|PRICE:||2600 yen SRP from Platz Hobby|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The Northrop Grumman X-47B is an American demonstration Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) which first flew in 2011. The X-47 project began as part of DARPA's J-UCAS program, and is now part of the United States Navy's UCAS-D (Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration) program, which aims to create a carrier-based unmanned aircraft. Unlike the similar Boeing X-45, the development of the aircraft's predecessor, the X-47A Pegasus, was company-funded.
The first flight of the X-47B demonstrator, designated Air Vehicle 1 (AV-1), took place at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on February 4, 2011. The aircraft first flew in cruise configuration with its landing gear retracted on September 30, 2011. A second X-47B demonstrator, designated AV-2, conducted its maiden flight at Edwards Air Force Base on November 22, 2011.
The two X-47B demonstrators are planned to have a three-year test program at Edwards AFB and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, culminating in sea trials in 2013. The aircraft will be used to demonstrate carrier launches and recoveries, as well as autonomous inflight refueling with a probe and drogue. The X-47B has a maximum unrefueled range of over 2,000 miles (3,200 km), and an endurance of more than six hours. In November 2011, the Navy announced that aerial refuelling equipment and software would be added to one of the prototype aircraft in 2014. In 2012, Northrop Grumman tested a wearable remote control system, designed to allow ground crews to guide the X-47B into precise carrier landings. In May 2012, AV-1 began high-intensity electromagnetic interference testing at Patuxent River, to test its compatibility with planned electronic warfare systems.
The molding on the two sprues that come with this kit is as good as you will find from anyone, and that includes Hasegawa or Tamiya. As you might expect from a UCAV, the parts count is not as high as on a manned aircraft simply because there is no need to include the cockpit or the clear bits for the canopy.
Looking very much like a small B-2, the two main fuselage halves are the largest pieces in the kit. One simply installs the intake sections and then closes up the two halves. The rest of the bit all attach to this construct. The kit comes with a pair of JDAMs to put into the bomb bay. It is pretty obvious from looking at the parts that this one is designed for gear down as there are no 'closed' options for the bay or gear doors.
The wings are separate items and here there are options. One is for the wing spoilers to be either flush or deployed. The other wing option is to have them folded or not. For this there are two inserts that go into the roots of the wings and fuselage. These are a single mold and quite sturdy for the folded option. It may even be possible to have these interchangeable by not gluing them in place, though I am sure most will choose to do so. I should also mention that no nose weight is indicated and I doubt if any will be needed.
The instructions are well done with painting information given with Gunze and Model Master references. Just about all of the information provided is in both Japanese and English so no worries there. The decal sheet is quite large and superbly printed by Cartograf. There are five options, all of them in overall FS 36270 Neutral Grey. Personally, I would lighten this up a bit as most Neutral Greys are quite dark. Anyway, the markings are for the two currently flying aircraft, AV-1 and AV-2 which are different primarily in serial numbers, though it seems that each has a different modex. The decals also come with three different air group markings for the wings (since the plane has no fin). It seems that the NG version was used on the first prototype. The decals are printed by Cartograf so are as good as any aftermarket sheets.
This is another superlative kit from Platz. They do not produce a ton of kits each year, but each one is well worth the wait. This one is no exception.
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If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the
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