolutely jaw-dropping replica from @eorin and @Exothermos, and the second was the F-117A, because neither of use felt that we could take it on. Now,  two and a half years later, I've returned to finish what we started.


The second reason is that this craft is a fantastic example of why 1:1 replica building is so rewarding. The parts are just the right size to accurately render the shapes of each and every one of the Nighthawks oddly-shaped panels (even the ones on the bottom!), the functional elements are here too, in the form of bomb bays and landing gear doors, and creative part usage is literally front and center in the cockpit glass and air inlets, and somehow, it maintains passable flight characteristics even for such an un-aerodynamic design. At any smaller scale, certain elements would be lost: the shape of the cockpit glass, the angles of the body panels, the wingtips, the shape of the vertical stabilizers, and on and on. Plus, the perfect 1:1 scale really lets you appreciate the size of aircraft in comparison to each other. The F-117 might look small, but it's roughly the same dimensions as a F-14 Tomcat, and the scale lets you appreciate the shape of the plane in all its glory.


All of this plays into this being an absolute joy for me to fly. Just looking at it when it lifts into the air gives me chills. And I hope it does the same for you. If you haven't heard the story of the F-117 and the other black projects that helped the world survive the Cold War, I highly recommend Rich's account, but aside from that, the next best thing I can give you is the download link.

Craft Download


For optimal flying characteristics, trim pitch up 50% and fly without SAS.

If you dial in the trim, it's solid as a rock without SAS, somehow.

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21 hours ago, Servo said:

How'd I do?

Its gorgeous (for what is not the prettiest plane in the world). Nice clean lines too which is hard.

The only nitpick I have is there's a little sharp point at the top of the cockpit that doesn't seem present, but I mean... very small detail in comparison to the rest of the aircraft.


And that Skunk works book is a very good read.

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