For the Profoundly Average Modeller, UAVs are a delight. No cockpit to build, no canopy to mask, relatively few parts, and it is not difficult to keep up with all the types that have been released in 1:72 to date (3, at least in injected plastic). Platz has been the hero in this arena up until now, releasing a Q-1 and a Q-4, both of which were reboxed by Italeri. They have also announced an X-47 UCAV for later this year. The only other main producer of UAVs is Unicraft – alas, something of a modern incarnation of Merlin kits. While they have a couple of dozen of the things, they really are pretty rough kits. Though UAVs tend to be simple enough that they might be an option for ones that will never get the injection-molded treatment. But I’m still mulling that over.
Today’s model was in fact molded by Skunk Models. It is the MQ-9 Reaper, the MQ-1 Predator’s younger and larger brother. The wingspan is noticeably larger, the tail has been reconfigured, and the -9 carries more ordnance. They are apparently used quite a bit in Afghanistan, by both the USAF and our allies.
I had put the -1 and -4 in USAF markings, so I wanted something a little different for this one. I first thought to put it in the included Border Patrol markings, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to paint the big blue stripe or take a chance that the decal would fit and look good. Finally I wimped out and took the easy way: RAF markings. The paint scheme is overall Light Compass/Ghost Gray, except for the prop and the forward landing gear leg. Why that leg is a different color is a mystery to me.
Construction did present one obstacle. The lower fuselage was short shot in the vicinity of the landing gear bay. But a small piece of plastic sheet cut to shape cured that. The error is present in both of the two kits that are included in the box, but again it is fixable. The nose probe is extremely small and delicate, and – wonder of wonders – I managed to not break it off during construction, painting, decaling, and finishing. You gotta live for the small stuff.
If anyone wants to have the second RQ-9, or the second Kayaba Katsuodori that featured a few days ago, you can have them for what I paid for them: $7 for the RQ-9 and $6 for the Katsuodori, plus postage at cost. You’ll get the box, instruction sheet, decals, and plastic. Just one kit instead of the two the manufacturer supplies.
This is completed model #388 (#13 for the year), finished in April of 2012.