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Mike

X-47B US Navy UCAS - Freedom Model Kits 1:48

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I knew it wouldn't be long before I caved in and built my third drone. First was the Predator, then the monsterous Global Hawk, both of which were fun and quite quick to build. This one looks like it's going to hit the same sweet spots as the other two, and progress has been swift. The intake trunking is full-length with the fans blocking the way, and the fit is really rather good - just remember to check you're not cutting off the pips that hold the fans in place within the trunk, as they look suspiciously like sprue-gates! The sprue gates overall are pretty large, but have been organised (for the most part) to attach to the mating surfaces, which is great news, as you're not risking the surface detail when you chop 'em flush. The plastic is a little brittle, sometimes tearing a bit when you're cutting through a large gate in one fell swoop, but if you know that, you can take it more gently. The trunking had a couple of ejector pin marks that I thought I should cover up just in case, which was done with CA and sanding back to a smooth finish, and really didn't take long.

I painted the front of the trunking with Alclad White Primer, and the rear plus fans with black. Then the rear was given several coats of exhaust colours, and both front lips were masked off and primed grey. After adding the freshly Alcladed fans to the mix, I closed the two trunk halves and flooded the joint with liquid glue, allowing it to do its work before I clamped it together with a LOT of clamps. Now it's complete, I suspect it doesn't need any filling, as the seams seem to have clogged themselves up with mixed paint & melted styrene. I'll have to re-do the exhaust though, as a little glue has run and spoiled the metallic finish. I wasn't too happy with it though, so I'm not overly bothered :)

The seam between the intake lower lip and upper lip is exceptionally good, as is the top seam, and I'm about to start applying glue around the fuselage edges any minute. A word of caution about the fit however. The wheel bay lumps are chamfered off at the outside edge, and a corresponding thin-spot is present in the fuselage upper. This doesn't seem quite enough however, so I took a coarse sanding stick to the roof of the bays to accentuate the chamfer until it fitted nicely.

fuselage1.jpg

fuselage2.jpg

The landing gear were built up while I was doing the various jobs, and here there are two aspects to watch out for. The join between sprue-gates and parts is again somewhat fuzzy, and it would be quite easy to snip off some of the parts and lose the occasional peg, as almost happened in one instance. The other thing is that the parts are a little softly moulded, so clean-up is a must. I filled four ejector pins with styrene sheet that was super-glued into the holes and then cut/sanded back, and I had some damage to a couple of brackets that fit on the main legs around half way up the front of the struts. One pinged off during the rebuilding process, so I build a replacement from scratch, and added the triangular support to the other from strip. The wheels fit together nicely and just need their seams sorting out, which is yet to be done. There are also a confusion of hoses going up the main legs, which I'll add using lead wire before I start painting in earnest. The white primer was just blown onto a few items while I was doing the intakes :)

landinggear1.jpg

I had to thin the joints between the two parts for the oleo-scissors by rubbing the inner edges with wet-n-dry, but they fit nicely once thinned, and because the bolts/axle stubs were quite soft, I elected to remove them while cleaning up the moulding seams, and add them back later with some LionRoar PE circular nuts - the ones that have no supports to cut away, which makes them an absolute godsend ^_^

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That does look cool. :thumbsup:

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Looks great Mike, suddenly a Drone convert, do away with that awkward cockpit and bang seats! :P

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Thanks guys :) Next step is underway, but I've had a hiccup with my workshop PC, and am waiting for a new SSD before I can get it up and running again tomorrow. I don't have another PC that can process RAW files from my camera at the moment, so any progress pics will have to wait til then. I've glued the wing halves together (open up the holes a little for a better fit), and the fuselage, which has been quite easy. I've also glued up the various flappy parts ready to fettle and install, and have started putting the hinges on the landing gear doors.

fuselage3.jpg

More news later ;)

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Great news Mike. Glad to hear the build is going well so far. Any feedback will be acted upon.

As I mentioned in the other thread, I have told Bryan about the force used to eject the sprues causing a white stretch / force blemish.

It was pretty clear that this has not damaged or warped the parts as quality control is very important but thank you for mentioning it.

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Regards,

Martin

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Nice start there Mike, it looks like a good model to build. However I think it needs some bright marklings to show it off. Something like the recent Hornet markings.

Colin

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That's looking like a great build Mike. Deffo getting one as well.

Pity there isn't a decent Wright Flyer as the two would show just how far these heavier than air craft have come....

As mentioned above all that minutiae that doesn't apply! Great!

Nice to see the manufacturer taking an interest in their product's reception as well. Welcome Martin! Can't wait to see what you follow it with.

@Martin. It's made of styrene and has wings, of course you want one! Hope you are still improving and Hugs to Gill for me.

Just one question any BM Friendly stockist in the UK?

Edited by SleeperService

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Thanks for the feedback Martin, and it's great to see Freedom people on the forums taking notes :)

Before I broke for tea, I test-fitted one of the bomb bay doors, as I've decided to have the doors closed on this one, as I have something in mind for it. I had to shorten the doors by a shade, and scrape the paint away where I'd added it, but after 5-10 minutes I ended up with a really snug fit, so reached for the glue straight away. The wings have been fettled to the fuselage joints too. I sharpened the recesses and test-fitted after each adjustment, and have got the seam-lines close like I wanted them. She's going to be ready for take-off, so the various flaps and so forth will be out, and the catapult bar will be down ready to go. I even have a section of deck ready for use, although it's technically the Nimitz, but I'm sure you'll allow me artistic license ;)

fuselage4.jpg

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Mike, and what about the parts fitting?

Are there any serious problems with that?

There is no single word on it in yor review so I'd like to ask.

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Looking good, I'm looking forward to adding one to my drone collection when they come to the UK.

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Thanks for the feedback Martin, and it's great to see Freedom people on the forums taking notes :)

I'm sure you'll allow me artistic license ;)

Mike,

1) No problem at all. We want to make sure that our clients and customers get the best possible service from us and we want to be a part of the community we serve. We are modellers as well so we know the issues. No nonsense intended just the truth.

Any feedback you have will be gratefully received and sent to the tool makers etc via Bryan.

2) Yes!

Looking good, I'm looking forward to adding one to my drone collection when they come to the UK.

Hey Goon,

Shouldn't be too much further from being here in the UK. Keep the hard earned in yer pocket until then :)

Cheers,

Martin

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More progress today in between feeding my PC with disks, and the airframe is now together, setting up on the opposite end of the desk. The spoilers on the upper wing were very tight when fitted closed, so a little fettling was done again, and at this point I realised that it's better for a part to be slightly too large than too small, and definitely worth the effort if you want to keep your open/closed options :) I filled the seams at the ends of the flying surfaces and their respective "notches" in the wings, and then sanded them smooth, as they're going to be seen when I install them slightly dropped.

The seams have been polished up all over, and the wings were further adjusted to give a better fit before being glued in place with liquid glue. Then it was a case of propping the fuselage up on three identical paint bottles, measuring the height off the desk, and adjusting the tips accordingly. I hadn't got it too far from true, but it's difficult to tell when you're close to it, so I'm glad I took the more sensible option of checking.

airframe1.jpg

airframe2.jpg

That's a 6"/15cm rule in case you can't make out the numbers :)


I still have a few parts to add to the landing gear, plus the wiring with lead wire, which I'll do while the wings are setting up. Meantime, the carrier deck has been broadly completed, with only the struts for the blast deflector still to be made up. I'm pleased to announce that the shuttle off the cat fits the metal "strop" neatly, so that side of things is starting to come together. The deck needs a little filling of some gaps with "mastic", then strengthening because of its size (around 60cm x 40cm) to avoid joints coming adrift due to flexing when handling. Not entirely sure what to used there, but I'm sure I've got something suitable knocking about the workshop :)

I know threads are always less fun without pictures, but I have been taking some as I go along, and will add them in once I've got my PC set up again and can process RAW images again :photo:

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That's the one :) Updating the thread with pics now my workshop PC is back up and running ^_^

airframe3.jpg

I thought I'd take the opportunity of putting her on her own legs before I went any further. I did however resist the urge to run round the workshop going "Neoowwmm!" :pilot:

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I've finished the first stage of wiring up the landing gear, and there's still a lot to go, I suspect due in part to the pilot-free nature of this aircraft. Round two is about to commence, but this is where I'm up to so far. Looking reallyt closely at the gear has shown the the kit parts aren't entirely accurate when compared to the current airframe that's doing cats and traps, but that's the nature of kitting a prototype that is in effect a Work In Progress itself! I've added some small assemblies that are related to the cabling/hosing, but there are some aspects that would require too much work to correct at this stage, so I'm going to live with it. Once all the cables are installed, there won't be as much visible anyway ;)

landinggear2.jpg

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Very sensible decision on the u/c I feel. You can go mad trying to keep up with such changes....

Those details really do lift the effect though, nice work.

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Nice project Mike. It looks like a great kit OOB, but I know you extra detail will kick it up another notch. I sure need to grab this bad boy soon. Your doing great. So, keep up the good work ;)

Mike

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Thanks gents :)

Mike, and what about the parts fitting?

Are there any serious problems with that?

There is no single word on it in yor review so I'd like to ask.

Sorry I missed this one earlier :blush: It's almost impossible to comment meaningfully on fit in a box review, but I can confirm that with a little test fitting, fit can be made very good indeed. I shaved a little off the roof of the main gear bays to make the fuselage fit better, and fettled the bomb bay doors, wing spoilers and wing-fold joints, but as they say, it's easier to remove material than it is to add it ;)

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Thanks Mike.

Another queston: have you got any detailed pictures with landing gears? I am looking such pictures to find out scheme of wiring.

Have you got anything like this?

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Solo,

http://svsm.org/gallery/x47b/P1790039

Open source photos for your delectation :)

Martin

ps

Word of caution. This is still an experimental aircraft and is changed fairly regularly in configuration. There are now lights on the NLG for carrier operations.

Basically, any wiring loom will work ok but you can use the above as a guide.

Edited by Freedom Models Martin

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