Heller 1/72 Super Etendard
|$10 (in the 80's)|
The French Navy was seeking a new carrier-based attack aircraftin the late 60's. The naval version of the Jaguar proved to be not what wasbeing sought for various reasons so Dassault offered an improved version oftheir Etendard IV that was already in service. There were improvements in enginethrust and in avionics. The major one being a decent radar, an item that wasmissing from the regular Etendard. Since it was an improved version, it wasunimaginatively called Super Etendard.
In addition tothe more powerful engine and radar set, the Super Etendard was designed to carrya variety of new weapons, amongst them the new anti-shipping Exocet missile.This missile was basically what made the Super Etendard an aircraft ofhistorical significance. When hostilities broke out in 1982 between the UK andArgentina over a set of rather inhospitable islands in the south Atlantic calledthe Falklands (Malvinas to the Argentines), one of the greatest threats to theBritish fleet sent down south was the Exocet. This missile was extremelyaccurate and capable of sinking just about any ship it hit.
Fortunately for the British, the Argentine Navy only had onemissile for each of the five Super Etendard that they had recently bought fromFrance. There was little chance of getting any new ones until after the conflictwas resolved one way or the other. During subsequent actions, the Argentine Navyused all five of its missiles. One caused the loss of Atlantic Conveyerand its stores of fuel, provisions and equipment, including Chinook, Wessex andLynx helicopters. Fortunately for the British, the Harriers and Sea Harriers itwas carrying had already been flown off before the attack.
Another attack sank the HMS Sheffield and showed the vulnerabilityof the Type 42 Frigate and its aluminum superstructure. A third damaged the HMSGlamorgan, a destroyer. In fact, the ship would probably have been sunk,were it not for the fact that the missile failed to explode.
Super Etendards and the Exocet were again in the world viewduring the 'Tanker Wars' in the Gulf of Arabia in 1987, when several Iraqi flownSuper Etendards managed to hit some Iranian tankers during that brief time oftrouble. After the area settled down, the Super Etendards were returned toFrance, who had only leased the aircraft to Iraq.
Today these venerable aircraft are still being flown from Frenchcarriers, only awaiting a replacement aircraft in the Rafale.
Heller used to be among the most prolific and interesting modelmakers around. During the 1980s they produced a wide variety of very interestingmodel kits, all of which were in 1/72 scale. Many have not been done by anyother manufacturer. The Super Etendard was one of those.
Molded in darkish grey plastic with raised panel lines, the kitfeatures positionable speed brakes as well as the Exocet missile and drop tanks.The cockpit was complete for its day with tub, seat, control stick andinstrument panel. The canopy can be displayed open if you wish but it will showa rather bare cockpit, compared to what you can get in today's kits. I don'tremember if folding wing tips were an option, but they wouldn't be difficult todo.
Heller instruction sheets for the time were quite adequate,showing several construction steps and those colors needed in each step. A coloraddendum sheet was provided so that you could decipher the codes given. Ibelieve they were for Humbrol paints. Decals were for one aircraft of, Ibelieve, 17F in the dark grey over white scheme. The Super Etendard now wears atwo tone grey scheme with toned down markings.
Overall, the kit is really quite basic and not at all fiddly, asare the more modern models.
As Imentioned, the kit is not at all fiddly and very straight forward. I had nearlyno construction hassles with it. The only area that required any additional workwere the intakes. This seems to be a common thread with aircraft of thisconfiguration. I have yet to build a kit with side mounted intakes where I havenot had to use filler and sanding to smooth this area out.
I also used some filler at the wing/fuselage join, both fore andaft. One has to be quite careful with this section as any sanding will eradicatequite a bit of detail.
PAINT & DECALS
I had determined to do this aircraft as an Argentine navyversion. This was helped by Microscale's releasing of a set of decals for theArgentine side of the Falklands war. You must remember that this was early 1985when I built this kit and the war was still pretty fresh in people's minds. Itwas about this time that some trustworthy books on the subject were appearingthat were devoid of the usual propaganda that accompanies stuff publisheddirectly after an event.
Anyway, the Argentine planes were painted exactly like the Frenchones in dark grey over white. The white took some rather involved masking,especially in the nose section. Don't forget that the scheme wraps around theleading edges of wings. The Microscale decals, as you can see, fit just superblyand are quite opaque. I did use Microscale's setting solution on them to get agood fit. No clear coat was used and the kit has survived the last 15 years withminimal problems.
Once the painting and decaling was done, themissiles, drop tanks, landing gear, doors and other fiddly bits were added. Thenose mounted pitot tubes are an especially fiddly attachment, having only ashallow depression to fit into. These have been knocked off a bunch of timesover the years.
Truly, a very nice kit. Only one other has been done in thisscale and that by Minicraft. I think it is a knock off of this kit. The Hellerkit builds quickly and looks like what it is supposed to be. Even a relativelynew modeler will enjoy building this kit. Editor's Note: I have been informed by readers that Italeri also does a 1/72 Super Etendard. The Heller kit has alsobeen reboxed by Airfix.
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