Amodel 1/72 A-60 Airborne Laser Kit First Look
By Fotios Rouch
|Date of Review||September 2008||Manufacturer||Amodel|
|Subject||A-60 Airborne Laser||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||72025||Primary Media||Styrene, fiberglass, photo-etch|
|Pros||HUGE kit, nice detailing||Cons|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$249|
The Almaz/Beriev A-60 was a high energy laser directed energy weapon testbed and was initiated by the Soviets to parallel the US effort which was the Airborne Laser Laboratory with its many incarnations.
The Russians built two demonstrators of this research testbed. The first flew in 1981 and the second flew in 1991. The base for the Almaz/Beriev conversion was the Il-76 Candid. Visible modifications to the Candid's airframe were, the front turret to house the laser beam director, the enlarged main landing gear sponsons that included intakes and exhausts for cooling the laser and other systems, the removal of the rear clamshell doors, and the removal of the tail gun.
It is not clear what kind of laser was intended to be used in this aircraft but observers note that it is likely to have been a CO2 GDL based on Almaz's involvement with the ground defense laser project that used such a laser. With the collapse of the Soviet Union the project got canceled or mothballed.
The link below has information on the A-60 http://www.testpilot.ru/russia/beriev/a/60/a60.htm
Amodel continues with the barrage of releases of huge Russian aircraft that nobody else would touch (other than Trumpeter with the Bear and the Blackjack).
The A-60 came in a huge box with the main fiberglass parts wrapped in plastic wrap and many ziplock baggies full of the injected sprues.
Amodel does all their big kits following the same technique. They use fiberglass molds for the fuselage and wings and then they remove the parts after they cure, machine them and glue them together with epoxy glue. The advantage is that the modeler gets the messy part done for them. The disadvantage is that the modeler gets stuck with slightly misaligned parts if they are unlucky. This is due to the fact that epoxy takes a while to cure and parts might slightly move in the process. For example, the A-60 main fuselage comes in four parts.
Left, right and then top and bottom. Note the seams in the included fuselage image.
Looking at the fuselage one can see that just like Beriev did this kit owns its lineage to the Amodel Candid. The Amodel makers took the Candid master and modified it to the A-60 look. They did an OK job but the modeler can easily see where the parts were drafted as marks, undulations and rough surfaces were left behind (especially in the rear tail fairing and the main fuselage between the sponsons). The clean up work is doable but fiberglass is harder than plastic and resin so patience will be necessary. The main and forward fuselage plugs fit OK but sanding and puttying will be needed to get the fit just right.
The wings are fine and I did not see any big issues at all. They come with top and bottom portions assembled and epoxy glued and the modeler will complete them with injected plastic parts.
The clear plastic parts are good and they come straight out of the Candid kit so not all of them will be used. I am keeping mine as spares for when I build my Candid kit.
The rest of the sprues include the parts for the jet engines, landing gear, cockpit, etc. The quality of the molding is getting slightly better as compared with the earlier Amodel releases but they still have a little ways to go. The cockpit is from the Candid kit with no A-60 modifications but I bet no modeler has ever seen how the A-60 cockpit looked so I think we are safe there!
The decals look OK but I bet experts like Jennings will tell us if the blue hue on the stripes is slightly off or not. The decals cover one subject.
Photoetch parts are also included from the Candid kit and most of them apply to this kit as well.
This is a magnificent subject that will undoubtedly appeal to the Evil Empire crazy contraption collectors! I think it was an important step for the Soviets in the High Energy Laser Directed Weapons effort and if current trends continue in the Star Wars saber rattling arena we might see this aircraft resurface.
Recommended to the same guys that have all the other Amodel Amonsters!
The kit was purchased from Hobbyterra for $200 which also includes shipping. If you want to purchase the kit from a US distributor the best deal can be had at Linden Hill Imports.