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AFTERMARKET REVIEW


Eduard AIM-120A/B AMRAAM -- 1:32 Scale

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The AIM-7 Sparrow made its debut in the 1950s as the first radar guided, beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile.  Though its initial performance (especially against opposing fighters) left a lot to be desired, it was progressively upgraded and improved through the 1970s.  Yet, it was clear by that time that a new generation of air-to-air missile needed to be developed, and work began in the early 1980s for a follow-on weapon that became the AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile).  This new weapon would be lighter, faster, and possess greater range than the AIM-7.  It would also not rely on the launching aircraft to “ride” its radar beam to a target.  Instead, the AMRAAM would be “launch-and-leave,” receiving guidance data from its launching aircraft up to the moment of release and then switch over to its own independent onboard radar to guide it to its target.  AIM-120s also had an HOJ, or home-on-jamming capability; any opposing aircraft using electronic countermeasures (ECM) to break an AMRAAM’s lock would find the missile guiding straight to them.

The first-generation AIM-120A became operational in 1991 and was phased in on platforms such as the F-15, F-16, and F/A-18 (though tested on the F-14s, it was not adopted for operational use by Tomcats).  Today, the AMRAAM is the primary BVR missile used by the U.S. and its allies.  The improved AIM-120B arrived in 1994.  Externally identical to the -A, the -B featured a number of internal improvements.  AIM-120C deliveries began in 1996.  The C-variant is distinguished by its shorter, “clipped” wings and has been steadily upgraded across a number of sub-variants spanning improved avionics and ever-increasing range.  AIM-120As and -Bs are today near the end of the service lifetime as they are being made truly obsolescent by the AIM-120D family.  The -D is an evolutionary development of the -C model.  While its speed and range specs are classified, the AIM-120D features extended long range capability that is widely said to approach the range of the retired AIM-54 Phoenix as well as a touted “no-escape” kill envelope.  As of today, the AIM-120 has been fired in combat 12 times and has accumulated 12 kills.  The AMRAAM will continue to serve in its prominent role securing U.S. and allied air dominance for many years to come. 

Many 1:32 scale model kits will have AIM-120s on their sprues, but they often lack detail - and what’s there is arguably inaccurate and simplified.  In this large scale, those kinds of oversights are especially problematic.  To solve these issues, Eduard has recently released a 1:32 scale AIM-120A/B set in their Brassin product line.  It contains 28 cast resin parts for two missiles.

The set is really impressive.  The single-piece missile bodies feature great detail, from the missile hangers to the waveguide assembly.  They can be built up as a live AIM-120 or as a CATM-120.  Alternate radomes are provided for the latter captive-carry training rounds (which are slightly more bulbous) and the aft rocket motor nozzle is blanked off.  Each of the wings (fins) are perfectly cast.  The approach to part design allows for simple removal of your preferred radome, exhaust nozzle, and the fins so that they all just plug right into the missile body.  The decal sheet also provides the stripes and stenciling that are needed for both live and training round versions.   
  
Compared to my reference photos of the AIM-120A/B, this set looks just about perfect.  I’ve got nothing to critique here.  If your 1:32 project requires an early-version AMRAAM, look no further.  I think this is the best aftermarket -120 I’ve seen to date.  Including the subtly different parts for the CATM-120 (rather than just some blue decal stripes and calling it a training round) is a very much-appreciated touch.  Furthermore, this set is also available in 1:48 and 1:72 scales.  

Many Sincere thanks are owed to Eduard for the review sample.  You can visit them on the web at http://www.eduard.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EduardCompany   

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Our Most Recent Release!



F-100 Super Sabre in Detail & Scale

Detail & Scale Special Edition Books


U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series


Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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