Miniwing 1/144 RQ-4B Global Hawk
By Matt Bittner
"The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is an unmanned (UAV) surveillance aircraft. It was initially designed by Ryan Aeronautical (now part of Northrop Grumman), and known as Tier II+ during development. The Global Hawk performs a similar role as the Lockheed U-2. The RQ-4 provides a broad overview and systematic surveillance using high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles (100,000 km2) of terrain a day.
"The Global Hawk is operated by the United States Air Force. It is used as a high-altitude platform covering the spectrum of intelligence collection capability to support forces in worldwide military operations. According to the United States Air Force, the superior surveillance capabilities of the aircraft allow more precise weapons targeting and better protection of friendly forces. Cost overruns led to the original plan to acquire 63 aircraft being cut to 45, and to a 2013 proposal to mothball the 21 Block 30 signals intelligence variants. Each aircraft was to cost US$60.9 million in 2001, but this had risen to $222.7 million per aircraft (including development costs) by 2013. The U.S. Navy has developed the Global Hawk into the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance platform."
Other operators of the Global Hawk include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Germany, etc.
There are four separate releases of the Miniwing 1/144 RQ-4B Global Hawk, all differing only in the marking options. The ones sent for review include the USAF and NASA versions; two other releases are for a "Eurohawk Luftwaffe" and "NATO 2Q/2017". The kit consists of 20 pieces of gray, injected plastic and one decal sheet for whichever option you bought. Decals are printed by JBr Decals so you can be assured of their quality.
Construction is super-simple. Add the faux-engine fan blade piece to one fuselage side, add the necessary weight to the nose (Minwing suggests 1 gram) and glue the fuselage halves together. Once seams are dealt with then add the wings and V-tail pieces (one per side) and underside strakes, and you're ready for painting. Since the Global Hawk had white wings (especially the USAF and NASA versions) my plan is to prime the model white and follow that – after masking – with the recommended grays. After the major painting is finished then add decals, followed by the landing gear and their doors and then the final overcoat. Most pictures I have seen of the Global Hawks show them pretty clean so there isn't much weathering to accomplish.
Note that also based on photos, Miniwing doesn't include any of the external antennas. There are at least three on the fuselage, one on each upper-tip of each V-tail and at least one on the underside of the wing.
Miniwing's 1/144 Global Hawks are definitely AMS-busting kits. Sure, there are always things that could be made better (for example the intake and exhaust "lips" could be thinned, as well as the landing gear doors) but it's not necessary to finish this model. In fact, the first one I build will be completely out-of-the-box to show just what it looks like without any enhancements.
Huge thanks to Miniwing for providing both the USAF and NASA Global Hawks to review.