RQ-4N Global Hawk

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/72
MSRP
$56.00
Product / Stock #
AC-5
Company: Platz - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Platz - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

The Aircraft

While the Global Hawk may look like a larger version of the Predator UAV, it’s a different aircraft with a different mission. Predators provide real-time surveillance and reporting of local target and maneuver info, and Global Hawks provide long-range intelligence. Think of the difference between an RF-4 and a U-2.

Global Hawks have set a couple of world records for UAVs, including altitude (65,000+ feet) and range (8214 miles). The range record was also notable as the first flight by a UAV non-stop across the Pacific, Edwards AFB to Australia.

The sensor packages are upgrades of the ones used on the U-2. One of the upgrades is lower price for better performance. The suite includes a SAR (synthetic aperture radar) which can see things on the ground through smoke, cloud or dust, and an integrated visual camera system which uses sensors in the visual spectrum integrated with an infrared sensor to provide a better visual image in all light conditions.

The feature the Navy is very interested in is the GMTI (Ground Moving Target Indicator) which combines the radar and visual sensors to find and follow moving targets. Since naval units rarely sit still, this is very useful for following ships on the open ocean.

Real-time data transfer can be either through direct downlink or satellite uplink, at 50Mbit/second.

Current users of the Global Hawk are the US Air Force, US Navy and NASA. The Luftwaffe has taken delivery of its first “Eurohawk”, with more to follow. NATO has also entered negotiations with Northrop-Grumman for imminent delivery. Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and India have indicated interest in the Global Hawk.

The Kit

The RQ-4N is the US Navy version of the Global Hawk. Platz has recently released a 1/72 kit of the RQ-4B, which is the US Air Force version. Except for the decals, this kit is identical to the RQ-4B.

The first thing you notice when you open the box are those long wings. Very long wings. Very very long wings. The entire kit is molded in medium gray plastic, with no clear parts and a single small Phillips-head self-tapping screw. Everything is flash-free and the parts are nicely molded with recessed panel lines.

Assembly

I was impressed with the engineering that went into the fuselage and jet engine assembly. The intake and exhaust are assembled, then put into one of the fuselage halves, then the left and right fuselage is assembled. The bottom is a separate piece.

Before assembling the bottom, two holes are drilled for the Navy version; you’d drill 4 for the USAF bird. Then a square plate is screwed to the bottom piece, using the provided self-tapping screw. This is more excellence in engineering, as this plate is the internal support for those long wings.

Also note that the instruction asks for 10 grams of weight in the nose. 50 years ago in Chemistry class at Peoria High School, I was taught that the US nickel weighs 5 grams. So 2 would be 10 grams. I cribbed together a balance beam which could hold the 2 nickels and the birdshot I needed for the nose weight. Mr. Stepping would have been so proud. I glued it in the top with white glue and assembled the bottom after the glue set.

The wings are easily assembled, fitting into that plate in the fuselage with a pair of pins and holes which hold the wings true and solid even before the glue sets. The rear fins, all four of them, are added along with the Navy’s antenna under the rear fuselage. I added the small air sensors under the nose before painting, as they are protected by the sensor package.

Masking and Painting

I was a little suspicious of Platz’s color callouts for the fuselage (36118 dark gray) and the wing top (17925 white). I went looking for photos of the RQ-4 on the Internet, and found a picture of the Eurohawk on the Luftwaffe’s web site. Sure enough, Platz got it right.

I painted the entire wing top with Floquil Reefer White and then masked the entire wing. I then painted the rest of the model with Model Master 36118. Ya gotta love these less than difficult paint jobs. I applied a coat of Future, and it was ready for decals.

Decals

I picked one of the three US Navy birds. There are also decals for a US Navy Oceanographic Survey Global Hawk, and Japanese markings. The Japanese don’t have one yet, but Platz’s market is mostly over there, and you sell to the home crowd.

The decals were very good quality, printed by Cartograf of Italy. The “no step” areas at the wing roots were tough, as these are a U shaped decal and very narrow, so I had trouble getting the lines straight and in the right place. You shouldn’t have as big a problem, as my decal skillz aren’t that great. I also noted that one of the 1 to 1 US Navy birds I found on Airliners.net had a decal silvering problem on the “Navy” on the fuselage side. So I don’t feel so bad now.

An overspray with acrylic clear flat, and I was ready for the landing gear and antennas, which I leave off to avoid breaking them.

Landing Gear

Again, these is evidence that someone at Platz is thinking. The gear struts fit cleanly and tightly into the holes in the wings and fuselage. The main gear doors have a small indentation to allow correct placement, and there are indicators for the nose gear doors. Of course I had some trouble getting those nose doors in place, as every time I had to move the model to see where things went, I hit a wingtip against something. Long, long, long wings.

The only parts left were a white SATCOM antenna on the fuselage top and two white blade antennas, one on the bottom of each wing, which were left off while painting because they were different color. Assembly went fine here.

Overall Evaluation

Highly recommended. This kit has top-notch engineering, with great fit and solid structure. Add good decals, and you’ve got a winner.

You’re probably not going to hear much about the Global Hawk in the news unless one crashes in a populated area. Successful intelligence gathering leaves no tracks and isn’t noticed by anyone except the sensor operator.

Thanks to Platz for the interesting kit and to IPMS/USA and John Noack for the opportunity to build it.

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