Sunday 10 May 2015

AC130H - Identifying unknown parts

In many model kits, we are often confronted with parts that make us think "What the hell is this part?". We start looking at photos, references, subject documentation, and still find no reason to attach said piece of plastic to the model, especially if it looks weird and out-of-place.

Usually, these are optional parts, but it baffles me how often they are simply omitted from the building instructions, leaving you to wonder why they exist. Old incorrect parts, that were fixed in a re-release? Intended for future kits for a slightly different version? Who knows ...

I had this issue with multiple parts on the Chinook, and simply did not install them. On the AC130H, I now faced the same problem. On page 10, some kind of "box" is supposed to go over each engine. It's exact placement is hard to deduce from the drawing. Is it supposed to fit over or after the engine? What does it do?

On the model, they look a bit weird and not really part of the engine setup.

 You can see straight through it and I have no idea what it's for.

The box-art shows no trace of anything behind the engine (see previous post).

Google is your friend.
I started looking at my reference photos and blueprints and could find no evidence of anything being there. Until suddenly, I started finding photos that did appear to have something box-shaped behind the engines.
It wasn't until I added "engine" and "shield" together to the search terms, that the solution presented itself.

The answer!
Starting with the 130U, IRSS (infra-red suppression system) was added to mask the engine's heat signature, thus reducing it's visibility in the infra-red spectrum, used in sensors and (more importantly) heat-seeking weapons. The 130H appears to have been retro-fitted with the same heat shields.

So, now we know what it is and we have found photographic evidence that it was used on this version, I see no reason not to use these parts.

Saturday 2 May 2015

AC130H Spectre Unboxing

Today we will be opening up ESCI's 1/72 AC130H "Spectre".

It's not a kit that I though I would be building anytime soon. Admittedly, the C130 Hercules (which I though this was after a cursory glance at the box) is a formidable transport plane and I've seen it fly overhead at low altitude a few dozen times (we have a few in our army), but it hadn't quite peeked my interest yet to promote it from the stash to the workbench.

What is it?
The AC130H is no transport plane. It's a gunship, and heavily armed at that. Basically, it's a flying tank, with all the advantages, but without the disadvantages of a tracked vehicle.

Lockheed calls it "A fixed-wing, side-firing aerial gunship that provides close air support, air interdiction and force protection".

During the 1950's, the C130 Hercules was adapted for a variety of missions. This particular version (130H "Spectre II") is the 1973 version. Ten of the previous versions (-E) were converted into this model. In 1986 thirteen more were build, then converted into the 130U "Spooky".

They are highly efficient, but a bit slow. Of the total of 53 planes that were made between 1953 and 1995, 8 were shot down in action, 2 of which were 130H (january '91 and march '94). The remaining 8 of this model are still in service with the 16th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

It's onboard armament consists of :
- 2 x M61 20mm Vulcan cannons (3000 rounds)
- 1 x L60 40mm Bofors cannon (256 rounds)
- 1 x M102 105mm Howitser (100 rounds)

Each wing supports 2 pylons for fuel tanks or missiles.

What's in the box?
On to the contents of the box. 4 sprues contain all the parts we'll need and - at first glance - some extra's. Dry-fitting the 2 fuselage halves tell me I'll be working some extra hours on them. All part of the job ...

Decals appear to be lacking a bit of colour, but I'm glad all those little lines are included and I do not have to paint them.

The building instructions are adequately detailed, but going through it, I already see there will be need for a lot of "guestimation" on some parts' correct placement.

I've already started construction (and postponed posting this entry), so expect part 2 to come really quick.