Skunkmodels 1/72 MQ-9 Reaper Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||April 2011||Manufacturer||Skunkmodels Workshop|
|Kit Number||72003||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Two full kits in the box||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$16.99|
General Atomics, known for its nuclear sciences, developed a new division that specializes in unmanned aircraft. It's first production aircraft was the Predator, a simple airframe that was powered by a Rotax engine (similar to those used on ultra-light aircraft) which gave it a range of over 2000 miles and could reach altitudes up to 25,000 feet. With a cruise speed of 70-90 knots, it could loiter over areas of interest for longer than any other technology other than a tethered balloon. Entering USAF service as the RQ-1, a number of opportunities arose where targets appeared that would be gone again before another weapons system could be directed to the target. These frustrating moments led to the MQ-1, a Predator armed with a pair of Hellfire missiles.
With the success of the RQ-1 (initially known as Predator A), General Atomics designed a super-sized Predator airframe that enlarged the fuselage, add 18 feet of wingspan, and replaced the MQ-1's 115 horsepower piston engine with a 950 shp turboprop engine giving the new airframe significantly greater payload capability. Originally dubbed Predator B, this new capability was designed from the beginning to be armed and has four weapons pylons that can be loaded with an array of missiles and bombs. When this new system entered USAF service, it became the MQ-9 Reaper.
Skunkmodels continues to push the edge of the envelope by adding full kits to their growing line of weapons and diorama accessories. This kit has been released in 1/48 scale as well as this one in 1/72 scale. The kit consists of two parts trees molded in light greay styrene, one with the basic airframe, the other with the rest of the deails. There are two complete kits in this box - four parts trees - so you can do two of the subjects provided in the decal sets.
The airframe goes together rather quickly as the kit is much like its full-scale counterpart - simple construction. The turboprop engine cowling is molded separately but mounts to the rear of the airframe between the tails.
The kit provides four Hellfire missiles on twin-rail launchers for the outboard pylons and a pair of GBU-12 laser-guided bombs for the inboard pylons.
Markings are provided for five aircraft:
- MQ-9, 04-011, 432 AEW, Creech AFB
- MQ-9, 05-016, 432 AEW, Creech AFB
- MQ-9, 08-109/ZZ203, RAF, Afghanistan
- MQ-9, 08-133/ZZ200, RAF, Afghanistan
- MQ-9, 07-108, US Customs/Border Patrol
This is another nice looking kit in the Skunkmodels Workshop line-up. With the growing availability of UAV kits, this Reaper kit is a very nice option for your scale flightline.
My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!