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Ark models is to release a 1/144th Buran Soviet/Russian spaceplane kit - ref. Sources: https://www.facebook.com/arkmodel/photos/pcb.764222057121619/764221713788320/?type=3&theater V.P.
Antonov An.225 Mrija (04958) 1:144 Revell Beginning life as an enlargement of the An-124, the An-225 was developed to carry the Soviet Buran Space Shuttle, which obviously wasn't to be a long engagement, and after a period in mothballs, it was re-engineered to be used by Antonov for carrying oversize loads, which it now does all over the world. There is only one airframe in existence due to the expiry of funding during construction of the 2nd airframe, which after more than a few false-restarts, only now might see completion to be used by another carrier in China. It holds a few world records for wingspan of an operational aircraft and for carrying the heaviest single load. The conversion of the An-124 involved lengthening the fuselage and wings to accommodate another two engines, and of course the number of wheels and gear legs were increased too to spread the load around, with the innovative "kneeling" nose wheel arrangement that makes loading cargo through the front visor an easier task. Its first commercial flight involved transporting four main battle tanks, a task that gives an idea of the huge capacity in terms both of volume and weight that this monster has. It has been surprisingly active, as its capacity and cost hits the right spot on more occasions than you would think. It also pinched the title of largest cargo plane in service from the American C-5 Galaxy, which it is fairly substantially bigger than, even in 1:144. The Kit This is a completely new tooling from Revell, and at first look it might seem an odd choice when you consider that there is only one airframe extant on this blue marble of ours. That said, it is a stunningly massive monster of a gigantic behemoth – I'm just getting all the superlatives out of the way early on. Seriously though, if you've ever seen this aircraft at a show or in the air, it will have made an indelible impression on your retina, as your mind struggles to comprehend just how large it is. The same thing will probably cross your mind when you admire the box on the shelf of your local hobby shop, or when it arrives at your front door. It's a big'un with the box measuring 43 x 60 x 12cm, and yes. It's also a top-opener, which is nice. There are only eight sprues of white styrene, plus two of clear parts, but with the exception of the clear parts, they're pretty large sprues, and there are a lot of parts. First impressions are excellent. The quality of the tooling is very fine and crisp as befits a 1:144 model, with lots of detail and a full-length interior that puts other large cargo aircraft models a bit to shame. The breakdown of the parts also shows a great deal of thought has been put into the construction and long-term welfare of the model once it is on display. There are also four distinct options for displaying the model, which are in-flight, landed and buttoned-up, landed with the visor open, and landed, visor open and kneeling down to accept cargo. Choose your option early on, and check the miniature colour profile at the top of each step before you make any blunders. Construction begins with the interior, which is built up into a tube-like structure that is then surrounded by the fuselage once completed. It starts with the roof, which is covered in structural detail, and has three bulkheads fixed to it at intervals, with the floor slid through the two forward ones before being glued to the bottom, and completed by the two walls, all of which will need painting beforehand if you're leaving any doors open. The tiny cockpit is a single part that is painted up and attached to the top of the roof at the front, while another spacer is fixed to the roof toward the rear of the assembly. The two long main gear bays are next, with seven individual compartments for each gear leg, although they are all linked into one part, with another seven parts supplied for the retraction jacks, which makes for simple alignment. The kneeling option has a different set of legs, with the shorter ones fitted at the front, while the in-flight option uses just the bay parts for structural strength. These sub-assemblies are then located on the underside of the floor and cemented in place, depending on which option you have gone for. The fuselage halves are prepared for use by the adding of all the small portholes on the sides, all of which have a small backing panel to hold them in place and to accept the glue. At the nose, a choice of cheek inserts are applied inside depending on the final position of the nose visor, and then the fuselage is closed up around the interior, taking care to remember the 20g of nose weight behind the cockpit as you do. At this point the fuselage is still open aft of the wing leading edge, which is closed by the large T-shaped insert that has a sturdy spar applied to its inside, and includes the inboard upper section of the wings for strength and to prevent any tricky seams being pulled open by the weight of the wings. At the rear another spar is installed in the tail to accept the empennage later in the build. The canopy is fitted at this point too, sliding in from the front. A similar insert is fitted under the fuselage straddling the main gear bays. As already mentioned, the upper wing root is a single part that spans the fuselage, and has a stiffening spar fitted to stop the model's own weight from pulling it apart. The upper wing panels are attached to the end of this centre section, with a portion of the spar and a U-shaped mating surface also helping seam integrity. This is all then hidden away by closing up the wing using the full-span lower panel, which is repeated on the other side, with clear wingtip lights added. The Mrija's angled H-tail is next, with the upstands and the horizontals made up from two parts each, fitted together over the aft spar to obtain the correct angle, with the uprights perpendicular to them, as shown in a scrap diagram. The two dorsal humps over the wing roots are made up from two parts each and applied to the surface on their raised positions. At this stage the 225 is looking like the world's biggest glider, as the wings are devoid of engines, of which you must now build six. The internals are identical, so with the fan, trunking and intake lip added together, they are inserted into the six external housings and pylons that are all different, so take note of which construction step each one represents with a mark inside the pylon or similar. Each wing also has six flap actuator fairings, which are two parts each and again fit in only one slot on the wing, so be careful not to get them mixed up. With those in place, the engine pods are added to their recesses on the wing, locating with two pins for additional strength. The nose can be posed open or closed, and this section is next to be assembled, again using the colour profiles as a guide. It starts with the nose gear bay, which is left bare for in-flight and uses the complete bay for the closed nose, with twin legs for the standard configuration, both of which are installed inside the two-part nose cone before being glued to the front of the fuselage. The in-flight option has all the bay doors fitted flush, while gear down has the nose gear doors sliding forward, and the main gear doors folding up and out away from the centre to hang folded parallel to the sides of the fuselage. For the open visor, more detail is added to the inside, and a hinge is fitted to each side, while the twin nose gear legs are glued into a short bulkhead that attaches to the front of the fuselage along with two support legs backing them up. In the kneeling configuration, the gear legs are fitted along the line of flight, with the axles pointing forward and the extra supports fitted again. A ladder is fitted to the inside of the fuselage in either retracted or deployed position, depending on whether the crew are coming or going, and while the main gear bay doors are the same as for the standard gear down option, the open visor retains the main bay doors, so these are fitted to the underside of the visor, which is propped open by two large rams. The loading ramp is shown deployed in the kneeling position, and folded for transport with the nose open but the wheels level. This involves most of the same parts, but with shorter rams at the sides for the stowed variant. After a few aerials are fitted on the nose, additional drawings show how the two open options should look once complete. I've missed out the wheels, haven't I? There are two reasons for that, because I didn't want to confuse the discussion of the four options, and also there are an awful lot of them. The nose gear has two sets of paired wheels, while the main gear has an impressive seven pairs per side, so there are a total of 32 wheels to clean up and paint. Sure that's a bit of a pain, but if you want to build the world's biggest cargo plane, what are your other options apart from an in-flight model, which is already an option? Wait for some resin ones if you don't like scraping seams, and either get yourself some masks or punch your own if you really don't like cutting the lines around the hubs, and who does? I tend to freehand mine after mounting them on a cocktail stick, but there are probably easier ways. Markings One airframe in existence, so there's one scheme, right? Not quite. The original scheme was worn from August 2009 for seven years, after which some subtle changes were made, adding a little badge below the International Cargo Transporter logo behind the cockpit, and some more stencils and manufacturer marks to the engine nacelles. Not a huge change, but a sign that someone at the designers DACO was paying attention. The decal sheet is very long, as it has a set of lurid yellow and blue cheat lines that extend the full length of the fuselage, and they were printed for Revell by Zannetti, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. It's not particularly obvious from the instructions, but the eight yellow spirals marked decal number 36 are intended for the spinners on the engine fronts, so it's nice to have two spares in case things go awry. Additionally, decals 42 and 52 that fit under the nose have small cuts marked in their edges to accommodate the compound curve in that area, so remember to cut the carrier film before you soak them. Helpfully, a spare of each one is also included in case your first try doesn't go so well, and the fuselage cheat lines are split into two sections in an effort to ease the task. There are also a couple of spare engine stripes, all of which is good news if you're concerned about messing up the decals. Conclusion It's hard not to be impressed by this kit, and not just from a point of view of size. The quality of the tooling is excellent, the level of detail is first-rate, and the engineering expertise that has gone into creating it is impressive, demonstrating a desire for the complete model to sit on your shelf for years to come without concern for it pulling itself to pieces under its own weight. Splendid! The price-point represents good value when compared to other similar-sized kits, and what's included improves that further. If you have the space in your stash and/or on your shelf, there's nothing holding you back, and even if you don't have the space, when has that ever stopped us? Extremely highly recommended. Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit or