Mark 1 1/720 K-Class Blimp
KIT #: MKM720-10
PRICE: $33.00 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: John Summerford
NOTES:

HISTORY

The K-class blimp was a class of blimps (non-rigid airship) built by the Goodyear Aircraft Company of Akron, Ohio for the United States Navy. These blimps were powered by two Pratt & Whitney Wasp nine-cylinder radial air-cooled engines, each mounted on twin-strut outriggers, one per side of the control car that hung under the envelope. Before and during World War II, 134 K-class blimps were built and configured for patrol and anti-submarine warfare operations, and were extensively used in the Navys anti-submarine efforts in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean areas.

On October 24, 1940, the Navy awarded a contract to Goodyear for six airships (K-3 through K-8) that were assigned the designation Goodyear ZNP-K. These blimps were designed for patrol and escort duties and were delivered to the Navy in late 1941 and early 1942. K-3 through K-8 had only minor modifications to K-2's design, the only major change was in engines from Pratt & Whitney R-1340-16s to Wright R-975-28s. The Wright engine/propeller combination proved excessively noisy and was replaced in later K-ships with slightly modified Pratt & Whitney engines. The envelope size of K-9 through K-13 was increased to 416,000 ft (11,780 m) and those delivered thereafter used an envelope of 425,000 ft (12,035 m).

The K-ships were used for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) duties in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea. All equipment was carried in a forty-foot-long gondola. The blimps were equipped with the ASG radar, that had a detection range of 90 mi (140 km), sonobuoys, and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment. The communications and instrumentation equipment allowed night flying. The K-ships carried four 350 lb. (160 kg) depth charges, two in a bomb bay and two externally, and were equipped with a machine gun in the forward part of the gondola. An aircrew of 10 normally operated the K-ships, consisting of a command pilot, two co-pilots, a navigator/pilot, airship rigger, an ordnance man, two mechanics, and two radiomen.

Two blimp hangars in the United States are still standing, one on each coast of the lower 48 states. The east coast hangar is in Lakehurst, NJ, famously known for the Hindenburg disaster. The west coast Hangar is in Tillamook, Oregon, (of cheese and ice cream fame) and is now an aviation museum. Both buildings are among the largest wooden structures in the world.

THE KIT

An end-opening box holds a single zip-top bag containing all of the parts, decals, instructions, and a card stock display base. The plastic parts are on a medium gray sprue. The envelope is molded into upper and lower halves and a separate nose piece. The gondola is molded into the lower half. Ventral and dorsal fins, engine pods, props, and a wheel are the detail parts. Seven parts make up the mooring mast. Some minor flash is present. A resin casting has wheels for the mast and a teeny-tiny one-piece tractor.

Securing the model to the base is going to be a challenge. One solution that comes to mind is to drill a hole where the wheel attaches to the gondola and insert a rod. If nothing else, the rod could be used as a paint stand.

Assembly instructions are an exploded view diagram plus a parts map on one side of a single sheet and a painting diagram on the back side. Color call-outs do not reference any brands of paint or FS codes.

Decal options include an airship stationed in Key West, Florida and was the only blimp shot down by a U-boat after the depth charge failed to detonate. The other two options patrolled the Strait of Gibraltar, one being the first to land in Europe.


CONCLUSIONS

The completed model will be just over four inches long. Cleaning up sprue gates and flash will probably take longer than assembly. Painting and decaling probably too. If one wants to use an elaborate base and create a vignette, that could take the longest time. Regardless, this is a nice change-of-pace build.

John Summerford

May 2021

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