X-47B – Unmanned Combat Air System lands on a US Carrier

A drone to the general public but about a month or so after a UCAS took off from a carrier, then did a touch and go on the carrier, the US Navy has landed a UCAS on the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77).

Carrier aircraft pilots are starting to check their pensions.

Vikramaditya begins sea trials at the White Sea

2013-05-18 22.29.23It is almost time to paint another carrier I think. It seems that the Indian Navy’s Vikramaditya begins sea trials at the White Sea and so will be India’s next carrier. This was originally the Russian Admiral Gorshkov. There were four vessels in that group – the Minsk, Kiev, Baku and Novorossiysk with the Baku becoming the Admiral Gorshkov.

My painted model of what was the Admiral Gorshkov is to the right. The Minsk was sold to China to become a museum ship and I visited her in Shenzhen in about 2002 or 2003. I have some photos around somewhere ((note to self … sort the bazillion digit photos laying around on disk drives at home)). Interestingly the Kiev was also sold to a Chinese company and is part of a theme park in Tainjin. I’m sure the Chinese learned a lot from the carriers they purchased over the years. HMAS Melbourne was also sold to Chinese interests at the end of her service life.

800px-VikraThe Vikramaditya has been extensively modernised and changed from the original Admiral Gorshkov with the removal of the cruise missile silos and such that used to be carried forward on these vessels. There would also have been an increase in hanger space as a result permitting a greater complement of aircraft.

The carrier itself it a little smaller than the Chinese Liaoning, displacing 45,400 tons (compared to the 66,000 tons with full load). Length is 283 metres (overall) compared to the 304.5 metres of the Liaoning. Beam is 51m (75M9 and draught is 10.2m (10.5m). So the Chinese carrier will still look bigger than the Indian carrier side-by-side.

Both vessels will achieve 32 knots at speed with endurance of 4,000 nautical miles (3,850 in the case of the Liaoning).

The Chinese are expecting to have 30 J-15s as their main air strike capacity whilst the Indians are looking at 16 MiG-29K. The Chinese vessel will likely have 24 helicopters compared to the 10 on the Indian vessel with the Indians opting for Ka-28 helicopters ASW, Ka-31 helicopters AEW and maybe some Indian produced HAL Dhruv.

I think India will need another carrier!

The PLAN – the first ship completed

Well, I did paint the submarines already but they are technically boats so this is definitely the first of the PLAN ships.

The Liaoning finished
The Liaoning finished – port-side view – labelled and with the sea base painted. I am particularly happy with the way the deck markings came out. I’m feeling so confident with them now that I am starting to plan the painting of the carriers for the American and Japanese side for the Battle of the Philippines Sea.
2013-07-07 13.32.33
The Liaoning finished. The starboard view of the Liaoning. There was a lot of confusing information on the Internet concerning the deck markings but I managed to find some satellite shots that confirmed the marking positions. As she is armed with about 30 J-15s along with 24 Super Frelons (Z-8s) and Ka-31s there are less helicopter marked landing spots on the deck than previously thought or planned. I guess the fighter pilots get confused with too may markings.
A Pilot's eye view
A pilot’s eye view of the Liaoning although it does look like he is coming in too high. I am still debating with myself whether or not to paint the arrestor cables in across the landing path.
The Vikrant and Liaoning together
The Liaoning finished – port-side comparison with the INS Vikrant. Whilst India will soon be a three carrier navy, the next two shots provide some idea of scale between the Liaoning and the Vikrant.
The Liaoning finished - port-side comparison with the INS Vikrant
The Liaoning finished – port-side comparison with the INS Vikrant. There is a very sizeable difference between the two carriers.

Mucking around with DBA terrain tonight – back to the PLAN tomorrow night I think.

On the Workbench – the PLAN

The PLAN under coated and the first ink wash applied
The PLAN under coated and the first ink wash applied

I started the Chinese Tuesday night. Well, truth be told I had based and under-coated already so I took the opportunity to wash them all in black ink. I will start on the carrier first.

I am looking to use a grey that is somewhat lighter than the grey the Indians were painted in. It will almost be white but at the same time I want it to appear as a grey. Very, very light grey.

The black ink wash is good because it naturally darkens some areas at the same time as bringing the detail out.

Painting session Thursday night I hope – the target is to get the carrier finished.

Mixed Progress – from the work bench

Ming class Chinese submarines to the right and Kilo class Indian to the left
Ming class Chinese submarines to the right and Kilo class Indian to the left

I managed to get some painting time over the weekend and knocked out another three Kilo-class submarines for the Indians and the 3 Han-class submarines for the Chinese.

The sea bases were the most time consuming part of the painting progress, after all, how long can it take to paint a 2 cm long model dark grey then wash again in black?

I’m not sure I actually like to appearance of the sea bases at the moment but it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with on a flat surface. Whilst I also like what others have done by way of sea bases – see Of Mice and Tiny Men and a Lead Odyssey for some nice textured sea bases texturing has not been working for me so far. I won’t mention my recent failure again but suffice it to say that some point I will need to sit down and try and do a proper job.

In the meantime, I guess the two-dimensional hand painted ocean will have to do – at least until I find some Hammered Metal (Coral colour) here in Singapore. The Han-class at the rear for example will need a bit of a touch up, the wake is too white. A bit more of a repaint tonight I expect.

At least one of the targets on the Kilo-class also needs a touch-up. Oh well – sometimes it works and sometimes it don’t!

Some harriers, Il-38s and Ka-25s
Some harriers, Il-38s and Ka-25s

Also under-way at the moment are some aircraft – Harriers, Il-38s and Ka-25s (filling in for Ka-27s) of the Indian navy.

I am not sure with the aircraft whether I will just leave them on their metal bases as they come or mount them on 1 cm x 1 cm (or 2 x 2) plastic squares to bring them up to ship height. Some prototyping of that tonight as well I guess.

And yes, apart from finishing the Kilo-class submarines for the Indians and the Ming-class for the Chinese tonight I will also start on some of the surface vessels – INS Vikrant and the three Rajputs are the rest of tonight’s painting target.

Mind you, just looking at the dark blue base (well, Citadel’s Regal Blue which I suppose is close to the old Ultramarine Blue) there is a lot to be said for the plain blue base with just a white wake.


Indian Navy – Part 1

The vessels are all labelled - well all except the carrier
The vessels are all labelled – well all except the carrier

I mentioned before that I was looking at doing something modern in naval warfare and in 1/3000th in particular. Regular readers will recall also the saga of actually having to send a letter to order vessels from Navwar ((yes Dorothy, there is still a post office and you still can order things by mail, snail mail)) . The vessels had arrived in good order and this week was the first chance I’ve had to really start working with them.

The first step was out to the Internet and find out some details on the vessels that I have purchased. While looking for information and pictures of the vessels I discovered the crests to some of the ships. This inspired a change to the way I label vessels so after sticking the vessels to a 3mm thick base with some magnetic tape underneath, I labelled the vessels as can be seen above and to the left. I will also talk about the basing material later as it is new to me.

The fleet stands ready for painting
The fleet stands ready for painting

Next will be the painting process. For that I will be undercoating the vessels in white, washing in black ink then starting to paint with a heavy dry-brush in an Indian Navy grey after the sea base is finished underneath.

What colour that grey will be will be decided on the weekend when I visit Changi Naval Base here as there are two Indian ships visiting Singapore at the moment. The are INS Satpura (F48) and the Kora class Corvette (P62) INS Kirch. Vessels of both of these classes can be seen in the second row in the picture to the right so this will be one of the few chances I’ve ever had to see the 1:1 scale item that I will be painting later.

Interestingly, also visiting at the current time or back in home port are RSS Valiant (Victory Class corvette P91), RSS Bedok mine countermeasure boat (M105), RSS Formidable (F68) and RSS Tenacious (F71), both Formidable (La Fayette) Class frigates. Also present is Ladroite, the French experimental OPV, the Royal Thai Navy HTMS Rattanakosin (F441), HMAS Bathurst, and USS Freedom, the first Littoral Combat Ship of the US Navy.

Also present are the Malaysian frigate KD Lekiu frigate (30), the Indonesian KCR 40 class patrol craft KRI Kujang [642] and Diponegoro Class Corvette KRI Frans Kaisiepo [368].

Looks like an interesting day for a navy buff coming up!