Atlantis Model Company 1/10 Allison 501-D13 Prop-Jet Engine Kit First Look
|Date of Review||October 2019||Manufacturer||Atlantis Model Company|
|Subject||Allison 501-D13 Prop-Jet Engine||Scale||1/10|
|Kit Number||H1551||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Welcome return of a classic subject||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$49.95|
During the early-1950s, Allison Engine Company began development of the model 501 turboprop engine for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. This engine would become the T56 in military service and is still in production today. On the military side, the T56 powers (or powered) the C-130 Hercules, P-3 Orion, E-2 Hawkeye, and C-2 Greyhound, while the model 501 powered the Convair 580/5800, Lockheed Electra, and the Aerospace Lines Super Guppy. In the early days of the T56, the engine was paired with an Allison Electric three-bladed propeller that initially powered the C-130A and the early Super Guppy. Some of you have heard this pair running and the gut-wrenching sound that they make at flight power levels. The T56 was later paired with the Hamilton-Standard four-bladed propeller which appeared on the C-130B and later models and retro-fitted to the C-130A. The Hamilton Standard propeller would equip all of the above-listed aircraft until they were replaced in recent years by the eight-bladed UTC NP2000 propeller.
Revell produced a kit of the model 501/T56 engine in 1/10 scale back in 1960 and featured exposed details of the engine's gearbox, compressor and turbine sections, much like the teaching rigs in full-scale used to teach engine mechanics. The kit was reissued a few times since 1960, with the last appearance in 1991. After Hobbico's bankruptcy and Revell being sold off to a German holding company, there were quite a few molds left behind in an Illinois warehouse. These molds were acquired by Atlantis Model Company and one set of those molds was the Allison turboprop engine which has just been released. The box art and instructions are the same as the original though Atlantis has updated the instructions with some color to emphasize important steps during assembly. The box art indicates that this is a GIANT kit that builds into a 16" model, which for 1960 was indeed impressive. Today, not so much, but it is rather nostalgic to see nonetheless.
The kit is molded in styrene and presented on nine parts trees, three molded in silver, two in black, two in blue, and one in orange. One could build this model without paint and it would look quite nice. With all of the details in this kit, painting the model with either an operational appearance or a training/museum scheme would really be impressive. You'll notice that the rotating portion of the jet engine is molded in disks while the fixed stators are molded in disk segments to facilitate being mounted on the movable side doors that open to reveal the interior details. When the model is fully assembled, you can turn a nob at the back of the turbine section to rotate the engine, gearbox, and propeller. The instructions warn not to turn the propeller to rotate the engine as you will shear the drive shaft, something that has happened on the full-scale engines (and not fun).
The Hamilton Standard propeller is also geared internally so that by turning the tip of the propeller hub, you can change the pitch of the propeller blades in unison. This is the one feature of the this kit I remember well as there was one of these being used at the Civil Air Patrol squadron I belonged to in high school to teach ground school. I obtained my private pilot's license there in the early 1970s and the rest of my tickets and ratings after I joined the USAF.
Like the various automotive engine kits also produced by Revell over the years, this is a nicely engineered kit that will build into something still being flown today. I had a laugh recently when someone online had commented that they'd rather have a PT6 engine. Developed some 5-6 years after the Allison engine, the Pratt and Whitney PT6 is also widely used though in much smaller aircraft. Comparing the T56 with the PT6, the largest PT6 produces about 25% of the power of the Allison.
You'll want to grab one (or more) of these kits soon, as I don't know how long this kit will remain on store shelves. Some of the first releases from the Revell archives from Atlantis have now sold out and there is no indication of when they might be reissued given the time and energy that team is applying to other molds out of those archives.