|PRICE:||5,440 yen at www.hlj.com|
|NOTES:||Caracal Decals 48078 used|
The Grumman Model G-70 was selected by the Navy with the designation XTB3F. It was designed with "mixed power," using an R-2800 radial engine and a Westinghouse 19XB turbojet. This was found to be unsuitable, and the jet engine was removed without ever having been used in flight and the role of the aircraft was changed from torpedo bomber to ASW. The XTB3F-1S carried a crew of two seated side-by-side and an armament of two 20 mm cannon and 4,000 lb of bombs, torpedoes and/or rockets, and made its first flight on 19 December 1945.
The Guardian provided ASW coverage for Task Force 77 in the Sea of Japan during the Korean War from 1951-53, to face the threat of Soviet submarines operating from Vladivostok. It proved unpopular with pilots because it was underpowered and heavy on the controls, which made things "adventurous" for crews when operating from CVEs in heavy seas, and suffered a high accident rate.
VS-37 had operated the TBM-3S and TBM-3W in the ASW role until after the Korean War, when they took delivery of the AF-2S and AF-2W Guardians. Their "sunburst" markings were the most striking unit markings the airplane ever carried. They were operated until late 1955, when the squadron took delivery of the new Grumman S2F-1 Tracker.
I first saw one of these huge airplanes at the Navy Day airshow at NAS
Buckley Field in Denver, Colorado, at age 10.
Its bulk was impressive. I
have always wanted to see kits of the airplane in 1/48, but had resigned myself
to never having the Guardian in my collection since I wasn't interested in
spending $500 to acquire the two kits from Collect-Aire.
Fortunately, Special Hobby has come to the rescue of we lovers of
esoteric naval aircraft with their release of the AF-2S and AF-2w.
The two kits are exactly the same in the box and differ in that you assemble the AF-2W using the radome parts, while using the bomb bay doors for the AF-2S. Both kits include underwing ordnance, which is only used on the AF-2S.
Special Hobby has done their research with these kits. They have designed in the 3-degree right offset and 3-degree down angle of the engine correctly; the engine is the now-standard resin with separate crankcase and cylinders. The fabric detail is very petite and is the most accurate representation of fabric covered surfaces I have seen. The rest of the surface detail is of equal quality. Test-fitting of the major airframe parts shows that the kit goes together easily. The forward cockpit is provided in good detail and includes seatbelts with the photoetch detals. The clear parts are very clear and the canopy can be posed open if you desire. The kit also comes with the later upper radome for the late-production AF-2W, though the instructions say these parts are not to be used.
I sanded down the interior of the trailing edges of the wings, and got a
nice sharp trailing edge.
Each kit took approximately an afternoon to assemble. I assembled and attached the landing gear before painting. The very clear sliding canopy can be fitted in the open position, but you likely won't want to unless you have done some extra detailing for the cockpit.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The radome of the AF-2W was painted Tamiya "Buff," then "blotched with super-thinned Tamiya Hull Red to get to the "weathered" look I found in some color photos, then masked off before applying the GSB. I also painted and masked the upper radome with Tan but didn't weather it that much.
I then gave both models a coat of Future.
The Caracal decals went down without the slightest difficulty under a coat of Micro-Sol. I found the sunburst just a bit small, and had to touch up the centerline of the vertical fin on the forward section of the decal with some gloss white after they set up.
As I said, I have wanted to have a model of the Guardian since I was 10. It's good I stuck around long enough to get these two kits, which are among the best Special Hobby has done. Anyone with experience of doing a limited-run kit should have no problem with these kits.
Review kits courtesy HobbyLink Japan. Get yours here. Decals courtesy Caracal Decals. Order yours here.
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