The large, stout and weighty outer box is full to the brim with no fewer than thirty-five sprues moulded in pale grey plastic. Within this box, there are separate boxes, one holding the fuselage halves and a further box containing a small etched fret, white-metal landing gear, rubber tyres and six sprues for the clear parts. In all, a total of 893 pieces! Six decal sheets, including one full sheet of stencils, for four aircraft options are included. Colour painting and decal placement guides for each aircraft and its weapons and the instruction booklet complete the package. No fewer than 468 of the plastic parts are for the external stores. Also included are two full engines, with full intake trunking, and avionics bays. Surface detail of the plastic parts is nicely recessed and restrained - a far cry from the heavy detail of Trumpeter's early releases. Whilst this is welcome, the rear part of the fuselage and the engine nacelles on the real aircraft are covered in raised, round-headed rivets, something that Trumpeter have depicted as recessed; in this scale, this is a noticeable omission.
IMPROVISED Explosive Devices, more commonly referred to as just lEDs, are the subject of a new exhibition, Unseen Enemy, at the National Army Museum, London. An IED is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. Such devices may be constructed of conventional military explosives, such as an artillery round, attached to a detonating mechanism. Roadside bombs are a common use of lEDs. The term Improvised Explosive Device is reputed to have first been used by the British Army in the 1970s, after the IRA used bombs made from agricultural fertilizer and explosives (predominantly Semtex supplied by Libya) to make highly effective booby trap devices or remote-controlled bombs. However, it is the widespread use of lEDs by insurgents in Afghanistan that has seen the term gain public awareness. Developed with unprecedented access to individuals from the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, Unseen Enemy will follow the journey from the context and creation of lEDs to their consequences. Including a range of the equipment used in detecting and disarming devices such as bombsuits and robots, the exhibition is divided into three key sections.
The build begins with the lower hull and the drive train, which is elaborate even though you see just a little bit protruding out from the wheels. This vehicle is destined to eventually sit on a base so I decided to manually adjust the height of some of the wheels, by trimming the shock absorbers, just to be a little more realistic. After the drive train was assembled, I moved the rear of the vehicle. The grab handles around the rear door were not moulded very well so I decided to make new ones from plastic rod. These were bent and shaped using the heat from a soldering iron and then trimmed to the correct length before installing. There are also two gas/water can racks on the rear door, and you get a choice of styrene or etch for these. I chose the etched ones as the scale of the styrene was a little too thick. But first I plugged the rack holes on the back of doors with stretched sprue and sanded them flat. Now I could make the etched racks. I first removed the burrs with a small file and then bent each piece using an 'Etchmate' in order to obtain the correct angles, and I also wanted them to be a 'solid piece' so I soldered them together instead of using superglue.
The Viperjet and IQ-Hammer 90 turbine are a great match. This turbine packs a lot of power in a small and lightweight package with over 20 pounds of thrust. Acceleration is quick and smooth, and throttle response is surprisingly linear. Components and installation are pretty standard compared to other turbines, and the electronic control unit (ECU) handled all operations without any problems. Our unit never missed a start or produced any wet starts. One interesting feature is an automatic fuel pump voltage calibration that takes place on every engine run. A few seconds of full-throttle running (normally accomplished on the take-off roll) sets the pump voltage necessary for maximum rpm and thrust for the given conditions.