Freedom Models 1/48 X-47B UCAS Kit First Look
|Date of Review||June 2014||Manufacturer||Freedom Models|
|Kit Number||18001||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||First kit of this aircraft in 1/48||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$79.95|
The X-47B is a development of the DARPA Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) program that has seen a number of name changes over the last several years. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, jump-starts a number of advanced technology programs to get them into the warfighter's hands much sooner than traditional research. In this case, DARPA wanted to develop a stealthy strike Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to support the future combat needs of the US Air Force and Navyآ under the banner of the Joint Unmanned Combat Aerial System (J-UCAS) program.
When the Air Force dropped out of the program, the Navy continued with the program and the X-47B has met or exceeded everyone's expectations. The aircraft successfully completed the first carrier integration tests with multiple approaches, wave-offs, touch and gos, arrested landings, catapult launches, and marshalling on and below decks.
The X-47B is a powered by a Pratt and Whitney F100-220 engine (same as the F-16 but without the afterburner) and was first flown in 2011. Flight testing started at Edwards AFB in early 2011 and transitioned to Patuxent River NAS in early 2012. Developed by Northrop-Grumman, the X-47B has two internal weaponsآ bays capable of lofting up to two Mk.84-class (2000lb) bombs, one in each bay.
Freedom Models has released the first mainstream kit of the X-47B in 1/48 scale. Platz Hobby released the first kit of this subject in 1/72 scale. You can see in the image to the right the Platz model parked atop the upper fuselage of the Freedom kit to show scale.
Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on six parts trees plus a small fret of photo-etched details. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Complete engine intake and exhaust duct assembly
- Positionable weapons bay doors
- Two GBU-31 2000lb JDAMS
- Positionable landing gear
- Positionable spoilers/speed brakes
- Positionable elevators
- Positionable flaperons
- Positionable tailhook
- Positionable landing gear
- Nicely detailed landing gear
- Choice of nose gear struts (catapult launch bar up or down)
- Wings can be folded or extended
The kit provides markings for two aircraft:
- X-47B, 168063, AV-1, CVW-9, NG/501
- X-47B, 168064, AV-2, CVW-9, NG/502
In addition to the current flight test markings above, the sheet also provides markings for CVW-5 and VX-9 as well as the names of all eleven operational aircraft carriers plus the upcoming USS Gerald R. Ford.
This release will provide quarter-scale modelers with a nice example of the next generation of combat aircraft, and with no cockpit to worry about, this kit will also be a relatively quick build! These kits should be appearing at your local hobby shop very soon.
For a look at this model built-up, look here.
My sincere thanks to Freedom Model Kits and Stevens International for the review sample.