Wednesday, 6 December 2017

To the Skies! With the S-300 Air Defense System

The S-300 Air Defence System (NATO code name SA-10 Grumble)


The S-300 or SA-10 Grumble is a Russian Air Defense System. What the system is precisely made out of depends on the operator but usually there is an acquisition radar, antenna, communications station, missile launch system and of course the missile itself. In case of the S-300 it a very successful system not only against aircraft but also against cruise and ballistic missiles. The big question/challenge these days is can it work against stealth aircraft? Shooting down a fighter or bomber aircraft is very difficult because they are fast, agile and in case of stealth aircraft also difficult to track down. All parts of the S-300 system are made in a mobile version, so it doesn't require large radars in fixed positions that can easily be taken out. In the video below the deployment of the system. The missile's are first popped out of there transport and launch tube's and then ignited. Igniting them in the tube itself will melt the tube. Note the different radars and launch vehicles used.

A small film on how to attack an Air Defense System. It clearly shows that just having the best system, aircraft, radar or whatever in it self doesn't count. All parts have to cooperate in a very good manor to make an air strike or the defense against it succeed.

The PST kits


Several parts of the system have been recreated in 1/72 scale by PST and recently by Modelcollect also. PST created the following kits, all based on the MAZ truck:
  • 72050: 5P85S, the 'smart' or 'master' launcher system (TEL). The construction behind the driver cabin houses a receiver for signals from the command center and a broadcaster to pass these signals on to other launchers and missiles.
  • 72055: 5P85D, the 'dum' or 'slave' launcher system (TEL). This is the same vehicle as the 5P85S but it doesn't have a receiver and electronics to communicate with the command center. It receives signals from the smart launcher and passes them on the the missile.
  • 72060: The radar, mounted on the MAZ truck as well.
  • 72070: 15V148 commandpost
I build the 5P85S 'Smart Tel'. PST is a Belarussian company and I don't know when these kits are originally released but the parts don't look very impressive at first sight. The chassis of the truck is somewhat simplified, much to my relief since putting together 100 parts which won't be seen is not really my cup of tea. The construction used to hold the four launch tubes is somewhat bulky compared to the real thing but only the underside will be seen when the model is constructed in launch mode. In transport mode only the back of it is visible which has the right detail. The piston used to push up the launch tubes doesn't completely fit in it's housing but this is easily resolved by drilling the housing out a bit more. The part van also be omitted when making the model in transport mode since it is invisible then. The most difficult thing to correct is the fact that the launch tubes are all split into two halves but they don't match up at the 2nd and 3trd rim as counted from above. I decided to leave it as it was. An other issue easily resolved is the fact that the fenders have a recess for the stabilizers which don't match up precisely. The fenders are molded with a 'horizontal' surface as well. It isn't there in reality but probably added to make the model stronger. It is strong enough without these surfaces so I removed these. It also gives the model a more realistic look. It is the shaded area in the picture below that can be removed:

Strong points of this model kit are the inclusion of a sprue with clear parts, not only for the windows but also headlights, a full in complement of missiles and a good fit of parts. On my model the drivers cabin doesn't sit quite right but I think it because I misaligned the right side of the cabin. The model has 100 parts for the truck, an additional 40 for the wheels and 60 for the launch tubes and missiles so that is quite an impressive part count. The wheels appear to be a bit bulbous and seem to have a simplified thread pattern but this is mostly authentic actually.
This specific launcher is used by a myriad of countries around the world for 3 decades so there is a large variety of colors to choose from. Here are some examples:

I chose a elaborate scheme from a Slovakian vehicle for my model:


This kit is priced at the same price as the recent Modelcollect offerings so I think most modelers will go for that kit. For it's time it is probably a good kit and it still looks quite good for today's standards. I had a lot of fun building it, several things of what I thought where simplifications turned out to be right when I saw the video of the S-300 launch.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

An American Hero

TheAmerican 101st Airborne Division was founded in 1918 and has been nicknamed 'screaming eagle'. It is an elite force specializing in fighting (far) behind enemy lines to capture strategic targets on which an entire operation pivots. It is often the 'tip of the spear' in an assault, hence they are the first to fight in the most dangerous places. In Wold War II the 101st was significant in, for example, D-day, the battle of the bulge and the liberation of the Netherlands. These days the 101st is equipped with 280 helicopters, including 3 battalions of AH-64 Apaches and is able to deploy 4000 soldiers in a single airlifting operation.

Dragon have chosen to produce a figure depicting a soldier from the 101st during WWII (kit No. 1605). It is the only allied WWII soldier available as a plastic in 1/16 scale. The model is superb however! It consists out of only about 25 parts but the figure is as good as a white metal or resin production. The facial expression is very real as well. A base is included, I added the shoulder straps for the rifle my self. The American uniforms from WWII where not available in every color but there was a huge range of ockers, greens and everything in between. I went with the colors suggested at the box picture. Seeing the photo below from an reenactment that could very well be authentic. The main color is a mix of white and ocker (ocker brown, Revell's 36188) in about equal amounts. Darker and lighter shades are the same mix with more ocker or white respectively. The green is NATO Olive (Revell's 36146).


Reenactors.


All colors used painting the figure. This model is easy to make and quite easy to paint so also recommended for beginners or even as a first model.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A small preview of the Riich model M109A6

Never available as a 1/72 plastic model before but now there is with the release of Riich Models M109A6 'Paladin' howitzer. The M109A2 version is also available. The M109 howitzer was used from 1963 on wards. The chassis is made from aluminum and shares a lot of parts with the M113 APC and M108 light howitser which is basically a M109 with a 105 MM gun while the M109 has a 155 mm gun. All M108's where rebuild as M109's after insufficient performance during the vietnam war. The firing range of the first models was 18 km and they had a crew of 6. It weight of the vehicle is with 27,5 tons quite low. Being in service for over half a century means a lot of updates and changes to systems. Currently the most modern version in service is the M109A6 with a crew of only 4 and a firing range of 22 km. An A7 version is being developed sharing parts with the M2/3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and firing systems originally developed under other projects. The finishing of testing and starting of the production of the A7 version should start about now.

As said Riich model created a 1/72 model is the A2 (Kit No. 72001) and (Kit No. 72002) version. A model of the M922 Field Artillery Ammunition Support System (FAASV) is also planned (kit No. 72003). Revell will also release a G version this month. The pictures below are from the A6 version from Riich Model, click on the pictures for a lager version (Note that there are two of each sprue with the suspension and tracks, I just photo graphed two sides of the track sprue):

Riich Models have chosen a classical molding approach, so no slide molds and large parts with details on numerous surfaces but classical sprue's with a front and backside. There are about 100 parts on the hull and turret, suspension, wheels and tracks are 2 x 43 parts finally there are 8 photo etched parts. The detail is very good, tools are molded on the model which is not to every ones taste but I like it because as lose parts there are to fragile. The number of very small parts is limited but still they are there. At about € 21,00 it is more expensive then most other kits but what could be due to the photo etched parts. Riich Models certainly have created a gem of a kit with this release. Great to see the iconic M109 finally incarnate as 1/72 plastic model, after about 50 years it really was time. With a choice for both the A2 and A6 version you can build the most modern or most used version. One of the best features is the anti-skit relief on the front of the model and turret roof. this looks fantastic and is difficult to create yourself on this scale. The barrel is one piece except for the muzzle break faithfully reproducing the open structure of the muzzle break.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Workhorse of the US Navy

Entering service in 1978 the F/A-18 Hornet has been the workhorse of the US Navy ever since. Although never as populair as the F-14 A Tomcat and other aircraft the F/A-18 has become the main building block of the US Navy's air strength. It was originally designed as a fighter and attack craft to replace the A4 Skyhawk, A7 Corsair II and F-4 Phantom and supplement the F-14 Tomcat. In time it also replaced it's contemporaries such as the F-14 A Tomcat, A-6 Intruder and Prowler. An A,B,C,D,E,F and G version are made. The A, C and E versions are single seaters, the B, D and F versions are double seaters while the G or 'Growler version' is a specialized electronic warfare version. The E, F and G versions are not modernized A, B, C and D versions but new build aircraft with a 25% larger airframe, stealthy design and new engines. The Hornet is also used by Finland, Austria, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, Canada and Australia.

A F/A-18 A Hornet

A F/A-18 B Hornet used by NASA

A F/A-18 C Hornet in an agressor scheme to signify the 'opposing forces' at the Naval Air School (NAS) (see more at airliners.net)

A F/A-18 D also in an 'agressor scheme' (see more at airliners.net)

A F/A-18 E

A F/A-18 F in a modern 'digital' scheme and crew in matching outfits (see more at airliners.net)

An EA-18 G

A F 18 C and E version flying together. The difference in can be clearly seen

The Revell model


Revell makes models of several Hornet variants in 1/144, 1/100, 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scale although not all of them are in the production program at the same time. as can be seen in the pictures above the F-18, no matter what precise variant can be painted in many colors. From gray all over, to a complex scheme with many colors. I build the C, D and G version in 1/144 (kit No. 04001, 04064 and 04909 respectively) in 1/144 scale the E version is also available (kit No. 03997). Like the real aircraft the C and D version are almost the same model with only a different cockpit while the EA-18G Growler is an entirely new and different model. All go together very easy and have about 40 parts bombs and pylons not included. Both models contain these however. I chose the build the both C and D version with a Harpoon anti-ship missile but bombs are also available. The Growler has it's own unique set of electronic jamming pods. The models are easy to build but the perfectionist wants to take extra care the air-intake parts of the C and D version blend in smooth with the rest of the fuselage. With G version the jet intakes have a different form and are constructed in such a way they always bled in. One decal option is provided per aircraft. I painted the 'scorpion tails' and desert camouflage on the G version since large decals are difficult to apply, especially on surfaces with a lot of engraved lines but a decal is provided. The photo's of the finished models are next. There is no option to but the wings in a folded position so I made a cut at the right position and placed the wingtips in a folded position on the C version:

This is a serie of very fine models. Be sure to watch the production numbers when buying an F-18 from Revell in 1/144 scale. The very old model (kit No. 04075) might also still be for same. although a genuine A version the model is a lot older then these and I have no idea how good it is.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Revell 03198 GTK BOXER GTFz A1 finished

GTK Boxer

The Boxer is one of the newest wheeled armored vehicles, originally developed by Great-Britten, Germany and France. The French left the project in 1999 (this really is a Eurofighter dejavu) and the Dutch joined in in 2001. The empty weight of the vehicle is 24 tons but can be loaded to a total weight of 36 tons. It has eight wheels and a powerful 720 hp engine in the front. The back is a separate module that can be taken off as one whole piece and replaced with an other one depending on the mission requirements. There are several modules such as an cargo module, infantry carrier (with remotely controlled machine gun), command center and ambulance. The vehicle is used by the German, Dutch and Lithuanian army. The Australian, Britsch and Romanian Army are seeing if it can be used in their armies.

A British test model in Union Jack colors

The Revell model

Photo's of the parts on the sprues can be seen here in an earlier review. The model went together without problems. The 'bar' above the exit on the rear does have a sinkhole that needs filling. I also see a large gap between the engine cover and the rest of the hull. I think I glued it on correctly but I can't see there is such a prominent gap between it and the rest of the hull near the middle so you might want to take extra care when fitting this part. I fitted mine after the whole model was painted. The mirrors for the driver are the most fragile part. The mirrors are placed at an angle 45 degrees from horizontal (or vertical) but in the wrong direction so these need to be bended 90 degrees. The plastic is relatively soft so it can be done with some care. On to the photo's:

this is a very nice model from Revell. Quite suitable as a first model.