Platz 1/72 X-47B
By Matt Bittner
The Northrop Grumman (NG) X-47B is primarily a demonstrator for the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS). There are two that have been built by NG, AV-1 and AV-2. The first complete flight, with gear extended, was 11 Feb 2011. The first cruise configuration with landing gear retracted was 30 Sep 2011. Sea trials are set to begin next year, 2013.
This is not only the first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for the U.S. Navy, but it is also the first autonmous one for the United States. It is meant to be completely pilot-free and will fly on nothing but software. Has anyone seen the movie Stealth? Can you say "Skynet"?
Construction will be quick with this one. Since there is no cockpit, that step can be skipped. The first step on the instructions is assembling the two-piece intake, followed by gluing that to the upper fuselage and gluing the fuselage halves together. One note. Since the inside of the intake is painted white, it's best to paint these pieces prior to assembly. In addition, the "lip" of the upper fuselage, where the intake butts-up to, was neutral gray, so you'll need to paint that before assembly, as well.
The bombs - two Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)s - are glued together and glued to the weapon pylon. Once these are assembled they are then glued into the bomb bays (if displaying the bomb bays open). Here's another area your best bet is to leave until the end. Since the interior of all bays (and all doors and landing gear) are white, I would paint all those parts prior to working on the rest of the model. In addition, the JDAMs are painted Light Ghost Gray so are too best painted off the model, and off their pylons. (Unfortunately Platz does not mention what color to paint the pylons, so I'm opting for white, to match the rest of the internal, bomb-bay structure.)
Now is the time in the instructions to glue in the landing gear and add all doors. Again, only done after all painting is accomplished - and I would venture, all decaling is finished as well. Platz means for you to show the bomb bays open, so closing them up will require removing the hinges on the two doors. What this means for fit I do not know. In addition to adding the landing gear and doors, this area in the instructions also has you add the antenna to the fuselage underside.
Assembly moves to the wings at this point. Glue the wing halves together, then make a decision if you're displaying the spoilers open or closed. The only pictures I have seen of the wings folded show the spoilers closed, so keep that in mind. Unfortunately there are molding dimples on the inside of each spoiler which need filling, if you plan on displaying them deployed.
With all the main pieces assembled, the last step of the instructions have you glue these main pieces together, and here is where you'll either glue the wings up or down. Plus there are also antenna to be glued to the top of the fuselage which is done at this time.
This is an awesome kit that should go together very quickly. No clear parts, no cockpit, so most of the fiddly bits don't exist. Unlike what other reviewers have you believe, though, the Platz 1/72 X-47B is not the first model of this aircraft, that distinction went to Fox One - in 1/144 - last year. However, the Platz 1/72 kit is quite stunning, the level of detail is high and the parts are superbly molded, so this is a kit I would definitely recommend.
Many thanks to Platz for sending this model to review.