|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Lockheed C-141 Starlifter was a military strategic airlifter that served with the Military Air Transport Service (MATS), its successor organization the Military Airlift Command (MAC), and finally the Air Mobility Command (AMC) of the United States Air Force (USAF). The aircraft also served with airlift and air mobility wings of the Air Force Reserve (AFRES), later renamed Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), the Air National Guard (ANG) and, later, one air mobility wing of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) dedicated to C-141, C-5, C-17 and KC-135 training.
Introduced to replace slower propeller driven cargo planes such as the C-124 Globemaster II and C-133 Cargomaster, the C-141 was designed to requirements set in 1960 and first flew in 1963. Production deliveries of an eventual 285 planes began in 1965: 284 for the Air Force, and one for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for use as an airborne observatory. The aircraft remained in service for over 40 years until the USAF withdrew the last C-141s from service in 2006, after replacing the airlifter with the C-17 Globemaster III.
In service, the C-141 proved to "bulk out" before it "grossed out", meaning that it often had additional lift capacity that went wasted because the cargo hold was full before the plane's weight capacity had been reached. To correct the perceived deficiencies of the original model and utilize the C-141 to the fullest of its capabilities, 270 in-service C-141As (most of the fleet) were stretched, adding needed payload volume. The conversion program took place between 1977 and 1982, with first delivery taking place in December 1979. These modified aircraft were designated C-141B. It was estimated that this stretching program was equivalent to buying 90 new aircraft, in terms of increased capacity. Also added was a boom receptacle for inflight refueling. The fuselage was stretched by adding "plug" sections before and after the wings, lengthening the fuselage a total of 23 feet 4 inches (7.11 m) and allowing the carriage of 103 litters for wounded, 13 standard pallets, 205 troops, 168 paratroopers, or an equivalent increase in other loads. A number of B models were upgraded with new avionics to C configuration, but they are externally identical.
Your reviewer has spent many semi-comfortable hours being transported around the world in C-141s.
This is not a complex model as there is basically no interior. Treat it as an airliner. The only parts that go inside the fuselage are the nose and main gear wells. Roden did take into account that the main gear struts pop up a bit from the top of the gear blisters and you have a small door to add there. It does appear that the kit can be built gear up, though the modeler will need to find their own stand. If doing gear down, 10 grams of weight is recommended to prevent tail sitting, but with no interior or cockpit there is tons of room.
Wings are upper and lower halves, while the horizontal stabilizers are single pieces that slot into the fin. Each of the engine pods is four pieces with a left and right side, forward fan and an exhaust piece. Getting a good clean inlet will be difficult. One would really wish that model makers who do kits like this would provide a one piece forward engine cowling. The cockpit canopy section fits into a notch in the forward fuselage. This notch area should be painted matte black prior to attaching the clear piece. All of the antennas are molded onto the fuselage halves and will undoubtedly be broken away when dealing with the fuselage seam. No GPS antennas are provided as this boxing is from the mid-1990s before that system was widespread.
Instructions are well done and provide Vallejo paint references. For some reason, Roden does not like to provide multiple decal options and this kit is no different. There are markings for one plane that operated with the 452nd MAW based at March AFB in the 1990s. It is named Spirit of the Inland Empire and is apparently on display at the USAF Museum. The sheet contains wing walk areas and the plane itself is overall AMC Grey. Roden's decals have mixed reviews and my experience has been that they don't respond to setting solutions. This sheet has all the color markings slightly off register. Fortunately, Caracal Models, who does not do off register decals, has a superb sheet for this kit and it is highly recommended.
So there you have it. A fairly inexpensive injected plastic kit of a plane that should have been kitted in this scale long ago.
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