Aurora 379-129 Nike Hercules Guided Missile with Launching Platform Kit Review

September 24, 2016 – 12:19 pm

by: Frederick Boucher  (with kit release notes by Alan Bussie)

 

Introduction

Welcome to the final review of the late-great Aurora Model Company series of 1/48 missiles!  “Nike Hercules Guided Missile with Launching Platform” was kitted in the late 1950s as kit 379-129.  ”-129″ was the MSRP of $1.29, and one got a lot of model for that.  We’ll judge this venerable kit today.

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Aurora Nike Hercules dated 1958 

Missile History

 Development of the MIM-14 Nike Hercules took place in the early 1950s and deployment commenced in

 1958.   A total of 145 missile batteries were deployed.  Most of these were converted Nike Ajax units.  Deactivation of Nike Hercules batteries in the United States commenced in the early 1970s and was completed by 1975, with the exception of batteries remaining in Alaska and Florida.  These batteries were deactivated in the late 1970s.  Foreign countries, mainly NATO allies, deployed this system as well. 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Length- 41 ft. with booster

Diameter- 31.5 inches

Wingspan- 6 ft. 2 in.

Weight- 10,710 pounds with booster

Booster- Fuel Solid propellant

Sustainer Motor- Solid propellant

Range- Over 75 miles

Speed- Mach 3.65 (2707 mph)

Maximum Altitude- 100,000 ft.*

Guidance - Command guidance from ground installations

 *Many web sites contain inaccurate information concerning the maximum intercept altitude for the Nike Hercules. They list the maximum intercept altitude as being 150,000 feet. This is incorrect. The maximum intercept altitude of the Nike Hercules is 100,000 feet. Please refer to page 13 of TM 9-1400-250-10/2.

 

Kit Release History

In 1958 Aurora joined Revell and Monogram in the ‘Missile Craze.’  Early injection molded missiles were flying off the shelves and so entire lines were quickly planned.  But the boom was a bust - as quickly as the sales soared, they crashed to the ground…but not before much of the line entered production.  This combination of events - poor sales and short production runs has made all of the Aurora missiles rare and the Nike Hercules among the rarer ones.  

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(click photos to enlarge) 

To make matters worse, Revell had a superior (but smaller scale) version of this same missile for ‘58 with a launcher, which created an over-saturated supply for a quickly vanishing market!  The Aurora Herc was the 6th and final missile released in 1958; Aurora’s last missiles were released in ‘59.  By 1961 the kit was no longer in the catalog; that means that it was most likely discontinued some time during 1960, meaning the production run was only between two and three years.  The Aurora kit was never reissued and the mold whereabouts are unknown.  The Revell kit has been reissued many times!

Because sales were poor, no box variations have surfaced; the first box is likely the only box.  It featured the 1.29 price extension, the Parents’ Magazine Seal and the oval logo with the ‘Northern Lights’ behind the AURORA text and ‘Famous Fighters’ in the border of the oval outline.  Even though the PM Seal was dropped during the final years of production, it still appeared on the Herc.  Aurora was probably still using up the stock of original boxes ordered for this kit.

The white missile parts were usually in a stapled, factory sealed bag.  The olive drab launcher parts can be found factory sealed or loose.  The kit was packed with tissue paper inside.  The box top was either sealed with two thin strips of clear tape from the box top to lower tray or a full seal of clear cello.

 

In The Box

Aurora packaged Nike Hercules Guided Missile with Launching Platform in their standard rectangular lid-tray box.  Box art is a clearly exciting launch sequence!

Inside are sprues for essentially two models- the missile and the launcher- plus decals and the instruction sheet.   Sprues were contained in plastic bags. Unfortunately for this review, the MIM-14 missile parts are still in the factory sealed bag and thus I was not allowed to break the seal, making detailed shots of it impossible.

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(click photo to enlarge) 

There are 66 parts. The breakdown is:

  •  26-piece missile
  •  36-piece launcher
  • 4 crew members

 Molding is overall fair with hardly any flash, a few shallow sink marks and minimal mold seam lines. Unfortunately there are several visible ejector circles, although happily they are shallow.  Corners and edges are a mixed bag, major parts being sharp but molded detail being “soft.”

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(click any photo to enlarge) 

Four figures are included.  They have shallow detail yet they are “good.”  Not the quality of Monogram’s figures of that time, but good.  Typical of the era, they are single-piece moldings.  The hands are over-scaled.  Two are individual figures in plausible poses. The other two are molded as a single piece, curiously carrying an ambiguous short structural component.

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(click any photo to enlarge) 

 

Instructions, Decals, Paint 

Aurora used a single big piece of paper for the instruction sheet.  It is clearly illustrated in the ‘exploded’ style with halftone graphics and a photo of the assembled kit.  Aurora distributed their own brand of model glue and paints and both of those are hawked on the sheet.  A concise history of the missile system is provided.  The back is a multi-panel sales brochure advertising all of Aurora’s models, illustrated by their categories:  Whirlybirds, Giant Bombers, Modern Day Fighters and Famous Tanks.

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(click photo to enlarge) 

The missile is assembled through five steps, including the joining of the missile to the booster.  The launcher is assembled in three panels of seven steps.  It is an “action” model that can elevate.  It takes the place of the clear styrene stand that supports most Aurora models.

 omk-aur-nike-herc-38-800×600.jpg  omk-aur-nike-herc-42-800×600.jpg  omk-aur-nike-herc-39-800×600.jpg  omk-aur-nike-herc-40-600×800.jpg

(click any photo to enlarge) 

Decals and painting are minimal. Only a nose band and the booster tubes are shown painted, and only in one color - red.

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(click photo to enlarge) 

Conclusion

If you want a 1/48 Nike Hercules, Aurora’s is the only option unless you are a scratchbuilder.  It is not the only N-H missile model.  But Revell’s issue is in their short-lived series of odd 1/40 scaled military models- perhaps to defend their 1/40 Douglas A-1 Skyraider’s base?. 

This Aurora offering is not a bad model.  A bit of cleanup and the parts should look good.  It is large enough to add any extra detailing.  Most of the parts are beefy enough to accept some carving, drilling and sanding if you deem that necessary.

If you don’t have one, try to acquire one.  It is a fun and unique model. If you have one of these kits, enjoy yourself and build it.  I would!