US Navy Missile Cart with 5 Weapon Officers
Any modern flightline, including the deck of a carrier, has a collection of specialized vehicles and carts used for the movement and servicing of the aircraft. Skunk Models Workshop has been offering a steady stream of accessories for the modern jet-age modeler who may want to create a diorama or pose a few items of equipment around the aircraft for visual interest. This latest offering by Skunk Models Workshop is a collection of weapons carts used by the US Navy in the arming of aircraft prior to a mission or the de-arming of aircraft post mission. Called yellow gear due to its historical color, all of the flightline equipment is now white.
There is a lot of detail in this multi-media set. Skunk Models provides not only 8 carts and all of the associated storage racks, but also five personnel in realistic action poses. In addition, the set includes 2 bomb hoists - portable gasoline powered devices that help lift heavy ordnance into position. Essentially there are two duplicate sets of equipment packs, and each provides enough parts to build 4 carts and racks. Included are racks for:
- An F/A-18 20mm drum (the drum is included)
- Multiple air-to-air missiles
- Single large bombs (1000lb and 2000lb)
- Multiple small bombs (500lbs)
- Carriage of multiple Triple Ejector Racks (TERs)
There is only one set of 5 figures which includes 4 ordnancemen (called red shirts – due to the color of their flight deck jerseys) handling the weapons carts, and 1 supervisor with clipboard keeping track of the loadouts. The personnel and equipment build up from styrene, with PE providing the smaller details on the carts that cannot be easy replicated by the injection molding process.
I elected to build one set of carts for this review since the second set would have been repetitious. As I discovered during assembly, there are far more racks than carts which is great because it gives you multiple options, but it also means that you must decide which types of racks you want for the cart. I decided to build up all of the racks even though I could only mount four. Be careful removing the parts from the sprue; many are delicate and the plastic can crack. The wheels were tedious because of the mold seam on each one. The front of the cart is steerable, and while the wheels are molded for assembly in the straight ahead position, you still have to add the part with the control linkage (also fragile). In this regard, the instructions are unclear and I had to rely on photos to get the position right. On attaching the handle you have the option of a relaxed position with the handle on the ground, or in the raised position as it is when the cart is pulled. It will need to be in the raised position for it to fit in the hand of the pulling figure.
The PE forms the mounting point for the racks (which in real life bolt or pin in place). The plastic racks are notched to fit over the PE once it is in place. It was a bit tricky adding the PE in that it is not handed (left or right), and the PE for the forward wheels is small and hard to keep in place – either use very quick CA or an accelerator. The PE does have locating nibs that fit into dimples on the frame, but these are not a positive lock. I discovered while folding the long PE strips that they are slightly too long and if you use 90 degree bends they will not fit into position. I had to use 80 degree bends (my guesstimate) to get the PE to fit properly.
The racks are not a positive lock on the carts, and therefore, are also a bit tricky. Here the instructions are not so clear. Most racks for the large weapons come in two pieces and require a good deal of cleanup. The forward rack fits directly over the forward wheel, while the aft rack fits all of the way back. The two tier missile rack also required a lot of clean up, and I had a part break and go missing which I replaced with styrene strip. Assembly of the 20mm drum rack was pretty straight forward, but the drum was not, and after sanding I replaced the raised lip with .01 x .03 styrene strip to replace the detail I sanded away. The bomb hoist was the most difficult item to build, requiring a lot of cleanup around small delicate parts. There are locating pins/sockets to help, but I found it still to be hard.
The figures were straight forward to assemble and only required some minor clean up. I used liquid cement to join the limbs, which helped blend the clothes. The details of the face and the flight deck clothing are quite good for injection molded figures. The poses are also quite natural and look like men laboring to move heavy objects. To check for seams I primed the figures with gray primer from a can, cleaned up the mold seams I missed, and coated them again. I chose not to paint them yet because the era I use them in will dictate the color of the pants. Most flight deck crews work in surplus camouflage pants, whatever the squadron can get, so the crews are only uniform from the waste up.
I primed the carts with Tamiya white primer from the can. I figured that this would be a good base coat whether I chose to paint the carts white, or the earlier yellow. I elected not to prime the 20mm drum since it will be sprayed with Testors Metalizer paint. For the photos, I posed the carts with most of the figures, and some ordnance out of my spares bin.
I am very pleased with this set as it really captures the feel of weapons handling on a carrier, or on the flightline. The detail is good, it fits the weapons, and the figures look like they are at work. If you want to add some realism to you aircraft models then you will want this set, and more, from the Skunk Models line!
Thanks to Lucky Model for providing the kit and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review it.