Revell 1/81 SM-62 Snark
| KIT #: || 7810 |
| PRICE: || $19.95 |
| DECALS: || One option |
| REVIEWER: || Scott Van Aken |
| NOTES: || Reissue of a 1957 kit |
The Northrop SM-62 Snark was a specialized intercontinental cruise missile with a nuclear warhead operated by the US Strategic Air Command from 1958 until 1961. It takes its name from Lewis Carroll's snark.
The Snark was developed to offer a nuclear deterrence to the Soviet Union at a time when ICBMs were still in development. It was the only intercontinental surface-to-surface cruise missile ever deployed by the United States Air Force. With the deployment of ICBMs, it was rendered obsolete and taken out of service.
In January 1958 the Strategic Air Command began accepting delivery of operational missiles to Patrick AFB in Florida for training and in 1959 the 702d Strategic Missile Wing was formed. Multiple launch failures led to the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Canaveral being described as "Snark infested waters."
On 27 May 1959, Presque Isle AFB in Maine, the only Snark base, received its first operational missile. Ten months later, on March 18, 1960, a Snark officially went on alert status. Thirty are known to have been deployed."
The 702nd was not declared fully operational until February 1961. In March 1961, President Kennedy declared the Snark "obsolete and of marginal military value" and on 25 June 1961 the 702d was deactivated.
I almost hate to say it, but I recall when this kit was first issued. I was still in the single digit age bracket and it was included in a set that included several other Revell missile kits, none of which were ever assembled past the airframe.
Though released a few times in the past, I believe the last time was in 1982 when it was part of the semi-successful 'History Makers' series and I still have that kit in the stash. Back in 1982 it was a pricey kit, costing about the same as does this one some 30 years later.
Molded completely in red plastic, with raised detail and decal placement clearly shown on the plastic, it is really still in quite good shape. There are sink areas on the alignment pin sections and some pretty horrendous ejector pin marks (including one huge one in the middle of the outer fuselage halves), but that was pretty much the norm.
This is truly box scale as the fuselage does a commendable job of filling the box. The airframe itself is pretty basic with not many more than a dozen pieces and not that were it not for the fuel tanks and rocket assist units. The rest of the kit has a launching pad on which to place the missile. Two somewhat anemic figures are included.
Of course, in 1957, the Snark was still in the testing stage and the markings for this one are of a test missile in red with lots of white areas. Most of the white is included on a decal sheet, though you'll have to paint the RATO units. The launch base has a lot of yellow in it for the various beam sections, so break out the white and yellow for this one. Thankfully, the decal sheet is a good one, though it remains to be seen how well it will prevent the red of the missile from bleeding through.
Instructions are well done and may be similar to that provided in the original kit. All of the parts are named and color is provided in generic references. For those who may wish to do an operational missile, I believe they were painted in ADC Grey (16473), though you'd have to leave off most of the white decals and you'd have to hunt up a SAC band for the nose. Google will get you a bunch of images.
One has to go into a kit like this with open eyes. There are sink marks and ejector pin marks and some flash on all the pieces. In order to remove these bad boys, whatever detail that is within a goodly distance of these glitches is going to disappear. In the 50's that wasn't an issue as most of us didn't care about filling in seams and such. In fact, many were just jazzed not to have to carve it out of balsa wood. Now it isn't such a cut and dried thing.
So the first thing I did was to cut some blanking plates from plastic card and insert them into the exhaust and intake sections. Then the fuselage halves were cemented shut. Oh my. What horrible fit! I predict this will be the norm, and when I did the fuel tanks and the RATO units, I found not only substandard fit, but also some short shot pylon sections.
Gathering together the super glue and Tamiya putty, I spent the better part of a week filling and sanding, with whatever detail was there, quickly disappearing under the rasp. Eventually, I got the main airframe pretty much complete. This included drilling out the side intake scoop and cutting down the attachment stub. You see, Revell molded the half moon shaped slot backwards from the stub on the scoop and if installed as keyed, the scoop would aim aft. DOH! You can see from the images of the unpainted airframe the very large circular ejector post depressions that have to be filled. After this was done, I decided to give it a coat of grey paint to see what I missed.
As many of you know, red is a real bear to cover and to paint. I had decided that I wanted to do an operational missile. After all, the 704th was fully operational for four months before the president cancelled the program as being obsolete. From what little I could find on Google, there were a heck of a lot of red test aircraft. Those that were operational were overall ADC grey, so it was fortunate that I chose this color to paint everything. And I mean everything.
Those parts that make up the launching stand were also painted this shade and then later painted whatever the instructions called for. Much of it was yellow and for this I used Xtracolor RLM 04 as I didn't have any Insignia Yellow. The grey proved to be a good undercoat for this. I'll get back to the launch pad in a bit.
The missile itself wasn't all that difficult to paint. I also painted the drop tanks and the JATO boosters with ADC grey as again, that is what the photos implied. Now when it came to markings, I was in a bit of a bind as there are no aftermarket sheets for Snarks. Fortunately, I have a few decal sheets laying about and so promptly started looking for options. First of all, I used what kit decals I could. This was for the main fuselage insignia and for the wing markings. In this case I left the white bands on the wings as it seems some missiles had these.
The kit decals are actually quite good and I had no trouble with them or using setting solutions. However, Revell glitched the upper wing insignia by printing it upside down. They even had it printed upside down in the instructions. I had to cut out the segment, patch the white with other bits and find a replacement marking. Eagle Strike came to the rescue with a 15 inch 1/48 insignia. Now I needed a SAC band. A Wolfpak sheet with an RB-47 had one that while a bit wide, pretty nearly filled the bill. It is a tad too short so doesn't meet on the underside, but I figured that I'll never build a 1/72 RB-47H so it and the nose serials were duly robbed and applied. Now for the US Air Force nose markings. The B-47 ones were just too large, so it was off for another search. Modeldecal sheet #3 (printed in 1972 so making these markings nearly 40 years old) was for the F-100D and these were what I used. They had started to yellow a teeny bit, but came off the backing with no problems and succumbed to Mr. Mark Softener without any problems. Though it wouldn't have hurt, no clear coat was applied.
Now on to the base. These parts were cleaned up as well as I could and painted grey. The main mount was painted yellow as were the supports. The large fuel tank was glued to the base and the entire base painted with Dark Gull Grey. The platforms and ladders were painted Alclad II Aluminum as were the side rails on the base. Other bits were painted matte black, using Citadel acrylics. I used this shade on the intake and exhaust of the Snark. The nozzles on the JATO units were brush painted Burnt Iron metalizer.
The rest of the decals that I used for the base were applied right on the matte paint with plenty of setting solution. As they are decals in real life, having them shiny is not a problem. I then glued on the JATO units and the drop tanks. Checking for missed paint, I found a spot or two and corrected that as best I could. Oh yes, the base is warped. As if you couldn't tell.
To build one of these old kits, you really have to like the subject. The fit is often less than great and frequently a bit on the 'loose' side. Detailing isn't bad, but you'll end up removing a lot if you want to fix the myriad of ejector marks and sink areas. I'm always amazed that as children, we built kits like this all the time and quickly as well. No whining over fit, not fussing with a lot of paint, and sometimes, we even applied the decals.
The end result for those who are patient, is a fairly nice representation of an interesting ICM. I'm sure that there are quite a few of you who are hoping for the Monogram kit to be released. This will mean that all three Snark kits from way back when will be available to us. Now for the Bomarc!
Thanks to me for this one. Get yours while it is still around.
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