E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Post Limited Edition
The E-4B is obviously a modified Boeing 747, or VC-25. It started out as a 747-200, but has had equipment added to make it an airborne command post. There was an E-4A, but these have been modified to B standard. The big visual difference between an A and a B is the fairly large hump on the top near the front. This houses the SHF SATCOM antenna.
The E-4B has a crew of 48 to 112, depending on mission needs. It can stay aloft for a week if necessary, the limiting factor being engine lubricants. In case of national emergency, the President, the cabinet, and whoever else is deemed necessary would be aboard.
The E-4B has not been upgraded to a glass cockpit, as the analog instruments are less susceptible to EMP (electromagnetic pulse) damage from a nuclear event.
This is pretty much a standard small-scale airliner kit. There is no interior, and the entire kit is molded nicely in white plastic. There is a stand provided for those who want to build the kit showing the aircraft in flight. The decals are for either of two E-4Bs.
The basic kit has a pretty low level of difficulty. The steps are as follows:
- Build the nose weight assembly.
- Install the nose weight, fill the window openings and mate the fuselage halves.
- Mate the wing upper and lower halves and the horizontal stabilizer halves.
- Drill the holes for the antennas in the top & bottom of the fuselage.
- Install the wings and horizontal stabilizers.
- Assemble the landing gear assemblies.
- Assemble the engines, which are 4 parts per engine.
- Install the landing gear and engines
- Install the antennas
I left painting and decals out of the assembly because I do them as needed.
When I started this project I thought I might be able to build the aircraft without painting the fuselage and wings. You might scoff at this, but according to rumor, Walt Fink won a trophy at the National Convention with an unpainted model. Unfortunately this was not to be for this project.
I needed some filling along the top and bottom seams of the fuselage. I used Tamiya white putty, but it was slightly different in color from the white plastic. So I had to paint it white.
The only other major painting was the leading edges of the wings, tail and horizontal stabilizers, which were silver. The engine intake interiors and lips are also silver, as well as the landing gear legs and wheel hubs. But over 90% of the model is white.
I put the decals on between steps 7 and 8. I applied Future to get a good base for the decals.
The markings decals were very good. I even got the stripes down the side to look pretty straight. Hasegawa does a favor by making the side stripes in three sections, making the application somewhat easier.
There are decals for the nose section and the SATCOM antenna blister. These were more problematical.
The black decal for the SATCOM antenna didn’t cover well, and I wound up with a split in the front. A little black paint fixed this.
The decals for the areas in front of and on top of the cockpit were pretty good, but there is a part that fits inside the decal in front to cover the in flight refueling receptacle. I waited to install this part to be sure I got the alignment correct, and I had to put the decal on first to get the correct placement. Then there was another decal that didn’t completely cover the refueling receptacle. Some Testors Sky Blue paint covered this. Also, when I installed the clear part in the cockpit, I scratched these decals. More paint to fix this.
I now installed the landing gear. I had to trim the assembly that fit into the fuselage to get it to fit into the hole, otherwise this was trouble free.
Installing the antennas was a finicky job. These are tiny little parts, and small parts get lost in moments. I installed the antennas from back to front, using gel type CA glue to hold the parts, followed by a quick spot of accelerator. It is always a chore to get fine parts like this to stay in alignment until the accelerator is applied.
I applied a coat of Future to protect the decals and even out the finish.
And it was done.
Highly recommended. This kit is well designed and goes together with few problems. It’s got some flash, as this is the third kit from this mold, with the 747 and VC-25 preceding, but the flash is easily trimmed off. I particularly liked the nose weight assembly, which keeps the plane firmly on its nose wheels.
It’s not a small aircraft, and even in 1/200 scale it’s going to fit the club contest theme of “large kits”, which requires that the model be at least 1 foot in some dimension. That’s a LOT easier in 1/32nd!!
Thanks to Hobbico/Hasegawa USA for the kit, and to IPMS/USA for the chance to build it.