Just before the holidays, I received an email from a customer and fellow modeller Jason Liang about his order. He was generally pleased with his items, but noticed some inaccuracies with our 1/72 AN/AAQ-28(v) LITENING Pod. The LITENING Pod was one of handful of resin accessories in our product line way back in 2007. When I created the master for it, I have to admit that it was a challenge due to the lack of adequate references. As a result, some inaccuracies in dimensions and details where inadvertently created. I have to be honest, and I'm not ashamed to say, I was a bit embarrassed. However, I'm grateful for Jason's email, because It's an opportunity to re-visit, re-evaluate and improve the product! Fast-forward now 8 years; references are plenty online and in print, and more detailed now that the LITENING Pod has been in service with International airforces for over 16 years.
Fixing the length
The actual AN/AAQ-28(v) LITENING Pod measures 87inch. long or (7.25ft.) Converting it down to 1/72 scale using my 1:72 Scale Ruler, that is approx. 1-7/32in or (31mm) when checked with my caliper tool. My early Litening Pod was too long at 35mm..yikes! See (Figure #1) I corrected this by cutting the 4mm difference from the pod. I reattached the pod with superglue and sanded it smooth, including all detail for a clean canvas. The diameter of the actual Litening Pod is 16in or 0.046 meters. After checking this against my pod; it looked about right so I moved on to other areas that need attention.
With new references at the ready, I noticed other details that would need to be fixed like the air intake. It's a major visual characteristic of the Litening Pod design. I scratch-built the new intake with small strips of sheet styrene. To achieve the curved profile of the inlet to match the body of the pod, I used Mission Models Multi-Tool (Small) to curve the tiny sections of styrene. After assembly of the intake I matched the inlet walls to reference photos by carefully carving the mouth of the inlet. I also replicated the tiny air-flow vane under the intake (visible in reference photos) with tiny sheet styrene. The completed intake was finally attached to the pod with superglue. Gaps and seems were filled with Apoxie Sculpt and sculpted to blend the intake to the pod. The result is an much improved accuracy in appearance to the actual Litening Pod. (Figure #2)
Panels & Details
I then went to work on the re-scribing all the panels. Relying heavily on the new reference photos, I re-scribed the main panel that house the internal electronic boxes, screw holes and panels that indicate sections of the pod. I also improved the appearance of the ball camera sensor windows, now more accurately depicting the small circle windows in a deployed configuration. After much work with micro saws and scribing tools, I finished things by adding all appropriate rivet details. Finally, a primed the pod and mounted to its new casting block in preparation for a master mould.
Check out additional photos below to compare the old with the new MH Litening Pod.
I'm just finishing up minor touches, making the production moulds and the re-mastered Litening Pod will be back in the MH inventory and ready for new orders in the next several days.
*For those of you out there who have recently purchased the old Litening Pod, you will be able get a replacement copy for free when I announce availability. You will just need to contact Modern Hobbies from the website or by email with your prior order number or PayPal invoice number. I'll send you an invoice for shipping only and thats it!