Based in Latvia, Croco is a small resin operation specializing in highly esoteric WW2 and post-war armor and aircraft subjects, though they are branching out into other subjects such as hovercraft
The Iomax Archangel is designed to be a low-cost combat aircraft based on a highly modified Thrush 510P cropduster. Upgraded with additional fuel, the aircraft has a demonstrated loiter time of up to 10 hours, The Archangel has been marketed as a platform for counterinsurgency, counterrorism, counterdrug, counterpiracy, and even border patrol. Interestingly enough, the predecessor to the Archangel, the Iomax Border Patrol Aircraft (BPA), was originally based on a modified AirTractor AT-802i cropduster, was exported to the United Arab Emirates, where it saw action in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Using lessons learned from the BPA experience, Iomax debuted the newer Archangel, where a further 24 airframes were sold to the UAE.
I’ll be reviewing two items here – the aircraft (#72008) and the weapon set (#72009). I’ll start with the aircraft since the weapons need to something to hang on to.
As with any resin kit, this has quite a few challenges. The layout is similar to most aircraft kits, but very careful planning and test fitting would prevent some headaches down the road.
The aircraft kit has 97 parts, although that includes a spare vacuform canopy and an extra set of leading edge light covers. Parts are well cast, and surprisingly some really tiny, brittle pieces like bracing wires and tailwheel strut, made it off the casting block. I did have to replace some parts due to my concern of them breaking during handling (see notes below).
On the other hand, the large parts have very good detail. The panel lines are engraved. I was quote enthralled with the wings – they were very detailed, solid, and had a very fine leading edge.
The canopy is quite large and has a lot of glazing. It was the hardest piece to place on the kit, since I had to trim it to fit over the cockpit, and the flexing acetate made it challenging to fit properly. I used jeweler’s glue to attach the canopy, then use Mr Surface to till the gaps, sanded down the seams, then engraved the surrounding detail. That alone took two days to finish, but since it was quite a prominent piece of the model, I felt it was necessary to take the time.
For those planning on building one, I’ve put together a few pointers that might save you some headaches:
- I recommend putting the basic airframe together in the following sequence: fuselage halves, engine, wingtip lights, wings, horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, pylons, cockpit, canopy, tailwheel, mainwheels, ordnance, actuators, and antenna. This will ensure that the most fragile pieces are added toward s the end of assembly.
- Pay extra attention to the tail end of the two fuselage halves – those need to be aligned as perfectly as possible, and maybe shimmed, as the horizontal stabilizer rests on it, so if it’s not level your tail will look tilted.
- The main landing gear struts don’t have a lot of room to mount, and that is because the mounting surfaces are insufficient. If glued on as-is, the struts would have the appearance of extending out horizontally before sloping downwards, instead of sloping downwards from the fuselage. I recommend carving out an extra 2mm inboard to allow for a more secure mounting surface of the struts.
- The centerline modular sensor pod needs to be mounted 5mm forward, so that the sensor ball clears the landing gear struts on the left and right.
- The wings have tabs, but to ensure uniform fit, you’d want to shim the tabs with Evergreen .010”/.254mm, then sand down gently so that the wings will slot into the fuselage without any vertical movement.
- The cockpit tub drops quite neatly into the fuselage, so I recommend you do that after the flying surfaces are attached as I found it easier to get all of the side consoles and instrument panels aligned along the fuselage interior after the floor was inserted into the fuselage.
- The Archangel has its mission avionics uploaded into a tablet, mounted on the right console. This is not included in the kit, and can be replicated easily with a small rectangle and a bit of stretched sprue. It literally looks like an tablet mount that’s sold commercially for cars, with a stem sticking out vertically from the base and mounted on the center of the tablet.
- The wire bracing for the horizontal stabilizers are provided in resin, and while work, is very fragile and will likely get damaged with handling. I recommend replacing with steel D guitar wire, with the coiling stripped off, cut to the same lengths.
- The tailwheel assembly is also too very fragile, and I discarded the rod portions and substituted with D guitar wire too.
- The stores mounting lugs are too wide to fit on the pylons, and you will need to take a bit of sandpaper to widen the gaps.
- The kit does not include slime lights – there should be one just under the windscreen (the shape is engraved on the fuselage), and one on each wingtip. I ended up masking the shape on the fuselage, airbrushed the color of the slime light (Tamiya IJN Gray is surprisingly close match), peeled the mask off and used it as a template for the rest.
Decals are nicely printed, with markings for four prototypes – I ended up using N822KH, which is the one depicted on the box image. The instructions do not tell you which markings to use, so you’ll have to do some research on the specific aircraft you’re modelling as they all have subtle differences in markings. The decals laid out without any trouble and settled well with Walther’s Solvaset.
Weapons Set (#72009)
The weapons set, sold separately, contains 2 GBU-58s, 1 GBU-12, 1 Cirit rocket pod, 2 ECM pods, 2 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, a pylon with three small missiles (I think they’re UMTAS AGMs), and a pair of Terma self-protection ECM pods. The set also contains three sets of dual pylon racks, a pair of rails for the Hellfires, and a photoetch fret containing the fins for all of the weapons (64 fins of all shapes and sizes!). All that comes up to a whopping 101 parts – more parts than that of the kit!
The parts are cast quite nicely, but I noticed a few issues:
- The forward fins on the Hellfires appear to be mounted too far aft, and appear to be too large.
- What I believe to be UMTAS missiles may not be UMTAS after all. The fins are too large, and might be too small. This might be some form of small diameter weapon. I’m quite sure I saw a photo of these, but I made the mistake of not bookmarking the page and I haven’t been able to find them since.
- Paveways are cast nicely, but are mounted too close to casting block. I botched two of them permanently while trying to cut them off the block. This may be a casting error for my batch.
- Terma ECM pods are left-and right-handed, so you will have to make sure that the sensor blisters on the pod are positioned correctly.
- As mentioned earlier, the mounting lugs are a bit too wide for the pylons – you will need to widen the gaps on the pylon mounts.
I opted for the prototype scheme so I could add some more color to the model, painting the bomb bodies blue. As I could not cut the Paveways out without damaging the item, I ended up using Paveways from a Hasegawa weapons set. I also left out the forward fins on the Hellfires as the position and size were off. My final configuration looked a lot like the ones in the promotional material.
Overall, this is very a nice model of a very uncommon aircraft, and would definitely stand out on your 1/72 flightline. It’s quite a tough model to build, and you definitely want to have a fair amount of experience building resin models to do this. It’s easier to build than a Unicraft kit, but harder than Anigrand products. It’s definitely something for the experienced crowd.
As hard a time I had building this, I knew where I stood by the time I was done. I’m not master modeler by any means, but I know I’ve acquired enough skills and experience over the years that I could take risks and pull off some crazy things to get things done. I proudly proclaimed my superiority over resin with my chest out about the house, proclaiming my victory, but my wife just rolled her eyes and my daughter just went back to munching on her carrots. These kits aren’t easy to find, but I’d recommend sourcing them from eBay, Hobbylink Japan, Hannants or AviationMegastore if you want one. They’re only limited to 100 sets though, so act quickly. Thanks to Croco for the opportunity to build a model of this unique aircraft.