The Northrop Grumman X-47B is an American demonstration unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) which first flew in 2011.
The X-47 project began as part of DARPA's J-UCAS program, and is now part of the United States Navy's UCAS-D (Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration) program, which aims to create a carrier-based unmanned aircraft.
The first flight of the X-47B demonstrator, designated Air Vehicle 1 (AV-1), took place at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on February 4, 2011.
The aircraft first flew in cruise configuration with its landing gear retracted on September 30, 2011. A second X-47B demonstrator, designated AV-2, conducted its maiden flight at Edwards Air Force Base on November 22, 2011.
The first thing that strikes you when opening the very nice, very sturdy box is the size of this aircraft. My last 1/72 build was a Sword Re-2001, and that looks downright tiny next to the X-47. The plane's shape is very reminiscent of the canceled A-12 Avenger project from the early 1990s. Being a large flying wing, most of the shape is taken up in the fuselage, with just the small wings poking out of it. The kit comes on two sprues of very well done light grey plastic, and no clear parts. There is a small amount of texture on the plastic parts, but I doubt this will be noticeable under a coat of primer or paint.
The recessed detail on this plane is very, very well done, with some great panel lines and rivets where appropriate. I say appropriate, but since most of the pictures of this machine are classified, I'm only guessing. But they sure do look great though. There is bomb bay and wheel well detail provided, since that is really the only interior to the plane. Again, this is mostly guesswork on my part, but I think it looks fine. Should look good with the two big JDAMs provided in the bay. There is also a two part intake, and a very well done single part exhaust. These three parts are the only pieces that need to be installed before the fuselage halves are assembled, and they seem to dry-fit quite well. Some of the sprue attachments are on the actual gluing face of the parts, which I don't like, but does allow for sharp edges on parts
In terms of options, you're given the choice of raised or lowered landing gear, open or closed bomb bays, and folded or extended wings. The wing-folds seem to be very nicely detailed, and should be sturdy enough to hold the wings at the right angle. There are also some small support spars to install if you choose to keep the wings extended and rigid, which is a nice touch.
decals and marking options
The last thing you pull out of the box is a huge decal sheet, and here the kit really shines. It is full of markings for both the prototype, and future operational markings for three squadrons. Also included is a huge suite of stencils, that should provide pretty much every maintenance marking that will be visible on the plane. Decals are printed by Cartograf, which is always a good sign. Painting is restricted to one all-grey aircraft, although I'm sure you could come up with some kind of digital camo scheme to make it a bit more interesting, since Navy camouflage could change sometime in the next three years.
The instructions are nicely laid out, being very short of course since there is so little to the plane, but still nicely illustrated. There is no mention of nose-weight needed, and the plane seems heavy already, but I'd add some just to be safe because of the tricycle gear.
The only downside I can see to this kit are a few poorly placed ejector pin marks, in places like the landing gear legs and doors, along with the bomb bay doors. This will cause some minor headaches, but should clean-up easily enough with some light putty and sanding. That's really only the downside I can see to this kit, but it is more of a light annoyance than anything else.