Red Star1/48 scale RC-12K
KIT #:  ?
PRICE: $130.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Pat Earing
NOTES: All resin kit with clear resin parts and decals

HISTORY

   The RC-12K is an updated version of the C-12C used by the US Army.  These aircraft are designed to provide forward battlefield data uplinks and intelligence gathering capabilities.  The RC-12K is based on the King Air 200 with a sophisticated electronics package installed and uprated engines. 

THE KIT

 The Russian company Red Starís first release is an all resin kit of the Beechcraft RC-12K.  When I first heard about the upcoming release I was very excited, especially since we have just recently seen RVHP release similar kits in 1/72 scale, and there are no other options I know of for a King Air in 1/48 scale.  I purchased my kit through EBay for a kingly sum of $130.00, and although many will be turned away by EBay, I do not know of any other sources for acquiring the kit at this time.

Despite shipping delays the kit arrived in good condition; although, as can be seen the box is flimsy to say the least and the box art was dubious at best.   Inside, however, everything was in good order with all the major resin parts were covered in bubble-wrap and even the inside of the fuselage cavities filled with popcorn material and then wrapped.  

First impressions count, and for Red Star my first impression was that this is a fantastic casting with sizable attention to detail.  The kit looks fantastic.    Overall, the panel lines are very petit, and look great.  The added lumps and bumps look as if they were a second though and do not show the same level of presentation-not so smooth, etc.; but, maybe this is how the real aircraft looks.  I checked for warpage, and found none with the large resin parts although many of the smaller parts and antenna suffered from distortion.  The fuselage halves are the same length, and although there are some nasty casting edges to clean before the halves can be joined, the diameters and panel lines match.  There is even a large alignment pin near the nose to aide with assembly.

The wings look great as well.  I was curious to see if the engines matched the rest of the wing bulkhead in size for both diameter axis, and they line up perfectly-WOW!  Additionally, the wing to center section joint looks as good as any resin kit I have seen.  Additionally, the ailerons have been cast separate.  A nice touch that is seldom provided by resin kit manufacturers, So far this kit is a builder.

The windows are clear resin.  I did not attempt to fit them, but if they follow along with the major assemblies I do not anticipate any troubles.  Interestingly, Red Star only provides the front two windscreen and two side panels as clear resin.  I could find nothing in the bag for the smaller triangular windows between the windscreen panels and the side panels. 

All of the small parts come bagged in five re-sealable baggies.  One aspect of the King Air is its prominent nose gear and Red Star has nailed this casting.  I have spent far too many years tugging King Airs around tarmacs, and from experience I can say that these gems look the part.  How they hold up over time to the inevitable weight of the kit is another issue.  The Main gears are also well cast and incorporate a unique system for creating the largest mounting surface possible given the rather small wheel size.  Red Star cast the inner hub onto the main legs.  The reason seems obvious-to aid alignment, but the fallout may be that you do not see an appreciable sagging over time from the weight of the model and a very small axle.

Some of the smaller castings seem absurd due to their extremely small size, the control wheels for instance, and it remains be seen how easy they are to remove from the casting blocks.  As a rule the casting block on the larger items were commendably thin and easy to remove. One of the bags contained a cockpit with two nicely detailed seats (no belts cast in or provisions for any belts provided), side panels, floor and instrument panel.  The also contained two mystery parts will remain just that, as I have no idea what they are, or where they go. 

Finally, a bag is included that provides the builder with the extrodinary number of antennae that the aircraft sports.  These are well cast, although many of them are suffering from warpage.  Additionally, Red Star provides a different tail strake, and large wing tip pods that are unique to the RC-12 K airframes. 

Finishing with all the cast parts brings up the one real fault I have with the kit-a lack of a parts break down and any form of a placement guide.  Red Star do provide images to help with placement of all of the numerous antennae that the RC-12K carries and color scheme call outs with FS numbers, but no placement guide for landing gear and cockpit details.  Most of these items are self-explanatory; however a few are curiosities that I hope to eventually sort themselves out.  Additionally, although small, the decal sheet is adequate, allowing the builder to complete any of the nine actual RC-12K aircraft, but it is left to the modeler to figure out where the decals must go.  A nice touch is the inclusion of the large black fuselage panels as decals to help alleviate some tricky masking and painting and propeller warning stripes.

CONCLUSIONS

 Overall, a fantastic first effort from Red Star.  There are some problems, and the kit is clearly not for the beginner, but for those with some experience building resin kits it should come as pleasant surprise.   I have heard that Red Star is planning a civilian version as well, which could open the door for a C-12A in the new CONA scheme.  In fact, I am toying with the idea of converting this kit into a C-12 just  for that paint scheme.

 Pat Earing

November 2011

This kit is available at www.coopersmodels.com

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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