Tag Archives: Aircraft

Take flight with Crimson Squadron and build your own sky-fi aircraft

I’ve always been a fan of Sky-Fi aircraft. It’s a glorious retro-futuristic look, typified by the Xbox classic Crimson Skies, and the creations of LEGO builders such as Jon Hall and John Lamarck. To pull myself out of a recent bout of builder’s block, I set myself a challenge — to build a series of Sky-Fi aircraft, in a common colour scheme, with a similar overall style, but each design different. Crimson Squadron is what emerged over the next few weeks…

lego sky-fi plane

The first of the squadron’s aircraft to roll off the production line was this twin-engined beast — the Bulldog. It established the signature elements which sit across the rest of the fleet: the red and chequerboard livery, a whiff of a muscle car from the up-front intakes, a bubble canopy for a fun retro feel, and an overall super-condensed chunky chibi look. I was pleased with how the Bulldog turned out and immediately set to work once more.

See more of the Squadron and instructions to build your own

Pushing the envelope with the YF-22

I keep a few folders on my computer, as well as a paper folder, with pictures and drawings of possible future LEGO projects. That paper folder has held a three-view drawing of a USAF F-22 Raptor fighter for at least ten years now. The drawing included a few measurements, for how large it would be if I were to build it LEGO. The reason it was in its folder for so long is that I could never figure out how to actually build it. However, I am still learning new tricks. Furthermore, LEGO keeps coming up with elements that make previously impossible things possible.

Now, I didn’t actually build the F-22. Other people have done admirable jobs on that (notably Corvin Stichert and Lennart Cort). I wanted something different, so instead, I built the YF-22 prototype. This won the “Advanced Tactical Fighter” competition in 1991, to replace the USAF’s F-15 fighters. The F-22 Raptor is its production version. The jet’s design really pushed the envelope, with low observability (“stealth”) combined with high speed and high agility. And building it, I feel I pushed the envelope too.

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A LEGO Sopwith Camel fit for any museum display

Sometimes a LEGO creation comes along that is both well detailed and informative. Such as the case with this amazing 1/9.2 scale Sopwith Camel built by James Cherry. This mostly uncovered model is suitable enough to draw a crowd in any museum. The wingspan is 94cm (over 3 feet!). Even the greenery is interesting in the sense that we’ve never seen this used for grass before. It’s easy to assume from this photo that this model is merely a replica based on the 10266 Sopwith Camel set from 2012. However…

Lego Sopwith Camel F.1 Display

…click this link to see a comparison

This sci-fi craft leaves me feeling thunderstruck

One of the things I miss most now that I live in California is thunderstorms. Sure, we occasionally get a bit of rain. But it’s rare that that lightning flashes or the windows rattle from the vibrations of a thunderclap. And I always used to find that so soothing. So, if I had a chance to take to the skies in the ThunderGlide by builder Rubblemaker, I might never come down again. This craft channels the atmosphere’s own electrical power through its lightning rod to stay aloft as long as a storm is raging. Which is pretty rock and roll, when you think about it. What’s more, the use of ample pentagonal tiles on the wings and the tubing on either side of the cockpit call to mind the keys and pipes of an organ. Imagine flying through the rain in this bad boy with a little Iron Butterfly playing. Yeah, that’s the life for me…

ThunderGlide

Taking a dreamflight

Simplicity is often bold and striking, but in this LEGO aviation scene from Nikita Sukhodolov it also creates a dream-like feel. The little plane and the clouds are relatively simple designs, but the choice to go all-white and contrast against the bright blue backdrop makes for a strong composition. I love the way the monochrome models pull you out of the ordinary and up into that big blue sky. This is a great example of when less can most definitely be more.

LEGO dreamflight

Behold! The mighty C-130 Hercules

It’s big. It’s clean. And it’s a life-saving machine. This is builder Evan M‘s LEGO creation of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, as flown by the U.S. Air Force’s 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. Evan himself is a military veteran, having flown with the C-130 on several occasions. This particular aircraft performs services such as disaster relief, humanitarian operations, and medical evacuations near the Horn of Africa.

C-130J Super Hercules (5)

I don’t see a lot of official LEGO sets of actual airplanes, so it’s up to people like Evan to make sure they’re represented. From the pointed propeller tips to the near-perfection roundness of the fuselage, this aircraft stands out as a solid tribute to the C-130.

C-130J Super Hercules (3)

Building a tiltrotor aircraft using Circuit Cubes [Review]

We’ve occasionally reviewed non-LEGO products on The Brothers Brick, by BrickArms, BrickForge or Citizen Brick for instance; companies that provide accessories for LEGO builds. A new kid on the block is Circuit Cubes. Instead of (accessories for) minifigures they make LEGO-compatible building sets and components, such as electric motors, aimed at teaching STEM subjects to children. They got in touch with me after reading my article on building a remote-controlled vehicle with LEGO Power Functions. They sent me several of their products in return for providing them with feedback. The sets themselves don’t interest me all that much. However, I would like to know how the Circuit Cubes components can be used to enhance my LEGO models. And this may interest those of you who want to motorize your own models too. So, this is not a traditional set review. Instead, I’m going to tell you about Circuit Cubes and how I used them in my own custom LEGO model: an XV-15 tiltrotor aircraft.

A tiltrotor is an unusual flying machine, but the basic idea is simple: with its rotors facing up it can take off and land like a helicopter; with them rotated facing forward they serve as propellers, with the aircraft’s wings providing lift. So, unlike a normal fixed-wing aircraft, a tiltrotor can land in tight spots or on small ships, but in forward flight, it is faster and more efficient than a helicopter. In practice getting this concept to work was difficult, but the Bell XV-15 TiltRotor Research Aircraft first flew in the late seventies and demonstrated that a practical and controllable tiltrotor was viable.

The challenge when building my RC vehicle was hiding the LEGO motors, battery box, Power Functions IR receiver, and what seemed like 2 meters of wiring. I could only fit them inside by building a van with quite a lot of space inside. Because of this experience, two of the Circuit Cubes immediately caught my attention: the Bluetooth Cube and the Cubit. The former is a rechargeable battery pack and Bluetooth controller in one. It has three outputs, remotely controlled via an app (available for Apple and Android). It is rechargeable using a USB cable. The Cubit is an electric motor. What makes these parts interesting is their small size. The Bluetooth Cube has a 4 x 4 stud top and is only two bricks tall. The Cubit has a 2 x 4 stud top and is also two bricks tall. This is much smaller than anything similar made by LEGO, with the exception of old 9V Micromotors.
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LEGO Gift with Purchase 40450 Amelia Earhart Tribute [Review]

LEGO has been exploring a new trend with gift-with-purchase sets in the form of models celebrating influential personalities from history, and the latest set is 40450 Amelia Earhart Tribute. Amelia Earhart is best known for her disappearance in 1937 while attempting to circumnavigate the globe by airplane, but she was a pioneer in the field of aviation in many other ways as well, including helping found the Ninety-Nines, an organization for women pilots. In 1932 she was the first woman to make a non-stop solo transatlantic flight, a mere five years after Lindbergh. LEGO’s new gift-with-purchase set celebrating her achievements contains 203 pieces and is available now in Australia and will be available globally soon. Although the precise timing and purchase requirements are yet to be officially revealed, it is rumored to be available March 6 to 14 with a US $100 | CAN $100 | UK £100 purchase from LEGO.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with a copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

Click to read the full hands-on review

Not all Blackbirds are black

Starting in the sixties, the CIA and the US Air Force operated a fleet of Lockheed Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft. At first, the aircraft were top secret, but over the years a lot of information has become unclassified. They were spectacular. Even now many of their speed and altitude records remain unbroken.

 

The most famous Blackbird is the SR-71 and those indeed were all black, as their name implies. However, some of the SR-71’s older relatives were not black at all or only partially black. My latest model represents one of these: the sole surviving M-21. This was a version intended to launch a ramjet-powered D-21 reconnaissance drone. The model is minifig scale (roughly 1/40), can seat a pilot and launch control officer under two separate cockpit canopies, and carries a model of the D-21 on its back.


M-21 Blackbird

Most of the outside of the real jet consists of unpainted metal. I like that it is not actually black; a lot of the details are much more visible that way. The aircraft still exists and is on display at the Museum of Flight, in Seattle, where I saw it during a trip to Washington State back in 2016. I also find the history of this particular version fascinating. To me it was the obvious Blackbird to build for my own LEGO aircraft collection.
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A terrible name for a pretty plane

Despite the cancellation of the event where I was going to display them, I’m still building a collection of LEGO minifig scale experimental aircraft. I like building them, and there’s always next year (or the year after that). The latest addition is the British Aerospace EAP. This stands for Experimental Aircraft Programme. Americans may object to the spelling of “programme.” However, they should bear in mind that it is British. The name is still terrible, though. It just doesn’t have the same ring as, say, Spitfire, Hurricane, Lightning, or Tornado. Furthermore, it doesn’t suggest that it refers to an actual aircraft rather than to some study.

It was designed in the early eighties, as a technology demonstrator for a new fighter to counter the Soviet MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker. These jets were far more advanced and agile than most of the jets that served NATO. Italy’s fighter was the ancient F-104 Starfighter. The RAF and German Air Forces still used F-4 Phantoms, from the sixties. The new Soviet jets outclassed all of them. New Tornado jets entering service wouldn’t fare much better, because they were fighter bombers. The three countries started collaborating on a new fighter. However, as is common with European defense programs, the collaboration soon ran into political difficulties. Germany hoped to collaborate with France, instead and withdrew its funding. Nonetheless, the UK’s defense industry forged ahead, with private and with UK and Italian government funding.

British Aerospace built a single prototype. It’s a very pretty aircraft, with an elegant fuselage, a cranked delta wing, and canard foreplanes. It first flew in 1986 and was retired five years later, after about 250 flights. The French would only collaborate with Germany if the French industry could have the lead. So, when the time came to build a production aircraft, Germany joined the UK, Italy, and Spain. They built the new European Fighter Aircraft, popularly known as the Typhoon. Now, that’s a good name. The British, with their EAP, paved the way, though.

LEGO Technic 42113 Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey [Review]

Last week, LEGO has officially announced that one of its upcoming Technic sets, the 42113 Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey is canceled due to its association with militaries. Since the set was slated to go on sale August 1, a number of the V-22 Osprey sets have already been distributed to retail stores in several countries. Some smaller retailers have even listed the set on their webpages, making them available for purchase, allowing a small number of them into the wild. The set consists of 1,673 pieces and contains two Powered Up electric components for motorization. The retail price of the set is $119.99 / 139.99€.

Click here to read the review

One Osprey that won’t get cancelled anytime soon

Are you bummed about the recent cancellation of LEGO’s Technic Osprey V-22 set? Yeah, me too. It’s like LEGO suddenly remembered that they don’t like being associated with military stuff and then it’s no soup for you! The decision has me scratching my head over what to do with the official Red Baron and both Sopwith Camel sets now. Anyway, Simon Liu is not one to let a cancelled set bring him down. I know it’s not the same, but here’s his very sleek futuristic V-42-Osprey in neat olive green with orange highlights. The point of showing you this is, while LEGO occasionally makes doofus decisions, they provide the pieces so that you can build anything you want. Who needs directions and an official set? With LEGO bricks and a bit of imagination, the world is your oyster. Or Osprey.

V42-Osprey