Monday, March 19, 2018

Review: Videoaviation 1/32 GBU-38 Finished

At a Glance


Last summer, I penned a build review of Videoaviation's 1/32 GBU-38's and promised to post a follow up after giving the little bombs a proper finish. This is that follow up, albeit late, but better so than never.

 These were actually some of the first pieces of resin ordnance I had ever assembled and it shows. My novice level of experience coupled with the lack of any sort of proper alignment aids caused some problems in the final product as you can see.

The bombs do not include any sort of index pins or tabs to align the bomb body and KMU tail section. It was all done the best I could at the time with my meager eye balls. The lines give you an idea of how far off I was on this particular bomb.
These alignment issues are trivial and won't be terribly visible once mounted to an aircraft's pylon or associated bomb rack. The set provides options to mount either a DSU-33 proximity fuse or just a hardened nose plug to the front of the munitions. I built one of each.

I only weathered the paint jobs slightly and used no oils or washes to enhance the look. These are as base as it gets. You should know that the GBU-38's seem to run a bit large in scale, a detail that stands out particularly when you compare them side by side to other munitions from different manufacturers.

Here Videoaviation's GBU-38 is centered between Eduard's GBU-12 on the left and Academy's kitted version on the right. Each bomb is a 500 lb Mk82 bomb body but by comparison you can see the Videoaviation's has more girth and appears slightly longer (if you only account for the bomb body, of course, and not the seeker heads of the GBU-12's).
This is really only a problem if you choose to mount the munitions side by side with a weapon from another source such as Eduard. Integrated loads are common on most modern fighter aircraft and having a GBU-12 in close proximity to a GBU-38 is a scenario that plays out often on A-10 Warthogs.

An A-10 elephant walk. You can clearly see a GBU-12 positioned next to two GBU-38's.
I have never been one to precisely measure the dimensions of a model and I am not going to start now. Whether or not the size differences detract from the aircraft's overall appearance will be up to you, the builder.
Either way, the munitions looks right at home when attached to a Wing Weapons Pylon from Academy's 1/32 F-16CG/CJ kit.

A photo of the real thing.

Still, the shape is decent and considering most modelers pay no attention to the finer qualities of scale ordnance, no one will notice.

The instructions suggest applying the stencil to the bomb body such that the text runs parallel with it. While this is correct, I chose to orient the stencil perpendicular to the bomb body. This is also an acceptable placement and I tend to stray from the norm which is why I opted to do it.

A GBU-38 being loaded onto a A-10's pylon. Note the orientation of the stencil on the bomb body reflects my selected placement. However, it is on the opposite side of the bomb than mine.

The placement of the stencils are not as standard as modelers like to think. Here you have GBU-38's with the stencil laid parallel to the bomb body yet on the opposite side as the picture above this.
A weathered GBU-38 about to be loaded on an F-16.

I am certain that Videoaviation's GBU-38's build into a fair representation of the real thing. They are hampered a bit by fussy alignment and perhaps a little pudginess but they are by no means off putting. They are a much needed addition to a market that, until recently, has neglected to produce modern ordnance in large scale. I am a growing fan of Videoaviation's work as sort of the poor man's Eduard. What they lack in refined engineering they make up for in quantity - you don't see Eduard selling ordnance in packs of eight, that's for sure. After seeing how they look when finished, if someone asked me where to find a decent set of GBU-38's in 1/32 scale, I would definitely point them in this direction.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Quick Look: Videoaviation 1/32 MJ-1B Loader (Late Version)

The product gets a boost by being a much needed subject for aircraft diorama builders in a scale that is suits it perfectly. Though the price is right, especially when compared to its Verlinden counterpart, it is only available directly from the manufacturer in Italy. Since the kit is resin, construction is automatically more complicated than an injection molded kit. There are some fragile pieces, particularly the steering wheel, which I broke while removing it from the pour block but for the most part it goes together without much of a struggle. Once assembled, there are several options for the builder to decide on. The kit includes pieces to facilitate either an air-to-ground load or an air-to-air option. There are also two painting options and three possible choices for markings. Videoaviation also provides a figure to drive the MJ-1B.

The kit is let down in several areas, however. The figure's detail is fairly soft but manageable if you paint better than I do, which should not be hard to accomplish. Furthermore, the driver is molded as a female, which may be a disappointment should a guy wish to represent his time in service. Though there is the option for the MJ-1B to carry a missile, such as an AIM-120, the kit provided ADU-537 cradle assembly is not the correct shape by any means. The detail molded onto the kit is nice in most areas and features three hydraulic lines running along the left cantilever lift arm to the lift table. There should be four lines but it is only a slight inaccuracy that few should notice.
Lastly, the center of gravity is located behind the rear wheels causing the model to sit on its tail, especially when the driver is seated. You may counteract this by placing ordnance on the lift table.

Even for someone who does not have a great deal of experience with resin, I had fun building and painting this little kit.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review - Videoaviation 1/32 Mk82 AIR BSU-49/B

Last year I reviewed Videoaviation's Mk82 Snakeye bombs in 1/32 scale so this is a fitting follow-up to that article. The Snakeye and the Mk82 AIR are very similar in appearance and functionality, the major difference being that the former utilizes a Mk15 tail assembly while the Mk82 AIR employs a BSU-49. Both of these tail assemblies serve the same purpose - generate a high amount of drag to slow the munition's decent allowing the releasing aircraft to escape during low-level operations - they just do it differently.
As covered in the previous article, the Mk15 uses spring loaded fins which open up to slow the bomb on its way to the ground. In this case, the BSU-49 attached to a Mk82 releases an Air Inflatable Retarder (AIR), otherwise known as a ballute, which is the combination of balloon and parachute deployed shortly after release.

F-111 releasing Mk82 AIRs. You can see how early the ballute deploys after leaving the pylon.
Bombs like these have since given way to more accurate and hi-tech ordnance like JDAMs but they saw some use during Operation Desert Storm and early in OEF/OIF. These days they are mostly loaded and dropped on friendly ranges for pilot and load crew training. Never the less, Videoaviation has released a set in 1/32 - a scale and subject not touched by Eduard just yet - so it is certainly a welcome addition.

The Munitions

The kit provides enough pieces to create eight bombs. At roughly 12 USD for the box full, it is a great deal and I think you'll see that Videoaviation delivers the bang for your buck.
The package of resin ordnance includes eight Mk82 bomb bodies and eight BSU-49/B AIR assemblies. Modelers also have the option to attach the bomb's lugs, a useful addition should you want to display the ordnance on a trailer or otherwise apart from the aircraft. There is also a choice between arming the bombs with an M904 nose fuse or simply installing the conical nose plug, the same options provided in the previous Mk82 Snakeye kit.
The assembly instructions are basic and printed on one side of card stock along with the marking instructions. The decals are completely legible and consist of four stencils to detail the bomb body and BSU-49. There are also Remove Before Flight streamers provided on the decal sheet but there is no mention of their correct placement on the instructions. One notable omission from the decal sheet is the lack of yellow bands for the nose of the bomb to indicate its high explosive hazard. Modelers must paint that feature on.

The assembled kit

Assembling the kit is straight forward. I removed the pour stub from the bomb body and hollowed out a section large enough for the pour stub from the BSU-49 to fit. It is tight enough that I did not even have to use glue, as you can tell from the photo. Once assembled, I primed it and painted it with Tamiya acrylics. Detailed paint work was done with Vallejo Model Color. With paint laid down, I set the decals directly onto the base coat, no gloss coat was used. They settled nicely with a touch of Solvaset and blended well after a shot of Testor's Dull Coat.

Fortunately, I work with Mk82 AIRs on a regular basis so knowing where to place the Remove Before Flight streamer was not an issue. But for those who have no experience with the bomb, here is a reference.

A real BSU-49. Note the location of the RBF streamer. You may also notice that the stencil on the real BSU is white while the kit provides a yellow stencil. Furthermore, the kit excludes the stencil that belongs on the fuse access door that you can see in the photo above. These are not make or break omissions, however.

The BSU-49 assembly is the dominating feature of the bomb and features the most detail. Did Videoaviation capture it correctly? Compare the spring loaded door at the aft of the Mk82's BSU-49/B. All eight nuts are present on the kit but again, there is a stencil is missing...

Never the less, the BSU-49 created by Videoaviation contains the major components that I would expect to see.

Final thoughts...

Videoaviation's Mk82 AIR kit leaves out a few details when it comes to the markings. The most glaring exclusion is not including some kind of placement location for the Remove Before Flight streamer of the BSU-49. On top of that, there is no decal option for the yellow band on the nose, typical of high explosive munitions.

Note the yellow paint around the noses of these Mk82 AIRs.
To me, leaving out a decal for the yellow band is not a big deal as I prefer to paint mine on anyway. However, there is not even a color call-out in the instructions to inform modelers that a yellow stripe should be there (assuming the munition is live, but that is a whole other topic). 

Two of the stencils that go on the bomb body indicate what explosive filler the bomb has. One says PBXN while the other says Tritonal. I am not an AMMO troop so I do not know the complexities of the high explosive components, I merely load them on aircraft. However, I feel certain that PBXN and Tritonal are two different explosive compounds that would not be present in the same munition. Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong. If that is the case, than the marking instructions would be incorrect to include both stencils on one bomb.

Despite a few small missteps with the markings, the kit excels overall. The issues are so minute that the average modeler would probably not take notice. The assembly is simple enough for a resin kit. The parts are clean and neatly molded and maintain a level of detail that is superior to most plastic sets but do not quite match Eduard to this point. Options are always a plus for modelers, so having the choice to use a nose fuse or the nose plug is a bonus. Even including the RBF streamer, regardless of the lack of placement instruction, is an added benefit that will enhance the little bomb when displayed. 

In the end, Videoaviation has produced a fairly accurate representation of the Mk82 AIR with BSU-49/B. Though it has a shortcoming here or there, they would not be enough to dissuade me from using a set on any applicable aircraft subject. The markings, though slightly inaccurate, behave nicely and blend well with the finish. With the appropriate paint work and weathering, these bombs would be a good addition to any of your relevant 1/32 scale aircraft.

Modeling reference

Ammo troops working on the BSU-49 assemblies before mating them to a bomb body. Note the white decals and RBF placement.

Perhaps an airshow display in front of an F-111. This Mk82 AIR is inert based on the blue stripe. It has a DSU-33 fuse on the nose. Also a good reference for the RBF streamer placement.

A Mk82 AIR being loaded on an A-10. The M904 fuse in the nose has a pin with an RBF streamer in it which gets removed after the munition is loaded. Note all the different stencils.

Two inert Mk82 (BDU-50) AIR practice bombs have been released and the ballute deployed. Note there is no fuse or nose plug on the front.

A RoCAF version on the bottom station of an F-16's TER.

Another inert Mk82 (BDU-50) AIR. The body is all blue indicating it is a practice bomb. This one is loaded on an F-16.

Thanks for reading! I'd like to read your thoughts and comments. Feel free to chime in below or hit me up on my Facebook page.