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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Platz Northrop/Grumman X-47B

The first completion that I'll be posting this week is one that I'm rather happy with, which wasn't the case with the desert snake Ju-87. This is the Platz X-47B carrier drone. I've got a nice little collection of completed drones going, having already finished the RQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and RQ-4 Global Hawk. They're fun little distractions - no canopies to mask, generally only one color to spray, and there are a number of models out there to choose from. I'd probably have more in my stash, but so many of them are from Unicraft, and... well. I do plan on picking up an RQ-7 from Attack Squadron the next time I buy from Hannants. I know the thing is tiny, but it is part of the series and only about $10. It is also 3D printed, and I'd like to see the quality of that process for myself.

But back to the X-47B. Platz released this kit a few years back, and it really is a well molded little wonder. Nice detail, excellent fit, smart engineering. About the only complex part of the process is painting and then masking the intake, since the demarcation line is somewhat inside the body of the intake. I would probably have been better off masking it prior to assembly, but if you go that route make sure you don't trap the mask between the pieces when you do finally assemble it. I decided to have the bomb bay doors closed, and the fit there was exquisite. No filler, and you can barely tell that there is anything there other than a panel line. That did require removal of the braces that attach the (open) door to the fuselage, but that is only tedious, not difficult. I bought the GBU-27 version of the kit, and one of those missiles will soon be part of my ongoing ordnance project.

I would say that the biggest hurdle to a world speed record  for completion of this model lies in the decalling step. There are a lot of decals. All those walkways and stencils? They are individual pieces, and will punish the unwary if you allow them to curl or get out of place. Still, it makes for a nice busy surface on the finished product. The decals themselves are very nice, though the larger markings on curved surfaces did require a setting solution. I managed to overlook the reference on the sheet to the strip of manufacturers logos, etc and finally resorted to an online search on Northrop/Grumman's website. I discovered they were on the nose gear doors, and as soon as I looked back onto the instruction site... there they were all along. <Sigh>.

If you are looking for a simple mojo-restoring project, you could do a lot worse than the Platz X-47B. It is definitely a unique shape for your display cabinet. I'm tempted to start work on the Testors B-2 if only to display them next to each other. But I've been hoping that someone would grant us a better kit for that type.

This is completed aircraft #441 (#3 of the year), completed in January of 2016.

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