The MQ-9 Reaper
The MQ-9 Reaper (initially called the Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle, with M for multi-role, Q for unmanned and 9 being the series of vehicle.
Similar in appearance to the earlier MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper is nearly twice as large, with a length of 36 feet (11 meters) and a wingspan of 66 feet (20 meters). Specific data was difficult to find (odd for a highly classified system) but general information available online lists a maximum speed of between 230-300 mph (up to 482kmh), cruise speed of approx. 180mph (300kmh) and a maximum flying time of 14 hours, all provided from a Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine providing 900-950 shaft hp. Maximum altitude is at least 50,000 feet (15km) with the operational altitude at about half that. The aircraft can carry up to 3,000lb of ordinance on 6 underwing pylon stations. Payload options include external fuel tanks, GBU-12 laser guided bomb, up to 14 Hellfire missiles, and more recently AIM-9 sidewinder missiles and there are plans to install the Stinger missile system as well, giving it the ability to take out not only targets on the ground, but destroy other UAV and standard aircraft. The Reaper is currently in use with the US, Great Britain and Italy. NASA has used the vehicle for non military purposes both in aeronautical research and for search and rescue missions. The NASA version has an 84 foot wingspan.
SkunkModel Workshop previously released the MQ-9 Reaper in 1/48 scale (reviewed HERE
). This new offering in 1/72 scale allows for a more space manageable size and includes two complete kits in the box.
The box is of end opening type, with a photograph of the Reaper in flight, armed landing gear deployed. The rear of the box shows side profile and wing views of the four marking options included in the box, as well as painting and decal markings for the GBU-12 bombs and Hellfire missiles.
A paint guide is included, with paints called out with FS number, and Humbrol, Modelmaster and Gunze brands.
The four sprues in the kit come packaged in a single bag. There are two each of the A sprue, which ahs the body and wings, and the B sprue, which has the engine cowling, landing gear and ordinance. Two GBU-12 and four Hellfire missiles are included as ordinance.
Molding is very good. In comparison with the actual aircraft, the engraved panel lines look a little large, but still quite nice. Some details are a little soft in appearance, and some details are missing.
The decal sheet is printed by Cross Delta and looks to be clearly printed, with the colors and details quite good. Markings are for four aircraft, MQ-9 04-4011 and 05-4016, both with the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, USAF, Creech AFB, Nevada, MQ-9 07-0108, assigned to th eUnited States Customs and Border Protection and MQ-9 ZZ2000 (Ex 08-0133), or ZZ203 (Ex 07-0109) both with the Royal Air Force, Afghanistan, so the four marking schemes are actually five. All are painted in Light Compass Ghost Gray.
The instructions are provided in booklet form and consist of simple line drawings in 9 steps.
...of the kit was very simple. I selected one kit, and Andrew, my model buddy son, took the other. While I focused on detail, fit and other review related issues, he simply had fun and put his together.
Step 1 lists the inner landing bays for the rear gear as A parts. Part 36 should actually be B3. Fit was not exact with these parts with a small gap on one side.
The wings are put in place in step 2 and the upper fuselage in step 3. I had a small gap between the wings and fuselage that will need some careful filling. Before placing the upper fuselage, add weight to the nose or you will have a dedicated tail sitter.
Step 4 attaches the engine, sensor and stabilizers. the engine is missing a small divider that goes in the intake. There is a small amount of gap filling on my sample, but Andrew's kit seemed to fit better. There are small gaps at the base of the stabilizers as well. The forward Multi Spectrum Targeting System pod is simple looking .
Steps 5 and 6 add landing gear and vertical tail. The instructions don't show but the model could be built with the landing gear raised with care. The gear assembly is also simplified and the rear struts are backwards. I also had to trim the placement tab of the vertical tail as it sat too far out from the surface.
Steps 7 and 8 add the upper fuselage sensors and propeller assembly. Andrew was very disappointed that the propeller didn't turn. (In all honesty, I was, too.) If you add the ordinance (not used on the border patrol version) step 9 shows the GBU-12 mounted on the inner pylons and the Hellfire missiles mounted on the outer pylons. Details on the ordinance are a little soft, but still nice looking in my opinion.
It took longer to write this review than it took to assemble the kits. Assembly was problem free. The only significant omission from the kit is the fuel filler port located next to the rear landing gear bay (these should also be recessed on the outside.) It would have been nice if the option to show the landing gear raised was included. The completed model has a wingspan is about 11 inches (279mm) and 6 inches long (153mm).
I had planned on painting with Andrew, but he jumped the gun and did his own paint scheme, which he has changed twice since.
As model kits go, this was a simple build and turned out very nicely. Andrew really showed with the kit was all about by simply enjoying himself, and proving it to be an excellent choice for younger and less experienced modelers as well.
Overall, the kit breaks down as follows. Molding is good, fit generally good, accuracy good, instructions good, buildability excellent, decals very good and the addition of ordinance options very good.
I used the internet to do an image search on the Reaper and found quite a few good reference photos. An internet search also showed the kit is available online, with a best price I found of about $22.00.