Trumpeter 1/144 Tu-142MR 'Bear J'
|KIT:||Trumpeter 1/144 Tu-142MR 'Bear J'|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
For a long time, the Tu-95 was known to Western intelligence as the Tu-20. While this was the original Soviet Air Force designation for the aircraft, by the time it was being supplied to operational units it was already better known under the Tu-95 designation used internally by Tupolev. The Tu-20 designation quickly fell out of use in the USSR. Since the Tu-20 designation was used on many documents acquired by Western intelligence agents, the name continued to be used outside the Soviet Union.
Like its American counterpart, the B-52 Stratofortress, the Tu-95 has continued to operate in the Russian Air Force while several iterations of bomber design have come and gone. Part of the reason for this longevity was its suitability, like the B-52, for modification to different missions. Whereas the Tu-95 was originally intended to drop nuclear weapons, it was subsequently modified to perform a wide range of roles, such as the deployment of cruise missiles, maritime patrol (Tu-142), AWACS platform (Tu-126) and even civilian airliner (Tu-114). During and after the Cold War, the Tu-95's utility as a weapons platform has only been eclipsed by its usefulness as a diplomatic icon.
On August 18, 2007, Russian PresidentVladimir Putin announced that Tu-95 patrols would resume after having been terminated 15 years prior. Currently only Russia and India operate the Bear.
The Bear J (Tu-142MR - Morskoy Razvedchik), and subject of this kit is a variant of the Bear F modified for use in submarine communications as well as other command, control and communications (C3) duties.
Unlike Trumpter's large scale kits, the Bear is not festooned with a myriad of rivets/screw heads nor are the panel lines overly deep. The molding is really quite good and quite reasonable for a 1/144 kit. I found only a tiny bit of flash on prop blades and just a couple of problem ejector pin marks in the wheel wells. No sink areas to be found. I was a bit puzzled by the rather large anti-icing boots on the props as they are about twice as thick as the blades themselves.
As mentioned in the write-up, the Bear J is a C3 variant so carries no weapons. Instead there is a large long wire pod on the bottom to allow the aircraft to use VLF radios to contact submerged submarines. A system that is quite similar to the US's TACAMO VLF radio system first installed in C-130s and now in the E-6. Your editor spent time in a C-130 TACAMO unit so is well versed on what the system does. It does require a robust airframe and the ability to operate rather slowly in a tight circle so that the transmitting antenna can hang vertically while operating.
The kit has all the needed 'lumps and bumps' to properly do this variant and there are a lot of them. No indication is given on nose weight, but I'd put as much in there as I could fit as my 1/100 VEB kit required a considerable amount. The engine pods are suitably complex and do offer the ability to have movable props. The design is such that one can attach the prop shafts and the attach the props themselves later in the build process. Just be sure to mark which is which as they are all different.
Instructions are well done and offer Gunze paint references on the full color painting and markings guide. The decal sheet provides not only the possibility of doing probably any Bear J in existence, but also has decals for the prop tips. This is basically one of your 'bare metal and red stars airplanes'. The decal sheet is well printed and will have to do as there are no aftermarket sheets for this aircraft.
I'm not sure how this stacks up to the older Revell 1/144 Bear kit, but it sure seems like it is superbly done. This scale is perfect for the really big planes like the Bear as few of us would have room for a 1/72 version. The 1/144 variant is large enough, but not so much so as to be a permanent member of the 'to do' pile. A nicely done kit and one that I'm sure you will enjoy.
My thanks to Stevens International, importer of Trumpeter products, for the review kit.
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