by: Sean Langley [ ]
The C-160 is Europe’s Hercules. It was developed by France and Germany about ten years later than the Hercules. It ended up with broadly the same layout, but it was slightly smaller to allow a compromise between French and German range and payload requirements. Possibly as a result, it sold nothing like as well as the Hercules, with only South Africa buying it apart from the original builders, and Turkey buying a second-hand batch from Germany. It was nevertheless useful enough for France to re-open production in the late 1970s, with the Nouvelle Génération having more fuel and a refuelling probe. Total production was 202, including three NGs for Air France to operate overnight postal services.
Being slightly smaller than the Hercules, the C-160 managed on two engines, although these were Rolls-Royce Tynes, not T56s. The Tyne was a huge engine for the time, with 6100hp, compared with 3250hp for the original T56 on the Hercules. Because of this it also had the world’s largest propeller, an 18-ft monster that has rarely been surpassed since. The C-160 is a few feet longer than the Hercules, although with a whisker less span, but its take-off weight is considerably less, which means much less range. Still, this is a big aeroplane, and a big kit: 22 inches over the wings and nearly 18 inches long.
Revell’s rendition comes on one clear and seven pale grey sprues, for a total of 209 parts. There’s a small amount of flash – slightly surprising considering it was first released only in 2006 – but no apparent sink marks. Surface detail is very, very tidy, with beautiful renditions of panel lines and especially of features such as the wing transport joints and spoilers. Main airframe breakdown is much as you might expect for so large a model. The fuselage is in two halves that incorporate the tail fin but omit the radome and the belly, which is tucked between the undercarriage fairings and so is separate. The wings consist of a centre section and two outer panels on top, with full-span panels underneath. The tailplane has separate elevators, the only separate control surfaces in the kit.
Where this kit really scores is inside. The cockpit is fully detailed. It takes 23 parts, including a lovely floor that incorporates the entry stairs. Although it’s tricky to see within the airliner-style glazing, there are so many colours in a modern cockpit that it’s worth taking the time over it, as they will show up. So far so conventional. Behind the cockpit, though, is the kit’s real gem. The interior of the cargo bay is provided separately as an insert for the main fuselage parts. It consists of a floor with a full complement of tie-downs, side-walls with pipework built in, two rows of troop seats, a separate ceiling, and stretcher racks. Then, further back, the ramp is beautifully detailed as well. It has framing within the tailcone, very tidy hinges, lower and upper doors in multiple parts, loading ramps and even two lengths of PSP. Plus, it can be built open or closed. The only slight problem is that the internal structure of the upper door will probably be wasted, as it shouldn't be visible in either configuration. But you’ll know it’s there. There’s also a crew door and a side-loading door forward, although the latter isn't designed to open.
This interior will need care. It fits very snugly into the fuselage and, moreover, the portholes fit between the two layers, so there’s plenty of scope for error. Misalignment of the interior will almost certainly give problems when it comes to closing up the fuselage. Those of a nervous disposition may want to do without it – there are very few portholes and the forward bulkhead means you can’t see in from the front, so an all-black interior won’t look too bad. But it would be a bit of a waste.
Building the rear doors open may be a good idea. This kit has a lot of plastic aft and will tend to lift its nose. Revell recommend 70g of nose weight; if you’re uneasy about adding so much, the rear ramp will do the job nicely. Plus, you’ll be able to see inside.
The undercarriage – four legs each with one wheel – is nicely detailed too, although assembly is complex and fiddly. Luckily, the frames holding up the main suspension members locate positively into the fuselage sides. The wheels can be left off til the end, but there’s the legs have to be built in before main assembly – so there’s a bit of a masking challenge. Also, the main-gear doors are one of the few areas where there are visible ejector pin marks.
The engines are nice and simple. They include long tailpipes, which is welcome, but the seams will be awkward to sort out. Each propeller is a one-piece affair that nicely captures the marked blade twist of the real thing. However, the spinners will need some blanking fitted between the blades and the base-plates.
So, after 66 construction steps, you get to colours and markings. The kit includes four German and two French options, which are all from the 1970s and 1980s and all in the same basic scheme of RAL 6014 green and RAL 7012 grey on top, with aluminium undersides. One of the German options is the very colourful anniversary special on the box top. As usual the only paint codes are for Revell, and even they don’t do all the colours without their odd custom mixes. Colour names are equally idiosyncratic, so your own references will be handy.
The decals, on the other hand, are lovely, and comprehensive. There’s a huge sheet with squillions of stencils and all the big colourful bits too, plus a load of detailed markings for the interior. Like most modern Revell decals they’re thin and nicely printed.
Now, to price. This is the most amazing bit of all. You can get all this in the UK for £24.99 when the new boxing comes out (which will include new markings for more recent service). This is an absolute steal – it may be the best value for money I've ever seen. (And I got mine knocked down to £12.99!)
You may be thinking, boring, it’s a transport aircraft, it’s got no guns and tanks and bombs. Well, it’s in the same colour scheme as, say, an early German F-104; it’s basically the same to paint and weather as any prop-driven bomber; and it’s big, well-engineered and impressive. If you harbour any bias against non-combat aircraft, this kit is reason enough on its own to think again. I heartily recommend it to anyone.
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