Tag Archives: Navy

The Phabulous Phantom

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.

Phantom F4-B VF-161

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.

Sydag’s ultimate Grumman prop fighter

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.

F8F-2 Navy Reserve in Hangar

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.

Friday Night Fights – Ships of the Fleet

Welcome back fight fans, to Sin City Nevada (in the New World) for another round of Friday Night Fights. Tonight we swab the decks and splice the mainbraces as we prepare to do bloody battle on the high seas. But do not let me here you cry “Aargh” you scurvy dogs, for these be not pirate ships, these be the Navy’s finest!

Off our port bow, we spy an oldie but a goodie – it’s Dirk Delorme‘s recreation of Nelson’s flagship the HMS Victory, which resurfaced at a recent German LEGO exhibition:

While off our starboard bow, brand spanking new from the shipyards of sebeus, comes the lighter faster Corvette Beatrix:

As usual, constant reader, you are tasked with deciding, by way of comment, which of these vessels is seaworthy, and which is destined for a trip to Davy Jones’ locker. On the last edition of Friday Night Fights, Micro Castles, Barton’s Helm’s Deep crushed Kristi’s classic keep in an 8-to-2 victory!

Flying the unfriendly skies

From his Flickr stream, it’s clear that builder arwen qiea is a Cold War military vehicle buff. It’s an impressive portfolio of (mostly Soviet) tanks, missile carriers and navy vessels from the 50s and 60s. But his gigantic airplanes kind of steal the limelight! Here’s his latest one, a model of the Soviet TU-135, an experimental supersonic bomber from that era.

From that angle, the TU-135 seems almost as sleek as a modern Russian fighter jet. But from a higher vantage point you can see why it was nicknamed the “flying wing”.

So that’s a pretty big plane, right? Nope. THIS is a big plane…

…say hello to the Russian Antonov AN-22, probably the largest turboprop ever built. And the big builds don’t stop there. His version of the Lockheed C5a Galaxy (a heavy transport used by the USAF) is so big it literally eats other LEGO models for breakfast!

And here it is, digesting its meal of tanks and other armaments:

Jump Jet

Peter Dornbach (dornbi) has built a very neat model of a Cold War classic: the British Sea Harrier. The Harrier has a somewhat odd-ball appearance, which is captured beautifully in the model. The odd shape is largely due to the aircraft’s unique Rolls Royce Pegasus engine, which allows the aircraft to take off and land vertically. This ability is why it is sometimes known as the Jump Jet.

Sea Harrier FRS.1 (3)

During the Cold War, many air forces worried about the vulnerability of their airfields to enemy strikes. Fighters that can operate from a much smaller strip, at a time of crisis, can be dispersed to smaller and better concealed locations away from their main base. Building a jet that can take off and land vertically is a big challenge, however. A whole range of different ideas were tried, including having additional lift engines mounted vertically inside the aircraft. This obviously was a very heavy solution. Using rocket boosters to launch a conventional jet from a short ramp worked, but left the jet in question with no place to land. The only successful design was the British Harrier, whose Pegasus engine has four jet nozzles that can be swiveled down to direct the jet’s entire thrust upward. Despite its diminutive scale of only 1/48, Peter’s model has these swiveling nozzles.

Its ability to operate without long runways made the Harrier an attractive choice for shipboard use. British Harriers gained most of their fame (or notoriety) in the 1982 Falklands War, where Royal Navy Sea Harriers, operating from small aircraft carriers, racked up about 20 air-to-air kills against the Argentinian Air Force and Navy, including against far faster Mirage fighters.

The Stingers’ Hornet strike fighter

It’s no secret that I like the F/A-18 Hornet (albeit not as much as I like the F-14 Tomcat), so I’m always happy to see a nice model of this US Navy strike fighter.

FA-18 VFA-113 009

Ryan Harris (Shep Sheppardson) has built a fine example in the markings of US Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 113, better known as the Stingers. This was the first US Navy combat squadron to start flying Hornets back in the eighties and is still active today. Some elements of the model aren’t all that different from other Hornets (including my own), but looks very much like the real deal and has a few interesting features. I’m primarily very curious to find out how the intakes are held together.

This Jolly Roger transforms

If I were checking out TBB right now, I’d probably think something along the lines of: ‘oh no, not another mecha!’ However, my excuse for blogging this model by daikoncat is that this is not just any old mecha; it’s the Skull Leader from the Macross saga.

VF-1S Valkyrie Skull Leader Battroid Mode

I used to watch the series as a child (although I knew it as Robotech). In fighter mode, the Valkyrie resembles the F-14 Tomcat and the Skull Leader’s markings are obviously based on the US Navy’s ‘Jolly Rogers’ squadron. As a big Tomcat fan and a big fan of the Jolly Rogers, I loved it and I love this model.

VF-1S Valkyrie Skull Leader Fighter Mode

This is not the first Valkyrie we’ve blogged, but it does look super-poseable. Mecha don’t get much cooler.

Out with the old, in with the new – revising and updating older LEGO models

For a long time I used non-LEGO plastic canopies on my aircraft and helicopter models, but in the last two years I have been steadily replacing them with purist brick-built ones. Usually while I was doing this, I also fixed up some other issues.

I have had models of an RA-5C Vigilante, A-7E Corsair II and F-14A Tomcat for more than ten years. The models represent aircraft that were assigned to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, in 1978, and carry high-visibility markings that were typical for US Navy jets in the Seventies. The models were showing their age: their stickers were peeling, they were built with somewhat grubby-looking old grey LEGO, some of the white parts dated back to my childhood and were pretty badly yellowed and, finally, I have picked up a fair few new parts and tricks since I built them. They are the final three models that still had non-LEGO canopies.

CVW-8 revamped

The new models are built with new grey and I gave all of them new stickers. The Tomcat had been updated before, and apart from the canopy, its shape remained the same during the rebuild. The other two jets, however, were rebuilt from the ground up. I hope you agree they now look good to go for another decade.

The Imperial Chinese Navy takes to the stars

I alluded to the opposing force that inspired my own microscale battle fleet, but it looks like I didn’t end up blogging Mike Yoder‘s fleet on its own. Well, this wonderful new poster created for Mike by Stijn gives me a great excuse to do so.

Imperial Chinese Navy Poster

All of Mike’s ships have a consistent design that visually places them within the same faction, while each vessel has a unique style of its own. I just love the little fighters!