In 1997, the PA-46 was developed from the very successful PA-36 'Nove'
as a special climate condition version - namely for the use in desert
regions. Tests and tactical reports from Africa had shown that Earth
Defence Forces were in dire need for a more climate-resilient powered
armour than the standard PA-36s and PA-58s, which suffered heavily
under dust and extremely high temperatures.
Field modifications and enhancement packages were hastily developed, but these proved to be unsuitable for the battlefield. The biggest problem was overheating and fine dust getting anywhere, especially into the engines and the joints of the legs.
As a consequence, the PA-46 was to be a complete package for tropic and subtropical climate and harsh conditions like low air pressure in great heights. While being based on the PA-36 hull, the 'Nettai' became an independent PA development and finally received its own designation, PA-46. As a PA-36 evolution, Its bulky hull offered enough space for additional installations like a heavy duty heat exchanger, various dust filters, a dust-repelling system based on compressed air (ducted from enhanced and dust-proof engines), an enhanced sensor package and an improved climate control for the pilot.
Basically, the duty profile of the PA-36 was to be kept, which included the PA's ability to make a jet-assisted jump of at least 820m at 85 km/h and keep a ground running speed of 28km/h. In order to keep up with this profile and the additional systems running in the background, more powerful engines had to be installed, raising the power output from 34ps to 42ps. As a side effect, dry weight rose dramatically so that the PA-46's suspension had to be augmented, too. All in all, the PA-46's weight even outclassed the beefed-up PA-36K 'Berlon', but the PA-46 was ordered into production since no short-term alternative was in sight for troop introduction in 1999, where this special profile PA was desperately needed.
Around 140 specimen of the PA-46 were built and mainly used on the African continent and in Middle East Asia. While the original PA-46 was not delivered with internal weapons, it was compatible with the full weapon range of the PA-36, what made the PA-46 very versatile. Weapon field packs like the simple HR-670 'Wrist Racate' (a set of six single 70mm 'Thunder Crush' artillery missile launchers) were other frequent additions, as well as modified and sometimes improvised communication systems.
Despite its sheer weight and bulk which limited its use, the PA-46 became a reliable weapon in the Northern and Middle African conflict theatre against Idelian forces and saw frequent use until 2013, when it was retired or used to retrofit PA-36 units with spare parts.
Another major conversion of an Aoshima kit, this time the inspiration came through the simple question what a special desert use PA would look like, and which modifications it would need and show, esp. from a rather realistic point of view?
The basis for this conversion was a PA-36K kit, but so many donations went into this one that it is rather a scratch-built kit than a mere conversion.
Special parts and modification sinclude:
·The bigger/square feet come from the Berlon kit
·New knee guards (made from Cornerstone Modulars HO scale chimney parts and 2C putty)
·The visor unit comes from a PA-58
·A modified/enlarged left shoulder, sculpted with 2C putty, containing the assumed heat exchanger
·A pressurized air tank at the right flank (from the Berlon kit) with tubes around the hull
·The right lower arm is standard but fitted with six missile launchers and wiring,
·The left lower arm once was an R2 laser but was modified to hold a gatling gun (from a PA-58 conversion kit) with an ammo box
·The air filters are (modified) anchor bolts
·Many small details like hard points, hooks and covers were added from the scrap box
·All joints on arms and legs received protective and flexible covers made from nylon stockings
The flexible dust covers made the kit's assemby complicated: instead of building torso, arms and legs as separate pieces as usual and putting them together when separately finished, I had to put all the major parts together before painting, because the flexible nylon material is hard to fix and needs some room in order to keep arms end legs moveable. I cut out some roughly matching strips of the nylon stocking material and attached them with super glue. A bit messy, but effective and at the 1:24 scale a convincing result.
The camouflage was inspired by the Egyptian Air Force, a pattern used on Tu-16 "Badger" bombers and MiG fighters - a three-colored paint scheme made of stripes in light sand, grey-green and a pale dark brown, with the green always separating the sand from the brown. An attractive and effective pattern for desert surroundings and for rural areas in this climate zone.
The basic colours are Pale Stone (Humbrol 121, FS 33531), Light Green
(Humbrol 120, FS 34227) and Chocolate (Humbrol 98, maybe FS30051?),
but that was only the beginning. Since I wanted a sun-worn and
dust-bleached look, I added some layers of dry painting with lighter
shades like Humbrol 103 (Cream) and 71 (Beige) on the Pale Stone, a
mix of 120 and 95 on the green and 98 and 64 on the brown.
Light contrast areas and details like the chest box, the visor unit or the pressurized air tank were painted with Ivory (Humbrol 41). To add some more contrast, the PA-46's "face" was painted with a mix of 98 and matte black.
A black ink wash followed, and with dry painting in light grey and cream the weathered look of the already bleached basic tones was even enhanced. Additional dry pinting with silver at some edges would emphasize the used look of the whole PA. Decals came partly from the PA-36K basis kit, numbers and the „Saint“ emblem from the scrap box.
As a last step, the PA was dusted with a mix of artist pigments in sang, beige and grey – the same tones which were used on the small 10x10cm base.