Do the math: This model took twice as long to decal as it did to paint, and twice as long to paint as it took to build — and assembly only took an hour.
In contrast to some other current kit brands, Platz’s design philosophy is to mold good detail but keep the number of parts to a minimum. This kit’s landing-gear bays and weapons bays are molded into the lower half of the aircraft’s fuselage. I’ve built recent kits that have five or six parts to make a single bay. Were these others trying to increase the degree of difficulty? By comparison, Platz’s X-47B is a breeze.
Of course, building a kit without having a cockpit to assemble, paint, and mask, or a canopy to prepare, mask, and paint, also helps speed the process. Platz provides nicely detailed landing gear and a pair of well-molded JDAMs for the weapons bay. Optional parts allow you to pose the model with the wing spoilers raised and the wings folded. If you wanted to pose the model in flight, you would have to cut off all the mounting tabs of the landing-gear and weapons-bay doors.
The monochrome paint job also facilitated the project. The instructions recommend overall neutral gray. I found it easier to mask around and paint the bays gloss white after the overall gray was applied. I posed my model with wings spread and spoilers down.
The kit decals were excellent and went on without problems. But it was a long process, with fine, black wing-walk lines and many individual items for stenciling. Markings are provided for both test birds, as well as conjectural units and carrier names. The actual X-47 is still experimental, as the “X” denotes. The two Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrators first flew in 2011, and are still in testing. Northrop Grumman built the stealthy drones, and there is no telling what the aircraft will look like if they ever reach production and service. But, for now, Platz provides us with a fine plastic glimpse of the future of air combat.
A version of this review appeared in the December 2012 FineScale Modeler.