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Will Vale

Lockheed-Martin XQ-24 CLASP

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I need to write a proper backstory for this, I'll revisit it as I proceed, but the premise is that sometime in the next couple of decades America has to do something to deal with the global condemnation of their reliance on drone strikes in civilian areas. They react in the usual way - a combination of public stalling and covert investment in new technology.

Lockheed Martin are asked to develop their now-mature F-22 Raptor platform along the lines of their abandoned X-44 Manta proposal, only this time they don't need to worry about pilot comfort or human G-tolerances - the vehicle is to be unmanned. The weapons system is a development of the Northrop Grumman JHPSSL modular solid state laser tested, with a semi-retractable turret (derived from ATL experiments mounted at the rear of the ventral weapons bay, and heat sinks and support equipment in the sidewinder bays.

The large scale UCAV has enough endurance to attack targets across borders without needing forward airfields - that kind of political cooperation is increasingly hard to obtain. Its proven low-observable platform and the use of energy weapons allows precision targetting with full deniability - no evidence gets left behind.

The USAF doesn't talk about this project openly, but the CIA refers to it CLASP, or Covert LASer Platform. The people who work on the drone call it Nightwing, and paint it black.

--

The idea is to build the Academy F-22 Raptor (I'm working on a proper one at the moment so I can figure out how it's going to go) in 1/72, but leave off the vertical tails and indeed anything aft of the engines. As per the X-44, directed thrust will be a big part of the flight control system, but I'd like to add some "feathers" and other cues from Shirow Masamune's aircraft designs. I'll probably flatten off the cockpit, or at least make it opaque like the Global Hawk satellite dome.

I'll do some sprue shots tomorrow hopefully, but probably won't start working in earnest for a little while since I'd like to get my proper Raptor done first.

Thanks for reading, sorry for the lack of pictures!

Will

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An interesting and well thought-through back story to start your thread Will. Welcome to the GB.

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Welcome. I always envy a well done black finish.

Dan

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Thanks guys, I haven't done a black finish before so it may not be well done :) We'll see, I've seen some good Nighthawks on here which ought to provide some inspiration.

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I can only suggest what I used on a clients SR-71:

If you can find it, Railmatch paints 'Roof Soot' aerosol spray. Coat the whole model in this.

When dry (approx. 24 hours - it's Enamel) use successive black washes to darken. When all uniform, you will end up with something pretty close to the finish seen on Blackbirds.

Hope that helps!

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Thanks for the tips. I'm getting towards the finish with my vanilla-flavoured Raptor, so hopefully I can look at the GB one at the weekend. I've learned quite a lot about the kit - like how to approach the intakes - which I think will help out.

8101529618_21750a42c3_c.jpg

I need to think how to display the drone - I think in-flight would be good, with the ventral bay open?

Cheers,

Will

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Not had a chance to look into your current thread Will but the finish is great in that photo. Hope you can start this one soon but don't rush the 'vanilla' as it's great so far.

In-flight sounds grand as it will allow you to make the most of those weapons bays and any stores carried.

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Thanks chaps, I've just got back from 3 weeks holiday and realised that I still haven't started! Ouch... The vanilla Raptor is still waiting for some more doings as well.

I'll see if I can muster some enthusiasm at the weekend if the jet-lag has worn off a bit by then and get some plastic cut up. So sorry for the lack of participation thus far :(

Will

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OK, found the sprue shots at last:

8266356398_84d96bbe7d_c.jpg

(click for bigger)

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You get two sets of clear parts (including bay doors, if you like that kind of thing) and a nice decal sheet

8266357318_a9e21eff14_c.jpg

8265287923_bb45f04edf_c.jpg

Must open those bags!

Will

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Well, I've got a little bit done in and around all the Christmas stuff - I hacked the tail extensions off the back of the fuselage and have started filling in the various things that need to be done to the fuselage halves before they can go together:

8316578702_cfa4b044f3_c.jpg

(Click for bigger)

The good news is that I already like the shape - the Raptor looks neat with no tail, I think.

I also tried a different approach to building the intakes, assembling them into the top of the fuselage to try and eliminate the joints there. I think it's working, but it makes painting harder. I need to do more sanding and then touch in the white, and mask it for the black.

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Lastly, I painted the weapons bay and glued in all the doors for the closed bits. The complex U/C doors fit really well, but the Sidewinder bay doors were really hard to get flush (in fact I failed) and I'm tempted to fill all the seams and sand them flat. It might've been easier without the bay inserts, but I tried that and it looked like they were required for support. In hindsight I suspect some styrene would have done a better job.

8316580462_a7821d5495_c.jpg

So... no chance in hell I'll get this done for the deadline, but I did make a start! Hopefully I can clean up the intakes later and get the paint on them finalised.

Cheers,

Will

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Well it's a great idea and I'm sure the finished model will be splendid. Pity it won't make the gallery but please keep the updates coming Will.

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Thanks Col, after some retrograde progress yesterday (tried to paint the white/black split inside the intakes, nearly got it right, but ended up stripping it all off again...) I got the fuselage together today. Had to sort out the lights and fair in the side bay doors first, but it's a good place to be:

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(click for bigger)

I'm now building up the rear (where I hacked holes in it) with Tamiya epoxy putty, which has been roughly shaped and I'll be able to file and sand into submission once it's properly dry. Building the intakes as I did (assemble into upper fuselage half) has given good joints but the unavoidable step underneath is still there, just smaller than in my previous effort. I think if I'd painted them properly (in two halves) beforehand it would've been good, as it is I couldn't get in to spray or brush them very well.

I think I may put mesh over the intake openings a la F-117 to hide the innards a bit :)

Will

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Lookin' good there Will, love the background story, probably the best thing you could do to a Raptor is turn it into a drone. I'm not into USAF fixed wingery but an F-22 QF-22 Target Drone or an o/a red like the F-4 might just tempt me! Pity the US NAvy never had them then we could have one in engine grey, yellow and Int. orange!!! I'll stop, I'm getting carried away.

Colin

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