Internet Modeler : First Look : Armor

Revell/Renwal 1/32 Hawk Missile Battery

By Mike Whye

Apparently Revell finds re-issuing the Renwal kits from the 1950s and 1960s to be rewarding because Revell keeps issuing repops of some of those classic kits.  The latest re-issue, the 1/32 mobile Hawk Missile anti-aircraft unit (Revell #85-7813), is one of what Renwal said were its "Blueprint Models" and the kit's box top art is basically what Renwal used years ago.

In their day, the Renwal kits were just a few dollars each. Now, they're costlier but the Revell repops are less expensive than what the original Renwal kits are on eBay. For example, an original Renwal Atomic Cannon was recently listed for nearly $300 on eBay while the Revell re-issue retails for $57.

The Hawk Missile System

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A Hawk missile fires off its launcher. DOD Photo
Developed in the 1950s by Raytheon as a ground-launched anti-aircraft missile for the U.S. military, the Hawk was in U.S. service until 2002 and several Hawk batteries are still in service in some countries.  Approximately 40,000 were built by the U.S. with Japan, Iran, Israel and some European countries also producing some Hawks and variations of the Hawks. Beside the U.S., 24 countries have used the Hawk in their anti-aircraft defenses, and some were modified to provide anti-missile protection. In the U.S., the Hawks were operated initially by the Army and later by the Marines. NASA has used some as sounding rockets to carry instruments for a variety of experiments in the atmosphere.

Since their inception, the Hawks have, like many military systems, gone through changes and upgrades to their power and guidance systems plus their warheads and fuses.  Initially the Hawks were guided by semi-active radar systems that homed in on radar waves generated by radar units.  Some have reportedly been designed to use infra-red tracking systems.  Their efficiency also improved, from a single-shot kill rate of 56 percent to 85 percent, as reported by Jane's Information Group.

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The first version of the Hawks, officially known as MIM-23, had a range of 16 miles, a ceiling of 36,000 feet and a 120-pound warhead.  Later ones could range out to 22 miles, up to 59,000 feet and had warheads weighing 165 pounds.  A Hawk can fly up to Mach 2.4.  Cost was $250,000 each.

Although the U.S. never fired a Hawk in anger, other countries have. Ironically, its first kill was a friendly aircraft; that occurred when an Israeli Hawk battery shot down an Israeli fighter about to crash into that country's nuclear research center in the summer of 1967.  About two years later, Israeli Hawks downed at least 12 Egyptian warplanes. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israeli Hawks shot down between one and two dozen enemy aircraft. Kuwait, Iran and France have also shot down various planes with the Hawks and their variants. The Hawks were mounted in threes and transported on towed trailers or tracked vehicles.  These were accompanied by other vehicles that carried the radar equipment and personnel.

The Kit

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One of the kit's figures shows how large the Hawk missiles are.
The Hawk Missile system depicted in the Revell/Renwal kit is a trailer carrying three Hawks and another trailer carrying an HPI radar unit in which one drum-shaped antenna transmitted radar signals while its counterpart was the receiver.  I never had any idea of how big the Hawk missiles really are until I opened this kit and dry-assembled one of them, compared it to one of the kit's four figures and went wow......the real ones were almost 17 feet long and weighed about 1,300 pounds.

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ID numbers are stamped on the backside of some parts or on the small round tags attached to other parts.
The kit has 103 light-gray styrene plastic parts mounted on several sprues that are in two sealed bags.  As I've noticed with other Renwal kits, the bags contain some parts that have separated from the sprues because of the thin attachment points. Also, parts numbers are either molded on the parts in locations that will not be seen once the model is assembled or the numbers are on small round tags, some of which are hard to read and can easily separate from the pieces.

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A radar unit stands operational with its jacks extended. DOD Photo
The parts form two trailers and three Hawk missiles. One trailer carries the upright radar system and the other carries the triple missile launcher.  From what I can discern on the instructions, it appears the radar trailer can be assembled only up on its jacks while the missile trailer can be assembled so that it can roll on its wheels or be set up in the firing position with its stabilizer arms spread out on the ground--if it weren't for the wheels, the trailer might be mistaken for a prototype of the Mars landers. The radar antenna can be turned to any position when its trailer is assembled but I'm not sure that the elevation of the antenna can be changed. The missile launcher appears to be able to rotate to any position you desire and be elevated as you wish.
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A German radar unit is parked with its jacks retracted. German Defense Ministry Photo

Many parts have several ejection pin marks but I don't think any will show once everything is assembled.  The only sink mark I saw that might be visible is on Part 9, a side panel on the missile launcher trailer although a small dab of putty should handle that easily.  The trailers' parts look good although they're not as crisp as what one would expect from kits made in recent years. The parts for the missiles look pretty good with six parts making up each Hawk.

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A Hawk launcher stands at the ready "somewhere in the desert" during Desert Storm. DOD Photo
Instructions show the trailers are to be painted olive drab although some photos show trailers painted a desert tan--the Hawks were used by the U.S. through Desert Storm.

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The soft molding of the kit's figures is easily noticeable.
The four figures, as with other Renwal kits, are soft, looking like they've been fashioned out of putty and all have seam lines that will need to be sanded away. A couple of the helmeted figures have visible sink marks in their backs which will need some putty work. One figure, hands on hips, is looking upward.  Another standing figure is waving a hand.  A third carries a pouch while holding a hand up to his mouth--he could be suppressing a hiccup or a burp or be having an "Oh my God" moment--I'm not sure.  The fourth soldier is kneeling.

Painting

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The missile bodies are to be painted white with red or olive drab wings, according to the instructions. The only photo I can find of a Hawk painted white with red wings is one that was being carried by an Iranian F-14.  Also, I did not find any color pictures of Hawks with white bodies and olive drab wings although many color photos show Hawks with white bodies and black wings; some Vietnam-era photos show Marine Hawks with white bodies, black wings and tan or cream-colored warheads with "U.S. Marines" stenciled on their bodies.

Some Marine Hawks can be seen at the USMC Hawk Association Site and the Military Photos site.

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Other color photos show Hawks painted overall with a green similar to olive drab but a shade that's slightly darker than the OD paint used on the trailers; some show olive drab Hawks with black warheads.  At least one photo shows a trio of Hawks painted what looks broad dark green camouflage stripes across the gray bodies and wings.

Instructions and Decals

The instructions are a 12-page booklet and all the drawings are easy to understand.  A parts list that occupies an entire page identifies each part. The paints are clearly called out by name, no FS numbers are mentioned, but how much more detailed does one have to be other than mentioning parts are to be painted brown, flat and semi-gloss black, flat white, red, silver, yellow, flesh and olive drab.

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The decal sheet provides markings only for U.S. Army Hawks but does provide some alternative markings not shown in the instructions.
The decal sheet includes white stars and nomenclature for the two trailers and nicely, two sets of lettering--white and black--for the missiles, allowing the black letters to be put on the missile bodies if they're painted olive drab even though the instructions don't mention a thing about some Hawks being painted that color. Similarly, two sets of stripes are enclosed as to be used as bands around the fuselage near where the warheads meet the bodies; red for the white missiles and black for the OD missiles, but note, the instructions don't show placement of these stripes so you'll need to refer to photos for guidance.

All markings are for the U.S. Army with no U.S. Marines markings so if you want to make a USMC Hawk battery, you'll need to do some scrounging.

Miscellaneous

Although one would more than likely position the trailers near each other, on a model shelf or diorama, I doubt they were ever positioned that way when operational and ready to fire because the blast from the missiles being launched would obviously interfere with the radar unit.  In looking at various photos, I have yet to see radar trailers positioned near the missile launchers other than when set up for display.

Conclusion

If you want a Hawk missile battery, this is the kit to get. Although you're basically looking at a 1950s-1960s kit that does not match the quality of Tamiya, Hasegawa, Trumpeter and Revell's recently-made kits, it's worth the buy and it should be an easy build that will take a few evenings. Revell says this re-issue is a one-time only affair so get the kit while you can from your favorite dealer.

The kit retails for $27.95. Thank you to Revell for sending it in for review.


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