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I've scouted the early morning northern side of this pier on many occasions... the light is funny here..... you really need a gnarly sunrise sky with long reaching reds if you want them to blanket the skies directly over this pier. Many a wasted trip I've sat with the seagulls and watched it fizzle away... counting seashells and planning my take over of the world :).

And so the story goes....

The transmission on my Audi went the night before at a glorious sunset at this very location.... but it was able to get me back home down the 405 freeway, thanks to stop and go traffic. Can you believe i just said that.. THANKS to stop and go traffic. Proof again that all things truly are relative.

So as I studied weather radar that night, TPE Maps, dew point temps and Google Earth Sun Data, like the nomad scientist that I am, cuddled in my new Christmas blanket.... all things were pointing to YES, it was gonna take more than a bad transmission to keep me in my cozy little bed.... i decided to get up early and drive the darn thing again, by now it was just about on it's last leg... burning up with every mile... surely a moment like this is worth more than a flimsy mechanical box of twisted gears and oil, and one good picture could certainly buy a few transmissions... so.... my choice was easy. here's a quick one from the day. Sniff sniff.... you can almost smell the burning metal in the distance.

:)

GO PATRIOTS!!!!!!!

 

-proud owner of a shiny new Black 4x4 FJ Cruiser. (Mountains beware.)

Title just for Heather, who kindly gave me a one time only freedom to pun pass.

 

So this is how today went.

 

1) Get up, with firm plan to return to the same spot as yesterday, to take exactly the same shots as I got, but didn't use yesterday.

 

2) Confidence wobbles slightly as fabulous sunrise spotted on the way to work... Never mind, too late to go anywhere decent to shoot it.

 

3) Take lunch at 11.30, saying farewell to colleagues including my Dad, who had made me some sandwiches for lunch, despite me being 35.... Early lunch in theory to beat a new band of snow coming but largely down to strange sense of excitement.

 

4) Drive 20 minutes to Gilsland Spa and walk down into the Irthing Gorge for 5 minutes. In all the excitement realise should have gone to bathroom before I left. Will spare you further details (beware yellow snow....)

 

5) Follow footsteps across the snow and ice that I left the previous day, avoiding the ones where I had broken through the ice and risk 'welly overflow'. Set up camera in exactly the same spot as yesterday. Take exactly the same shot as yesterday.

 

6) Back up the hill to the car, drive back to work, suffer long afternoon due to going on lunch so early.

 

7) Get back, look at my photos and have to check the EXIF data as can't work out which shots were on which days.

 

Strange isn't it. I could have just used the shot from the previous day. Nobody would know, you can't tell them apart. I could have saved driving, the cold, diesel, eating sandwiches and getting crumbs all over my car.... But no, in a logic defying way I had to re-take it on the right day. One small bonus I suppose was the icicles that have formed on the branch dipping into the water, they're new!

 

We are all strange.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant:

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

Because I can't resist being like everyone else. :-)

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

  

Some background:

Seeking a domestic aircraft manufacturer, the Brazilian government made several investments in this area during the 1940s and '50s, but it was not until 1969 that Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (EMBRAER) was created as a government-owned corporation. Born from a Brazilian government plan and having been state-run from the beginning, EMBRAER began a privatization process alongside many other state-controlled companies during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. This privatization effort saw EMBRAER sold on December 7, 1994, and helped it avoid a looming bankruptcy.

 

The company's first product was a turboprop transport, the EMBRAER EMB 110 Bandeirante. In the course of years, both civil and military aircraft were developed, the focus shifted more and more to airliners, but the military work was never abandoned. The company continued to win government contracts, which included the EMB 314/T-27 Tucano trainer or the EMB 324/A-29 ground attack aircraft.

 

The EMB 320 was a bigger aircraft, though, and conceived in the early 2000s, when, with renewed economic stability, the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira, FAB) underwent an extensive renewal of its inventory through several acquisition programs. The most ambitious of which was the acquisition of 36 new front-line interceptor aircraft to replace its aging Mirage III, known as the “F-X Project”.

 

In parallel, a supplement to the relatively new AMX fighter bomber (designated A-1 in Brazil) was needed, too, and this program ran under the handle “A-X Project”. While the F-X program was postponed several times until 2005, the A-X program made, thanks to its smaller budget needs, quick progress and resulted in the EMB 320 'Libélula' (Hornet), a dedicated ground attack, COIN and observation/FAC aircraft which would fill the gap between the AMX jets and various helicopters, e. g. the Mi-35M4 attack helicopter.

 

The EMB 320 was a straightforward design: a mid-wing two-turboprop-engined all-metal monoplane with retractable landing gear. Conceptually it was very similar to the Argentinian FMA IA-58 Pucara, but more sophisticated and with more compact dimensions. The aircraft was designed to operate from forward bases, in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain. Repairs could be made with ordinary tools, and no ground equipment was required to start the engines.

 

The EMB 320 had a tandem cockpit arrangement; the crew of two were seated under an extensively glazed canopy on Martin-Baker Mk 6AP6A zero/zero ejection seats and were provided with dual controls. The pilot sat in front, while the rear seat would, if the mission called for it, be occupied by an observer, WSO or a flight teacher for training purposes. Armor plating was fitted to protect the crew and engines from hostile ground fire.

 

The retractable tricycle landing gear, with a double nose wheel and twin main wheels retracting into the engine nacelles, was fitted with low pressure tires to suit operations on rough ground and unprepared air strips, while the undercarriage legs were tall to give good clearance for underslung weapon loads. The undercarriage, flaps and brakes are operated hydraulically, with no pneumatic systems.

Through powerful high lift devices the EMB 320 could perform short takeoffs and landings, even on aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious assault ships without using catapults or arresting wires. Additionally, three JATO rockets could be fitted under the fuselage to allow extra-short take-off.

 

The aircraft was powered by a pair of Garrett T76-G turboprops, 1,040 hp (775.5 kW) each, driving sets of contra-rotating, three-bladed Hamilton-Standard propellers which were also capable of being used as air brakes. The engines were modified for operating on soy-derived bio-jet fuel. Alternatively the engines would operate on high-octane automobile fuel with only a slight loss of power, too.

Fuel was fed from two fuselage tanks of combined capacity of 800 l (180 imp gal; 210 US gal) and two self-sealing tanks of 460 l (100 imp gal; 120 US gal) in the wings.

 

The “Libélula”, quickly christened this way due to its slender fuselage, straight wings and the large cockpit glazing, was highly maneuverable at low altitude, had a low heat signature and incorporated 4th generation avionics and weapons system to deliver precision guided munitions at all weather conditions, day and night.

 

Armament consisted of two fixed 30 mm (1.181 in) Bernardini Mk-164 cannons in the wing roots and a total of nine external weapon hardpoints; these included a pair of launch rails at the wingtips for AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs (or ECM pods), four underwing pylons outside of the propeller radius and three underfuselage hardpoints. Chaff/flare dispensers in the tail section provided passive safety. The EMB 320 could carry more than 3.5 tons of external munitions, and loiter for three or more hours.

 

Avionics included:

● MIL-STD-1553 standards

● NVG ANVIS-9 (Night Vision)

● CCIP / CCRP / CCIL / DTOS / LCOS / SSLC (Computerized Attack Modes)

● R&S{RT} M3AR VHF/UHF airborne transceiver (two-way encrypted Data Link provision)

● HUD / HOTAS

● HMD with UFCP(Up Front Control Panel)

● Laser INS with GPS Navigational System

● CMFD (Colored Multi-Function Display) liquid crystal active matrix

● Integrated Radio Communication and Navigation

● Video Camera/Recorder

● Automatic Pilot with embedded mission planning capability

● Stormscope WX-1000E (Airborne weather mapping system)

● Laser Range Finder

● WiPak Support – (Wi-Fi integration for Paveway bombs)

● Training and Operation Support System (TOSS)

The prototype made its maiden flight on 2nd of April 2000. In August 2001, the Brazilian Air Force awarded EMBRAER a contract for 52 A-27 Libélula aircraft with options for a further 23, acquired from a contract estimated to be worth around $320 USD millions. The first aircraft was delivered in December 2003. By September 2007, 50 aircraft had entered service. The 75th, and last, aircraft was delivered to the FAB in June 2012.

 

While the Libélula has not been used in foreign conflicts the aircraft already fired in anger: One of the main missions of the aircraft was and is border patrol under the SIVAM program, and this resulted in several incidents in which weapons were fired.

 

On 3 June 2009, two BAF A-27A Libélulas, guided by an EMBRAER E-99, intercepted a Cessna U206G engaged in drug trafficking activities. Inbound from Bolivia, the Cessna was intercepted in the region of Alta Floresta d'Oeste and, after exhausting all procedures, one of the Moscarsos fired a warning shot from its 30mm cannons, after which the aircraft followed the Libélulas to Cacoal airport.

This incident was the first use of powers granted under the Shoot-Down Act, which was enacted in October 2004 in order to legislate for the downing of illegal flights. A total of 176 kg of pure cocaine base paste, enough to produce almost a ton of cocaine, was discovered on board the Cessna; the aircraft's two occupants attempted a ground escape before being arrested by Federal Police in Pimenta Bueno.

 

On 5 August 2011, Brazil started “Operation Ágata”, part of a major "Frontiers Strategic Plan" launched by President Dilma Rousseff in June, with almost 30 continuous days of rigorous military activity in the region of Brazil’s border with Colombia. It mobilized 35 aircraft and more than 3,000 military personnel of the Brazilian Army, Brazilian Navy and Brazilian Air Force surveillance against drug trafficking, illegal mining and logging, and trafficking of wild animals.

 

A-29s of 1°/3º Aviation Group (GAv), Squadron Scorpion, as well as six A-27A’s from 4°/3° GAv launched a strike upon an illicit airstrip, deploying eight 230 kg (500 lb) computer-guided Mk 82 bombs to render the airstrip unusable.

Multiple EMB 320 were assigned for night operations, locating remote jungle airstrips used by drug smuggling gangs along the border, and were typically guarded by several E-99 aircraft. The Libélulas also located targets for the A-29 Super Tucanos, allowing them to bomb the airstrips with an extremely high level of accuracy, making use of night-vision systems and computer systems calculating the impact points of munitions.

  

General characteristics

Crew: 2

Length (w/o pitot): 41 ft 10 in (12.76 m)

Wingspan: 40 ft 9 1/2 in (12.45 m)

Height: 13 ft 6 2/3 in (4.14 m)

Wing area: 203.4 ft² (18.9 m²)

Empty weight: 8.920 lb (4.050 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 16.630 lb (7.550 kg)

 

Powerplant:

2× Garrett T76-G410/411 turboprops, 1,040 hp (775.5 kW) each

 

Performance:

Maximum speed: 307 mph (267 kn, 495 km/h)

Range: 1.860 mi (1.620 nmi, 3.000 km)

Service ceiling: 30.160 ft (9.150 m)

Rate of climb: 2.966 ft/min (15 m/s)

 

Armament:

2× fixed 30 mm (1.181 in) Bernardini Mk-164 cannons in the wing roots with 200 RPG

9× external hardpoints for an ordnance load of 8.000 lb (3.630 kg), including smart weapons (e. g. Paveway GBUs, AGM-65B,C or D Maverick, AGM-114 Hellfire), iron bombs, cluster bombs, napalm tanks, unguided rocket pods and AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs as well as drop tanks.

  

The kit and its assembly:

This whif model is a remake of an idea I had/did many years ago from the remains of an Airfix OV-10D Bronco: converting it into a "normal" aircraft. While one could argue that this is not really exciting, I found this project pretty challenging as I wanted to make the result as plausible as possible, not just glue some leftover parts together (what I did years ago). And doing so turned a simple idea into major surgery and sculpting – or, how flickr fellow user Franclab called it, “it makes the Bronco look like the whif and the Libélula the real aircraft”.

 

The basis was a NiB OV-10A Bronco from Academy, a very good kit with a nice cockpit and lots or ordnance. Great value for the money. Design benchmark for what I had in mind was the FMA IA-58 Pucara, as it was designed for the exact same job as my EMB 320 - but details would differ.

 

The rear of the Bronco's central cabin was cut off and mated with the rear fuselage of a Matchbox Bf 110, which has a similar diameter - but the intersection between the square front of the Bronco and the oval Bf 110 fuselage was tricky (= requiring lots of putty work).

When these basic elements were fitted together, I finally decided to raise the spine. The mated fuselage parts would have had worked, but since the original high wings were missing, the EMB 320 would have had a distinctive and pointless hunchback - actually, with a rotor added, it could have become a helicopter, too!

Well, I went for the big solution, also in order to make the fuselage seam less obvious, and the whole upper rear fuselage was sculpted from 2C and NC putty. In the same process the tail was integrated into the fuselage. As a drawback, this shifted the kit's CG so far back that the lead load in the nose could not keep the front wheel down. Well, it's the price to pay for a better overall look.

 

The twin fins come from a 1:100 A-10, leftover from a Revell SnapFit kit, while the horizontal stabilizers were taken from the OV-10A, but had to be re-engraved in order to make the flap geometry plausible.

 

The wings were taken OOB and, relative to the Bronco, placed in a lower position, their original attachment point on top of the fuselage was faired over. The original plan had been to place them completely low, right where the OV-10's wing stubs would be located. But due to the engine nacelles under the wings I finally set them at mid height - otherwise, ground clearance and/or landing gear length had become a big issue - and the thing still looks stalky!

Moving the nacelles into a different (higher) wing position would have been an option, too, but that was IMHO too complicated. Since the EMD 320 would not have storage space behind the cockpit, a wing spar right through the fuselage would not be implausible. As a side effect I had to close the complete belly gap under the Bronco fuselage, again with 2C putty.

 

The Bronco’s tail booms were cut off and pointed end covers added, so that classic engine nacelles which also carry the main landing gear were created. The engine exhausts were relocated towards the nacelle’s end, and the propeller attachment modified, so that the propeller could turn freely on a metal axis and the overall look would be changed.

 

The cockpit tub was taken OOB, but armored seats from an Italeri AH-1 were used (with added headrests), as well as two crew figures, which come IIRC from a Hasegawa RA-5C Vigilante.

 

A new nose section with a sensor turret was built from scratch. It consists of parts from an AH-64 attack helicopter, mated with some styrene sheets for appropriate length. The shape was sculpted from massive material, and the result looks mean and menacing. The pitots were made from scratch, as well as the radar warning sensors on the hull.

 

The landing gear was improvised. The front strut actually belongs to a 1:200 Concorde(!) from Revell, the respective front wheels belong to an ESCI Ka-34 helicopter. For the main landing gear I used the struts from the Bronco kit, but the twin wheels are donations from the scrap box: these come from two Italeri Hawker Hawk kits.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, too, as well as from Hasegawa Weapon sets. As the aircraft was supposed to have taken part in the real world “Operation Ágata”, I decided to add four light Paveway gliding bombs. Two Sidewinders and a pair of M260 rocket launchers (for seven 2.75"/70mm target marking missiles with phosphorous warheads) complete the full load.

The wing pylons come from two Italeri Tornados, those under the fuselage belong to a Matchbox Viggen and an Italeri Kfir.

 

As a final note: originally I wanted to call the aircraft “Moscardo” (= Hornet), but when it took shape its overall lines and potential agility made the dragonfly (Libélula in Portuguese) a much more appropriate namesake. So it goes... ^^

  

Painting and markings:

The reason why this turned out to be a Brazilian aircraft is the fact that I have been wanting to use the current FAB paint scheme for some time - it's basically made up from only two colors, FS 34092 (Dark Green) and FS 36176 (“F-15 Gray”, used on USAF F-15Es), paired with low-viz markings. Looks strange at first glance, like a poor man's Europe One/Lizard scheme, but over a typical rain forest scenery, low altitude and with hazy clouds around it is VERY effective, check the beauty pics which are based on BAF press releases. And it simply looks cool.

 

The pattern is based on current BAF F-5E fighters, the markings come from an FCM decal sheet and actually belong to a BAF Mirage 2000. 4º/3º GAv of the Brazilian Air Force is fictional, though, and some warning stencils were taken from the Academy kit.

 

The cockpit interior was painted in Dark Gull Gray (Humbrol 140), the landing gear wells in a yellow zinc chromate primer (Humbrol 225, Mid Stone) while the landing gear struts remained blank Aluminum, The outer wheel disks are white, while the inside is red - a detail I incorporated from some USN aircraft.

 

Painting was not spectacular - since the cockpit has a lot of glass to offer, I painted the windscreen with translucent light blue, and the observer on the rear seat received a similar sun blocker in deep blue. Translucent paint (yellow and black) was also used on the optical sensors at the nose turret as well as for position lights, all on a silver base.

 

The model was only slightly weathered thorough a black ink wash and some dry-brushing with Humbrol 140 and Testors 2076 (RLM 62) in order to emphasize panels - some panel lines were also painted onto the fuselage with thinned black ink, as the "new" rear body is devoid of any detail and difficult to engrave.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

  

Some background:

Seeking a domestic aircraft manufacturer, the Brazilian government made several investments in this area during the 1940s and '50s, but it was not until 1969 that Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (EMBRAER) was created as a government-owned corporation. Born from a Brazilian government plan and having been state-run from the beginning, EMBRAER began a privatization process alongside many other state-controlled companies during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. This privatization effort saw EMBRAER sold on December 7, 1994, and helped it avoid a looming bankruptcy.

 

The company's first product was a turboprop transport, the EMBRAER EMB 110 Bandeirante. In the course of years, both civil and military aircraft were developed, the focus shifted more and more to airliners, but the military work was never abandoned. The company continued to win government contracts, which included the EMB 314/T-27 Tucano trainer or the EMB 324/A-29 ground attack aircraft.

 

The EMB 320 was a bigger aircraft, though, and conceived in the early 2000s, when, with renewed economic stability, the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira, FAB) underwent an extensive renewal of its inventory through several acquisition programs. The most ambitious of which was the acquisition of 36 new front-line interceptor aircraft to replace its aging Mirage III, known as the “F-X Project”.

 

In parallel, a supplement to the relatively new AMX fighter bomber (designated A-1 in Brazil) was needed, too, and this program ran under the handle “A-X Project”. While the F-X program was postponed several times until 2005, the A-X program made, thanks to its smaller budget needs, quick progress and resulted in the EMB 320 'Libélula' (Hornet), a dedicated ground attack, COIN and observation/FAC aircraft which would fill the gap between the AMX jets and various helicopters, e. g. the Mi-35M4 attack helicopter.

 

The EMB 320 was a straightforward design: a mid-wing two-turboprop-engined all-metal monoplane with retractable landing gear. Conceptually it was very similar to the Argentinian FMA IA-58 Pucara, but more sophisticated and with more compact dimensions. The aircraft was designed to operate from forward bases, in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain. Repairs could be made with ordinary tools, and no ground equipment was required to start the engines.

 

The EMB 320 had a tandem cockpit arrangement; the crew of two were seated under an extensively glazed canopy on Martin-Baker Mk 6AP6A zero/zero ejection seats and were provided with dual controls. The pilot sat in front, while the rear seat would, if the mission called for it, be occupied by an observer, WSO or a flight teacher for training purposes. Armor plating was fitted to protect the crew and engines from hostile ground fire.

 

The retractable tricycle landing gear, with a double nose wheel and twin main wheels retracting into the engine nacelles, was fitted with low pressure tires to suit operations on rough ground and unprepared air strips, while the undercarriage legs were tall to give good clearance for underslung weapon loads. The undercarriage, flaps and brakes are operated hydraulically, with no pneumatic systems.

Through powerful high lift devices the EMB 320 could perform short takeoffs and landings, even on aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious assault ships without using catapults or arresting wires. Additionally, three JATO rockets could be fitted under the fuselage to allow extra-short take-off.

 

The aircraft was powered by a pair of Garrett T76-G turboprops, 1,040 hp (775.5 kW) each, driving sets of contra-rotating, three-bladed Hamilton-Standard propellers which were also capable of being used as air brakes. The engines were modified for operating on soy-derived bio-jet fuel. Alternatively the engines would operate on high-octane automobile fuel with only a slight loss of power, too.

Fuel was fed from two fuselage tanks of combined capacity of 800 l (180 imp gal; 210 US gal) and two self-sealing tanks of 460 l (100 imp gal; 120 US gal) in the wings.

 

The “Libélula”, quickly christened this way due to its slender fuselage, straight wings and the large cockpit glazing, was highly maneuverable at low altitude, had a low heat signature and incorporated 4th generation avionics and weapons system to deliver precision guided munitions at all weather conditions, day and night.

 

Armament consisted of two fixed 30 mm (1.181 in) Bernardini Mk-164 cannons in the wing roots and a total of nine external weapon hardpoints; these included a pair of launch rails at the wingtips for AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs (or ECM pods), four underwing pylons outside of the propeller radius and three underfuselage hardpoints. Chaff/flare dispensers in the tail section provided passive safety. The EMB 320 could carry more than 3.5 tons of external munitions, and loiter for three or more hours.

 

Avionics included:

● MIL-STD-1553 standards

● NVG ANVIS-9 (Night Vision)

● CCIP / CCRP / CCIL / DTOS / LCOS / SSLC (Computerized Attack Modes)

● R&S{RT} M3AR VHF/UHF airborne transceiver (two-way encrypted Data Link provision)

● HUD / HOTAS

● HMD with UFCP(Up Front Control Panel)

● Laser INS with GPS Navigational System

● CMFD (Colored Multi-Function Display) liquid crystal active matrix

● Integrated Radio Communication and Navigation

● Video Camera/Recorder

● Automatic Pilot with embedded mission planning capability

● Stormscope WX-1000E (Airborne weather mapping system)

● Laser Range Finder

● WiPak Support – (Wi-Fi integration for Paveway bombs)

● Training and Operation Support System (TOSS)

The prototype made its maiden flight on 2nd of April 2000. In August 2001, the Brazilian Air Force awarded EMBRAER a contract for 52 A-27 Libélula aircraft with options for a further 23, acquired from a contract estimated to be worth around $320 USD millions. The first aircraft was delivered in December 2003. By September 2007, 50 aircraft had entered service. The 75th, and last, aircraft was delivered to the FAB in June 2012.

 

While the Libélula has not been used in foreign conflicts the aircraft already fired in anger: One of the main missions of the aircraft was and is border patrol under the SIVAM program, and this resulted in several incidents in which weapons were fired.

 

On 3 June 2009, two BAF A-27A Libélulas, guided by an EMBRAER E-99, intercepted a Cessna U206G engaged in drug trafficking activities. Inbound from Bolivia, the Cessna was intercepted in the region of Alta Floresta d'Oeste and, after exhausting all procedures, one of the Moscarsos fired a warning shot from its 30mm cannons, after which the aircraft followed the Libélulas to Cacoal airport.

This incident was the first use of powers granted under the Shoot-Down Act, which was enacted in October 2004 in order to legislate for the downing of illegal flights. A total of 176 kg of pure cocaine base paste, enough to produce almost a ton of cocaine, was discovered on board the Cessna; the aircraft's two occupants attempted a ground escape before being arrested by Federal Police in Pimenta Bueno.

 

On 5 August 2011, Brazil started “Operation Ágata”, part of a major "Frontiers Strategic Plan" launched by President Dilma Rousseff in June, with almost 30 continuous days of rigorous military activity in the region of Brazil’s border with Colombia. It mobilized 35 aircraft and more than 3,000 military personnel of the Brazilian Army, Brazilian Navy and Brazilian Air Force surveillance against drug trafficking, illegal mining and logging, and trafficking of wild animals.

 

A-29s of 1°/3º Aviation Group (GAv), Squadron Scorpion, as well as six A-27A’s from 4°/3° GAv launched a strike upon an illicit airstrip, deploying eight 230 kg (500 lb) computer-guided Mk 82 bombs to render the airstrip unusable.

Multiple EMB 320 were assigned for night operations, locating remote jungle airstrips used by drug smuggling gangs along the border, and were typically guarded by several E-99 aircraft. The Libélulas also located targets for the A-29 Super Tucanos, allowing them to bomb the airstrips with an extremely high level of accuracy, making use of night-vision systems and computer systems calculating the impact points of munitions.

  

General characteristics

Crew: 2

Length (w/o pitot): 41 ft 10 in (12.76 m)

Wingspan: 40 ft 9 1/2 in (12.45 m)

Height: 13 ft 6 2/3 in (4.14 m)

Wing area: 203.4 ft² (18.9 m²)

Empty weight: 8.920 lb (4.050 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 16.630 lb (7.550 kg)

 

Powerplant:

2× Garrett T76-G410/411 turboprops, 1,040 hp (775.5 kW) each

 

Performance:

Maximum speed: 307 mph (267 kn, 495 km/h)

Range: 1.860 mi (1.620 nmi, 3.000 km)

Service ceiling: 30.160 ft (9.150 m)

Rate of climb: 2.966 ft/min (15 m/s)

 

Armament:

2× fixed 30 mm (1.181 in) Bernardini Mk-164 cannons in the wing roots with 200 RPG

9× external hardpoints for an ordnance load of 8.000 lb (3.630 kg), including smart weapons (e. g. Paveway GBUs, AGM-65B,C or D Maverick, AGM-114 Hellfire), iron bombs, cluster bombs, napalm tanks, unguided rocket pods and AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs as well as drop tanks.

  

The kit and its assembly:

This whif model is a remake of an idea I had/did many years ago from the remains of an Airfix OV-10D Bronco: converting it into a "normal" aircraft. While one could argue that this is not really exciting, I found this project pretty challenging as I wanted to make the result as plausible as possible, not just glue some leftover parts together (what I did years ago). And doing so turned a simple idea into major surgery and sculpting – or, how flickr fellow user Franclab called it, “it makes the Bronco look like the whif and the Libélula the real aircraft”.

 

The basis was a NiB OV-10A Bronco from Academy, a very good kit with a nice cockpit and lots or ordnance. Great value for the money. Design benchmark for what I had in mind was the FMA IA-58 Pucara, as it was designed for the exact same job as my EMB 320 - but details would differ.

 

The rear of the Bronco's central cabin was cut off and mated with the rear fuselage of a Matchbox Bf 110, which has a similar diameter - but the intersection between the square front of the Bronco and the oval Bf 110 fuselage was tricky (= requiring lots of putty work).

When these basic elements were fitted together, I finally decided to raise the spine. The mated fuselage parts would have had worked, but since the original high wings were missing, the EMB 320 would have had a distinctive and pointless hunchback - actually, with a rotor added, it could have become a helicopter, too!

Well, I went for the big solution, also in order to make the fuselage seam less obvious, and the whole upper rear fuselage was sculpted from 2C and NC putty. In the same process the tail was integrated into the fuselage. As a drawback, this shifted the kit's CG so far back that the lead load in the nose could not keep the front wheel down. Well, it's the price to pay for a better overall look.

 

The twin fins come from a 1:100 A-10, leftover from a Revell SnapFit kit, while the horizontal stabilizers were taken from the OV-10A, but had to be re-engraved in order to make the flap geometry plausible.

 

The wings were taken OOB and, relative to the Bronco, placed in a lower position, their original attachment point on top of the fuselage was faired over. The original plan had been to place them completely low, right where the OV-10's wing stubs would be located. But due to the engine nacelles under the wings I finally set them at mid height - otherwise, ground clearance and/or landing gear length had become a big issue - and the thing still looks stalky!

Moving the nacelles into a different (higher) wing position would have been an option, too, but that was IMHO too complicated. Since the EMD 320 would not have storage space behind the cockpit, a wing spar right through the fuselage would not be implausible. As a side effect I had to close the complete belly gap under the Bronco fuselage, again with 2C putty.

 

The Bronco’s tail booms were cut off and pointed end covers added, so that classic engine nacelles which also carry the main landing gear were created. The engine exhausts were relocated towards the nacelle’s end, and the propeller attachment modified, so that the propeller could turn freely on a metal axis and the overall look would be changed.

 

The cockpit tub was taken OOB, but armored seats from an Italeri AH-1 were used (with added headrests), as well as two crew figures, which come IIRC from a Hasegawa RA-5C Vigilante.

 

A new nose section with a sensor turret was built from scratch. It consists of parts from an AH-64 attack helicopter, mated with some styrene sheets for appropriate length. The shape was sculpted from massive material, and the result looks mean and menacing. The pitots were made from scratch, as well as the radar warning sensors on the hull.

 

The landing gear was improvised. The front strut actually belongs to a 1:200 Concorde(!) from Revell, the respective front wheels belong to an ESCI Ka-34 helicopter. For the main landing gear I used the struts from the Bronco kit, but the twin wheels are donations from the scrap box: these come from two Italeri Hawker Hawk kits.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, too, as well as from Hasegawa Weapon sets. As the aircraft was supposed to have taken part in the real world “Operation Ágata”, I decided to add four light Paveway gliding bombs. Two Sidewinders and a pair of M260 rocket launchers (for seven 2.75"/70mm target marking missiles with phosphorous warheads) complete the full load.

The wing pylons come from two Italeri Tornados, those under the fuselage belong to a Matchbox Viggen and an Italeri Kfir.

 

As a final note: originally I wanted to call the aircraft “Moscardo” (= Hornet), but when it took shape its overall lines and potential agility made the dragonfly (Libélula in Portuguese) a much more appropriate namesake. So it goes... ^^

  

Painting and markings:

The reason why this turned out to be a Brazilian aircraft is the fact that I have been wanting to use the current FAB paint scheme for some time - it's basically made up from only two colors, FS 34092 (Dark Green) and FS 36176 (“F-15 Gray”, used on USAF F-15Es), paired with low-viz markings. Looks strange at first glance, like a poor man's Europe One/Lizard scheme, but over a typical rain forest scenery, low altitude and with hazy clouds around it is VERY effective, check the beauty pics which are based on BAF press releases. And it simply looks cool.

 

The pattern is based on current BAF F-5E fighters, the markings come from an FCM decal sheet and actually belong to a BAF Mirage 2000. 4º/3º GAv of the Brazilian Air Force is fictional, though, and some warning stencils were taken from the Academy kit.

 

The cockpit interior was painted in Dark Gull Gray (Humbrol 140), the landing gear wells in a yellow zinc chromate primer (Humbrol 225, Mid Stone) while the landing gear struts remained blank Aluminum, The outer wheel disks are white, while the inside is red - a detail I incorporated from some USN aircraft.

 

Painting was not spectacular - since the cockpit has a lot of glass to offer, I painted the windscreen with translucent light blue, and the observer on the rear seat received a similar sun blocker in deep blue. Translucent paint (yellow and black) was also used on the optical sensors at the nose turret as well as for position lights, all on a silver base.

 

The model was only slightly weathered thorough a black ink wash and some dry-brushing with Humbrol 140 and Testors 2076 (RLM 62) in order to emphasize panels - some panel lines were also painted onto the fuselage with thinned black ink, as the "new" rear body is devoid of any detail and difficult to engrave.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

DISCLAIMER

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard (trans. "battle flag") is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft designed by Dassault-Breguet for service with the French Navy. The aircraft was an advanced development of the Étendard IVM, the first of three prototypes, an IVM modified with the new engine and some of the new avionics, made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. Original intentions were for 100 Super Étendard aircraft to be ordered for the French Navy, however the order placed was for 60 of the new model with options for a further 20; further budget cuts lead to only 71 Super Étendards being purchased in the end for the Aéronavele, with deliveries starting in June 1978.

 

In the first year of production, 15 Super Étendards were produced for the French Navy, allowing the formation of the first operational squadron in 1979. Dassault produced the aircraft at a rough rate of two per month, which was kept up until 1983.

 

Foreign customers were few: The Argentinian Navy would place an order for 14 aircraft to meet their requirements for a capable new fighter that could operate from their sole aircraft carrier. Furthermore a total of five Super Étendards were loaned to Iraq in 1983 while the country was waiting for deliveries of Agave-equipped Dassault Mirage F1s, capable of launching Exocet missiles that had been ordered. A third user of the Super Étendard with a similar background to the Iraq solution was the German Navy, with its land-based air arm, called the Marineflieger.

 

In the late 70ies, the German air force was about to replace its Starfighters, which had never been the Marinefliegers' first choice. Actually, in 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.

 

Neverthless, a rather political decision to buy the Starfighter for both German air arms was made, and consequently total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, including F-104G as maritime attack aircraft (equipped with Kormoran anti-ship missiles), RF-104G for maritime reconaissance and TF-104G as trainers. In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings. Introduction of the F-104 into naval air arm service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard weapon system. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year.

 

Anyway, almost 20 years later and with the advent of the Panavia Tornado, the Marineflieger would finally receive the aircraft they had originally been calling, and the F-104Gs were starting to be phased out from 1980 on. Production of the Tornado and its delivery to both Luftwaffe (which had priority) and Marineflieger wings was lagging behind schedule, though, and in order to bridge that gap Germany decided in Febraury 1981 to lease the relatively new French Super Étendard. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and LTV A-7 Corsair II had been considered, too, but the French type eventually turned out to be the most economical and modern solution.

 

A total of 16 aircraft were ordered, and these were diverted from the running production lines. Delivery started in early 1982, when the scheduled Starfighter retirement and replacement was about to begin. All machines are allocated to MFG 2. In parallel, MFG 1 had the honours to be the first Bundeswehr unit to be equipped with the Tornado IDS multirole aircraft, as they started conversion in 1982. Before that, the multi-national conversion units in the UK had already received the initial Tornado trainer aircraft since 1980.

 

The German Super Étendards were given the tactical codes of 42+01 to 42+16 and were originally delivered in the standard Marineflieger camouflage of uniform grey upper surfaces (RAL 7012, Basaltgrau) and light grey lower sides (RAL 7035, Lichtgrau), in a pattern that was identical to the French aircraft.

 

Outwardly the German Super Étendards did not differ from its French cousins, since the aircraft were to be given back after only a few years of use - it was planned to keep the French fighters until 1986, when all Starfighters would have been replaced by Tornados. The Marineflieger "Sue" (nicknamed "Susi" or "Suse" by German crews, an abbreviation of the German female first name "Susanne") had no special features, as these were more or less French stock aircraft, but some components and avionics were changed.

 

For instance, the German aircraft were modfied to carry and launch up to two AS.34 Kormoran missiles, and they were already prepared to carry the updated Kormoran 2 with a digital data bus, a bigger warhead and longer range. They were also able to carry indigenous equipment like the 'Cerberus' ECM pod or the Swedish BOZ-101 chaff/flare pod - both of these as well as the Kromoran 2 were also to carried by the Tornados, and the Super Étendards would already be used fotr practice and evaluation.

The new AGM-88 HARM missile was reserved for the Tornado, though, so that the Super Étendard was primarily tasked with anti-ship and CAS tasks. For self-defense, the German Super Étendards were able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder instead of the French Matra Magic AAM. An Orpheus IV reconnaissance pod could be carried on thone of the inner wing pylons, with a drop tank for balance on the other side.

 

In the course of their short German service (which actually lasted until 1987, when the last Starfighter was retired from Marineflieger service), the Super Étendards were also used to test experimental camouflage schemes. 42+10, 42+12 and 42+15 started to carry very different liveries from 1983, and the results eventually lead to the Marineflieger Tornados' 'Norm 87' wrap-around paint scheme, consisting of RAL 7009 (Grüngrau), 7012 (Basaltgrau) and 5008 (Graublau).

 

No aircraft was lost during the leasing service. All aircraft were, after a major overhaul, integrated into the Aéronavale from 1988 on.

   

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 14.31 m (45 ft 11½ in)

Wingspan: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

Wing area: 28.4 m² (306.7 ft²)

Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)

Powerplant: 1 × SNECMA Atar 8K-50 turbojet, 49.0 kN (11,025 lbf)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 1,000 km/h (637 knots, 733 mph) at low level

Range: 1,820 km (983 nmi, 1,130 mi)

Service ceiling: 13,700 m (44,900 ft)

Rate of climb: 100 m/s[62] (19,700 ft/min)

Wing loading: 423 kg/m² (86.3 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.42

 

Armament

2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA 552 cannons with 125 RPG

4× underwing and 2× under-fuselage hardpoints with a capacity of 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) maximum

   

The kit and its assembly:

The idea for this model was inspired by a profile designed by fellow user PantherG at whatifmodelers.com, showing a German Super Étendard in a fictional Marineflieger style paint scheme. I've been fascinated by the Tornado's Norm '87 scheme - but rather not by the Tornado itself. So I was happy to have an "excuse" to build a respective what-if model, taking a virtual idea to hardware.

 

The model is the standard Academy Super Étendard in 1:72, which is well-detailed - only the cockpit can take some attention, esp. the ejection seat, which I replaced completely, and I also added a Matchbox pilot which had to have its legs cut off, since the cockpit seems to be designed for Asian body measures... pretty tight in there!

 

Basically the kit was kept OOB. Only changes were made to the ordnance, which was taken from a German Tornado (Italeri). I also drilled open the air brakes' holes under the fuselage, and lowered the flaps for a more lively look. Overall, the Sue is rather clean and not really interesting - so any additional detail helps, I guess.

  

Painting and markings:

This took some legwork, since I wanted to stay true to reality, despite creating a whif.

 

The tactical code 42+XX has so far never been allocated to a German aircraft type, but it would perfectly fit in time before the Tornado (which has 43+XX and higher numbers).

 

The paint scheme is supposed to be experimental - and actually both Luftwaffe and Marineflieger had been testing tactical camouflage schemes for air superiority as well as ground attack purposes on a wide range of aircraft in the 70ies and 80ies, including F-4F, RF-4E, Alpha Jets and later also Tornados. Anyway, I decided to stay close to the "real" Norm 87 scheme, which is a bit different from what PantherG suggested in his drawings.

 

The colors I used are authentic: RAL 7009 "Grüngrau" is Revell 67, RAL 7012 "Basaltgrau" is Revell 77 and RAL 5008 "Graublau" is available as Xtracolor X264. Consulting real RAL color samples as benchmarks, I muist say that the Revell tones are very good, but the Xtracolor paint is pretty far off. X264 is rather a dark petrol blue, reminiscent of FS35042. Graublau is much more dull and grey-ish, rather a bluish FS36081 - and on real aircraft it almost looks like tar, no blue hue at all to detect.

Anyway, I still used X264, since my 42+15 would sport an experimental paint scheme, so it would not matter much - and X264 would still be the darkest tone of the paint scheme, with good contrast to RAL 7009 and 7012, which are very similar and have almost no contrast. Interesting scheme, though, esp. due to its large color bandages all around the hull instead of smaller patches or stripes.

 

Best alternative I could find is Humbrol 77, which is still too greenish, though - mixing it 1:1 with Humbrol 32 might yield something that comes close to RAL 5008.

 

With a little shading with lighter tones (including RLM 71 from Testors, Humbrol 79 and 77, as well as some acryllic dark grey as an overall filter), a black ink wash and some dry-brushing the contrast was enhanced and the surface slightly weathered. German aircraft were kept in good shape, but at times the weather and sunlight would take their toll and bleach the colors, esp. on the upper sides - RAL 7012 would quickly deteriorate into a relatively light grey with a slight, purple hue!

 

Both Cerberus and BOZ-101 pods were painted in different shades of grey, though, as if they'd belong to a differently camouflaged Marineflieger aircraft. The Kormoran missiles were painted according to pics of the real thing, in a dark olive drab color.

 

National markings and some German stencils were taken from an Xtradecal sheet for German Tornados, as well as from a sheet of an Italeri Tornado with Luftwaffe markings. The tactical codes were created from single digits from a respective TL Modellbau decal sheet.

 

Cockpit interior was painted in a very dark grey, according to pictures from the real Sue. The air intake interior and the landing gear wells were kept in aluminum (Humbrol 56), while the landing gear struts received a mix of aluminum and white.

   

In the end, a simple project: only a fantasy paint scheme and some minor changed details to the OOB kit. But the German wraparound scheme suits the Sue well, and its service introduction in France as well as the retirement of the German Starfighters in the early 80ies makes this a potentially convincing and plausible whif. And, honestly, it was actually a relief from some recent major kit conversions and kitbashings - and a tribute to the creative spirit of PantherG at whatifmodelers.com. ^^

SS...THIS IS PROBABLY THE BIGGEST SCANDAL OF OUR LIFETIMES .....THERE IS NO FURTHER ARGUMENT NEEDED AGAINST BIG GOVERNMENT.....THE POWER IT WIELDS WILL ALWAYS BE ABUSED...........DEMAND THAT CONGRESS STOP THIS.........NOW.........

 

“Even the ACLU is shocked” by the Obama administration’s secret grab of phone records of millions of Americans, says talk-radio host Michael Savage.

 

He noted on his nationally syndicated show Friday night that while Obama has characterized the government’s access to the data as a “modest encroachment” on privacy, an ACLU senior policy analyst called it a “gross privacy invasion.”

 

Recalling the warnings in his “Beware the Government-Media Complex” speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in 2000, Savage told his listeners the NSA’s snooping is “the biggest scandal of your entire life.”

 

“I’ve always run my life as if I’m listened in on,” he said.

 

Savage cited an op-ed for Reuters by the ACLU’s Ben Wizner that pointed out the disturbing privacy implications of the Obama administration’s surveillance program.

 

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, Wizner wrote, concluded that “reviewing people’s social networking contacts alone was sufficient to determine their sexual orientation.”

 

He noted that “metadata from email communications was sufficient to identify the mistress of then-CIA Director David Petraeus and then drive him out of office.”

 

Get Savage’s free weekly insider newsletter five days a week in your email inbox by going to the top of the home page on Savage’s website and clicking the green “SUBSCRIBE” box.

 

“The ‘who,’ ‘when’ and ‘how frequently’ of communications are often more revealing than what is said or written,’ he argued. “Calls between a reporter and a government whistleblower, for example, may reveal a relationship that can be incriminating all on its own.”

 

The ACLU analyst said “repeated calls to Alcoholics Anonymous, hotlines for gay teens, abortion clinics or a gambling bookie may tell you all you need to know about a person’s problems.”

 

“If a politician were revealed to have repeatedly called a phone sex hotline after 2:00 a.m., no one would need to know what was said on the call before drawing conclusions,” said Wizner. “In addition sophisticated data-mining technologies have compounded the privacy implications by allowing the government to analyze terabytes of metadata and reveal far more details about a person’s life than ever before.”

 

The London Guardian released a secret order Wednesday from the FISA Court revealing that the U.S. government has been using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to track the calls of every Verizon Business Network Services customer.

    

the new revelations “make clear that the NSA – part of the military – now has direct access to every corner of Americans’ digital lives.”

 

“Unchecked government surveillance presents a grave threat to democratic freedoms,” he said. “These revelations are a reminder that Congress has given the executive branch far too much power to invade individual privacy, that existing civil liberties safeguards are grossly inadequate, and that powers exercised entirely in secret, without public accountability of any kind, will certainly be abused.”

  

Read more at www.wnd.com/2013/06/savage-aclu-turns-on-obama/#euu2aML14...

=================================================================

 

The computer you are sitting at right now probably has a microphone. It probably also has a camera looking at you this moment. Is it sending sound and pictures from inside your house to the PRISM program at NSA?

 

Who knows? But one thing is for sure — the technology is sitting there, on your desk. Welcome to Winston’s world.

    

Yesterday we crossed a line. What once seemed kooky is now happening. I figured this would be a fight for a future generation, but it is ours. The frightening future has arrived.

 

The American government has never done anything as sinister as PRISM. No, Korematsu’s camps were awful, but Oceania really was at war with East Asia. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote a thoughtful and detailed legal discussion which everyone should read before they ever again mention the relocation of Japanese in World War II.

 

But no war, no threat, no nothing justifies the National Security Agency obtaining a direct pipeline to the Skype chats of every American. What possible justification is there for the government watching granddad talk to his grandkids in real time back in Laurel, Maryland?

 

If you haven’t seen the The Lives of Others, it is time you do, now. It portrays the moral depravity of government surveillance teams. Like the Stasi monsters, our own American monsters listened in to soldiers in Iraq speaking with their wives, when they though nobody was.

 

The Lives of Others also portrays human goodness — the rejection of the surveillance state by small moral choices. The whistleblower who blew up PRISM is an American hero who joins others who have kept the republic alive like Joshua Chamberlain and Harold Agerholm — which probably means the corrupt and dastardly attorney general will prosecute them.

    

And let’s dispense with any Republican who defends this program. If the Patriot Act justified it, then that law needs to be scrapped, scorned, and spat upon. Republicans need to stop with the “this wasn’t our intent” garbage also. That line of argument betrays an ignorance of history and a naiveté of power.

 

If Prism was done without statutory support, it’s time for all Americans to do whatever it takes to shame, embarrass, and identify by name the bureaucrats who administered it at the National Security Agency. Stop with always blaming Obama alone. It means you never worked inside government, where mid- and low-level people drive bad behavior.

 

Perhaps PRISM will be a bookend to 9-11 that once again unifies Americans. If not, I fear what those offended by PRISM will do to the ones defending it.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The P-51 was a relative latecomer to the Pacific Theatre. This was due largely to the need for the aircraft in Europe, although the P-38's twin-engine design was considered a safety advantage for long over-water flights. The first P-51s were deployed in the Far East later in 1944, operating in close-support and escort missions, as well as tactical photo reconnaissance. As the war in Europe wound down, the P-51 became more common: eventually, with the capture of Iwo Jima, it was able to be used as a bomber escort during B-29 missions against the Japanese homeland.

 

Anyway, impressed by the type’s performance, the U. S. Navy requested a navalized version of the able fighter – despite the preference for radial engines. Work on the so-called Sea Mustang began in early 1944 with the intention to provide the U.S. Navy with a long range, high performance successor for the Grumman F6F Hellcat. The specifications called for an aircraft able to operate from the smallest carrier, primarily in the interceptor role.

North American’s F1J idea to modify the proven Mustang to marine needs took a long way – longer and more twisted than expected. A first attempt to navalize the Mustang was done under the “Project Seahorse”: An early-series P-51D-5-NA, serial number 44-14017, was re-designated ETF-51D and sent to Mustin Field, near Philadelphia, for initial carrier utility testing in September 1944. One of the runways at Mustin Field was specially modified in order to test the naval Mustang. Markings simulating the size of an aircraft carrier's deck were realized and arrester cables were installed, as well as a launch catapult.

During the months of September and October 1944, test pilot Lt. Bob Elder made nearly 150 simulated launches and landings with the ETF-51D. Sufficient data concerning the Mustang's low speed handling had to be gathered before carrier trials could begin.

The Mustang's laminar-flow wing made for little drag and high speed but was relatively inefficient at low speed, resulting in a high stall speed. As the arrester cables could not be engaged at more than 90 mph, Elder reported that “from the start, it was obvious to everyone that the margin between the stall speed of the aircraft (82 mph) and the speed imposed by the arrester gear (90 mph) was very limited.”

Rudder control at low speeds and high angles of attack was inadequate. In addition, landing attitude had to be carefully controlled to avoid damaging the airframe upon landing. One of the handling quirks of the Mustang was also potentially dangerous: during a missed approach or a wave-off, power had to be re-applied gently, due to torque. If not, the aircraft could roll rapidly, or even snap-roll. At such low speed and altitude, the result could only be fatal.

Later, the tests went on with live action on board of a carrier, the USS Shangri-La (CV-38). Bob Elder “made all carrier landings at the speed of 85 mph. Luckily, the Mustang reacted well, even in the most delicate situations. One just had to use the throttle wisely.” Elder reported that speed control on the ETF-51D was excellent. He also stated that “the forward visibility was good and never gave me any problems. In fact, fighters with radial engines such as the F4U or F6F were worse than the P-51 in that respect.” The aircraft also behaved well during catapult launches.

The carrier suitability trials were rather short, though: only 25 landings and launches were made. Elder wrote “Although I had ‘premiered’ many US Navy aircraft carrier landings, no such experience had been as interesting as with the Mustang”.

However, North American Aviation did not forget about the ETF-51D experiments. Building on this experience, the company later presented another navalized Mustang project to the Navy: NAA-133. This machine was technically based on the P-51H, the last Mustang model to see production. The airframe of the NAA-133 was strengthened, though, as the P-51H airframe was lighter but not as sturdy as the P-51D’s.

 

While the basic Mustang airframe was retained for the NAA-133, a lot of detail work was done. Most obvious difference was the cockpit, which was slightly moved forward, for a better field of view, with the oil tank moved aft. Additionally, the radiator bath was moved forward in order to keep the area in front of the arrester hook, which was part of a strengthened landing gear, free from potential obstacles.

The wings were modified, too, featuring wing tip tanks for extended range as well as folding joints just outboard of the landing gear wells. All tail surfaces were slightly enlarged in order to improve slow speed agility. A six-bladed contraprop was fitted, too, in order to decrease the propeller’s diameter for easier landing as well as to improve acceleration and handling at low speed, due to the torque problems associated with the original four-bladed propeller. The internal armament was also enhanced, comprising now four 20mm M3 cannons instead of the former 0.5” machine guns.

Structurally the fuselage used flush riveting as well as spot welding, with a heavy gauge 302W aluminum alloy skin. However, the USN’s requested target loaded weight of 8,750 lb/3,969 kg was essentially impossible to achieve as the structure of the new fighter had to be made strong enough for aircraft carrier landings and resilient to high salt and humidity levels – in fact, the reinforced lightweight basic airframe of the P-51H became as heavy as the former P-51D, and performance was only as good as the D’s, despite the stronger engine.

The F1J “Sea Mustang” prototypes, how the type was officially designated, were ordered in August 1944 and first flew on 15 January 1945. By early 1945, though, the islands of Okinawa and Iwo Jima were conquered, and their airfields were immediately taken over by US forces, providing fighter units with bases from which they could escort bombers to mainland Japan. The Navy’s P-51 was no longer needed and the program was cancelled after about a dozen airframes had been completed. These were operational by 21 May, but World War II was over before the aircraft saw serious combat service.

The completed Sea Mustangs were later used as instructional airframes. In service the F1J was superseded by Grumman’s F8F Bearcat and Vought’s F4U Corsair, which had a significant development advance and became the USN’s major piston-engined fighters in the late 40ies.

  

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)

Wingspan: 37 ft 0 in (11.28 m) w. wing tip tanks

Height: 13 ft 4½ in (4.08 m w. tail wheel on ground, vertical propeller blade.)

Wing area: 235 ft² (21.83 m²)

Empty weight: 7,635 lb (3,465 kg)

Loaded weight: 9,200 lb (4,175 kg)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,100 lb (5,490 kg)

Aspect ratio: 5.83

 

Powerplant:

1× Packard V-1650-9 liquid-cooled supercharged V-12, 1,490 hp (1,111 kW) at 3,000 rpm, 2,220 hp (1,655 kW) at WEP

 

Performance:

Maximum speed: 437 mph (703 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m)

Cruise speed: 362 mph (580 km/h)

Range: 1,650 mi (2,755 km) with external tanks

Service ceiling: 41,900 ft (12,800 m)

Rate of climb: 3,200 ft/min (16.3 m/s)

Wing loading: 39 lb/ft² (192 kg/m²)

Power/mass: 0.18 hp/lb (300 W/kg)

Lift-to-drag ratio: 14.6

Recommended Mach limit 0.8

 

Armament:

4 × 20 mm (.79 in) M3 cannon, 190 rounds per gun

2× hardpoints for up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs or drop tanks, plus 6× 5” (127 mm) unguided rockets

  

The kit and its assembly

The idea of a navalized Mustang is IMHO a nice and rich whif theme. When I delved into history I was surprised that the idea as such had actually been taken to hardware status – the ETF-51D mentioned above is/was real, as well as the later NAA-133 proposal to the USN. But the latter never got as far as described, and that’s where whifery came to play. Anyway, what sounds like a simple plan became a major surgery, since I wanted more than just a blue P-51 with a hook glued to it.

 

My original plan was to convert a Hobby Boss kit, but when I tried to move both cockpit and radiator bath forward, that kit’s massive (!) fuselage piece prevented any decent modification. Hence, I fell back to an “old school” P-51D kit with two fuselage halves: a Heller Mustang which I still had in my stack. Not a bad kit, but with its raised panel lines it certainly is sub-optimal, esp. when you change many things on the hull.

 

Both cockpit and radiator intake were moved about 5mm forward, a major surgery. The cockpit was taken OOB, just some ribs inside and a pilot figure were added (an old Matchbox figure), and radio equipment simulated behind the seat. The canopy was cut open.

 

The contraprop is new, too, a scratch-built piece, made from, AFAIK an F4U drop tank. It gives the Sea Mustang a sleek, beefy look, but also makes sense from an operational point of view.

 

The landing gear received new/better wheels and extra struts, also for a sturdier look. The new tail wheel was taken from an Airfix A-1 Skyraider, with an added arrester hook and an accordingly modified well with new/longer covers.

 

The tail was completely modified: the horizontal stabilizers were replaced by bigger ones, taken from an F4U, and the original vertical rudder was replaced by a taller construction created from a Ju-87G rudder (!) and a stabilizer from a Bell AH-1, both ancient Matchbox kits.

The Heller kit provides a separate fin fillet piece, but I left it away, in order to pronounce the taller fin and longer back of the F1J.

 

The wings received wing tip tanks (taken from a Grumman F9F Panther) as well as a changed armament with four cannons with longer barrels (from the Airfix A-1) instead of the classic six 0.5” machine guns. New panel lines, where the wing folding joints would be, were engraved. In order to add some realism for display, flaps were opened/lowered - an easy task with the Heller kit.

 

The 250 lbs. bombs were taken straight from the Heller kit, the 5” HVARs come from a Matchbox Grumman F9F Panther, with scratch-built launch rails made from polystyrene profiles (Evergreen).

  

Painting

The old adage that a subtle whif works best with a simple livery is true: the dark blue (FS15042/AN607) suits the slender lines of the Mustang very well, even if it is my hunchback modification! Unfortunately, my favourite paint choice, Humbrol 181, is out of production (Shame on you, Airfix!), so I had to hunt down Testors’ 1718 as a replacement.

All interior surfaces were painted with Humbrol 226 (Interior Green), then dry-brushed with Zinc Chromate (Testors 1734) and Humbrol 80 (Grass Green).

 

Markings were taken from 1:72 a Hobby Boss F4U (leftover from my FAS conversion) and a vintage F6F from Monogram in 1:48. The squadron markings depict a machine from VF-82 "Fighting Fools", based on the carrier USS Bennington (CV-20) in the Pacific theatre in 1945. National insignia had to be puzzled together and improvised with white stars and separate all-white bars. The yellow band behind the propeller rather belongs to machines from VF-84 on board of USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), though, but since this is a whif, the marking is a nice contrast to the all-blue livery. That the machine sports the bort number "82" is a weird conincidence!

 

Some weathering was done with dry-brushing (e. g. Humbrol 77 & 189), rubbed graphite dust and soot stains around cannons and exhausts, and light colour chipping on leading edges and around the cockpit was done. Finally, the kit received a coat with semi-gloss varnish – I did not dare using a 100% gloss coat, because that would IMHO have made the machine look too new and out of scale.

  

In the end, a nice little model/project, realized in less tha a week - despite the major surgeries, but the single colour paint job was simple. A fighter with a twist, and with a really subtle whif factor, even though my interpretation of a Sea Mustang differs in many aspects from the real NAA-133 proposal. But this model is not intended to be a representation of North American’s project, rather a personal and dramatized idea of what might have been. :D

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

  

Some background:

Seeking a domestic aircraft manufacturer, the Brazilian government made several investments in this area during the 1940s and '50s, but it was not until 1969 that Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (EMBRAER) was created as a government-owned corporation. Born from a Brazilian government plan and having been state-run from the beginning, EMBRAER began a privatization process alongside many other state-controlled companies during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. This privatization effort saw EMBRAER sold on December 7, 1994, and helped it avoid a looming bankruptcy.

 

The company's first product was a turboprop transport, the EMBRAER EMB 110 Bandeirante. In the course of years, both civil and military aircraft were developed, the focus shifted more and more to airliners, but the military work was never abandoned. The company continued to win government contracts, which included the EMB 314/T-27 Tucano trainer or the EMB 324/A-29 ground attack aircraft.

 

The EMB 320 was a bigger aircraft, though, and conceived in the early 2000s, when, with renewed economic stability, the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira, FAB) underwent an extensive renewal of its inventory through several acquisition programs. The most ambitious of which was the acquisition of 36 new front-line interceptor aircraft to replace its aging Mirage III, known as the “F-X Project”.

 

In parallel, a supplement to the relatively new AMX fighter bomber (designated A-1 in Brazil) was needed, too, and this program ran under the handle “A-X Project”. While the F-X program was postponed several times until 2005, the A-X program made, thanks to its smaller budget needs, quick progress and resulted in the EMB 320 'Libélula' (Hornet), a dedicated ground attack, COIN and observation/FAC aircraft which would fill the gap between the AMX jets and various helicopters, e. g. the Mi-35M4 attack helicopter.

 

The EMB 320 was a straightforward design: a mid-wing two-turboprop-engined all-metal monoplane with retractable landing gear. Conceptually it was very similar to the Argentinian FMA IA-58 Pucara, but more sophisticated and with more compact dimensions. The aircraft was designed to operate from forward bases, in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain. Repairs could be made with ordinary tools, and no ground equipment was required to start the engines.

 

The EMB 320 had a tandem cockpit arrangement; the crew of two were seated under an extensively glazed canopy on Martin-Baker Mk 6AP6A zero/zero ejection seats and were provided with dual controls. The pilot sat in front, while the rear seat would, if the mission called for it, be occupied by an observer, WSO or a flight teacher for training purposes. Armor plating was fitted to protect the crew and engines from hostile ground fire.

 

The retractable tricycle landing gear, with a double nose wheel and twin main wheels retracting into the engine nacelles, was fitted with low pressure tires to suit operations on rough ground and unprepared air strips, while the undercarriage legs were tall to give good clearance for underslung weapon loads. The undercarriage, flaps and brakes are operated hydraulically, with no pneumatic systems.

Through powerful high lift devices the EMB 320 could perform short takeoffs and landings, even on aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious assault ships without using catapults or arresting wires. Additionally, three JATO rockets could be fitted under the fuselage to allow extra-short take-off.

 

The aircraft was powered by a pair of Garrett T76-G turboprops, 1,040 hp (775.5 kW) each, driving sets of contra-rotating, three-bladed Hamilton-Standard propellers which were also capable of being used as air brakes. The engines were modified for operating on soy-derived bio-jet fuel. Alternatively the engines would operate on high-octane automobile fuel with only a slight loss of power, too.

Fuel was fed from two fuselage tanks of combined capacity of 800 l (180 imp gal; 210 US gal) and two self-sealing tanks of 460 l (100 imp gal; 120 US gal) in the wings.

 

The “Libélula”, quickly christened this way due to its slender fuselage, straight wings and the large cockpit glazing, was highly maneuverable at low altitude, had a low heat signature and incorporated 4th generation avionics and weapons system to deliver precision guided munitions at all weather conditions, day and night.

 

Armament consisted of two fixed 30 mm (1.181 in) Bernardini Mk-164 cannons in the wing roots and a total of nine external weapon hardpoints; these included a pair of launch rails at the wingtips for AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs (or ECM pods), four underwing pylons outside of the propeller radius and three underfuselage hardpoints. Chaff/flare dispensers in the tail section provided passive safety. The EMB 320 could carry more than 3.5 tons of external munitions, and loiter for three or more hours.

 

Avionics included:

● MIL-STD-1553 standards

● NVG ANVIS-9 (Night Vision)

● CCIP / CCRP / CCIL / DTOS / LCOS / SSLC (Computerized Attack Modes)

● R&S{RT} M3AR VHF/UHF airborne transceiver (two-way encrypted Data Link provision)

● HUD / HOTAS

● HMD with UFCP(Up Front Control Panel)

● Laser INS with GPS Navigational System

● CMFD (Colored Multi-Function Display) liquid crystal active matrix

● Integrated Radio Communication and Navigation

● Video Camera/Recorder

● Automatic Pilot with embedded mission planning capability

● Stormscope WX-1000E (Airborne weather mapping system)

● Laser Range Finder

● WiPak Support – (Wi-Fi integration for Paveway bombs)

● Training and Operation Support System (TOSS)

The prototype made its maiden flight on 2nd of April 2000. In August 2001, the Brazilian Air Force awarded EMBRAER a contract for 52 A-27 Libélula aircraft with options for a further 23, acquired from a contract estimated to be worth around $320 USD millions. The first aircraft was delivered in December 2003. By September 2007, 50 aircraft had entered service. The 75th, and last, aircraft was delivered to the FAB in June 2012.

 

While the Libélula has not been used in foreign conflicts the aircraft already fired in anger: One of the main missions of the aircraft was and is border patrol under the SIVAM program, and this resulted in several incidents in which weapons were fired.

 

On 3 June 2009, two BAF A-27A Libélulas, guided by an EMBRAER E-99, intercepted a Cessna U206G engaged in drug trafficking activities. Inbound from Bolivia, the Cessna was intercepted in the region of Alta Floresta d'Oeste and, after exhausting all procedures, one of the Moscarsos fired a warning shot from its 30mm cannons, after which the aircraft followed the Libélulas to Cacoal airport.

This incident was the first use of powers granted under the Shoot-Down Act, which was enacted in October 2004 in order to legislate for the downing of illegal flights. A total of 176 kg of pure cocaine base paste, enough to produce almost a ton of cocaine, was discovered on board the Cessna; the aircraft's two occupants attempted a ground escape before being arrested by Federal Police in Pimenta Bueno.

 

On 5 August 2011, Brazil started “Operation Ágata”, part of a major "Frontiers Strategic Plan" launched by President Dilma Rousseff in June, with almost 30 continuous days of rigorous military activity in the region of Brazil’s border with Colombia. It mobilized 35 aircraft and more than 3,000 military personnel of the Brazilian Army, Brazilian Navy and Brazilian Air Force surveillance against drug trafficking, illegal mining and logging, and trafficking of wild animals.

 

A-29s of 1°/3º Aviation Group (GAv), Squadron Scorpion, as well as six A-27A’s from 4°/3° GAv launched a strike upon an illicit airstrip, deploying eight 230 kg (500 lb) computer-guided Mk 82 bombs to render the airstrip unusable.

Multiple EMB 320 were assigned for night operations, locating remote jungle airstrips used by drug smuggling gangs along the border, and were typically guarded by several E-99 aircraft. The Libélulas also located targets for the A-29 Super Tucanos, allowing them to bomb the airstrips with an extremely high level of accuracy, making use of night-vision systems and computer systems calculating the impact points of munitions.

  

General characteristics

Crew: 2

Length (w/o pitot): 41 ft 10 in (12.76 m)

Wingspan: 40 ft 9 1/2 in (12.45 m)

Height: 13 ft 6 2/3 in (4.14 m)

Wing area: 203.4 ft² (18.9 m²)

Empty weight: 8.920 lb (4.050 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 16.630 lb (7.550 kg)

 

Powerplant:

2× Garrett T76-G410/411 turboprops, 1,040 hp (775.5 kW) each

 

Performance:

Maximum speed: 307 mph (267 kn, 495 km/h)

Range: 1.860 mi (1.620 nmi, 3.000 km)

Service ceiling: 30.160 ft (9.150 m)

Rate of climb: 2.966 ft/min (15 m/s)

 

Armament:

2× fixed 30 mm (1.181 in) Bernardini Mk-164 cannons in the wing roots with 200 RPG

9× external hardpoints for an ordnance load of 8.000 lb (3.630 kg), including smart weapons (e. g. Paveway GBUs, AGM-65B,C or D Maverick, AGM-114 Hellfire), iron bombs, cluster bombs, napalm tanks, unguided rocket pods and AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs as well as drop tanks.

  

The kit and its assembly:

This whif model is a remake of an idea I had/did many years ago from the remains of an Airfix OV-10D Bronco: converting it into a "normal" aircraft. While one could argue that this is not really exciting, I found this project pretty challenging as I wanted to make the result as plausible as possible, not just glue some leftover parts together (what I did years ago). And doing so turned a simple idea into major surgery and sculpting – or, how flickr fellow user Franclab called it, “it makes the Bronco look like the whif and the Libélula the real aircraft”.

 

The basis was a NiB OV-10A Bronco from Academy, a very good kit with a nice cockpit and lots or ordnance. Great value for the money. Design benchmark for what I had in mind was the FMA IA-58 Pucara, as it was designed for the exact same job as my EMB 320 - but details would differ.

 

The rear of the Bronco's central cabin was cut off and mated with the rear fuselage of a Matchbox Bf 110, which has a similar diameter - but the intersection between the square front of the Bronco and the oval Bf 110 fuselage was tricky (= requiring lots of putty work).

When these basic elements were fitted together, I finally decided to raise the spine. The mated fuselage parts would have had worked, but since the original high wings were missing, the EMB 320 would have had a distinctive and pointless hunchback - actually, with a rotor added, it could have become a helicopter, too!

Well, I went for the big solution, also in order to make the fuselage seam less obvious, and the whole upper rear fuselage was sculpted from 2C and NC putty. In the same process the tail was integrated into the fuselage. As a drawback, this shifted the kit's CG so far back that the lead load in the nose could not keep the front wheel down. Well, it's the price to pay for a better overall look.

 

The twin fins come from a 1:100 A-10, leftover from a Revell SnapFit kit, while the horizontal stabilizers were taken from the OV-10A, but had to be re-engraved in order to make the flap geometry plausible.

 

The wings were taken OOB and, relative to the Bronco, placed in a lower position, their original attachment point on top of the fuselage was faired over. The original plan had been to place them completely low, right where the OV-10's wing stubs would be located. But due to the engine nacelles under the wings I finally set them at mid height - otherwise, ground clearance and/or landing gear length had become a big issue - and the thing still looks stalky!

Moving the nacelles into a different (higher) wing position would have been an option, too, but that was IMHO too complicated. Since the EMD 320 would not have storage space behind the cockpit, a wing spar right through the fuselage would not be implausible. As a side effect I had to close the complete belly gap under the Bronco fuselage, again with 2C putty.

 

The Bronco’s tail booms were cut off and pointed end covers added, so that classic engine nacelles which also carry the main landing gear were created. The engine exhausts were relocated towards the nacelle’s end, and the propeller attachment modified, so that the propeller could turn freely on a metal axis and the overall look would be changed.

 

The cockpit tub was taken OOB, but armored seats from an Italeri AH-1 were used (with added headrests), as well as two crew figures, which come IIRC from a Hasegawa RA-5C Vigilante.

 

A new nose section with a sensor turret was built from scratch. It consists of parts from an AH-64 attack helicopter, mated with some styrene sheets for appropriate length. The shape was sculpted from massive material, and the result looks mean and menacing. The pitots were made from scratch, as well as the radar warning sensors on the hull.

 

The landing gear was improvised. The front strut actually belongs to a 1:200 Concorde(!) from Revell, the respective front wheels belong to an ESCI Ka-34 helicopter. For the main landing gear I used the struts from the Bronco kit, but the twin wheels are donations from the scrap box: these come from two Italeri Hawker Hawk kits.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, too, as well as from Hasegawa Weapon sets. As the aircraft was supposed to have taken part in the real world “Operation Ágata”, I decided to add four light Paveway gliding bombs. Two Sidewinders and a pair of M260 rocket launchers (for seven 2.75"/70mm target marking missiles with phosphorous warheads) complete the full load.

The wing pylons come from two Italeri Tornados, those under the fuselage belong to a Matchbox Viggen and an Italeri Kfir.

 

As a final note: originally I wanted to call the aircraft “Moscardo” (= Hornet), but when it took shape its overall lines and potential agility made the dragonfly (Libélula in Portuguese) a much more appropriate namesake. So it goes... ^^

  

Painting and markings:

The reason why this turned out to be a Brazilian aircraft is the fact that I have been wanting to use the current FAB paint scheme for some time - it's basically made up from only two colors, FS 34092 (Dark Green) and FS 36176 (“F-15 Gray”, used on USAF F-15Es), paired with low-viz markings. Looks strange at first glance, like a poor man's Europe One/Lizard scheme, but over a typical rain forest scenery, low altitude and with hazy clouds around it is VERY effective, check the beauty pics which are based on BAF press releases. And it simply looks cool.

 

The pattern is based on current BAF F-5E fighters, the markings come from an FCM decal sheet and actually belong to a BAF Mirage 2000. 4º/3º GAv of the Brazilian Air Force is fictional, though, and some warning stencils were taken from the Academy kit.

 

The cockpit interior was painted in Dark Gull Gray (Humbrol 140), the landing gear wells in a yellow zinc chromate primer (Humbrol 225, Mid Stone) while the landing gear struts remained blank Aluminum, The outer wheel disks are white, while the inside is red - a detail I incorporated from some USN aircraft.

 

Painting was not spectacular - since the cockpit has a lot of glass to offer, I painted the windscreen with translucent light blue, and the observer on the rear seat received a similar sun blocker in deep blue. Translucent paint (yellow and black) was also used on the optical sensors at the nose turret as well as for position lights, all on a silver base.

 

The model was only slightly weathered thorough a black ink wash and some dry-brushing with Humbrol 140 and Testors 2076 (RLM 62) in order to emphasize panels - some panel lines were also painted onto the fuselage with thinned black ink, as the "new" rear body is devoid of any detail and difficult to engrave.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant:

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

+++ DISCLAIMER +++

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The Northrop Grumman-IAI F-24 is the latest reincarnation of the USAF "Lightweight Fighter Program" which dates back to the 1950ies and started with the development of Northrop's F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

 

The 1st generation F-5 became very successful in the export market and saw a long line of development, including the much more powerful F-5E "Tiger II" and the F-20 Tigershark (initially called F-5G). Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market; however, policy changes following Ronald Reagan's election meant the F-20 had to compete for sales against aircraft like the F-16, the USAF's latest fighter design (which was politically favored). The F-20 development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.

 

But this was not the end for Northrop’s Lightweight Fighter. In the early 1980s, two X-29As experimental aircraft were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes. The Grumman X-29 was a testbed for forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991 and the X-29s flew 242 times, gathering valuable data and breaking ground for new aerodynamic technologies of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

 

Even though no service aircraft directly evolved from the X-29, its innovative FBW system as well as the new material technologies also opened the door for an updated F-20 far beyond the 1990ies. It became clear that ever expensive and complex aircraft could not be the answer to modern, asymmetrical warfare in remote corners of the world, with exploding development costs and just a limited number of aircraft in service that could not generate true economies of scale, esp. when their state-of-the-art design would not permit any export.

Anyway, a global market for simpler fighter aircraft was there, as 1st generation F-16s as well as the worldwide, aging F-5E fleet and types of Soviet/Russian origin like the MiG-29 provided the need for a modern, yet light and economical jet fighter. Contemporary types like the Indian HAL Tejas, the Swedish Saab Gripen, the French Dassault Rafale and the Pakistani/Chinese FC-1/JF-17 ”Thunder” proved this trend among 4th - 4.5th generation fighter aircraft.

 

Northrop Grumman (Northrop bought Grumman in 1994) initiated studies and basic design work on a respective New Lightweight Fighter (NLF) as a private venture in 1995. Work on the NLF started at a slow pace, as the company was busy with re-structuring.

The idea of an updated lightweight fighter was fueled by another source, too: Israel. In 1998 IAI started looking in the USA for a development partner for a new, light fighter that would replace its obsolete Kfir fleet and partly relieve its F-16 and F-15 fleet from interception tasks. The domestic project for that role, the IAI Lavi, had been stillborn, but lots of its avionics and research were still at hand and waited for an airframe for completion.

The new aircraft for the IAF was to be superior to the MiG-29, at least on par with the F-16C/D, but easier to maintain, smaller and overall cheaper. Since the performance profiles appeared to be similar to what Northrop Grumman was developing under the NLF label, the US company eventually teamed up with IAI in 2000 and both started the mutual project "Namer" (=נמר, “Tiger” in Hebrew), which eventually lead to the F-24 I for the IAF which kept its project name for service and to the USAF’s F-24A “Tigershark”.

 

The F-24, as the NLF, was based on the F-20 airframe, but outwardly showed only little family heritage, onle the forward fuselage around the cockpit reminds of the original F-5 design . Many aerodynamic details, e. g. the air intakes and air ducts, were taken over from the X-29, though, as the experimental aircraft and its components had been developed for extreme maneuvers and extra high agility. Nevertheless, the X-29's forward-swept wing was considered to be too exotic and fragile for a true service aircraft, but the F-24 was to feature an Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) system.

 

AAW Technology integrates wing aerodynamics, controls, and structure to harness and control wing aeroelastic twist at high speeds and dynamic pressures. By using multiple leading and trailing edge controls like "aerodynamic tabs", subtle amounts of aeroelastic twist can be controlled to provide large amounts of wing control power, while minimizing maneuver air loads at high wing strain conditions or aerodynamic drag at low wing strain conditions. This system was initially tested on the X-29 and later on the X-53 research aircraft, a modified F-18, until 2006.

 

Both USAF and IAF versions feature this state-of-the-art aerodynamic technology, but it is uncertain if other customers will receive it. While details concerning the F-24's system have not been published yet, it is assumed that its AAW is so effective that canard foreplanes could be omitted without sacrificing lift and maneuverability, and that drag is effectively minimized as the wing profile can be adjusted according to the aircraft’s speed, altitude, payload and mission – much like a VG wing, but without its clumsy and heavy swiveling mechanism which has to bear high g forces. As a result, the F-24 is, compared to the F-20, which could carry an external payload of about 3.5 tons, rumored to be able to carry up to 5 tons of ordnance.

 

The delta wing shape proved to be a perfect choice for the required surface and flap actuators inside of the wings, and it would also offer a very good compromise between lift and drag for a wide range of performance. Anyway, there was one price to pay: in order to keep the wing profile thin and simple, the F-24’s landing gear retracts into the lower fuselage, leaving the aircraft with a relatively narrow track.

 

Another major design factor for the outstanding performance of this rather small aircraft was weight reduction and structural integrity – combined with simplicity, ruggedness and a modular construction which would allow later upgrades. Instead of “going big” and expensive, the new F-24 was to create its performance through dedicated loss of weight, which was in some part also a compensation for the AAW system in the wings and its periphery.

 

Weight was saved wherever possible, e .g. a newly developed, lightweight M199A1 gatling gun. This 20mm cannon is a three-barreled, heavily modified version of the already “stripped” M61A2 gun in the USAF’s current F-18E and F-22. One of the novel features is a pneumatic drive instead of the traditional electric mechanism, what not only saves weight but also improves trigger response. The new gun weighs only a mere 65kg (the six-barreled M61A2 weighs 92kg, the original M61A1 112 kg), but still reaches a burst rate of fire of 1.800 RPM (about 800 RPM under cyclic fire, standard practice is to fire the cannon in 30 to 50-round bursts, though) and a muzzle velocity of 1.050 metres per second (3,450 ft/s) with a PGU-28/B round.

 

While the F-16 was and is still made from 80% aluminum alloys and only from 3% composites, the F-24 makes major use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials, which make up about 40% of the aircraft’s structure, plus an increased share of Titanium and Magnesium alloys. As a consequence and through many other weight-saving measures like keeping stealth capabilities to a minimum (even though RAM was deliberately used and many details designed to have a natural low radar signature, resulting in modest radar cross-section (RCS) reductions), a single, relatively small engine, a fuel-efficient F404-GE-402 turbofan, is enough to make the F-24 a fast and very agile aircraft, coupled with a good range. The F-24’s thrust/weight ratio is considerably higher than 1, and later versions with a vectored thrust nozzle (see below) will take this level of agility even further – with the pilot becoming the limiting factor for the aircraft’s performance.

 

USAF and IAF F-24s are outfitted with Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, also used in the F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Other customers might only receive the AN/APG-68, making the F-24 comparable to the F-16C/D.

 

The first prototype, the YF-24, flew on 8th of March 2008, followed by two more aircraft plus a static airframe until summer 2010. In early 2011 the USAF placed an initial order of 101 aircraft (probably also to stir export sales – the earlier lightweight fighters from Northrop suffered from the fact that the manufacturer’s country would not use the aircraft in its own forces). These initial aircraft will replace older F-16 in the interceptor role, or free them for fighter bomber tasks. The USN and USMC also showed interest in the aircraft for their aggressor squadrons, for dissimilar air combat training. A two-seater, called the F-24B, is supposed to follow soon, too, and a later version for 2020 onwards, tentatively designated F-24C, is to feature an even stronger F404 engine and a 3D vectoring nozzle.

 

Israel is going to produce its own version domestically from late 2014 on, which will exclusively be used by the IAF. These aircraft will be outfitted with different avionics, built by Elta in Israel, and cater to national requirements which focus more on multi-purpose service, while the USAF focusses with its F-24A on aerial combat and interception tasks.

 

International interest for the F-24A is already there: in late 2013 Grumman stated that initial talks have been made with various countries, and potential export candidates from 2015 on are Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Australia and Japan.

  

General F-24A characteristics:

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)

Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)

Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)

Wing area: 36.55 m² (392 ft²)

Empty weight: 13.150 lb (5.090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15.480 lb (6.830 kg)

Max. take-off weight: 27.530 lb (12.500 kg)

 

Powerplant

1× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan with a dry thrust of 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) and 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) with afterburner

 

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2+

Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km); for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km); with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks

Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)

Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)

Wing loading: 70.0 lb/ft² (342 kg/m²)

Thrust/weight: 1.09 (1.35 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)

 

Armament

1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M199A1 3-barreled Gatling cannon in the lower fuselage with 400 RPG

Eleven external hardpoints (two wingtip tails, six underwing hardpoints, three underfuselage hardpoints) and a total capacity of 11.000 lb (4.994 kg) of missiles (incl. AIM 9 Sidewinder and AIM 120 AMRAAM), bombs, rockets, ECM pods and drop tanks for extended range.

  

The kit and its assembly:

A spontaneous project. This major kitbash was inspired by fellow user nighthunter at whatifmodelers.com, who came up with a profile of a mashed-up US fighter, created “out of boredom”. The original idea was called F-21C, and it was to be a domestic successor to the IAI Kfirs which had been used by the US as aggressor aircraft in USN and USMC service for a few years.

 

As a weird(?) coincidence I had many of the necessary ingredients for this fictional aircraft in store, even though some parts and details were later changed. This model here is an interpretation of the original design. The idea was spun further, and the available parts that finally went into the model also had some influence on design and background.

I thank nighthunter for sharing the early ideas, inviting me to take the design to the hardware stage (sort of…) and adapting my feedback into new design sketches, too, which, in return, inspired the model building process.

 

Well, what went into this thing? To cook up a F-24 à la Dizzyfugu you just need (all in 1:72):

● Fuselage from a Hasegawa X-29, including the cockpit and the landing gear

● Fin and nose cone from an Italeri F-16A

● Inner wings from a (vintage) Hasegawa MiG-21F

● Outer wings from a F-4 (probably a J, Hasegawa or Fujimi)

 

The wing construction deviates from nighthunter’s original idea. The favorite ingredients would have been F-16XL or simple Mirage III wings, but I found the composite wing to be more attractive and “different”. The big F-16XL wings, despite their benefit of a unique shape, might also have created scale/size problems with a F-20 style fuselage? So I built hybrid wings: The MiG-21 landing gear wells were filled with putty and the F-4 outer wings simply glued onto the MiG inner wing sections, which were simply cut down in span. It sounds like an unlikely combo, but these parts fit together almost perfectly! In order to hide the F-4 origins I modified them to carry wingtip launch rails, though, which were also part of nighthunter’s original design.

 

The AAW technology detail mentioned in the background came in handy as it explains the complicated wing shape and the fact that the landing gear retracts into the fuselage, not into the wings, which would have been more plausible… Anyway, there’s still room for a simpler export version, with Mirage III or Kfir C.2/7 wings, and maybe canards?

 

Using the X-29 as basis also made fitting the new wings onto the area-ruled fuselage pretty easy, as I could use the wing root parts from the X-29 to bridge the gap. The original, forward-swept wings were just cut away, and the remains used as consoles for the new hybrid delta wings. Took some SERIOUS putty work, but the result is IMHO fine.

 

The bigger/square X-29 air intakes were taken over, and they change the look of the aircraft, making it look less F-5-ish than a true F-20 fuselage. For the same reason I kept the large fairing at the fin base, combining it with a bigger F-16 tail, though, as a counter-balance to the new, bigger wings. Again, the F-16 fin was/is part of nighthunter’s idea, so the model stays true to the original concept.

 

For the same reason I omitted the original X-29 nose, which is rather pointy, sports vanes and a large sensor boom. The F-16 nose was a plausible choice, as the AN/APG-80 is also carried by late Fighting Falcons, and its shape fits well, too.

 

All around the hull, some small details like radar warning sensors, pitots and air scoops were added. Not really necessary, but such thing add IMHO to the overall impression of such a fictional aircraft beyond the prototype stage.

 

Cockpit and landing gear were taken OOB, I just added a pilot figure and slightly modified the seat.

 

The ordnance was puzzled together from the scrap box, the AIM-9Ls come from the same F-4 kit which donated its outer wings, the AIM-120s come from an Italeri NATO weapons kit. The drop tanks belong to an F-16.

  

Painting and markings:

At first I considered an F-24I in IAF markings, or even a Japanese aircraft, but then reverted to one of nighthunter’s initial, simple ideas: an USAF aircraft in the “Hill II” paint scheme (F-16 style), made up from three shades of gray (FS 36118, 36270 and 36375) with low-viz markings and stencils. Dutch/Turkish NF-5A/Bs in the “Hill II” scheme were used as design benchmarks, too. It’s a simple livery, but on this delta wing aircraft it looks pretty interesting. I used enamels, what I had at hand: Humbrol 127 and 126, and Modelmaster's 1723.

 

A light black ink wash was applied, in order to em,phasize the engraved panel lines, in contrast to that, panels were manually highlighted through dry-brushed, lighter shades of gray (Humbrol 27, 166 and 167).

 

“Hill II” also adds to a generic, realistic touch for this whif. Doing an exotic air force thing is rather easy, but creating a convincing whif for a huge military machinery like the USAF’s takes more subtlety, I think.

 

The cockpit was painted in medium Gray (Dark Gull Grey, FS 36231, Humbrol 140), as well as the radome. The landing gear and the air intakes were painted white. The radome was painted with Revell 47 and dry-brushed with Humbrol 140.

 

Decals were puzzled together from various USAF aircraft, including sheets from an Airfix F-117, an Italeri F-15E and even an Academy OV-10D.

  

Tadah: a hardware tribute to an idea, born from boredom - and the aircraft does not look even bad at all? What I wanted to achieve was to make the F-24 neither look like a F-20, nor a Saab Gripen clone, as the latter comes close in overall shape, size and design.

DISCLAIMER

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

 

Some background:

The P-51 was a relative latecomer to the Pacific Theatre. This was due largely to the need for the aircraft in Europe, although the P-38's twin-engine design was considered a safety advantage for long over-water flights. The first P-51s were deployed in the Far East later in 1944, operating in close-support and escort missions, as well as tactical photo reconnaissance. As the war in Europe wound down, the P-51 became more common: eventually, with the capture of Iwo Jima, it was able to be used as a bomber escort during B-29 missions against the Japanese homeland.

 

Anyway, impressed by the type’s performance, the U. S. Navy requested a navalized version of the able fighter – despite the preference for radial engines. Work on the so-called Sea Mustang began in early 1944 with the intention to provide the U.S. Navy with a long range, high performance successor for the Grumman F6F Hellcat. The specifications called for an aircraft able to operate from the smallest carrier, primarily in the interceptor role.

North American’s F1J idea to modify the proven Mustang to marine needs took a long way – longer and more twisted than expected. A first attempt to navalize the Mustang was done under the “Project Seahorse”: An early-series P-51D-5-NA, serial number 44-14017, was re-designated ETF-51D and sent to Mustin Field, near Philadelphia, for initial carrier utility testing in September 1944. One of the runways at Mustin Field was specially modified in order to test the naval Mustang. Markings simulating the size of an aircraft carrier's deck were realized and arrester cables were installed, as well as a launch catapult.

During the months of September and October 1944, test pilot Lt. Bob Elder made nearly 150 simulated launches and landings with the ETF-51D. Sufficient data concerning the Mustang's low speed handling had to be gathered before carrier trials could begin.

The Mustang's laminar-flow wing made for little drag and high speed but was relatively inefficient at low speed, resulting in a high stall speed. As the arrester cables could not be engaged at more than 90 mph, Elder reported that “from the start, it was obvious to everyone that the margin between the stall speed of the aircraft (82 mph) and the speed imposed by the arrester gear (90 mph) was very limited.”

Rudder control at low speeds and high angles of attack was inadequate. In addition, landing attitude had to be carefully controlled to avoid damaging the airframe upon landing. One of the handling quirks of the Mustang was also potentially dangerous: during a missed approach or a wave-off, power had to be re-applied gently, due to torque. If not, the aircraft could roll rapidly, or even snap-roll. At such low speed and altitude, the result could only be fatal.

Later, the tests went on with live action on board of a carrier, the USS Shangri-La (CV-38). Bob Elder “made all carrier landings at the speed of 85 mph. Luckily, the Mustang reacted well, even in the most delicate situations. One just had to use the throttle wisely.” Elder reported that speed control on the ETF-51D was excellent. He also stated that “the forward visibility was good and never gave me any problems. In fact, fighters with radial engines such as the F4U or F6F were worse than the P-51 in that respect.” The aircraft also behaved well during catapult launches.

The carrier suitability trials were rather short, though: only 25 landings and launches were made. Elder wrote “Although I had ‘premiered’ many US Navy aircraft carrier landings, no such experience had been as interesting as with the Mustang”.

However, North American Aviation did not forget about the ETF-51D experiments. Building on this experience, the company later presented another navalized Mustang project to the Navy: NAA-133. This machine was technically based on the P-51H, the last Mustang model to see production. The airframe of the NAA-133 was strengthened, though, as the P-51H airframe was lighter but not as sturdy as the P-51D’s.

 

While the basic Mustang airframe was retained for the NAA-133, a lot of detail work was done. Most obvious difference was the cockpit, which was slightly moved forward, for a better field of view, with the oil tank moved aft. Additionally, the radiator bath was moved forward in order to keep the area in front of the arrester hook, which was part of a strengthened landing gear, free from potential obstacles.

The wings were modified, too, featuring wing tip tanks for extended range as well as folding joints just outboard of the landing gear wells. All tail surfaces were slightly enlarged in order to improve slow speed agility. A six-bladed contraprop was fitted, too, in order to decrease the propeller’s diameter for easier landing as well as to improve acceleration and handling at low speed, due to the torque problems associated with the original four-bladed propeller. The internal armament was also enhanced, comprising now four 20mm M3 cannons instead of the former 0.5” machine guns.

Structurally the fuselage used flush riveting as well as spot welding, with a heavy gauge 302W aluminum alloy skin. However, the USN’s requested target loaded weight of 8,750 lb/3,969 kg was essentially impossible to achieve as the structure of the new fighter had to be made strong enough for aircraft carrier landings and resilient to high salt and humidity levels – in fact, the reinforced lightweight basic airframe of the P-51H became as heavy as the former P-51D, and performance was only as good as the D’s, despite the stronger engine.

The F1J “Sea Mustang” prototypes, how the type was officially designated, were ordered in August 1944 and first flew on 15 January 1945. By early 1945, though, the islands of Okinawa and Iwo Jima were conquered, and their airfields were immediately taken over by US forces, providing fighter units with bases from which they could escort bombers to mainland Japan. The Navy’s P-51 was no longer needed and the program was cancelled after about a dozen airframes had been completed. These were operational by 21 May, but World War II was over before the aircraft saw serious combat service.

The completed Sea Mustangs were later used as instructional airframes. In service the F1J was superseded by Grumman’s F8F Bearcat and Vought’s F4U Corsair, which had a significant development advance and became the USN’s major piston-engined fighters in the late 40ies.

  

General characteristics

Crew: 1

Length: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)

Wingspan: 37 ft 0 in (11.28 m) w. wing tip tanks

Height: 13 ft 4½ in (4.08 m w. tail wheel on ground, vertical propeller blade.)

Wing area: 235 ft² (21.83 m²)

Empty weight: 7,635 lb (3,465 kg)

Loaded weight: 9,200 lb (4,175 kg)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,100 lb (5,490 kg)

Aspect ratio: 5.83

 

Powerplant:

1× Packard V-1650-9 liquid-cooled supercharged V-12, 1,490 hp (1,111 kW) at 3,000 rpm, 2,220 hp (1,655 kW) at WEP

 

Performance:

Maximum speed: 437 mph (703 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m)

Cruise speed: 362 mph (580 km/h)

Range: 1,650 mi (2,755 km) with external tanks

Service ceiling: 41,900 ft (12,800 m)

Rate of climb: 3,200 ft/min (16.3 m/s)

Wing loading: 39 lb/ft² (192 kg/m²)

Power/mass: 0.18 hp/lb (300 W/kg)

Lift-to-drag ratio: 14.6

Recommended Mach limit 0.8

 

Armament:

4 × 20 mm (.79 in) M3 cannon, 190 rounds per gun

2× hardpoints for up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs or drop tanks, plus 6× 5” (127 mm) unguided rockets

  

The kit and its assembly

The idea of a navalized Mustang is IMHO a nice and rich whif theme. When I delved into history I was surprised that the idea as such had actually been taken to hardware status – the ETF-51D mentioned above is/was real, as well as the later NAA-133 proposal to the USN. But the latter never got as far as described, and that’s where whifery came to play. Anyway, what sounds like a simple plan became a major surgery, since I wanted more than just a blue P-51 with a hook glued to it.

 

My original plan was to convert a Hobby Boss kit, but when I tried to move both cockpit and radiator bath forward, that kit’s massive (!) fuselage piece prevented any decent modification. Hence, I fell back to an “old school” P-51D kit with two fuselage halves: a Heller Mustang which I still had in my stack. Not a bad kit, but with its raised panel lines it certainly is sub-optimal, esp. when you change many things on the hull.

 

Both cockpit and radiator intake were moved about 5mm forward, a major surgery. The cockpit was taken OOB, just some ribs inside and a pilot figure were added (an old Matchbox figure), and radio equipment simulated behind the seat. The canopy was cut open.

 

The contraprop is new, too, a scratch-built piece, made from, AFAIK an F4U drop tank. It gives the Sea Mustang a sleek, beefy look, but also makes sense from an operational point of view.

 

The landing gear received new/better wheels and extra struts, also for a sturdier look. The new tail wheel was taken from an Airfix A-1 Skyraider, with an added arrester hook and an accordingly modified well with new/longer covers.

 

The tail was completely modified: the horizontal stabilizers were replaced by bigger ones, taken from an F4U, and the original vertical rudder was replaced by a taller construction created from a Ju-87G rudder (!) and a stabilizer from a Bell AH-1, both ancient Matchbox kits.

The Heller kit provides a separate fin fillet piece, but I left it away, in order to pronounce the taller fin and longer back of the F1J.

 

The wings received wing tip tanks (taken from a Grumman F9F Panther) as well as a changed armament with four cannons with longer barrels (from the Airfix A-1) instead of the classic six 0.5” machine guns. New panel lines, where the wing folding joints would be, were engraved. In order to add some realism for display, flaps were opened/lowered - an easy task with the Heller kit.

 

The 250 lbs. bombs were taken straight from the Heller kit, the 5” HVARs come from a Matchbox Grumman F9F Panther, with scratch-built launch rails made from polystyrene profiles (Evergreen).

  

Painting

The old adage that a subtle whif works best with a simple livery is true: the dark blue (FS15042/AN607) suits the slender lines of the Mustang very well, even if it is my hunchback modification! Unfortunately, my favourite paint choice, Humbrol 181, is out of production (Shame on you, Airfix!), so I had to hunt down Testors’ 1718 as a replacement.

All interior surfaces were painted with Humbrol 226 (Interior Green), then dry-brushed with Zinc Chromate (Testors 1734) and Humbrol 80 (Grass Green).

 

Markings were taken from 1:72 a Hobby Boss F4U (leftover from my FAS conversion) and a vintage F6F from Monogram in 1:48. The squadron markings depict a machine from VF-82 "Fighting Fools", based on the carrier USS Bennington (CV-20) in the Pacific theatre in 1945. National insignia had to be puzzled together and improvised with white stars and separate all-white bars. The yellow band behind the propeller rather belongs to machines from VF-84 on board of USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), though, but since this is a whif, the marking is a nice contrast to the all-blue livery. That the machine sports the bort number "82" is a weird conincidence!

 

Some weathering was done with dry-brushing (e. g. Humbrol 77 & 189), rubbed graphite dust and soot stains around cannons and exhausts, and light colour chipping on leading edges and around the cockpit was done. Finally, the kit received a coat with semi-gloss varnish – I did not dare using a 100% gloss coat, because that would IMHO have made the machine look too new and out of scale.

  

In the end, a nice little model/project, realized in less tha a week - despite the major surgeries, but the single colour paint job was simple. A fighter with a twist, and with a really subtle whif factor, even though my interpretation of a Sea Mustang differs in many aspects from the real NAA-133 proposal. But this model is not intended to be a representation of North American’s project, rather a personal and dramatized idea of what might have been. :D