Platz 1/72 RQ-4N Global Hawk
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Northrop Grumman (formerly Ryan Aeronautical) RQ-4 Global Hawk (known as Tier II+ during development) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used by the United States Air Force as a surveillance aircraft.
In role and design, the Global Hawk is similar to the Lockheed U-2, the venerable 1950s spy plane. It is a theater commander's asset to both provide a broad overview and systematically target surveillance shortfalls. The Global Hawk air vehicle is able to provide high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)—that can penetrate cloud-cover and sandstorms—and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) imagery at long range with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers) of terrain a day.
Potential missions for the Global Hawk cover the spectrum of intelligence collection capability to support forces in worldwide peace, crisis, and wartime operations. According to the Air Force, the capabilities of the aircraft will allow more precise targeting of weapons and better protection of forces through superior surveillance capabilities.
The "R" is the Department of Defense designation for reconnaissance; "Q" means unmanned aircraft system. The "4" refers to it being the fourth of a series of purpose-built unmanned aircraft systems.
The Global Hawk costs about $35 million USD (actual per-aircraft costs; with development costs also included, the per-aircraft cost rises to $123.2 million USD each). The US Navy has also gotten into the act and has a dedicated version that meets the specific needs for a patrol type. This is called BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance. This aircraft was only recently accepted to meet the BAMS requirement. It is envisioned that this aircraft will replace many P-3 Orion units and supplement the P-6 squadrons that will come on line. Seems like a good deal for the Navy as there will not be any crews whining about over-work and per diem. So far, no dedicated RQ-4N airframe has completed testing or entered unit service.
It was quite a pleasant surprise when the postman delivered this one to the door. On the heels of the Predator drone, this one is a much larger and strictly surveillance vehicle.
The kit comes with five sprues of grey plastic and a screw. The detailing on the kit is superb with crisply done panel lines and none of the over accentuated stuff we have seen from many model companies recently.
This is not a complex kit. With no cockpit and no weapons, the parts count is relatively low. aside from the landing gear, the only real fussy bit might be the engine intake and exhaust. Both have compressor faces so no see through effect. The kit does need about 10 grams of weight, but there is a ton of space for it. The screw seems to be for a plate on the fuselage that acts as a spreader bar for the lower fuselage inert. This kit differs from the earlier USAF variant in terms of the lower fuselage. This has an additional large radome with a few smaller ones, so required a replacement sprue.
Instructions are completely in Japanese with Gunze and FS 595 paint references. You'll basically need Gunship Grey and White for the airframes of several options and some International Orange for the VXN-8 option. Yes, it seems that there are many planned units for this aircraft, but from what I have been able to glean, only one airframe is currently being tested. All markings are whiffers which include three USN ex-VP unit markings, the VXN-8 markings (Arctic Fox) and a Japanese VP unit scheme. You get a bunch of extra serial number decals so you can make up your own. The decals are superbly printed by Cartograf so you know they are good.
Like it or not, it seems like UAV's are here to stay. This is a superb kit and with a wingspan of 50cm, it will be a large model that will need some serious shelf space.
Thanks to www.platz-hobby.com for the preview kit. Ask your local shop to get this one for you.
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