In the last year or so, I have been steadily building a collection of classic US Navy aircraft. The latest addition is the A-3B Skywarrior, a twin-engined carrier-based jet bomber.
Back in the late forties nuclear weapons were large and heavy. According to the US Navy, a jet built to deliver one over a meaningful distance would have to weigh about 45 tons and be the size of a small airliner. Given that they wanted to operate their nuclear bombers from aircraft carriers, where space is at a premium, this posed an obvious problem. To add insult to injury, the first of a new generation of super-large aircraft carriers intended to operate these bombers was cancelled within a week after its keel had been laid. So, when the brilliant designer Ed Heinemann, also known for the A-1 Skyraider, proposed that Douglas Aviation build a bomber of about 30 tons that could fly from existing aircraft carriers, he definitely caught the Navy’s interest.
The resulting aircraft entered service in the mid fifties as the A-3 Skywarrior. It was still a big beast. It was the heaviest aircraft to routinely fly from aircraft carriers, which earned it the nickname “Whale”. The LEGO model is a pretty big beast too. At my usual scale of 1/36, it is about 78 studs long.
Read more about Ralph’s latest airplane, including the design process
The destruction of Allied shipping by German U-boats was a spectacular and tragic feature of both World Wars I and II. Luis Peña has recreated the much-dreaded underwater menace and scourge of Allied sailors at 1:50 scale with U-Boat VIIc, the most common class of German submarine.
See more photos of this incredible U-boat model in LEGO
What happens when an English frigate faces a French 64-gun battle ship? Well much as we all love to support the underdog, it seems that the English captain may be regretting his bold move against the larger vessel. Sebeus and Rick Bewier have built a LEGO scene full of action as the French guns fire upon the English frigate as it broadsides causing fire, destruction and death. The ships have been really well crafted with lots of attention to detail, but I love the atmospheric smoke, giving a sense of action to the whole scene.
A close up look at the damage to the frigate shows some deck hands frantically fighting fires while one sailor appears to be jumping ship into the blue water far below.
Looks like the English are going for an early bath.
This mini fleet has sailed under orders from Thomas of Tortuga. I love how such a small number of parts evokes the mass and bulk of fleet. Plus the nearly chibi aspect makes them simply adorable.
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.
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.
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!
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:
Huge warships made of brick are always cool, and this 1:37 scale WWII Flower Class Corvette by John V is no exception. The authentic naval camouflage is something I’ve not seen previously on a large LEGO warship, and it looks fantastic.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is not the first Valkyrie we’ve blogged, but it does look super-poseable. Mecha don’t get much cooler.