Hawk Beta One Atomic Bomber XAB-1 Kit Review

December 18, 2014 – 3:48 pm

By Fred Boucher

with kit history by Alan Bussie

Introduction

In the salad days of the early atomic and jet ages, Cold War fears pushed the envelope of aerospace design and an atomic powered strategic bomber was seriously considered.  Convair, Lockheed and Northrop (perhaps others) submitted proposals for such a plane and reactor-fuel concept engines were built.  And if a nuclear powered jet bomber isn’t growling-Geiger counter-cool enough for you, consider the zany nuclear powered Mach III SLAM (Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile) of Project Pluto† streaking just above the tree tops, spewing radioactive particles in its wake and lobbing H-bombs.  Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper’s dream come true!

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SLAM (Project Pluto), three popular Atomic Bomber concepts and the nuclear turbojet engine (click any to enlarge) 

USAF was not the only air force to explore an aerial nuke plant- the Soviets did, too.  And Hawk was not the only model company to kit a fanciful model of that radiant subject.  Aurora kited the Russian Nuclear Powered Bomber shown below and also reviewed on this website.

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The original magazine article and the resulting Aurora Kit (click any to enlarge) 

Your humble reviewer built this marvellous model aeons ago - I still have the parasite fighters from it!  It was, in the lexicon of the era, one cool kit!

“hawk” or “Hawk”?

OK, was it hawk or Hawk? Their logo was ‘always’ spelled in lowercase. Yet the company name as printed on the instruction sheet is capitalized.  While I personally want to use hawk, henceforth I will punctuate it as a proper name: “Hawk.”

Kit History

Hawk, like Aurora, liked to be first to put new concepts into a kit.  Combining Atomic Power and the parasite fighters, Hawk issued this kit in 1959, shortly after conceptual drawings of Nuclear Powered Bombers appeared in popular magazines.  The first issue was in a sturdy hardbox (a thick cardboard upper box lid and tray, with the top covered with a lithographed paper ’slick) and was given part number 514-98.  This exact artwork layout was used in the second issue (roughly 1961) with no changes other than the part number.  It was changed to 514-100.

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#514-98 

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Aurora’s Boeing Bomarc IM-99 (CIM-10B) With Launcher Kit Review

December 18, 2014 – 1:19 pm

By Fred Boucher

with kit history by Alan Bussie 

Introduction

In the chill of the Cold War a golden age of aviation inspired many new aerospace vehicles, including surface-to-air missiles.  One was the supersonic, long-range anti-aircraft Bomarc missile.  The USAF originally categorized it as a fighter aircraft and designated it F-99.  Later they re-designating it IM-99A and IM-99B after 1955, and finally CIM-10 after the McNamara Sept. 1962 dumb-down.  

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Bomarc Base #1 with missiles in launch position (courtesy Wikipedia) 

Most of these kits came out before I was born so perhaps it isn’t so strange that I never saw them at my hometown hobby outlets.  In fact, I was not even aware that many existed until the advent of online sites.

Kit History 

Aurora wasted little time detecting and acquiring information to cut tooling and produce injection molded models of those contemporary subjects.   Their goal was to be to market first with the latest - and they were!  The Boeing “Bomarc IM-99 Intercepter- [sic] Missile With Mobile Launching Platform- Newest Weapon for America’s Defense” was released in 1958.  Aurora scaled it to 1/48.  It was packaged in an Aurora standard “long box” carton, a sturdy cardboard conventional lid-tray design.  Dramatic box art shows a Bomarc searing skyward from its launcher into the atmosphere to smite commie inbounds.  In an effort to maximize mold utilization, Aurora issued this model as two kits (just like the Regulus II).  377-198, the subject of this review, was the Bomarc with a working launching.  At nearly double the price, this kit featured completely new box artwork, decals and instructions.  The traditional Aurora stand was not included, presumably because the launcher doubles as one.  

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Monogram’s Bell GAM-63 Rascal Missile - Kit Review

December 17, 2014 – 9:50 pm

by Fred Boucher

Introduction

As the Cold War deepened, aerospace companies developed delivery systems for nukes that lessened hazards to pilots.  Cruise missiles and “stand off” weapons were developed and deployed and model companies developed and delivered kits of them almost as fast as the military received the real things - or sooner, as in the case of the Bell GAM-63 Rascal!

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Rascal on the transporter 

Monogram Models, Inc created this amazing 1/48 model of the Bell GAM-63 Rascal.  It was released in 1958, with the kit number PD42-98; “-98″ was the recommended retail price of a whopping 98¢!  More than just a model attack missile, this kit included a tractor with a transporter loader, and a trio of figures.  It also boasted “action” features such as folding missile fins and a positionable loader.  Like many of the vintage missile models reviewed, this model was a surprise to me.

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PD-42-98 Rascal GAM-63 Missile by Monogram 

As amazing as this model is, it was only released by Monogram for a short time, perhaps because Strategic Air Command did not field the weapon. But more likely it was because model missile sales, after great initial success, completely stalled.  This lead to very short issues of one to three years on average.  This has made them very popular among collectors today.

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Aurora’s Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne - Kit Review

December 17, 2014 – 6:30 pm

By Fred Boucher

with kit release history by Alan Bussie 

Introduction

Your humble reviewer has been planning to present this model for years as the Cheyenne has always intrigued me.  The AH-56 was an aesthetically odd helicopter designed in the aerodynamic transient era of rounded and squared contours.  It had an airplane propeller for thrust and a great looking airframe behind a goofy looking canopy and nose that resembled a cartoon AV8 Harrier!  Yet the machine was so fast that during test flights nobody had a helicopter that could keep up with it.  Army aviation had to procure some refurbished WWII P-51 Mustangs to chase this raging rotorwing across the sky!  The AH-56 was able to perform aerobatics and there are many minutes of AH-56 video available on the internet.

The AH-56 Cheyenne Story

AH-56 was designed to fit the requirements of the US Army’s Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) program (1964-71).  The helicopter won the competition and the first prototype flew (unofficially) in September 1966.  AH-56 was expected to enter service in 1968, but the program was terminated and the helicopter never advanced beyond prototype stage.

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While the AAFSS was won by the Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne, Bell had entered a scaled-down version of it’s Iroquois Warrior and the other competitor was the Sikorsky (S-66) (1964) which looked similar to the AH-56A Cheyenne, but had a Rotorprop tail rotor which could rotate on it’s axis through 90 degrees to act both as an anti-torque rotor or as a pusher, thereby transforming the S-66 into a compound aircraft in cruising flight.

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Vintage Modeling - ITC’s Stinson Tri-motor Model U

December 17, 2014 – 5:26 pm

By Dennis Sparks

(additional kit photos by Alan Bussie)

This is one of several small articles on vintage plastic modeling, focusing primarily on the models that my father built between about 1955 and 1970.

Dad was born in 1930, and like many boys of that era, he built balsa wood flying models. During WWII, he also assembled and painted kits of solid wood scale model aeroplanes as school projects.   These were intended to be used as identification aids in the war effort, but they were later supplanted by the better known mass-produced black solid rubber models.

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A variety of early solid wood scale model kits, including the rarest of them all - the Maircraft DC-3 in 1/48 scale (lower right)

(click on any to enlarge) 

As an adult, he turned to building and flying control-line aircraft that were powered by glow-ignition engines.  But living in a small mobile home with a wife and three children placed severe storage limits for his flying models in addition to curtailing his hobby budget.  And so by about 1955 he had returned to scale modeling, starting with the “mixed media” kits of the era - solid balsa models with a few injection molded plastic detail parts.  He continued with some of the earliest all-plastic models as they became available.

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Vintage Modeling- Revell’s Regulus II (Vought SSM-N-9/RGM-15)

December 17, 2014 – 4:28 pm

By Dennis Sparks

(Box photos courtesy of Alan Bussie at Oldmodelkits.com)

The History

Chance Vought’s Regulus was one of the forerunners of the modern cruise missile.  Its airframe was a simple cylindrical fuselage with only small swept wings and a single vertical tail surface.  Powered by an Allison J-33 jet engine of 4600 lbs. thrust and with a pair of strap-on RATO units that provided 33,000 lbs. thrust each for 2.2 seconds, the Regulus was designed to be launched from a ramp mounted on the deck of either a surfaced submarine or a larger warship.  Armed with the 40-50 kiloton W5 or the 1-2 megaton W27 nuclear warhead and with a range of about 500 miles, the subsonic Regulus was ultimately deployed on five US Navy submarines, four cruisers and five aircraft carriers, serving from 1955 until 1964.   One of the few surviving Regulus missiles can be seen on board the submarine USS Growler, which is now on display alongside the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid museum in New York.

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Restored Regulus I Missile (courtesy of weaponsman) 

With the rapid advances being made in aerodynamics at the time, development of the more advanced version was already well underway by the time the Regulus had reached operational status.  Powered by the much larger GE J-79 engine, the Regulus II was designed to fly at speeds greater than Mach 2, at altitudes of up to 70,000 feet, and to have a longer range.

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Aurora’s Chance Vought Regulus II Guided Missile Kit Review

November 11, 2014 – 4:03 pm

By Fred Boucher

Introduction

In a golden age of aviation tarnished by the Cold War, many new aircraft were produced, including what became known as cruise missiles.   One was the mach 2 Chance Vought SSM-N-9 Regulus II.   Aurora was always quick to machine molds for injection molded kits of warfare’s latest & greatest technical achievements, and the Regulus II supersonic cruise missile was no exception.  Issued in 1958 as kit 132-129, it scales to 1/48.  The “129” was Aurora’s MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price $1.29), a part of the box despised by retailers since they often wanted to set their own price by demand.  Aurora also issued a kit of the missile with a ground launcher, kit 378-249.

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Kit #132-129, still in the factory seal

Most of these kits came out before I was born so perhaps it is not so strange that I never saw them at my childhood hobby outlets:  City Cycle Hobby Shop, Bell or Davis Drug Stores, Value Village, Kresge, Woolworths, Sears, or JC Pennys.  In fact,  I never even knew most such kits existed until the advent of online sites!

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Vintage Plastic Modeling – Revell’s Lockheed L188 Electra

November 5, 2014 – 5:42 pm

By Dennis Sparks 

Long range commercial aviation was dominated in the early 1950s by aircraft like the Douglas DC-6 and DC-7, Lockheed’s L-749 and L-1069 Constellation and Boeing’s Model 377 Stratocruiser.  But the sound of the future could already be heard in the whine of the turbojet engine, which was soon to be powering aircraft such as the deHavilland Comet, Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.

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Early reciprocating and jet aircraft kits (click any to enlarge) 

But for a time at least, it seemed that there was yet another type of engine that would be suitable for commercial aircraft, one that would bridge the gulf between the traditional reciprocating engines and the new turbojets.

Turboprops

Introduced in 1953, the Vickers Viscount became the world’s first airliner to be powered by turboprop engines.  Both Capitol and Continental Airlines operated the Viscount in the US, but with an initial capacity of around 50 passengers, it was seen as a bit too small for some routes.  Therefore, American Airlines had asked Lockheed for a similar aircraft that could instead seat 75 100 and their response was their Model L188.  Lockheed chose to revive the name Electra for the new airliner from their 1930’s vintage Model 10.   The most famous Model 10 was the one flown by Amelia Earhart.

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Aurora Mace TM-76 Guided Missile Kit Review

November 5, 2014 – 12:21 pm

By Fred Boucher

Introduction

During a golden age of aviation tarnished by the Cold War, many new aircraft were produced, including what became known as cruise missiles.  One was the Martin TM-76 Mace.  Aurora was always quick to cut tooling for models of contemporary subjects, and in 1958 issued their kit MACE – TM -76 GUIDED MISSILE.  Once again, Aurora had the weapon on the shelf before it was actually deployed.  TM-76 was first flown in in 1956 but was not active until 1959.  The kit number is 130-.79.  The “.79” was Aurora’s MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price), a part of the box despised by retailers.  Aurora also scaled it to 1/48.

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Aurora’s one-and-only issue of this missile 

I do not recall Aurora rocket and missile kits vying for shelf space at my town model outlets: City Cycle Hobby Shop, Bell or Davis Drug Stores, Value Village; nor at Kresge, Woolworths, Sears, or JC Pennys.  Perhaps my modeling interests made space and missile subjects invisible to me at that time, or perhaps Aurora had already discontinued the kits!

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Box side (click to enlarge)

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Aurora’s U.S.A.F. 4-Stage Rocket Lunar Probe with Launching Pad and Servicing Tower - Kit Review

November 2, 2014 – 10:06 pm

By Fred Boucher

Introduction

In 1958 Aurora released a Thor rocket but the model did not sell well.  To get more use from the mold, they added a galactic instrument payload intended for moon exploration.  This was released in 1959 as the U.S.A.F. 4-Stage Rocket Lunar Probe with Launching Pad and Servicing Tower.  The kit number on the box is 385 – 2.49, with “2.49” being the retail price of $2.49, or approximately $25.00 in today’s dollars.  Compared to model prices today that was an exceptional value for a multi-stage rocket and payload, with launch facility and figures!

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The Lunar Probe #385–2.49 (left) and the earlier Thor IRBM #380-198

I do not recall Aurora rocket and missile kits vying for shelf space at my town model outlets: City Cycle Hobby Shop, Bell or Davis Drug Stores, Value Village; nor at Kresge, Woolworths, Sears, or JC Pennys.  Perhaps my modeling interests made space and missile subjects invisible to me at that time, or perhaps Aurora had already discontinued the kits!

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