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Platz’s 1/72 Global Hawk

By Valentin “the E is for Electronic” Bueno

Check Out Club Meeting: June 2010 Meeting

Featured In: June 2010 Newsletter

Fictional History

The air war over North Korea has been going badly…for the North Koreans. Abandoned by their Communist buddies to the north, the Korean People’s Air Force (KPAF) ran out of fuel within days of the start of the renewed fighting. The KPAF have been unable to fly any interceptor sorties once the UN led forces started “silencing” the guns pointed at the Democratic South. In an effort to gauge the effectiveness of the UN efforts, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAV’s of the U.S. Air Force have been sent north to photograph the remains of the Korean People’s Army (KPA).

The Global Hawk was tasked with this duty, sporting a new but now weathered digital camouflage, these UAV’s keep UN pilots out of harm’s way as the intel on the ground conditions is gathered. The Three Tone Gray digital camouflage is a perfect match to the cold gray skies over the now cowering and beaten North Korea.

Assembly

As the second UAV kit to come from Platz/αCMa, the 1/72 scale Global Hawk is a massive kit. I was really surprised by how long the wings turned out to be. With a wingspan of 19.3 inches, I am going to have a hard time finding a place to display this thing. But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.

With no cockpit to assemble or paint, I put the fuselage together. For the first time in a very long time, I used liquid cement (LC) to assemble the portions of this model. I wish I hadn’t, but more on that later. The fuselage fit together OK, I did have to use a little force and some rubber bands to keep the seams together as the LC set up and dried overnight. I added a few BB shots to the front of the fuselage to make sure this model doesn’t sit on its V-Tail.

What surprised me was the massive seam that needed filling on the underside of the wing. The long wing is molded in upper and lower halves. The leading and trailing edges are molded with the upper wing half with the lower half inset to the upper wing.

After filling and sanding the seam, I dry fitted the wings to the fuselage and found the fit lacking. The slot opening for the tab is too small in height. I had to trim the tabs to get the wings to fit flush against the fuselage.

The rest of the kit fit flawlessly and before I knew it, it was time for paint.

Dot Matrix Masks to the Rescue!

As the insane bugger that I am, I decided to go with the digital camouflage. I sprayed the entire model with Tamiya Rattle Can Neutral Gray. I used Dot Matrix Masking tape from a Japanese company called HiQParts. They have three sizes of pre-cut dot matrix masking tape masks, small for 1/144, medium for 1/72nd -1/48th scale and large for 1/32 and larger. For the Global hawk, I used three sheets of the small for the upper sides of the wings and the one sheet of the medium for the undersides of the wings.

Why? Because I ran out of the small size for the underside of the wings and I was getting really tired of peeling off the masks from the carrier sheet, adding them to the model while keeping them straight and figuring out where I was going to place the next one.

I sprayed the next color, USAF light gray and let this dry for a day before applying the next layer of masks. This was even more tedious than applying the first layer. I also masked off the huge radome on the upper fuselage with the intention of keeping it light gray.

The last color I sprayed was IJN Kure Gray. Huh? Why? Because it looked right and I had a full rattle can of the stuff on the shelf. It took a full hour to pull off the masks. Sheesh!

But the layers of paint were quite thick and I had a new problem, the finish was 3D! I used a 3000 grit sanding pad to sand down the edges as best I could. I applied a thick coat of clear in hopes of filling in the recessed painted areas. I sanded this down again and added the few decals on this model, which comprised national insignia and a few stencils.

Another two coats of gloss clear was added and sanded down between each coat, filling in the recessed areas of the paint scheme. A final coat of clear flat was then added and allowed to harden. This was also sanded down with the 3000 grit sanding pad. This reduced the flatness of the final coat and created a realistic sheen finish on the model.

Kibbles and Bits

During construction, I broke off one of the pitot tubes from the tailplanes. I replaced them both with turned brass F-16 pitot tubes from Fine Molds. Likewise, I added CMK Resin’s clear red, green and white resin position lights in the correct places. After detail painting the landing gear bays white and adding the last of the antenna parts, the model was done. Yay! Again as always, this simple model took longer than it should have. Building a model five minutes at a time tends to make things take longer.

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