I’ve long-held curiosity about Gemini Macs. However they’ve not really had a place in the 1:400 collection. Recently several came up as “old new” stock in sales, and the C-17 you’ve already seen.
RAF Lyneham, not far from Chippenham in Wiltshire, has itself been abandoned by the RAF, back in 2012. Pretty much all of the RAF’s transport and logistics is run out of a single base now, at Brize Norton. Arguments on how easy it would be to cripple a single crucial base by a Russian strike not withstanding, even the colour scheme of this aircraft has passed into history.
Lyneham was a massive complex of transport, and fuellers designed to readily move UK troops into Europe in a NATO emergency, and support the interception patrols of Tornado and F-4 Phantoms during the later cold war. Created in 1940 in the war against what these days is known as the Alt-Right but was then known as Nazism and Fascism, it served a similar role post WW2, being repeatedly chosen as the spot the RAF retreated to as more, and more bases were shut down. Now there is barely a skeleton staff to keep an eye on the abandoned infrastructure. It’s in the running to be redeveloped over the coming years.
This model’s livery scheme is a Gulf War relic, designed to make it hard to see from the side and from above. C-130’s (we get them over head on rare occasions) are not quiet beasts, their Alison Turboprops make a very recognisable sound you’ll not soon forget, so how you were supposed to not know where it was, I don’t know.
Like so much else that is well designed first time round, it’s hard to replace it. The Airbus Atlas A400M was supposed to, but that still has major problems, and deliveries are slow. The C-17 is a different category. European manufacturers tried with the Transall C-160 and the Aeritalia G222, to mimic its capabilities, and failed. The Russians too never managed to match the Hercules, despite various Antonov developments.
Fifty years the Hercules has been in production, and it’s story is far from over yet; the J version is still being built with uprated engines and modern avionics.
It looks the part, everything seems to be where you’d expect.
This aircraft has a huge fuel boom installed to get it to, and from, more distant bases without the need for landing and taking off in places you wouldn’t want to be. For the most part it looks OK though the forward nozzle could possibly have had the smallest embellishment to add realism.It is actually a separate part they’ve had to connect in two places, after the wings were installed.
Oddly enough, and I’m not sure why, but this is the most model-looking model of pretty much anything I’ve seen in 1:400. Maybe it’s the colour, but it just doesn’t have that certain something I’m used to with civil aircraft. Possibly, it’s the matt finish.
Unlike the C-17 this is much smaller, so the rear cargo doors are just moulded-in outlines.
Like the C-17, the fuselage mould includes the tail, but only the two horizontal stabilizers.
2.Wings and landing gear
This time the landing gear follows the same pattern as the C-17 with a 4 wheel set of low, open door side pods, designed to avoid encroaching on interior cargo space. They are of course, attached to the bottom of the fuselage. Frankly they’re a lot neater, better painted and installed than the C-17 made 10 years later. Are you surprised at that? probably not.
The wings are excellent moulds, superbly fitted in the overhead cradle method. The big fuel tanks are excellent and superbly installed. there is plenty of visible detail above and below the wing. Even the red and green running lights are present on the wing tips.
These are excellent, four engines, brilliantly installed, superbly detailed, every propeller turns – you can do the blow test and all four rotate easily. The detail on every propeller is outstanding, all the way to the white and red tips.
The black dome is too shiny, the grey windows, which have a strangely World War 2 tail gunner look about them, giving a hint to how old the basic design actually is, look good the further away you are. Too close and they look too obviously painted on.
Being such a short aircraft the tail is necessarily large and the vertical is a separate fitting, which sadly fell out. now it’s ten years old so I’m not complaining this time.
Other than that, it’s all fairly plain, with little embellishment.
As they should be for the age and design.
7.Score and conclusion
It’s difficult to say it has a flaw. It doesn’t really. It’s just oddly model like-rather than realistic. It makes an amusing visitor to RLSI and an interesting talking point. Mind you when people find you have a model airport of this scale in your office, talking points are easy to come by!
My recommendation: If it’s something you’ve always wanted, or just fancy as an addition to a civil airport, it’s small enough to be an easy thing to accommodate. They’re also quite cheap to buy, around £18. If you’re a big military enthusiast, it’s an interesting addition.
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