Revell 1/144 C-17A Globemaster III




$40 SRP


Two USAF options


Blair Stewart


Surprising level of cargo bay interior detail




The Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. McDonnell Douglas developed The C-17 for the United States Air Force starting in the eighties. The aircraft carries on the name of two previous US military cargo aircraft, the C-74 Globemaster and the C-124 Globemaster II. The Air Force uses the C-17 for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout the world. The C-17 can rapidly deploy a combat unit to a potential battle area and sustain it with supplies. The C-17 is also capable of performing tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions.

In the 1970s, the US Air Force began looking for a replacement for the C-130 Hercules tactical airlifter. It held the Advanced Medium STOL Transport (AMST) competition, with Boeing proposing the YC-14 and McDonnell Douglas proposing the YC-15. Though both entrants exceeded the Air Force’s specified requirements, the Defense Department cancelled the AMST competition before selecting a winner. The Air Force subsequently began the C-X program to develop a larger AMST with longer range to augment its strategic airlift. The DoD also cancelled this program.

By 1980, the USAF found itself with a large fleet of aging C-141 Starlifter cargo aircraft. Compounding matters, the Air Force historically never possessed sufficient strategic airlift capabilities to fulfill its airlift requirements. The USAF set mission requirements and released a request for proposals (RFP) in October 1980. McDonnell Douglas elected to develop a new aircraft based on the YC-15; Boeing bid an enlarged version of its YC-14. Lockheed submitted two designs, a C-5 based design and an enlarged C-141 design. In August, 1981, the Air Force selected McDonnell Douglas to build its proposed C-17. The new aircraft differed in having swept wings, increased size, and more powerful engines. This would allow it to perform all of the C-141’s existing missions, but also to perform some of the C-5 Galaxy’s missions, thereby freeing the C-5 fleet for larger, outsize cargo carrying work.

McDonnell Douglas continued development until December 1985, when the Air Force awarded it a full-scale production contract for 210 aircraft. At first, McDonnell Douglas struggled with how to build the aircraft, and these problems along with limited funding caused delays in bringing the aircraft into the USAF inventory. Some criticized the developing aircraft and raised questions as to more cost-effective alternatives. In April 1990, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney reduced the order from 210 to 120 aircraft. The C-17's maiden flight was on September 15, 1991 from the McDonnell Douglas west coast plant in Long Beach, California, which was about a year behind schedule. The first aircraft (T-1) and five more production models (P1-P5) participated in extensive flight testing and evaluation at Edwards Air Force Base. The C-17 received the "Globemaster III" name in early 1993. In late 1993, the Defense Department gave McDonnell Douglas two years to solve production and cost overrun problems or face termination of the contract after the delivery of the fortieth aircraft.

In April 1994, the C-17 program was still experiencing cost overruns, and did not meet weight, fuel burn, payload and range specifications. It also failed several key criteria and tests that had been conducted to evaluate its air-worthiness.

By the mid-1990s, most of the problems had been resolved. The Air Force declared the first C-17 squadron operational in January, 1995. In 1997, McDonnell Douglas merged with its former competitor, Boeing. In April, 1999 Boeing proposed to cut the price of the C-17 if the Air Force bought 60 more, and in August 2002 the Air Force increased the order to 180 aircraft.

In October 2007, 190 C-17s were on order for the USAF and Boeing had purchased parts for 30 new C-17s at its own expense in hopes that Congress would approve the funds requested. Congress approved an additional 15 C-17s in an FY2008 supplemental. These funds extended production from August 2009 to August 2010. On 6 February 2009, Boeing was awarded a contract for 15 additional C-17s, increasing the Air Force’s total C-17 buy to 205. As the US military’s involvement overseas continues to change, so has the requirement for strategic airlift: thus, the Air Force’s total number of C-17s will now be 223 and the production line will continue until 2013.

The C-17 is powered by four fully reversible, F117-PW-100 turbofan engines (essentially the same as the commercial Pratt and Whitney PW2040, used on the Boeing 757). Each engine is rated at 40,400 lb. of thrust. The thrust reversers direct the flow of air upward and forward. This reduces the probability of foreign object damage and provides reverse thrust for backing the aircraft.

The C-17 has a crew of three (pilot, copilot, and loadmaster) for cargo operations. Cargo is loaded through a large aft door that accommodates both rolling stock (trucks, armored vehicles, trailers, etc.) and palletized cargo. The cargo floor has rollers - used for palletized cargo - that can be flipped to provide a flat floor suitable for rolling stock. One of the larger pieces of equipment that the C-17 can carry is the 70-ton M1 Abrams tank.

Maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is 170,900 lb., and its maximum takeoff weight is 585,000 lb. with a payload of 160,000 lb.  The C-17 has an unrefueled range of about 2,400 nautical miles on the first 71 units, and 2,800 nautical miles on all subsequent units—which are extended-range models using the sealed center wing bay as a fuel tank. Boeing refers to these units as the C-17 ER. The C-17 is designed to airdrop 102 troops and their equipment.

The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,500 ft and as narrow as 90 ft. In addition, the C-17 can operate out of unpaved, unimproved runways (although there is the increased probability of damage to the aircraft).

The US Air Force, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Qatar all operate The C-17.



On opening the box, I was struck by just how big the real airplane is, given that this is 1/144th scale. And comparing the finished model with my Revell 1/144 Super Connie gives another size comparison that is striking to say the least.


The kit consists of 124 parts molded in gray plastic on ten sprues and a single sprue of 13 clear parts. There is virtually no flash on any of the parts. There is a combination of recessed panel lines as well as raised details to replicate similar lines and shapes on the real aircraft. Considering the scale, the interior is very well-detailed: there is an interior shell that contains the detailed side walls and a cargo floor, and a compartment-length floor decal provides even more definition once applied.  There is not much detail in the cockpit, but little can be seen through the cockpit glass, so no big deal here.


The kit provides several options: extended or retracted landing gear; open or closed cargo door; and an open or closed door with entry stairs and handrails for the flight crew. The 12 page instruction booklet includes 38 steps. The very excellent decals include markings for two USAF C-17A Globemasters:  the “Spirit of Berlin” from the 437th Airlift Wing, operating out of Charleston AFB, SC;  and the “Spirit of the Wright Brothers” from the 62nd Airlift Wing out of McChord AFB, WA. The decals include wing walk outlines, door outlines and stenciling. The color scheme is overall FS 26173, AMC Gray.





I must say up front that I find the Revell of Germany instructions not quite as discernible as other kit manufacturers’, so unless you have built a few of their recent kits, I highly recommend a little study before starting the assembly process to gain familiarity with the Revell-unique assembly procedure symbols (e.g., “detach with knife” and “allow the parts to dry” – this one, a drawing of a clock face, was especially confusing until I finally read an explanation for it).

The first option decision is closed or open cargo door. I chose the open door, so this involves cutting the aft door away from the floor so it can be glued in the open position. The cockpit is molded as one piece, so this is glued to the forward cargo compartment bulkhead, which in turn is glued to the cargo floor. In Step 3, I assembled the nose gear into the bottom of the cockpit/bulkhead tub.

The cargo floor decal needs to be applied here because you will be enclosing the floor in the interior shell. Although the instructions call for light gray, I painted mine the same color as the aircraft exterior (Model Master AMC Gray). Once assembled and decaled, I glued the floor/cockpit to one of the interior shell walls and then glued the two shell sides together.

Steps 5-8 guide you through assembly of the landing gear, and it is quite a process, given the intricate design of the real aircraft’s gear. In the end, this was the only problem I experienced: it was difficult to determine how things should line up, so when I finally glued the landing gear to the model in Step 9 and then had it finally assembled, things did not quite sit level all around. I am not sure what the answer to this is, because this did not become evident until late in the assembly process, but I couldn’t figure out how I should have improved the process to minimize this issue.

Per step 10, I glued the aft cargo floor to the cargo door. In Steps 11 and 14, one glues the front lower windows into the forward fuselage and smaller, round windows into the doors. I opted to exclude the smaller windows with the idea that I would use clear Tacky Glue later to simulate these. For the forward, lower windows, a note of caution: make sure these are well-secured to the fuselage halves. I didn’t, and one of mine popped out when I removed the exterior masking from it. Needless to say, it fell into the interior of the kit in an area where I couldn’t fish it out. I later had to cut a new window out of thin clear plastic and go thru the mess of shaping it to the correct opening size.

Steps 12, 13 and 15-16 involve assembling the horizontal stabilizers and the wings.

I next glued the interior shell to the right fuselage half and attached the bottom fuselage that primarily covers the main landing gear compartment. I then glued the left fuselage half to that assembly. Next, I glued on the horizontal stabilizers and the wings.

Steps 22-26 involve the assembly of the four engines. I left off part 52 from each engine, as I would spray paint these aluminum and attach them toward the end of the assembly process.

Per Step 27, I assembled the 5 part crew access door with its handrails and put it aside. I then attached, but did not glue, the four engines to the wings.

If you are displaying the model with the gear down, Steps 29 and 30 show you how to cut apart the nose and main landing gear doors, which are then glued to the model in steps 31 and 33.

Step 35 is where I first discovered my uneven landing gear problem, as I attached the numerous wheels to the gear. Once I sat the model on a level surface, I knew I had a problem. In the end, the model will still wobble on its main gear, but given the side skirts, it is hard to see this unless you are really messing with the model, so I decided to leave it be.

The final steps involve gluing the ramps to the aft cargo door and the crew door to the forward fuselage.  



Given the overall AMC gray scheme, this was an easy paint job. After all was dry, I gave the model a coat of Future to provide the glossy surface for the myriad of decals. I also painted the engine nacelle front cowlings with Humbrol Silver and set them aside to dry.

After the exterior coat was dry, I applied the decals. The most difficult, of course, are the wing walkway outlines, and I had to fiddle with these to get them to line up properly. But all of the decals seemed to snuggle down nicely with a good application of Solvaset.  

Once the decals were dry, I took some of the shine off the model with a coat of Testors Dullcote. I attached the engine cowlings and hand painted the wheels with Testors Flat White.




This is my second Revell 1/144 kit since the fifties (their Super Connie being the first), and I must say it’s another home run. The kit looks great on the display shelf and really captures the details of the C-17. I highly recommend this to all modelers with a little experience, and read the friggin’ instructions!


“C-17 Globemaster III,” Wikipedia, May 2010.

Blair Stewart

June 2010

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