Hasegawa 1/72 E-2C Hawkeye

KIT #: 01560
PRICE: 3600 yen from www.hlj.com
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Brand new molding

HISTORY

Since replacing the E-1 in 1964, the Hawkeye has been the "eyes of the fleet." Since its combat debut during theVietnam conflict, the E-2 has served the US Navy around the world. Hawkeyes (from VAW-123 "Screwtops" aboard the USS America) directedF-14 fighters flying combat air patrol duringOperation El Dorado Canyon, the two-carrier battle group joint strike against terrorist-relatedLibyan targets in 1986. More recently, E-2Cs provided the command and control for successful operations during theGulf War, directing both land attack and combat air patrol missions over Iraq and providing control for the shoot-down of twoIraqi MiG-21 aircraft by carrier-basedF/A-18s in the early days of the war. E-2 aircraft also have worked extremely effectively with US law enforcement agencies in drug interdictions.

DuringOperation Enduring Freedom andOperation Iraqi Freedom all ten Hawkeye squadrons flew overland sorties. They provided critical battle management for attack of enemy ground targets, close-air-support coordination, combat search and rescue control, airspace management, as well as datalink and communication relay for both land and naval forces. DuringHurricane Katrina three Hawkeye squadrons were deployed in support of urban relief efforts includingAir Traffic Control responsibilities spanning three states, and control ofCoast Guard andNational Guard helicopter rescue units.

Hawkeye 2000s first deployed in 2003 aboardUSS Nimitz with VAW-117 "Wallbangers" and CVW-11. The U.S. Navy Hawkeyes have now been upgraded with eight bladed propellors as part of the NP2000 program; the first squadron to cruise with the new propellers was VAW-124 "Bear Aces". The latest version can track more than 2,000 targets simultaneously (while at the same time, detecting 20,000 simultaneously) to a range greater than 400 miles (650 km) and simultaneously guide 40100 air to air intercepts or air to surface engagements.

In late 2006, the US announced that it intended to sell threeP-3C Orions equipped with the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 system to the Pakistan Navy. These aircraft will provide Pakistan with search surveillance, and control capability in support of maritime interdiction operations.Though once considered being replaced byCommon Support Aircraft, the original plan failed to materialize, and E-2 will continue its role as the primary AEW aircraft in USN in the near future.

THE KIT

This is one of Hasegawa's more anticipated kits of this new year. Before, we did have a 1/72 E-2, produced by Fujimi first as an E-2A/B and later modified to E-2C standards. This latter variant was also boxed by Heller. As nice as this kit is, it is also technology of the 1970s and fit was often an issue. That has now changed.

Hasegawa has chosen to produce a JASDF version for its base kit. This makes sense from a marketing standpoint as Japan has always been the greatest consumer of their production. It also leaves the door open for a myriad of reboxings in what has to be a staggering number of markings options. Hasegawa was wise to produce this kit and it should be a mainstay of their catalogue for many years to come. Judging from the sprues and their numbering system, the kit will probably be released at some time with the new props. I'm not sure if this can be backdated without a major conversion as the mark of the earlier planes was a more rounded nose and a smaller cooling system intake atop the fuselage. Perhaps this will be done by adding in resin parts, making things a bit more pricey.

As you'd expect from Hasegawa, the molding of the parts themselves is superb with crisply engraved detailing where appropriate. The cockpit is most complete and includes an overhead console. A change from the norm with Hasegawa's 1/72 kits is that the detailing on the instrument panel and consoles is raised and nicely done. Of course, you also have the option of applying decals and many of us will put them right over the existing detail. This one will need 30g of weight to keep it from tail sitting and finding space will be a challenge.

To keep from having problems with wing alignment, the upper wing half is one piece to which the lower sections are attached. The kit also has a clear nose cone. You paint all but the landing light area into which you can see the lights and an electronic box or two. An interesting feature is a one piece lower fuselage insert that has a rather convoluted edge on one side to fit past the doors. I'm not sure why it was molded like this as it puts a break in the cable ducting on the one side, but there it is. There are a ton of holes to open up for the various antennas and that may well be the reason. 

The kit's rotodome is designed to be able to be positioned where you'd like with the installation of a pair of polycaps. One can remove the molded in wing tip lights and replace them with clear. Another feature is the ability to mold the flaps either up or down as you'd choose. It would have been nice to have had the ability to fold the wings as well, but I'm sure that aftermarket will come to the rescue in this regard.

Markings are for any of four aircraft in the standard light gull grey over white scheme used by many E-2 operators. The modeler can do any of four aircraft and there are a few differences between them in terms of antenna suites. These are clearly shown in the instructions. You can do one of four planes. One is the introduction aircraft, two are standard scheme planes and the fourth is a special livery for the 20th anniversary of type operations. The well done decal sheet also includes all the walk areas.

CONCLUSIONS

So now we have a kit that many have been wanting for quite a while. It was well worth the wait and I know that buyers will not be disappointed. It is also sure to bring on a wave of aftermarket decals and other goodies to go along with it.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org

February 2009

My thanks to www.hlj.com for the review kit. Get yours today at Japanese prices.

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