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Mike

EA-6B Prowler

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EA-6B Prowler



1:48 kineticlogo.jpg

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This one's been a while in coming, and I remember the excitement well when it was first announced. There are a lot of people very happy to have a modern tooling of this rather malevolent looking electronic warrior. I'm one of those people that are happy, just for the avoidance of doubt.

Kinetic's usual top opening box reveals quite a stack of plastic on opening, and the first thing that struck me was the size of the fuselage halves. Despite looking quite small on a carrier deck, it's actually quite a long aircraft, thanks in part to the lengthening of the forward fuselage of the vanilla Intruder airframe to accommodate another pair of aviators. From stem to stern it's just over 14" long once you add the large stubby nosecone - fortunately, the wingspan is a little more reasonable.

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Inside the box there is a clear sprue, 5 sprues of pale green/grey styrene, plus 2 sprues of wing quarters, and another long sprue with the two fuselage halves attached, a sheet of colourful decals, instruction booklet, and painting guide. The sprues are HUGE on the wings and fuselage halves, presumably to allow the moulder to push some large quantities of plastic into these complex shaped moulds.

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Panel lines are lightly engraved in a similar style to Kinetic's excellent Hawkeye, and rivets are present here and there where appropriate. A pair of slime lights are moulded on each side of the aft fuselage, but the numerous scoops, aerials and antennae are separate parts, allowing the modeller to sand away at any joints without fear of knocking them off.

Through necessity the fuselage has a belly insert to give the "cleavage" between the underside of the two engine pods. The joint here is on the high spot of the pods however, so should be easy to obliterate with some careful sanding. The exhausts are attached to the underside of the wing stubs, which creates a couple of interesting joints. If these are glued carefully however, a bead of Vallejo putty should render them invisible.

wings.jpg

The cockpit is neatly rendered with raised and recessed details on all of the instrument panels, and the four crew seats are built up from 8 parts each, so give a good rendition of the originals, with additional painting callouts in the instructions. Sidewall detail is moulded into the fuselage halves, and although simple is neat, and doesn't cause sink marks on the exterior. Of course a set of resin seats would improve matters, and I don't doubt that Kinetic will be bringing out a set of Photo-Etched details for the cockpit as they did with the Hawkeye. If extra detail is your thing, then hold fire with the build until they're announced.

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The clear parts are supplied in 5 parts, with the two bulbous split down the middle to ease moulding. The parts are thin and clear, although they aren't gold tinted as per the real thing. A dipping in Klear/Future with a little yellow food coloring should remedy that, although it would be nearly impossible to obtain the mirrored finish without access to some expensive equipment.

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Moving back down the airframe, the nose gear bay is built into the belly insert, and has drop-in sides with additional detail to complete the box. A final insert provides the Y-shaped arrestor hook bay and would be best slipped into the fuselage once glued, but before the belly insert is in place, to ensure it fits perfectly central.

The engine intakes either side of the cockpit are constructed from three parts each, and fit together very snugly indeed. Cleanup will be minimal here, and you will also be able to see the compressor blades to the rear, although it's a shame that these aren't moulded separately to allow the modeller to deal with the seams on a hollow tube and insert the blades later after painting them up. It's a nice fit though, and Kinetic are to be applauded for their attention to detail here. The crew access ladders built into the intake housing are also included, which makes for a tempting diorama possibility.

The exhausts are a simple curved tube made of two halves, with the rear turbine face a separate part - useful if you intend to fill the seams all the way to the blades. These end up covered by the engine pods moulded to the underside of the wing stubs, so plenty of test fitting will pay dividends here.

As already alluded to, the kit gives you the option of posing the wings folded or open ready for flight, and additional parts are included for both options, to portray the exposed wing-fold mechanism, or the cover plates of the hinges that smooth airflow during flight. Here is where I have my first gripe, in that the wing trailing edges are not the thinnest, and rectifying that will involve thinning the edges from the inside, as the Prowler is covered in scab plates, actuator fairings and strengthening panels, all of which are well rendered on the wing surfaces. It is also worth noting here that the wings have projecting ejector pin marks here, which will need cutting off before attempting to mate the two halves.

The main landing gear bays are a curious open design, and have nicely detailed bay covers, which sadly have a few sink marks and ejector pin marks that will need filling. The forward bay doors would also need some major surgery if you were to build your kit in-flight, as they are depicted folded up in ground configuration. Detail inside the bay is a little sparse, but the bay doors are only open wide enough to allow the gear legs pass, so detail should be sufficient for most here.

A full set of wing pylons are supplied with separate sway braces, and the mid-line pylon is moulded to the belly insert. Onto these go three ECM pods, two fuel tanks and two AGM-88 HARM missiles, which the Prowler uses to take out radar installations en route to its mission.

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The vertical fin with its top mounted ECM fairing are moulded into the fuselage halves, and the horizontal tails fit into some chunky mounting points, which should mean that they're pretty difficult to knock off. For those that plan on displaying the finished model with wings folded, a pair of wing braces are provided, ensuring that the wings sit at the correct angle and height from the fuselage.

Decals are provided for one very colourful airframe of the Patriots VAQ140, US Navy, which is a great scheme having a stylised stars & stripes on the tail, red/white/blue cockpit area and wing tips. The decals are designed by FighterTown Decals, and printed by Cartograf, and look excellent on the sheet. The modeller will need to mask and spray the base blue on the tail and cockpit area, but the sheet supplies all of the stars and stripes to complete the tail, with cutout decals to cover the lumps on the side of the rudder. Those of you that are confident of their masking skills might want to mask and paint the blue of the wing tip stripes, if only because it will then match the rest of the blue on the airframe, and save you having to get the decal to settle on the curved tip of the wing.

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A nice set of stencils is also included, plus hiviz stars and bars, and some very nicely printed gold tail codes, printed in a very fine gold finish. Color call-outs on the full color painting guide are given as FS numbers, allowing the modeller to consult one of the many color charts to choose their own brand of paints.

Conclusion

An excellent new release from Kinetic, with only a few rough edges that should be within the abilities of most modellers. I'm sure we'll be treated to other schemes as time goes on, and I'm looking forward to seeing some weary looking Prowlers in time.

Now to cross my fingers that we'll be treated to an Intruder sometimes soon.

Review sample courtesy of luckylogo.gif

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This ones definately going in the to do list

Russ

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really like the look of this but @ 1:48 it is likely to be too big (and expensive for me at the moment). Anyone know of a reasonably good (detail & price) 1:72 version?

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Rob I think the 1/72 Hasegawa kit is still the only game in town, there was/is a Hobbycraft Prowler from their early days and I think one of the Chinese companies has done one as well.

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One of these will be definately making it's way to me at some point in the future :D

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Mine arrived yesterday although HMRC/Royal Mail took their pound of flesh on it.

I can echo Mike's comments .

Stephen

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Mine arrived yesterday although HMRC/Royal Mail took their pound of flesh on it.

I can echo Mike's comments .

Stephen

Glad to hear I'm on the mark ;)

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I almost passed over this kit in my LHS... the box was so small (compared to the Monogram A-6 boxing) that I thought it was a 1/72 scale kit....

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Had this kit in my mits on wednesday night (model club)

Have to say, two things jumped out, spark erroded plastic, but not two bad, but where there hell did they get the dimension for the formations lights, there more like 1/24 than 1/48

fuselage.jpg

Also noted that the intakes are at most 15mm deep, but at least you won't see through the model, so to speak.

Dave

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