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MQ-1C, The Last of the Drones Through the Wonders of 3D Printing


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This is the MQ-1C Gray Eagle and completes my series of large US Military Reconnaissance Drones starting with the RQ-2 through the MQ-8C. As the few of you who have been paying attention might remember I have in the past complained about the lack of a 1/72 kit for the MQ-1C. Italeri made a die cast model that they called am MQ-1c, but it looks like they based it on their MQ-1B Predator kit and it has no resemblance to the Gray Eagle which is larger, has a very different engine housing and carried more ordnance. . However in my searching for something I came across this web site; https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/288eda09ce849054c00d89a3d1c6a249/Aircraft-General-Atomics-MQ-1C-Sky-Warrior that has a 3D model of it, and since I had previously purchased from Shapeways at https://www.shapeways.com/, so I figured I would give them a try . I should note here that none of my following trials and tribulations are their fault and they did an excellent and quick job. 

 

The first issue I had was that the rendering I downloaded is in Sketchup format and Shapeways doesn't handle Sketchup. Luckily I was able to convert it into .dae (COLLAborative Design Activity) format which Shapeways does accept. So I uploaded it to their website. Next I had to choose which of their many plastics to print it is. Here I made my first mistake and chose their Strong and Flexible Plastic, which is also their cheapest. They immediately notified me that due to the thinness of the tail and other surfaces that the model would not survive the printing and finishing process, but that I could choose the "Print it Anyway" option and they would do the best they could and would skip the finishing and polishing. I should have tried the HP Plastic instead, but it was twice as much money so I went with the Print it Anyway option. A week later I had my model on the door step. With the exception of the landing gear all the other parts were there, but everything was pretty rough and I ended up discarding the ordnance, props, and tail surfaces. I also wan't happy with the sensor turret and cut it off.

 

Expecting that I would have to replace some parts I had purchased a Platz MQ-1B kit to act as a donor. This was my second mistake. I chose the MQ-1B because it was close in size to the -1C, but I would have been better off choosing the Skunkmodels MQ-9 Reaper kit, also the MQ-9 kit would have cost me 3 times the price. . They landing gear would have been closer in size, I could have used the ordnance and pylons that  came with it and I could have used the props and spinner. As it was I used the landing gear, tail surfaces, weapons pylons and front turret from the -1B kit and the props and Hellfire missiles from spares. The main lading gear is turned out to be a bit too short, but I used it anyway.

 

The unpolished model was very rough;

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and it defied my efforts to get a smooth finish. I finally was able to smooth it out after applying several coats of Mr. Surfacer, and thin CAA glue. Again this was not Shapeways fault but my choosing the wrong plastic and the Print it Anyway option. I ended up separating the wings from the fuselage so I could polish them separately.  In anticipation of having problems gluing parts to the plastic I had ordered several epoxies and glues for "problem" plastics but Zap CAA+ worked fine and made strong joints. Tamiya lacquer  primer also seemed to work well and from there it was just using my usual Humbrol enamel paints. US Army marking are pretty minimalist so that made decaling sinple. So now on to the pictures.

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and here is the whole collection

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From left to right and in chronological order of first flights they are MQ-8C Fire Scout, MQ-4C Triton, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, MQ-9 Reaper, MQ-8B Fire Scout, RQ-4B Global Hawk, MQ-1B Predator, RQ-7B Shadow, RQ-5B Hunter, and RQ-2A Pioneer.

 

Next up is the Heller E-3 Sentry. Enjoy.

Edited by hsr
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  • 2 months later...

Thanks. I probably should have done a WIP thread being it my first 3D printed model

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Well look at that! I finally get to see my bird innscale! I’m an GE instructor. I’ve been wanting to do one for a long time, but I’m going to convert a pred kit. 

Just a few things here though. The engine intake you have is on bothe sides of the scoop. It should only be on the port side. The radiator/intercooler scoop is actually much bigger than you have it, and it’s split into two pathways. The center antenna for the upper omni goes almost straight up, it’s not swept. And I don’t know what antenna that’s supposed to be on the upper front, either. It’s not present on the actual bird. There is a much smaller and less raked antenna that should be there. Your MA antenna that hangs down in he forward part of the fuselage is from a predator. Ours is much larger and shaped completely differently, as we use a different datalink. The CSP under the fuselage is also much larger. And lastly, we don’t use dual rails for the AGM-114s. Gray Eagles can carry four, but only on single rails inboard and outboard. 

Edited by Habu12
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If you would like a copy of the .dae file to try your hand at it, let me know and I can send iit to you.

 

Thanks

 

Howard

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