|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Resin with vacuform canopy|
The QU-22 was a Beech 36/A36 Bonanza modified during the Vietnam War to be an electronic monitoring signal relay aircraft, developed under the project name "Pave Eagle" for the United States Air Force. An AiResearch turbocharged, reduction-geared Continental GTSIO-520-G engine was used to reduce its noise signature, much like the later Army-Lockheed YO-3A. These aircraft were intended to be used as unmanned drones to monitor seismic and acoustic sensors dropped along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and report troop and supply movements. When the project was put into operation in 1968, however, the aircraft were all flown by pilots of the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron Detachment 1, call sign "Vampire". A separate operation "Compass Flag" monitored the General Directorate of Rear Services along the Ho Chi Minh Trail linking to the 6908th security squadron.
Six YQU-22A prototypes (modifications of the Beech 33 Debonair) were combat-tested in 1968, and two were lost during operations, with a civilian test pilot killed. Twenty-seven QU-22Bs were modified, 13 in 1969 and 14 in 1970, with six lost in combat. Two Air Force pilots were killed in action. All of the losses were due to engine failures or effects of turbulence. A large cowl bump above the spinner was faired-in for an AC current generator, and higher weight set of Baron wings and spars were used to handle the 236-gallon fuel load.
Croco kits are very well done garage resin kits that provide vacuform clear parts. There are usually some casting attachment points or blocks that will need to be removed, which is pretty standard stuff for those of us who build these sorts of kits. The fuselage is in two halves with an interior and aft bulkhead to install prior to attaching the halves. Th einterior consists of two seats, four rudder pedals, an instrument panel and the control column with yokes that attach to it. Atop this fits the vacuform clear section that includes parts of the airframe. The windscreen and cabin windows are not very clearly outlined so you'll need to expend a bit of effort to get just the right light angle to see them when masking. Croco provides a spare if needed.
Tailplanes, fin, and fin strake are separate items. There is a slot for the fin with the tailplanes being a butt fit. Up front, the engine cowling is three parts which provides some space for weight. I should mention that there is also some space under the floor of the cockpit that you can use for weight, but I'm betting this one will be a bit of a tail sitter no matter how much you pack it.
Wings are three pieces. There is a lower center section with parts of this jutting out to which you can fit the right and left wing sections. Tip tanks are separate and a butt join. Landing gear is reinforced with wire and includes separate oleo scissors. Main and nose gear have retraction mechanisms along with gear doors. The prop is a main spinner into which three prop blades will fit.
Instructions are a half sheet of paper with upper and lower exploded diagrams on each side. There are serial numbers for four aircraft. No painting information is provided, but looking on the web, it seems that all the planes were either white or a very light grey in color with a black nose anti-glare panel. Also black are the anti-icing boots on all the flight surfaces. Some planes had a red or black stripe on the upper fin. The small decals sheet is nicely printed and will prove to be quite thin.
If you want interesting subjects like this, then either you do some scratch-building or you search out kits like this. Croco kits are such that they generally sell out fairly quickly. They are not for beginners, but if you have experience with these sorts of kits, you'll end up with a very nice model.
Thanks to Croco
for the review kit. You can find this kit by doing an on-line search or
contacting Croco at
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