Orange Hobby Kit #A72003 1/72 Scale X-47B Review & Build

Last updated: Touch up, Final Coat, completing the model - October 26, 2014

The Aircraft:
The X-47B is classified as an unmanned combat air vehicle, or UCAV, It has been designed and built by Northrup Grumman aircraft company and is intended for use off of US nuclear aircraft carriers.

The aircraft is relatively large, as large as a F-18 Super Hornet. It is designed for catapult take-off and arrested landings.

The Navy contracted Northrup Grumman to build two demonstrator prototypes. The first prototype flew from land in February 2011, and the second aircraft flew in November of 2011. In November 2012, the first land-based catapult launched occurred at the US Navy's land-based catapult launch and recover test center at Patuxent River, Maryland with one of the two aircraft.

That same month, November 2012, the other aircraft was taken aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Harry Truman, CVN-75, for its first carrier qualification tests. That initial carrier test was successfully completed in December 2012, having shown that the aircraft was compatible with the flight deck, hangar bays, and communication systems of the carrier. with these test successfully under its belt, the aircraft was then taken aboard the USS George W. Bush, CVN-77 in May of 2013. On May 4, 2013, the other aircraft successfully performed the aircraft's first arrested landing on a simulated carrier deck at Patuxent River. Ten days later, on May 14, 2013, the other aircraft was launched from the George W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the first time that an unmanned drone was catapulted off an aircraft carrier. On May 17, 2013, another first was achieved when that X-47B performed touch-and-go landings and take-offs on the flight deck of the USS George H.W. Bush while underway in the Atlantic Ocean. Finally, July 10, 2013, an X-47B launched from Patuxent River and landed on the deck of the George H.W. Bush, conducting the first ever arrested landing of a UAV on an aircraft carrier at sea.

On August 17, 2014, an X-47B took off and landed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt alongside an F/A-18 Hornet. This was the first time an unmanned aircraft operated in conjunction with manned aircraft aboard an aircraft carrier. The Hornet was launched from the carrier, followed by the X-47B. Both flew around the ship for 8 minutes, then the X-47B touched down and immediately took back off to verify all of its systems were working correctly. After 24 minutes, the X-47B landed, properly catching the arresting wire, then folded its wings and a deck operator taxied it away from the landing area to give the Hornet room to land. All test objectives were met in this exercise. It was the X-47Bs fifth time at sea. aboard a US Navy aircraft carrier.. During those five exercises, the X-47B completed eight catapult launches, 30 touch-and-goes, and seven arrested landings.

To complete the testing of these two prototypes, the Navy plans for them to deploy aboard a US nuclear carrier in late 2014 to early 2015 and demonstrate that unmanned aircraft will work seamlessly with the 70-plane carrier air wing during extended exercises.

The US Navy plans to now take the experience, the hardware, and the software from the X-47B program to develop a battle-ready aircraft that will be called the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) system. The Navy plans to have that aircraft enter service by 2019.

Specifications:
Crew: None aboard (semi-autonomous operation)
Length: 38.2 ft (11.63 m)
Wingspan: 62.1 ft extended/30.9 ft folded[49] (18.92 m/9.41 m)
Height: 10.4 ft (3.10 m)
Wing area: 953.6 ft (88.59 m)
Empty weight: 14,000 lb (6,350 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 44,567 lb (20,215 kg)
Power plant: 1 Pratt & Whitney F100-220U turbofan
Maximum speed: Subsonic
Cruise speed: Mach 0.9+ (high subsonic)
Range: 2,100+ NM (3,889+ km) without refueling
Service ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Armament
2 x weapon bays for up 4,500 lb (2,000 kg) of ordinance
Avionics
Designed with provisions for EO/IR/SAR/ISAR/GMTI/MMTI/ESM

The Kit:
I purchased the model over a year ago as soon as it became available. At the time it was the only 1/72 scale X-47B model. Orange Hobby makes a very good product. This model is a resin model with photo etch details. since purchasing it, a plastic, injected molded model has come available by Platz models, which includes armament for the aircraft.

This model is well done and includes very detailed panel markings, a very finely molded intake, and exhaust. All the landing gear and weapons bays are shown in detail and can be built either oprn or closed. I intend to show them all open.

As with any resin model, the major parts come still attached to their molding tools and have to be cut free from them. but having solid pieces and their weight, along with their detail is very nice.

There are two packages of smaller parts, which include the landing gear bay doors, the landing gear, the wheels, the weapons bay doors and other pieces.

A photo etch sprue contains various parts for detailing the doors and bays.

The decal sheets allows the build of the first prototype, aircraft #501.

The instructions are well done with a total of four pages depicting the build, the options, the placement of the decals and the painting.

All in all if looks to be a really nice build.

Here's how it looked out of the box:





The Build - Painting the fuselage, wings, intake, and dry fitting the aircraft- October 21, 2014

I began by carefully cutting the main fuselage, the upper intake, the wings and the exhaust from their moldings. One has to be careful because despite their weight, the resin is somewhat brittle and can easily break into the actual piece if care is not taken.

Once the parts were loose, I painted them, painting the overall body of the aircraft in Model Mater Dark Ghost Grey, and the exhaust and inside of the intake in gunship gray.

Here how that looked:

Then, once they dried, all I had the time for was to dry fit the pieces together to get a feel for their fit and look.

That's a nice aircraft and she is going to turn out very well.

In my next session, I hope to get the bays painted, the fuselage, intake, exhaust and wings glued together, and then add the landing gear to the landing gear bays.

The Build - Fuselage, Landing Gear, Weapons, Antennae and decals - October 25, 2014

I began by gluing together the fuselage just as I had dry fitted it. Then, it was time to build the landing gear and the bay doors and put those together, then glue the various antennae on the top and bottom of the aircraft. Most of these were a part of the Photo Etch part sprue that came with the aircraft.

I then began working on the weapons fit for the weapons bays.

I intend to use one of the modernized GBU-10 Mk 84 2,000 lbs. Paveway II laser guided bombs which was modernized for the F-117 Stealth Fighter's weapons bay in the 1980s. This is the GBU-27 Paveway III 2,000 lb. bomb. I will also use, in the other bay, a SLAM-ER missile, which is the enhanced, extended range version of the Standoff Land Attack missile derived from the Harpoon missile. I got these from one of my Hasegawa and the Tester's 1/72 scale weapons kits I keep around.

These would be two very good and powerful weapons to be used by the X-47Bs descendant, which will be the production version of the aircraft.



Once the antennae and landing gear dried, I painted up the weapons and added them to the weapons bays, along with the doors for the bays. I also added the tail hook that is used for the arrested landings on the carrier deck.

Then it was time to begin adding all of the decals to the aircraft. I really like the markings on this aircraft. And there are lots of them. All in all a very complete set of decals from Orange Hobby, and very decent decals too. Pretty durable, even the thin lined markings along the edges of the aircraft were able to go down without any tearing...of course, having applied them with care.



Now that is looking very nice.

In the next session I will do the touch up, the dull coats, and then the final pictures.

The Build - Touch up, Final Coat, completing the model - October 26, 2014

This session was quick. Did some touch up on the paint and finish, then aded the two coats of dull coat for the compeltion. This left me with the following pictures of the completed model:





...and then these from some other angles:



And that's it for the X-47B. Some real game changing naval aircraft technology.


Schedule for Future Activities: October 26, 2014

  1. By Dec 01, 2014, Complete the PLAN Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Trumpeter Type 071 LPD-998, with a FFG, and two DDGs.
  2. By Mar 15, 2015, Complete the US Navy Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Gallery USS Iwo Jima, a 2nd LPD, USS Somerset, LPD-25, a DDG, a SSN, and another LCS.
  3. By Mar 16, 2015 Go back and start fleshing out the rest of the DDG and FFG escorts for each CSG and ARG group.

The completion of the PLAN Carrier group was centered on the already completed Trumpeter's 1/350 scale PLA Navy's Aircraft Carrier CV-16, Liaoning, (in addition to the other escorts already completed) included Mini Hobby's PLAN Guangzhou, DDG-168. I recently pre-ordered a 1/350 scale model of the PLAN Type 071 LPD, Yuzhao Class, announced by Trumpeter and due out in October, 2013. I will end up adding two of those, probably LPD-998 Yuzhao and LPD-999, Jinggangshan, add the PLAN- DDG-139, Ningbo, and the PLAN DDG-115, Shenyang, along with the PLAN Weifang, FFG-550 and thus build a PLAN ARG.

The completion of the US Carrier Strike group was centered on the completed Tamyia's 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-65, (in addition to the other escorts already completed) included Trumpeter's, USS Freedom, LCS-1, Dragon's USS Preble, DDG-88 and Hobby Boss's USS Texas, SSN-775. When a 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-80 (or any Gerald R. Ford Class) is released from Trumpeter, Tamiya, Dragon, or whomever else, I will add it to this group along with another AEGIS Cruiser. Whichever Ford Class coms out in 1/350 scale, I will build it as the USS Enterprise, CVN-80.

The US ARG will include Tamiya's 1/350 scale, USS Iowa, BB-62 (which I have already completed), Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Iwo Jima LHD-7, Gallery's 1/350 scale USS Somerset, LPD-25, Bronco Models 1/350 Scale USS New York, LPD-21, Cyber Hobby's USS Independence, LCS-2, Academy's 1/350 scale USS Rueben James, FFG-57, and another Flight IIA US AEGIS class destroyer based on Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Lassen, DDG-82...all of these models which I already own.

The completion of the UK Group featured the Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Illustrious, R06 as its centerpiece until a 1/350 scale Queen Elizabeth carrier is released. When that happens, I will add that carrier to the group as its centerpiece. The Royal Navy CSG will also include two Airfix 1/350 scale Daring Class DDGs (one of which is already completed), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Type 23 HMS Duke class Frigates (one of which is already completed), and the Hobby Boss 1/350 scale HMS Astute SSN (which is also already completed) and Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Trafalgar SSN. One day, when a 1/350 scale HMS Ocean LPD come out, I will use to to start building a Royal Navy ARG.

The French CSG is centered on Heller's 1/400 scale Charles De Gaulle, R91. I have purchased the 1/400 scale Heller French De Grasse, D612 DDG, which is an ASW DDG, the French Duquesne, D603 DDG which is an anti-air multi-purpose DDG, and the French Aconit D612 FFG and Gueprattet F714 FFGs, both of which are Lafayette class frigates. These five vessels will round out my French CSG. As soon as a French Robin class nuclear sub, like the French Pearle S606 SSN is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale, I will add that to the group. Also as soon as the Forbin D620, Horizon class anti-air DDG is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale, I will purchase two of them and replace the De Grasse and Duquesne with them, and then save those two for when a Mistral Class LPD is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale so I can create a French ARG with those vessels.

The completion of the Japanese JMSDF group was centered on Fujimi's very finely detailed, 1/350 scale Hyuga, DDH-181. It will be escorted by Trumpeter's 1/350 scale DDG-177, Atago, an AEGIS class DDG and the JMSDF, DDG-174, Kongo class (which I own), Trumpeter's 1/350 scale DDG-114 Susunami and DDG-111 (both of which are Takinami Class DDGs which I own), and by the 1/350 scale SS-503 Hakuryu (which I own), one of Japans new, very modern and capable AIP Diesel Electric submarines. As soon as a DDG-115 Akizuki in 1/350 scale is released, I will add it to this group. Should a 1/350 scale Osumi Class LPD be released, I will buy two of those vessels and create a JMSDF ARG.

Then, finally the completion Russian CSG (centered on Trumpeter's Kuznetsov) included the the Russian Kirov Class nuclear battle cruiser (CGN), the Peter the Great, by Trumpeter, the Russian Slava Class cruiser, Varyag by Trumperter (which I own), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Udaloy DDGs (which I own), Hobby Boss's Akula II class SSN (which I own), and the new Yasen class Russian SSN (which I own), all in 1/350 scale. Some time in the more distant future when a 1/350 scale Russian version of the French Mistral class comes out (which is building in real life right now), I will add two of those and build a Russian ARG.

Recently I purchased Heller's 1/400 scale Foch, the Clemceau Class carrier that was sold to the Brazilians in 2000 and in 2002 was refitted and became the Brazilian CV, Sao Paulo, using steam catapults. I will build the model as the Sao Paulo and thus start a Brazilian group, though the Type 22 DDGs and the FFGs the Brazilians use are not available at present. I have however purchased a set of 1/400 scale A-4 Skyhawks and S-3 Trackers to build a suitable air wing for the Sao Paulo.

Then, again, once the models are available, I'd like to build an Italian Carrier Strike Group centered on the Cavour and their Horizon DDGs, a Spanish Carrier Strike Group centered on the Juan Carlos and their F-100 AEGIS FFGs, and ultimately an Australian Strike Group centered on the new Canberra Class LPD and the Hobart class AEGIS DDGs. If they ever build the models, an Indian Carrier Strike Group centered on either the Vikramaditya or their new ADS Carrier, the Vikrant, and their Kolkata class DDGs and Shivlak class FFGs would also be nice.

Years more worth of work!

You can see all of these actual carriers, read their histories and specifications at my site:

WORLD-WIDE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

...and most of their surface escorts at:

AEGIS AND AEGIS-LIKE VESSELS OF THE WORLD


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