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These two images are actually screen shots taken from a computer flight simulation called Microsoft Flight Simulator. They are actually from the older version, FS2004, which was superceded by FSX. Nevertheless, the impact of these shots is impressive. They are the best I have seen on the web, even taking into account FSX and all its capabilities. These shots were taken by a guy who calls himself mortixxer. He must have turned up all the detail levels and hiked up the atmospheric effects to max, because I have never seen such an etheareal blue haze effect from either FS2004 or FSX ever. This is the first time I have seen atmospheric effects truly simulating the atlitude often missing from so many simulations. The lighting is fantastic. Very well done, mortixxer.
 
  
One could be forgiven for thinking that this ws a high end military simulator, but again, it's 'just' FS2004! The simple composition is almost zen-like and the reflection on the water really sets the jet off. Very simple, very elegant. Well done, Jeff.
 
 

This is a 1/72 scale model of YF-23 PAV-1 built using the Testors kit, by Haydn Hughes. This model deserves special mention because this is the best effort I have seen so far to model PAV-1 in 1/72 accurately, anywhere in the world. This is the first time someone has painted the cockpit canopy frame in the correct colour: zinc chromate primer. Haydn has also noticed the little red brackets on the ejection seat rails used to mount video cameras, and installed them on his model. This is also a first. He is one of two people in the world to finally come to terms with the horrible rendition of the air intake in the kit. The colour he has chosen to paint the model is the closest I have ever seen to Gunship Grey 36118, which was the actual colour used on the real aircraft. It looks very accurate, and he has not weathered the model, which is a refreshing change to the plethora of grave yard rustbuckets so often depicted. Good onya Haydn, the best effort so far, only let down by one small mistake...

 

Haydn has added a very small red aerial on the left nacelle. Notice how close the grey colour he has used is to FS 36118. Haydn has also dropped the wing flaps.
 

This is another 1/72 scale model, again done using the Italeri/Testors tooling, by someone calling themselves Supertom. The pics of this model were uploaded by him to the What-If scale modelling website a year or two ago. This model is singled out for particular attention because this is the first and only serious effort in 1/72 scale to depict the YF-23 as a service variant, or what the F-23A could have looked like. This model was constructed before the release of the offical EMD plans in 2009, so no-one outside of Northrop or the AIAA had any idea of what the F-23 would have looked like. The best guess was a 3 view published by Koku Fan many years ago, but there was no way of knowing how accurate those drawings were. Supertom has not made any modifications to the kit of any kind; it is in the painting that he has excelled. He extrapolated based on the current F-22A Raptor scheme, and used aftermarket decals for that aircraft. His rendition of the scheme is particularly well done; all the colours are very accurate. He has managed to capture the elusive metallic finish in just the right shade and patina to produce just the kind of lustre seen on the real F-22. I have never seen anyone else attempt a service scheme on a 1/72 model at all. It's fascinating to see the YF-23 in such a scheme. Hats off to you, Supertom.

 
 

This is a 1/72 scale model constructed using the Dragon tooling, which is not as accurate as the Italeri tooling, but in this case it doesn't matter. Mayoko has built a very crisp rendition of one of the fictional aicraft seen in the computer flight simulation by Namco, called Ace Combat, a very popular game that has a cult following. There were 3 'skins' released for the YF-23 in that game, and this is a depiction of one of them. Mayoko hand masked all the stripes and checker patterns. The colours chosen conform very closely to the sim version. The way it has been displayed and photographed is very professional as well. Top job, Mayoko.

 
 
This is a photograph of YF-23 PAV-1's engine exhaust trough taken by someone calling themselves Polymer Stew. This shot was taken after PAV-1 was restored to display condition and exhibited in the R&D hangar at the National Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. This picture is classed as a 'walkaround' shot and is what scale modellers use when trying to make a detailed scale model of an aircraft. Normally, these sorts of shots are very utalitarian and just focus on documenting the structual detail at the expense of any artistic flair. But this picture is an exception. By accident or design, Polymer Stew has achieved another zen-like, serene image, making this component of the aircraft seem mysterious and ethereal. The lighting is subtle and flattering; it looks as if it was done in a studio, and the composition is charmingly simple, approaching the abstract. I could imagine this image hanging in an art gallery somewhere, and no-one, not even the curator, having any idea what the subject was. The definitive artistic shot of a YF-23 is yet to be taken, but as walkaround shots go, this has got to be the most tasteful and artistic I have ever seen, probably of any aircraft. Congrats, Poly.
 
 

For those wanting to produce a detailed accurate model it has been a very dry spell for such a long time. Like a farmer waiting for rain, you just hang on. Every so often a little scrap comes your way and you piece a little more of the jigsaw puzzle together. Tony Chong would understand this; he is a professional model maker to the aerospace industry in California, but his information is a little more reliable and free flowing. Tony has recently risen to fame through an article published recently about his business, and the legend of the FB-23 model that he made. Very recently, he did something which will go down in history for YF-23 enthusiasts: he managed to photograph the weapons bay of PAV-2 properly and thoroughly, for so long a complete enigma, and release the results to the YF-23 community. This is a significant contribution worthy of the sincere gratitude of scale modellers everywhere. Because of his photographs, the book on the mystery of PAV-2 can finally be brought to a close, plastic cut, and resin cast. 2010 is a year we will all remember. Thanks, Tony. You're a champ.

 
 
Not much more than a month after Tony's significant contribution, it was announced at the Secret Projects Forum in March 2010 that US Cockpits now had good pictures of the YF-23's cockpit, and this is indeed the case. The site has good clear pictures of PAV-1's cockpit which show it as it was during Dem/Val flight testing. All pictures available before this were of PAV-2's cockpit in a state of disrepair. The only publicly released shot of PAV-1's cockpit up till now was a fleeting shot taken by Tony Landis and published in America's Stealth Fighters and Bombers, which was taken at long range and only showed part of the instrument panel. This is another substantial contribution to the YF-23 community. A big thankyou to US Cockpits and whoever acquired the pictures for them.
 
 
2009 was a year I will never forget, for very specific reasons. 19 years after the first flight of the YF-23, a very significant contribution was made to the YF-23 community by a person called Overscan, who uploaded to the Secret Projects Forum something we thought we'd never see. The truly bizarre thing is that I actually had a dream about this beforehand, and didnt realise what it meant until I sat down in an internet cafe to surf for YF-23 pics. Google produced a thumbnail of something I had not seen before, and I stared for about 10 seconds trying to figure out if what I was looking at was my imagination or not. It was very real and very official. What can we say, Overscan? Thanks a million.

 
 
Overscan also uploaded for the very first time, a scan of an official technical drawing of the YF-23 PAV. This is the very first time offical drawings of the YF-23 have been released anywhere; now we have a reliable basis with which to extrapolate accurate shapes and dimensions. This too, is a remarkable contribution.
 
 
Just days or perhaps hours after Overscan broke the drought, someone else, to the same forum, uploaded the piece de resistance: the equivalent of the Return of Christ for the YF-23 community. Perhaps this was what the bible was prophecying about all along and the world lost the true meaning in all the translations. I had virtually given up hope of ever seeing the Dead Sea Scroll and was thinking of undertaking a major drawing effort to speculate on what the EMD variant would have looked like. This, together with the drawings above, is a stupendous contribution to the YF-23 enthusiast and scale modelling community. Mark, we cannot thank you enough.
 
 
It seems as if the dam has finally broken and the flood of information has finally begun. March 2010 has been a very good month for the YF-23 community. I thought I'd seen it all when I laid eyes on Mark's contribution, but there has been more. Scott Lowther has a site called up-ship.com where he sells copies of detailed technical drawings of all sorts of aircraft and spacecraft, and in March he received approval to publicly release official drawings of the YF-23 PAV. This release is thorough and complete; it contains a full set of cross sections and internal details, including, for the first time, views of the GE YF120. The drawings include top, bottom, port, and starboard views; and show all major componentry. He charges a nominal fee for the full res versions of these drawings. Finally, folks. How long, how long have we waited? Who will be the first to produce an accurate scale model? This is another highly significant and greatly appreciated contribution to the information bank of the YF-23 community. You did it, Scott.
 
 
With the publication of Aerospace Projects Review Vol 3 No 2 in December 2011, and its Addendum in April 2012, Scott Lowther has finally given us the definitive source of information on the YF-23, F-23A/B, and NATF-23A/B we have all been looking for. His contacts in the aviation industry have allowed him to source official Northrop drawings never seen before in public. This downloadable PDF is just what we have been waiting for to finally make decent scale models of all these variants. As if that wasn't enough, Scott also thoroughly documented the GE YF120 engine at the Air Force Museum in November 2011. He is the first person to publish a complete walkaround of this engine in PAV-2 guise. For these efforts, he is awarded the highest honor as being the single greatest contributor to the YF-23 community. Well done and very much appreciated, Scott.
 

Last updated May 2012.

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