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A-50 Mainstay

Zvezda 1/144 A-50 Mainstay Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2018 Manufacturer Zvezda
Subject A-50 Mainstay Scale 1/144
Kit Number 7024 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice detailing Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $44.99

First Look

A-50 Mainstay
A-50 Mainstay
A-50 Mainstay
A-50 Mainstay
A-50 Mainstay

Special mission aircraft are generally based upon a solid, reliable airframe. For the United States, the Boeing 707 and its smaller derivative that made up the C-135 series served as that airframe. In the days of the Soviet Union, none of the airliner airframes could fill that role, but the Ilyushin Il-76 Candid filled that void. Similar in layout to the C-141A Starlifter, the Il-76 had the internal volume, load capacity, and power generation capabilities to perform a variety of missions including that of the Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) mission. Modified by the Beriev OKB, the Il-76 was transformed into the A-50 Mainstay which entered service in 1984 to replace the Tu-126 Moss (which uses the Tu-114 airliner airframe developed from the Tu-95 Bear bomber), and remains in service today.

With the release of Zvezda's definitive Il-76MD in 1/144 earlier this year, it should be no surprise that they would follow that up with the A-50. Trumpeter released their own A-50 in this scale over 16 years ago, but like their Il-76, it could have been better. Zvezda delivers with this release and let's take a closer look. The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on ten parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) plus two parts for an optional in-flight display stand, and one tree of clear parts. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed flight deck
  • Upper wing half is molded as one part with wing anhedral molded into the part
  • Positionable flaps and slats
  • Positionable landing gear
  • Optional in-flight display stand

Markings are included for two examples:

  • A-50 Mainstay, Bort 30, Russian Air Force
  • A-50 Mainstay, RF-50601/Bort 50, Russian Air Force

This kit features a different fuselage versus the Il-76 kit and since there are no positionable doors on the kit, there is no interior for the avionics racks and crew positions inside the cargo bay.

This is another impressive addition to the 1/144 scale flightline, and while some modelers may not consider 1/144 too seriously, I would dread giving up enough display shelf space for a larger scale model, especially given the size of this aircraft in this scale. Zvezda is also turning out some impressive modern airliner subjects in this scale including the new Boeing 787-9 and Boeing 737-800.