Tag Archive: Eastern Express


Beriev Be-200ChS Altair

Beriev Design Bureau was established in 1934 and is the synonym for the amphibian aircraft not only in Russia but on the world level as well. While most of the amphibians were propeller driven like WW2 era MBR-2 and Cold War Be-6 ‘Madge’ and Be-12 ‘Mail’ aka ‘Chaika’ with the advent of jet age, the constructors soon started to look into application of jet engines on amphibian aircraft. R-1 was the first experimental jet powered amphibian in the early ’50s with the Be-10 entering service later in the decade. Later in the ’70s, Beriev teamed up with Bartini for the experimental futuristic looking VVA-14 of which two prototypes were built. The next Beriev’s jet amphibian project was A-40 Albatros; developed in the ’80s only one prototype was finished with another in the works, when Soviet Union collapsed and the financial crisis shelved further development. To this day, the A-40 is the biggest jet-powered amphibian in the world and the single prototype set 140 world records. It’s current status is unknown as there were some reports of order for the Russian Navy.

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Beriev Be-200 is based on the A-40 Albatros design and entered service in 2003. It’s name, ‘Altair’, has two meanings – one is the name of the star in ‘Eagle’ constellation. The other one is the acronym for Al (as Albatros A-40), ta (Taganrog – the place where sea trials take place) and ir (Irkut – the production place). The aircraft is mainly used in firefighting role for which it can carry up to 12 tonnes of water but can also be used as maritime patrol, search and rescue, cargo and passenger roles, seating up to 72 passengers. While the aircraft was built in Irkut, the production line has recently moved to Taganrog.

Be-200s are currently in service with the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations and Azerbaijan with further orders from Russian MoD and China. It’s first operational use was in 2004 on Italian Sardinia, fighting the forest fires with the Italian services. The success of the operations saw the Be-200s used in Italy, Portugal, Indonesia, Greece, Israel, Serbia and Russia.

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The kit

EE’s Be-200 kit is a typical short run kit. Inconsistent panel lines (engraved though), clunky details and ill fit on most of the parts were plaguing this build. But I have to admit it is not that bad in the end. Engines, although rather complex to assemble, represent nicely the depth of D-436TP turbofans. While it is certainly not a ‘shake and bake’ kit, with a little bit of putty, sanding sticks and patience, the lump of plastic can be built into a nice miniature of this unique aircraft. Decals, although flat, are really thin and get into the engraved details without the need of setting solutions. The only inaccuracy I noticed were the main gear doors. They are designed to be attached to the sides of the well and close towards each other. Reference photos show, that they are actually hinged at the front of the wells and close backward. There’s also a third small door covering the forward support strut. I’ve scratchbuilt the missing doors and attached the others according to photographs. Oh, and don’t forget to add a lot of nose weight – the more the better. All in all, despite some problems during construction, this was a rather pleasurable build and brought me another unique looking aircraft into my collection.

 

Model Data
Company: Eastern Express
Scale: 1:144
Aftermarket: /
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-4 White, MRP-41 Red, MRP-45 Dark Blue, MRP-186 Light Grey)

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Antonov An-71 ‘Madcap’ was based on the popular An-72 STOL transport series. The aircraft needed only 620m for take-off and 420m for landing and could operate from rough unpaved runways. Over-wing mounted engines greatly reduced FOD risk but also improved its STOL capabilities.

Only three An-71 were made with the first take-off in 1985. Unlike An-72, An-71 was equipped with more powerful engines and was also equipped with a third, fuselage mounted jet engine of the same type as Yak-38, that helped with take-offs. Rear fuselage was redesigned and a broad, forward swept fin installed with a radar dome mounted on top.

During the times of Soviet Union, each aviation branch had its own Early Warning Radar system in use which it didn’t share with others. So while the PVO (main fighter/interceptor and SAM branch) was equipped with A-50 AWACS, VVS-FA (frontal aviation) strike fighters lacked the capability and the An-71 was developed. There was also a carrier borne version considered under the designation An-75 but it remained a paper project. The two flying prototypes flew around 1.000 hours but the problems with the radar and the eventual fall of the Soviet Union killed the project.

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The kit

I picked up this kit really cheap in Club-TM shop on one of my trips to Moscow. I didn’t have much expectations of this 1:288 Eastern Express kit but in the end, I really enjoyed building it. The fit is rather good, but the plastic is somewhat weird, as the seams were constantly cracking open, as if the solvent wouldn’t work on it (I washed it before building!). The panel lines are engraved although somewhat heavy for the little scale. Decals went down fine, but I had many problems with the size and had to trim them while I couldn’t get a perfect cheat line on the right side of the model. Landing gear are a thing of fiction and the wheels are WAAAAY too small. You get a nice display stand with the kit though.

Model Data
Company: Eastern Express
Scale: 1:288
Aftermarket: none
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-4 White, MRP-5 Black, MRP-38 Light Gray, MRP-42 Red, MRP-47 Dark Gray, MRP-105 USN Modern Blue Gray)
Alclad (ALC-101 Aluminum)

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28th June 2014

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Wow! It’s been 4 months and a half since my last workbench post… Well I guess I was so busy making models, there simply wasn’t enough time to do this kind of posts. On that matter; in the first half of year I’ve managed to build 8 models already! At this pace, I am looking towards the record modelling year for me… There will be a number of firsts for me as well, but I guess we will have some time to reflect on achievements of the past year. And truth be told – two Visby class corvettes and Marineflieger Tornado are all in advanced stages of completition. As you can see from the photo, there’s two big birds on the table at the moment. Both SAM projects, one is Minicraft’s renedition of KC-135E tanker, which is a nicely detailed kit, but lacks in certain areas, while the other is Eastern Express Antonov An-22. This is a huge bird, moulded in short run technology, that presents more than a few obstacles during the build, but the end result will be more than worth all the troubles during construction. This is a longer term build, so no estimated time of completion yet…

A while ago, a heated debate emerged on one of my friends Facebook page regarding certain well known modeller. Some person was claiming that this certain modeller is ruining each model he builds because he rarely uses any weathering and (sometimes) picks wrong shades of paints for his projects (majority of them are not to Federal Standard and eyeballing correct shades seems to be the only option). This offensive person was also stating that each modeller should progress his modelling skills with each finished build. I find such statements and accusations quite hilarious. It is in my opinion that we all have our own reasons, why we indulge ourselves in this hobby – some might be trying to build the ultimate model, someone else just relax with this hobby, then another build a collection. There are some people out there, that use modelling as a therapeutic tool for their medical disabilities. You never know, who maybe be “hiding” behind the internet alias; it can be a kid, it can be a person with some disability, it can be an elderly person, it can be someone your age,… You never know so judging by the photos and not knowing the modeller is immoral by my standards. And then we have another issue. Who are you to judge other people? In case of this certain modeller, who started the argument, I can easily find faults on most of his models. When I picked up one from his latest finished work and mentioned it to him, he childishly started serving me low punches.  I can just conclude in the words of The Beatles – live and let live. And if you want to prove your “supremacy” playing with plastic toys, visit as many modelling competitions as you can… I guess your ego will hurt a little less if getting a few medals…

Other topic I want to discuss tonight is the oh so famed ultimate accuracy. Eduard’s new 1:48 Bf 109G-6 comes to my mind as it caused quite some storms in a teacup lately… Eduard have established themselves as one of the premium scale model manufacturers. Opening their boxes will always reveal precision moulding, crystal clear canopies and in case of their Profipack releases, even photo-etch details and masks. While some of their models don’t exactly fall together, others are real gems. We all know, Bf 109s are one of the most popular subjects in scale model world and it comes as no surprise, model manufacturers want to have a slice of this market for themselves. Eduard recently started promoting their products with video commercials and appearing in all kinds of media. Promising the ultimate Bf 109 model in quarter scale, the kit when released, fell under close scrutiny by the so called rivet counters – or better said, couch modellers. Wing span is too large; landing gear struts are too high; there are bulges on the wings that shouldn’t be there; and so on and so on… Some ‘experts’ calling this model a total fail, others complaining about this and that, and some even calling for boycotting purchases of kits from companies that make mistakes with their kits. I find this accusations quite stupid. There is no absolutely accurate model and probably, at least with current technology, there will never be one. Not even the highly prised Tamiya kits are totally accurate. Take canopies for example. They are all too thick, no matter the scale. Even the vacuformed one are. And those who are the loudest, don’t want to work with them either…  Same goes for plastic fuselage thickness, panel lines, rivets and the list goes on and on… I just don’t get it, why a bunch of grown men complain about their plastic toys – and yeah, whatever you want to believe, plastic models are just that – toys! You find a problem with newly released kit? Correct it! Or start building LEGOs! As loud as such people may be, they are not aware, they represent just a tiny percent of all model builders. Grow up!