The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was a big beast of a fighter, similar in size and weight to many WW2 bombers, but it could also carry a big punch in the form of four long-range air-to-air Phoenix missiles nestled under the fuselage and a Sidewinder and Sparrow missile under each of the wings. The jet and its armament were faithfully reproduced by Péter Dornbach (Dornbi). Like the real aircraft, his 1/48 scale model also has a working variable geometry ‘swing wing’.
It may be an old warrior by now, with the last examples in US Navy service having been retired almost ten years ago, but it’s still one of the coolest jet fighters in my book, certainly in the high-visibility colour schemes typical for the Seventies. Péter’s model is resplendent in the markings of Fighter Squadron 41 “The Black Aces”, aboard USS Nimitz in 1978. Excellent choice!
Here’s a smart-looking craft by Joe and Will Merzlak, a near-future vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) transport. Besides being packed with some really wonderful building techniques, the Merzlak brothers’ par excellance presentation skills are worth pointing out in their own right.
A really fantastic photo-editing job can make a great model like this really stand out. Of course, we realize that not everyone has the time, skills, or tools to make this happen, but remember: the presentation of your model is the only thing everyone else online will get to see. It’s worth spending some extra time to ensure good lighting and an interesting and relevant (or at least clean) background.
The history of aviation is littered with failed attempts at building an aircraft that can fly like a jet but take-off and land like a helicopter. One of the few successful exceptions is the British Harrier ‘jump jet’, recreated by Carl Greatrix (Bricktrix)
Key to the jet’s ability to take-off vertically is that its thrust can be vectored by rotating the four engine exhaust nozzles vertically down. These are present on the model, of course, and it is finished in Carl’s typical style, with finely crafted lines, a few custom working lighting elements and expert sticker work to recreate the camouflage pattern. The only thing missing, really, is that it can’t actually fly.
This great seaplane by Сергей Антохин reminds me of the models I loved to build as a kid, except that this one is considerably better. This model has a distinct charm about it, almost looking like something LEGO could release as an official set. I mean, if this were an official set, I’d probably buy one.
Put into service with the RAF in 1947, just after the close of WWII, the Hawker Sea Fury isn’t quite as well known as its older sibling, the Hawker Hurricane, but it went on to see service as a carrier-based fighter in the Korean War. Building good minifig-scale fighter aircraft is a notoriously tricky thing, particularly sculpting a decent looking cockpit. Maelven has done an admirable bit of work here, though, and this plane looks ready for action.
This weekend, in the Netherlands celebrations are being held to commemorate the 70st anniversary of Operation Market Garden. This was a bold attempt by the Allies to capture bridges over a number of important rivers in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands and build a bridgehead across the river Rhine. This would bring their forces to the doorstep of Germany’s industrial heartland and, in the words of Field-Marshall Montgomery, would end the war in Europe before Christmas 1944. Airborne Troops were dropped far behind enemy lines to capture the bridges, while ground troops fought their way from Belgium through the Southern Netherlands to relieve them.
It was one of the largest airborne operations of the war, which inevitably involved large numbers of C-47 Skytrain transports, such as the one built by Kenneth Vaessen, still marked with the black-and-white stripes that were applied to aircraft that participated in the D-day landing a few months earlier. (Kenneth actually posted it a few weeks ago, but I decided to wait for this opportunity to write about it.)
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned. The relief columns were held up and German resistance, in particular in Arnhem, was much stronger than anticipated. The allied advance was halted, thousands of Allied troops were killed, as well as thousands of German troops and numerous Dutch civilians. The war lasted eight more months, but much of the Southern Netherlands was liberated during the operation by soldiers from Canada, the UK, US and Poland.
We have featured a fair few trains built by Carl Greatrix (bricktrix) in the past. More recently he turned his attention to cars. Apparently there isn’t much that he cannot do, as he has now built an F-4B Phantom II jet fighter and it is gorgeous. I have been following his work-in-progress pictures for weeks, eagerly looking forward to the finished model.
In the sixties and early seventies, the Phantom was the premier fighter aircraft in the US armed forces, serving with the Navy, Marine Corps and the Air Force. Carl’s model wears flamboyant markings typical for US Navy Phantoms. The markings of VF-161 Chargers, which was home-based in Japan as part of the Air wing assigned to USS Midway, were some of the most attractive ever to grace a Phantom and I applaud Carl for choosing this squadron. The model isn’t just good-looking, but has a lot of functionality too. It has opening cockpits, for instance, as well as a retractable undercarriage and moveable control surfaces. Although I actually like studs on a model and prefer my own aircraft models to be somewhat less reliant on stickers, it’s interesting to see Carl apply his typical style to this subject. The result is phabulous.
Proving that a LEGO model doesn’t have to be a spaceship in order to be totally swooshable, Dutch builder Red Spacecat has created the AV-24B Seahawk, an imaginary modern military VTOL gunship inspired by the AV-8B Harrier II jump-jet and AH-64 Apache helicopter.
As well as featuring the usual elegant lines and stud-free surfaces of his other builds, this one is also fully configurable and comes with all manner of interchangeable armaments, making for one fun toy!
And the attention to detail with stickering practically borders on the obsessive! It’s enough to make the model airplane builder in me salivate…
A few months ago Kenneth Vaessen unveiled his 1/36 scale model of a Russian Tu-22M3. The reason why I didn’t blog it back then is that his pictures were taken against a fairly dark background. However, he has now posted this newly edited version.
The Tu-22M3, named the Backfire-C by NATO, is a supersonic bomber developed in Soviet times. The Russian military went through rough times after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Backfires are getting long in the tooth, but they are still impressive-looking machines. Kenneth has done a fine job recreating the sleek look. His model is 1.17 m long (almost 4 ft), is beautifully shaped and has many working features such as working variable geometry wings, a retractable undercarriage, opening cockpit canopies and an internal weapons bay. There don’t seem to be all that many LEGO builders willing to tackle scale models of military aircraft, certainly not compared to, say, Star Wars models or mecha, so it is always a great pleasure to welcome a new member to the flock, certainly one who produces models this good.
During WW2, the Grumman Corporation was the main builder of fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. At the start of the war, they built the classic F4F Wildcat. This was only the second US Navy fighter with then novel features such as a fully enclosed cockpit and a retractable undercarriage, but it was outperformed by the Japanese Navy’s A6M Zero. To counter this threat, the Wildcat was followed by the larger and more powerful F6F Hellcat.
Sydag has now built the ultimate Grumman prop fighter: the F8F Bearcat. For this Grumman fitted the Hellcat’s R2800 Double Wasp engine to a much lighter and smaller airframe. The result was a bit of a hot rod, with far superior performance. The aircraft also incorporated a bubble canopy, greatly improving the pilot’s view to the rear. Bearcats entered service too late to see combat in WW2 and, with the advent of jet aircraft, they were transferred to the US Navy Reserve, where they received the orange fuselage stripe visible on Sydag’s model. The aircraft were retired from US service in the fifties, but their performance made them an attractive choice for air racing and Rare Bear, a much-modified Bearcat, still holds several world records for propeller-powered aircraft. I obviously like the aircraft, but I like how it is presented even more, with part of a hangar as the backdrop and surrounded by maintenance equipment and aircraft parts, including a spare engine. The classic hot rod (the kind with wheels) is the proverbial cherry on top.