Minicraft 1/144 C-130 'Fat Albert' Kit First Look
|Date of Review||November 2008||Manufacturer||Minicraft|
|Subject||C-130 'Fat Albert'||Scale||1/144|
|Kit Number||14570||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$36.00|
The Blue Angels aerial demonstration team that draws millions of spectators to airshows each year is also one of the US Navy's leading recruiting tools. With any road show like the Blue Angels, a logistics support trail must also follow, and throughout the history of the team, a variety of transport aircraft were used to carry maintenance and support teams, spare parts, and other logistics from location to location around the world.
In 1970, the logistics support aircraft was changed from the C-121 Constellation to the C-130F Hercules. The Herc was crewed by an all-Marine flight crew and the aircraft was nicknamed 'Fat Albert' after the Cosby character. At some point early in its time with the Blue Angels, 'Fat Albert' went from strictly a support aircraft to part of the airshow. While the Herc could perform some impressive flight maneuvers (for anyone remembering the 'Four Horsemen C-130B team), Fat Albert limits itself to a few fly-bys and one very impressive take-off.
The signature performance from Fat Albert is the Rocket-Assisted Take-Off (RATO) that allows a heavily-loaded Herc trying to take-off under less than ideal conditions to blast-off the ground and accelerate safely away. While Fat Albert isn't fully loaded for the shows, it still rolls a mere 1000 feet down the runway as the rockets ignite, the nose comes up 45 degrees into the sky and the aircraft quickly climbs to around 1500 feet as the pilot pushes the nose back to the horizon using the remaining RATO thrust to accelerate the aircraft. For non-pilots, the Herc blasts off with a roar and lots of smoke.
Minicraft has produced the first styrene kits of the C-130 in 1/144 scale in a number of decades. Revell had the first kit in this scale, but that kit is a collector's item and was simplistic at best. Hasegawa produced the Herc in 1/200, Airfix and Italeri in 1/72, and Italeri again in 1/48. So how much detail is lost in this scale? Not much from what you can see in these photos!
The kit is molded in white styrene and presented on six parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. The kit was designed to be able to replicate quite a few of the Hercules family, which is all-the-more reason to keep it in 1/144, as a die-hard Herc nut wouldn't have room for many variants in the larger scales.
Detailing is scribed and will look nice after painting. The finish on this subject is gloss, so you'll want to take care with seam lines, etc., as these will be visible with a gloss finish.
So what features are in here anyway?
- External tanks for the A-model or the later E/H models (though you don't need either for this build)
- Pre-drilled holes under the wings for the tanks of your choice, though you'll need to fill the holes you don't use
- Positionable ramp and door
- Nicely detailed landing gear
There is no interior in the cockpit, so you may want to scratch-build the crew seats for the pilots and flight engineer, as that will be about all you'll see through those tiny windows.
If you do leave the ramp and door open, you'll need to add hydraulic actuators for the ramp, open the accessway through the forward bulkhead (station 245), and add a few details in the interior. A main cargo deck is provided.
Markings are provided for the standard scheme used by the primary Fat Albert aircraft.
This is a very impressive kit in 1/144 scale and it looks quite nice indeed. With all of the different color schemes and special mission configurations, one could easily buy several cases of these kits and still not run out of subjects. With the nice detail in this box, you won't lack for some beautiful models on your shelf!
My sincere thanks to Minicraft for this review sample!