Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (1)
Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (2)
Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (2)
Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (4)
Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (3)
Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (5)
Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (1)
Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (1)
Clearprop MQ-1C Gray Reaper (2)

MQ-1C UAV Gray Eagle
First Impression

Nederlandse versie

Clear Prop
Scale 1/48
Injection moulded
Price euro 30,00

MQ-1C Gray Eagle is an extended range/multipurpose (ER/MP) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for the US Army. It is an improved variant of the combat-proven Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. Gray Eagle performs reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, command and control, communications relay, signals intelligence (SIGINT), electronic warfare (EW), attack, improvised explosive device (IED) and battle damage assessment missions.

The UAS accomplished more than 1,700 flight hours during a total of 238 flights during the initial seven-month training and evaluation period. The first full company of Gray Eagle UAS, F/227 was deployed in June 2012. The army plans to acquire 11 Warrior units, each unit with 12 UAVs and five ground control stations. To date, 61 Gray Eagle aircraft have been handed over to the US Army, with an additional 44 aircraft currently on order (March 2024).
The competition for the extended-range multipurpose UAV to replace the RQ-5 Hunter was initiated by the US Army in 2002. An upgraded version of the RQ-5 Hunter and the General Atomics Warrior were also contenders for the competition.

The Warrior was designated MQ-1C by the US Department of Defence (DoD). The MQ-1C was officially assigned the name Gray Eagle in August 2010. The Gray Eagle quick reaction capability (QRC) units were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, for introducing the aircraft to combat. The Defence Acquisition Board (DAB) review in June 2012 authorised the third LRIP purchase of 29 aircraft and associated equipment
Based on the Predator airframe design, the Gray Eagle features a fault-tolerant control system. The aircraft incorporates a triple-redundant avionics system architecture. The UAS has an increased wingspan compared to that of the Predator. The modular architecture of Gray Eagle allows the integration and operation of multiple payloads. Gray Eagle has a length of 9m (56ft), a wingspan of 17m and a height of 2.1m. Gray Eagle can carry an internal payload of 261kg and an external payload of 227kg. It can carry multiple payloads, including electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) with laser designation, a STARLite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) / ground moving target indicator (GMTI) sensor, communications relay and four Hellfire missiles. The wing hardpoints can be fitted with external payloads such as expendable sensors and weapons. The AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles fitted to the aircraft can engage ground-based moving and stationary targets within a range of 500m to 8km.

Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Ukrainian government has asked for Gray Eagles several times, the U.S. refused until now. I couldn't find any evidence that they have them now, but...  

The Model.
Due to both the conflict in Europe and in the Middle East, the use of drones has suddenly become clearly public. Drones weren't that interesting to me, I thought. They don't have a cockpit on them and they often look a bit weird. Now the modern drone is clearly getting more attention from the model manufacturers, including Clear Prop with this MQ-1C UAV, so I decided to add one to my collection. This Gray Reaper!

Clear Prop is a relatively new manufacturer in the Ukraine specializing in unique topics that are not covered by other traditional manufacturers. The MQ-1C is quite unique, and as far as I know this is the only model available as injection moulded kit.
The model comes in a very solid and surprisingly small box. Surprising, because this particular drone is a machine of pretty impressive stature. 17 meters wingspan and a length of 8.5 meters are quite large dimensions. By comparison, an F-16 is almost half as narrow and only a few meters longer. But, after all, it is a drone whose main job is to circulate in the air for dozens of hours without a break. And for that, you need the right lift, hence the huge wings of the aircraft. In the box are seven frames, two photo-etching frames and a decal set. Panel lines are engraved, not too fine and not too deep or wide. I haven't seen any flash on the frames of this model nor any ejection pin marks.
Referring to those monumental drone wings. The manufacturer took care of the elegant and very thin trailing edges of the air foil. The idea of wings made of asymmetrical halves is increasingly used in model making. The upper one, which contains the entire leading and trailing edges, is complemented by something like an insert, which closes the wing from below.

Since the fuselage of the aircraft is quite empty and large, the manufacturer has thought about internal reinforcements. Without them, there could be noticeable deformations of the shape of the glued model. Although, frankly, I wonder if there will be such problems with the wings themselves, long and narrow. There are no reinforcements to maintain the original shape of the wing. And as for the hull itself, we have several solid supports here, which reinforce the entire structure. The main compartments of the landing gear also play such a role here.
Although it looks simple on the outside, it turns out to have quite a few small details, which Clear Prop has painstakingly recreated. The entire D-frame is reserved for this with such details. There is no shortage of antennas and sensors of all kinds, complicated and delicate. The chassis, which unfortunately can only be made in a model with landing gear down, is also fairly completely reproduced. They even get extra detailed by the photo-etched parts.
The instructions contain 13 pages with full colour pages for the colours and decals and the remaining instructions in black and white. The paints listed are for Mr. Colour and MIG. The step-by-step directions are very well laid out and clearly inform the builder of critical details.
All frames and accessories are packed in a cellophane, with the decals, photo-etch and clear parts packed separately in zip bags. 101 parts and 12 photo-etch parts. The model is relatively small in scale 1/48 compared to, for example, with an F-15, but still has a model wingspan of 356.1 mm and a length of 168.8 mm

The decal sheet was printed by Decograf from the Ukraine, now well known, looks fine, they deliver quality again. There are still quite a lot of markings and texts on this drone. Decals are provided for 4 different schemes, so you can choose the one that suits you:
MQ-1C Grey Eagle 51161, U.S. Army, 2019
MQ-1C Grey Eagle 70105, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade "Air Cav," U.S. Army
MQ-1C Grey Eagle 70108, U.S. Army
MQ-1C Grey Eagle 70112, U.S. Army

The armament consists of four Hellfire missiles with an option for all black or olive missiles. It's a pity that Clear Prop didn't choose to display the Hellfire correctly with the clear head. This can be adjusted yourself, but I actually assume that there are aftermarket Hellfire models available.

Clear Prop lives up to its name by bringing a separate model to the market with this drone. Although you get the idea that it is a small model, it still has a wingspan of more than 35 cm. An average modeler won't have any problems with it, even though the manufacturer reviews the build for advanced modelers. With only a few potential issues (both related to movable parts) and two minor instructional issues, this kit is almost flawless. Building the model doesn't have to take long, a little longer than a weekend, but it can easily be completed in a week or less than 10 hours of build time. If you're looking for a relaxing quick build of a unique subject, this is the perfect model for you.

Thanks to Clear Prop for making the model available.

Geverifieerd door MonsterInsights