May 2016

Thunderbolt Down


It’s been a rather eventful weekend here in New York City, which included the ditching of a vintage Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter in the Hudson River. The pilot and plane were involved in a photo shoot and practicing for an aerobatic exercise at the Bethpage Air Show on Long Island, NY, when he experienced mechanical problems and forced to set his plane down in the water. While NYPD divers were able to retrieve the plane from the bottom of the river, the pilot, William Gordon, of Key West, FL, wasn’t so fortunate, drowning before he could release the cinches holding him to his seat.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was the heaviest single-engine fighter plane used by Allied forces in World War II, which contributed to its quick sinking. The aircraft first went into service in 1942 with the 56th Fighter Group based on Long Island. The American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport on Long Island was going to honor the plane’s 75th anniversary of coming into service this weekend at the air show. The P-47, known as “Jacky’s Revenge,” was supposed to fly in this weekend’s airshow.

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Boeing Heralds the new 2040C F-15 Eagle

Advanced F-15

The Tactical Air Network is reporting that Boeing has created a slick commercial touting the benefits of an upgraded F-15. According to TAN, “This upgrade, called 2040C or Advanced F-15, will incorporate technology from Boeing’s older Silent Eagle program, along with a few new gadgets, in order to give the USAF’s F-15Cs a brand new lease on life, turning it into an even deadlier air-to-air fighter than ever before.”

According to Flight Global, the 2040C upgrade features “quad packs” which fit onto standard under-wing and belly hardpoints (the F-15C has 11 combined), effectively doubling the Eagle’s current air-to-air loadout to 16 missiles. That’s also double the F-22 Raptor’s internal air-to-air loadout. Additionally, conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) similar to the FAST Packs used on F-15E Strike Eagles will help increase the 2040C Eagle’s range without tanking up pylon space for larger drop tanks, which are typically slung in pairs underneath the wings of the aircraft, or on its centerline pylon station (underneath the fuselage).

Congress has even explored the possibility of restarting the F-22 production line as a means of augmenting their fleet of air superiority fighters, who may be charged with a variety of roles in both eastern Europe and along the periphery of Southeast Asia. For more information, feel free to visit this page:

Boeing’s New 2040C Eagle Commercial is Incredibly Badass!

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Defending the Fleet: When Does Redundancy Cause More Harm than Good?



Its Fleet Week here in New York City, an annual celebration where several US Navy warships sail into the harbor, drop anchor then permit the curious to board the ships and peek around. While the NYPD’s Harbor Patrol is tasked with protecting the ships from potential acts of terrorism, it seems as though several diecast model makers have taken it upon themselves to provide an extra layer of security by offering a growing pantheon of 1:72 scale F-14 Fleet Defense Fighters.



Earlier this week, we discussed how newcomer Calibre Wings is kicking things off by offering two 1:72 scale exemplars of the venerable F-14 Tomcat. Earlier today, we learned that longtime modelmaker, Hobby Master, will be building models based upon the exact same schemes – one portraying VF-1 “Wolfpack” and the other VF-103 “Jolly Roger” – which will likely make it to market before the Calibre Wings offerings are cleared for takeoff. Keep in mind, we already have a long list of F-14s produced by Century Wings, as well as a couple of birds from True Scale Models, who managed to nab the Top Gun license to help sell their wares.



Frankly, with so many other air frames to model, as well as loads of other squadrons to tap, the news that more of the same is falling on deaf ears, nothing more than a bid to steal the thunder from another modelmaking house. I’d like to think that somehow this type of one upsmanship should be left to the political scene, instead of muddying the waters in an increasingly crowded market where assets could be put to better use. Obviously, we wish them all well, and hope that every model produced sells like gangbusters, but all this duplication of effort does is create added inventory at the distributor and dealer level, and likely leads to discounted pricing to move inventory. The end user might like the temporary respite in pricing, but the distributor and dealer will have to think twice about bringing in new SKUs if this type of war for the collector’s wallet, continues unabated.

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Calibre Wings Feels the Need for Speed


Recognizing the need to differentiate themselves from all of the other makers of 1:72 scale F-14 Tomcats, Calibre Wings has finally provided information concerning a pair of fleet defense fighters due out this fall. The list of features is rather long and includes a number of robust additions others have thus far sidestepped including:

  • Diecast construction
  • Martin Baker GRU-7 ejection seats
  • Realistic pilot and RIO figures
  • Canopy in open or closed position
  • Working glove vanes
  • Positional airbrakes
  • Movable sweep wings & horizontal stablizers
  • Interchangeable engine nozzles in open or closed positions
  • Landing gears extended or stored
  • Jet intake covers
  • Wheel chocks
  • Rubber tires
  • Operational pay load ordnance
  • Deluxe display stand
  • Limited edition serialized metal plate
  • Collector’s box


Two warbirds are thus far being readied: one portraying VF-1 Wolf Pack” (CA721402) and the second VF-103 “Jolly Rogers” (CA721401) on their last flight. Both models have been listed on our web site and we hope to have photos of them some time soon.

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Tis the Season(s) of Star Trek

Summer viewing or winter, large screen or small, it appears as if the makers of Star Trek have got everyone covered for the foreseeable future, that is, if they like all things Star Trek. The new trailer for the feature-length film, Star Trek Beyond, is out as is the first look at the upcoming TV series set to air on CBC and CBS On Demand.

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The Widowmaker Takes Wing

Ever wonder how they make some of those cool 3-D animations you see on such series as Dogfight or Enterprise 360? A German firm, Mackevision, showed how they made a similar short subject, employing a program called Vray to render the 3-D aircraft models seen in the accompanying film, and making use of several older Luftwaffe F-104 Starfighters to create the two-minute story. Enjoy!

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A Higher Caliber F-14?


In a bid to become the preeminent maker of 1:72 scale F-14 Tomcats, Calibre Wings took the wraps off of its inaugural Fleet Defender at the Shizuoka Hobby Show in Tokyo, Japan, which is aimed at depicting the last flight of the F-14B. Unpainted and not yet fully assembled, the image, nevertheless, shows the warbird with two seated crewmen, a large array of ordnance, and several bits and pieces yet to be attached including the exhaust nozzles. With so many manufacturers now building their own version of the venerable F-14 (Century Wings, Hobby Master and True Scale Models), it will be interesting to see how market share shakes out going forward and if so many choices will eventually lead to lowered retail prices to clear out inventory.

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Anyone Up for a Bit ‘o Lace?

AF1 B17a

The first image has surfaced of Air Force 1’s upcoming 1:72 scale B-17G Flying Fortress bomber. Based upon a four-engine heavy bomber that flew with the 709th Bombardment Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group, then deployed to Rattlesden, Norfolk, England in early 1945, the upgunned G version features the insidious chin turret which was designed to help ward off enemy fighters from making a head-on attack.



Likewise, the replica boasts all of the other armament that helped give the plane its dubious moniker, from its top- and ball turret battlements to its twin waist and rear defensive guns. And not a Chinese crewman in sight! Look for this beauty to begin its bomb run some time in June.


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Raytheon Offers CPR to the War Weary M60A3


In a bid to breathe new life into a tired-but-true weapons system, Raytheon has pitched the US government, as well as several client nations that operate the venerable M60A3 battle tank, with a revitalization program that could conceivably bring the tank up to today’s standards – but at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a modern battle tank. According to The National Interest, “the Raytheon M60A3 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), the upgrade is being offered for export to nations that need the performance to take on threats like a Russian-built T-90S, but can’t afford a top-of-the-line machine like the M1A2 SEP(v)3 Abrams or Leopard 2A7.

At the core of the upgrade is a new 950-horsepower diesel engine—which replaces the original 750-horsepower unit. As part of the deal, the engine would be reconditioned to a zero hour condition. Meanwhile, the old turret hydraulic controls would be replaced with new electrical systems, which are faster, more responsive and quieter than their predecessors.

Offensive firepower is exponentially improved by swapping out the old 105mm M68 rifled gun in favor of the Abrams’ German-made L44 120mm smoothbore cannon. The addition of the new weapon would give the M60A3 the ability to engage enemy tanks as advanced as the T-90MS on a near equal footing. In fact, with the upgrade, the M60 probably outperforms older M1A1 variants.

That’s because in addition to the new cannon, the M60 would receive completely new digital fire-control and targeting systems—including day and thermal sights. The system is comparable to the U.S. Army’s M1A1D standard. Indeed, the fire-control software was developed for the U.S. Army. While Raytheon does not specifically mention networking—it’s reasonable to assume the modernized tank would be compatible with the U.S. Army’s networks.”

Its conceivable that the vehicle could be fitted with an active protection system, which typically includes some sort of anti-projectile firing system to defeat incoming threats. Typically, the US and several western nations have been loathe to incorporating this system onto many of the current land battlefield systems because it could cause collateral damage to other units operating near the platform, particularly to dismounted troops.

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When the Leaves Fall, Hobby Master Flies High this Autumn


Hobby Master is continuing to push forward its “jet-centric” approach by announcing a litany of modern era diecast military aircraft this fall. While several aircraft were previously announced, the new warbirds include two takes on the soon-to-be-released MiG 23 Flogger – one flown by the Lybian Air Force during the 1989 Gulf of Sidra Incident (HA5302) and a second in Russian livery but flown by the USAF’s 4477th Test Squadron at Tonopah, Nevada (HA5303) to determine its flight characteristics.


Also up for consideration is one of the F-14s that tangled with the Lybian MiGs during the same crisis (HA5206), another look at the F-22 Raptor (HA2815), a third take on the S-3 Viking Anti-Submarine Aircraft (HA4903), and a 1:48 scale model of Adolf Galland’s Messerschmitt Bf-109E3 fighter. These and other new introductions have now been added to our May 2016 New Additions section.


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