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  1. Heavy Transport Aircraft An-22 (late version) Eastern Express 1:144 The Antonov An-22 was a specialist heavy transport aircraft that was originally assigned to the Strategic Transport Command of the Russian Air Force during the Soviet era. The An-22, Nato code designation "Cock", was powered by four sets of turbo-prop engines and was classed as the most powerful propeller aircraft the world had ever seen. The nearest equivalent being the massive Tupolev Tu-95/142 Bear. The An-22 first appeared in the mid-1960's; it had a registered load capacity of 80 tonnes within its wide-bodied fuselage and was used to transport heavy loads or troops on operational duties. The aircraft was superceded in the late 1980's by the larger jet engined Antonov An-124. The An-22 continued to operate in the Soviet/Russian Air Force for a number of years, including troop lifts to conflict areas during the break up of the Soviet Union and also providing humanitarian aid around the world. The Kit On opening the box it is obvious that this is going to be a big model once assembled. The fuselage alone consists of at least 12 components and that is not including the tail assembly. The panel lines are finely recessed and look good, however care made need to be taken that these fine lines do not get filled with primer and top coat; especially if brush painting. There are 16 sprues containing the main units and 1 clear sprue holding the canopy and fuselage windows, plus a nose unit. One important element to note is that, although the instruction sheets show part numbers, no corresponding numbers are shown on any of the actual components and therefore strict adherence to the illustrated instructions will be essential. The next point which again needs to be noted is that there are no locator pins or tabs (male and female connection points) on any of these components. This means that alignment of parts, such as the left and right fuselage halves, needs to be achieved by lining up the corresponding panel lines which meet at these junction points. I have had a go at dry fitting some of these pieces and the exercise was very fiddly, mainly as the fuselage is a three-piece assembly (top left, top right and underside) and without location pins I found it difficult to keep things aligned. I would recommend lots of tape be kept handy in order to hold and align two pieces whilst lining up the third and then apply glue. The sprue connectors are nice and small thereby making it convenient for removing the component part with minimal residue to file down. There are however small amounts of flash on the parts, as can be seen on the rear of the fuselage assemblies above and below. As mentioned earlier, the fuselage assembly is made up from a considerable number of pieces; the lower part of the fuselage being a type of double-hull construction. This means that the main fuselage section, the piece with the three windows in the image above, needs to be glued to an inner part of the under-deck piece of the lower fuselage assembly, before the outer piece (the part in the lower left of the above image). I have dry fitted this area to demonstrate what is meant by this and posted the image below. This three-piece assembly could prove a challenge without the locator pin/tabs mentioned. The pieces appear to sit in place OK, once taped, but they may still be prone to movement so a final alignment check before glueing anything would definitely be recommended. This side view also shows how far in from the normal edge that the main fuselage has to be positioned, again without locator pins, before gluing into place. The rectangular piece which juts out from both sides of the fuselage, as seen above, comprises the main wheel bays component; as described in the section on sprue N further down in this review. The nose section of the fuselage, cockpit area and instrument panel parts are supplied on sprue C. I would think this area would need to be built and pre-painted internally before attachment to the rest of the fuselage. Once completed, this model is going to be quite long and may possibly be a tail-sitter. The instructions recommend weight to be added within the forward part of the nose section but does not elaborate on how much weight to use. This could be another area where a bit of time spent dry-fitting and testing with different weights may prove beneficial in the long run. Care may also need to be taken here, as too much weight could cause strain on the area around the front and main fuselage joints. Sprue D contains the lower fuselage assembly I described previously and where the main fuselage would be fitted to. The two long indentations, between the wheel bays, are the areas where the main fuselage would be glued to which is over 2cm (almost 1 inch) inside the outer edge of this piece. As such, this is a very unusual, but necessary, way of assembling a fuselage. The next three sprues; E, F and G, hold the wing and tailplane pieces. The top section of the upper part of the main wing has been produced in three parts; central, outer left and outer right sections. A nice little touch is the placement markings for the engines. Each engine location cut out on the wings is marked L1, R1, L2 etc., to denote the left and right engine pieces. The engines/cowlings are similarly marked to ensure the correct engine is mated to its corresponding location on the wing. We then have the vertical stabaliser/rudder pieces on spue H. Each piece is marked L or R and accordingly should be matched with its counterpart for glueing before to the tailplane elements from Sprue K below. The ramp section, which is situated under the rear fuselage and tail sections, is quite long and consists of three components. One of those, the main ramp, is also part of Spue K above. There are four sets of Sprue L, each consisting of a contra-rotating properller set, plus four of the 16 main wheels/tyres and two front wheels. The model has been designed so that the propellers can be assembled to be free-wheeling and, in order to allow for the contra-rotating element, there is a central plug on which both props plus four separation washers/cleats are to be assembled but not glued. A fifth washer/cleat is then glued onto the end of the plug thereby holding the propellers and cleats in free state. Sprue M has the engine cowling covers and, matching with the wing locators, are marked L1, R1, L2 etc. to ensure correct fitting to each other. The parts which make up the majority of Sprue N above make up the internal main wheel bays. When assembled, the unit has a square box shape and acts as a strengthener for attaching the main fuselage halves to. The final components sprue has all the remaining components for this build; consisting of seats, joysticks and various antennae and fuselage strakes etc. The clear sprue which came with this kit had some slight rubbing marks on the canopy surface. It should not be a problem though as the area concerned is a painted area. The marks are very light and should disappear with a bit of rubbing down, priming and painting. Instruction Sheets The two page instruction sheet is of the illustrative type, with no text as such for additional guidance. Due diligence really does need to be applied here, when identifying which item goes where; mainly because there are no corresponding numbers on the plastic parts themselves. With the exception of the engines and vertical stabaliser parts, that have L or R notations, you are left to make identify everything from these illustrations below. Although I stated that there are no numbers shown on the parts themselves, there is a visual breakdown of what those part numbers should be on the components sheet as shown below. The colour demarcations and marking sheet below should be very useful when painting up your completed model and applying the decals. I would take this sheet and get it enlarged to 1:144 scale so that I could get exact placement to match with the illustrations. DECALS The decal sheet is impressive. It contains over 100 items and the registration appears to be quite clear and crisp. I am, however, concerned that all the decals appear to be on one single backing sheet and will each need to be cut out separately before applying to the model. The kit area is so large though that cutting out each element should not be a major concern as there will be a good sized gap around each part. I particularly like the cockpit window frames which are in silver. This really will be a benefit, rather than having to mask and paint those tiny areas. The same applies for the leading edges of the propellers as there are 32 little silver strips that are applied, one for each propeller blade. Conclusion This is a very large kit with lots and lots of components and, even with the lack of locator pins/tabs; plus the unusual and complex method of assembling the fuselage; I found that when dry fitted the parts looked to fit nicely. The only area that appeared to need attention was some uneveness on the top fuselage join and therefore some filling may be needed in that area. The model is probably not for a beginner, and will probably need a little more effort and concentration to assemble, with regular referrals to the instruction sheet and any other reference aids but it should turn out to be a lovely looking model when finished. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Aircraft Service Set 4 - Aircraft Tractor Tugs Eastern Express 1:144 This kit, the fourth set in a series currently running at a series of five, contains three different aircraft tractor tugs, each with its own aircraft towing bar assembly. The first tractor tug is a GSE Europe TT 45. It is a fairly dated version of tractor tug, with twin cabs at the front and a single cab at the rear which is located on the right hand rear side. GSE Europe TT45 The second tractor tug is a Schopf F160, a typical tug to be found on modern airports all around the world. It can tow aircraft up to 280 metric tons, such as the Airbus A350 and the Boeing B787 etc. Schopf F160 The third tug in the set is a Schopf F396 which can push and tow the largest aircraft such as this An-225. This tractor tug is possibly the most interesting of the set as this type has been seen around military airfields in UK and operating with various types of aircraft Schopf F396 The Kits Inside the box are three separate tug tractor kits, one each of the types described and illustrated above. The sprues are produced in a semi-rigid (not brittle but not soft either) plastic and the components are quite simplistic. This is to be expected, and possibly welcomed, as most of the parts with the exception of the wheels are angular. Schopf F160 Although fairly basic, the parts should assemble quite easily; I have not yet had chance to do any test-fitting, and should allow for plenty of additional enhancing with the odd piece of plastic rod etc. One nice feature on the GS TT-45 and Schopf F396 models is that the wheel hubs are separate from the tyres. This has got to be a real benefit, especially at this tiny scale, when trying to keep the colour separations on the wheels. GSE Europe TT45 The Schopf F396 has parts to make two versions; one as per the photo near the top of this page (the type also shown in the RAF photo) or one with an extension unit for an additional cab fitted to the back of the tractor, as shown in figure 3 of the colour sheet further down this review. Schopf F396 The clear sprues have sufficient glass pieces to fully glaze each kit; this is very welcome as quite a few vehicle kits in this scale are produced with solid window that rely on paint or decals for the glazing. The sprue example below is for the Schopf F160. Clarity of the clear parts is quite good however I feel that they will look much better after a dip in Klear or a similar solution. The GSE TT45 has three separate cabs, two at the front and one at the rear. The Schopf F396 has on large cab at the front plus clear parts for an optional cab at the rear GSE Europe TT45 Schopf F396 Each tractor tug kit is supplied with a sprue containing parts to make up an aircraft towbar. There are separate pieces to allow the towbar to be assembled in towing mode, with wheels up or with the wheels lowered. Instruction Sheets The front page is nicely detailed, showing colour marking details and decal placement locations. Each vehicle is shown in plan and profile views which will enable the modeller to paint and place the decals correctly on their finished models. The image of the towbar shows it with the wheels lowered as when not being used for towing. The wheels would need to be raised once the towbar has been connected to an aircraft ready for towing/pushing. The rest of the instructions are simplistic but that shouldn't be a problem as there are not that many components to fit together. The instructions are clear and straight forward, using illustrations to show the placement of parts. DECALS The decal sheet is, by comparison to the instruction sheet, quite comprehensive; with hi-vis bumper markings and various airline company logos. Of special note is that you can use the black decal glazing for you tractor tugs or, if using the clear glazing from the kit, you can use the decal 'frames' to be placed over the clear plastic glazing. This really must be a bonus, rather than have to paint on all those tiny window frames! Conclusion The potential uses for these tractor tugs could be endless; whether using them on dioramas of civilian airports or military airfields, or even as stand alone models in their own setting. These models should enhance any airfield or airport model setting enormously. Review sample courtesy of
  3. This is to advise you that I have added a review of a 1:144 scale Aircraft Tractor Tug set in the Vehicle reviews forum. Mike Aircraft Service Set 4 - Aircraft Tractor Tugs Eastern Express 1:144
  4. http://airliner-models.org/forum/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_rel_module=post&attach_id=22433
  5. Does anyone have any experience with EE's classic line of 737s? I know that the best kits are made by DACO, but I can't afford to buy a bunch of all the different series. I would like to hear the opinion of those who actually have this kit or are working on one. Thanks in advance.
  6. On display at the Spielwarenmesse N├╝rnberg 2014 Source IPMS Germany: http://www.ipmsdeutschland.de/Ausstellungen/Nuernberg2014/Bilder_VH/ARK_models_05.htm V.P.
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