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KIT REVIEW


Revell C-160D ESS/NG Transall -- 1:72 Scale



The Transall C-160 is a venerable European airlifter flown primarily by the French and German Air Forces for nearly half a century.  It has served as a true workhorse in roles spanning primary tactical airlift, aerial refueling, ELINT data collection, TACAMO, and communications.  The C-160 is not well represented in injection-molded plastic kits.  In late 2018, Revell re-released their 2006 tooling of the 1:72 scale C-160 with parts and new decals for the ESS/NG variants of the Transall.  Let’s see what we’ve got.  

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In the late 1950s, French and West German Air Forces required a twin-engine airlifter.  To these ends, "Transporter-Allianz" or Transall, was formed in 1959 between a trio of French and German companies.  Lockheed C-130 sales were rejected in favor of a European-produced airlifter, and the resultant Transall design indeed resembled a more svelte, two-engine version of the C-130.  It featured a twin turboprop engine configuration and a high wing providing good STOL performance on short and unimproved landing strips, a roomy cargo hold, a rear-access ramp beneath a tall vertical stabilizer.  The first C-160 flew in 1963 and 110 C-160D aircraft were ordered in the following year for West Germany and 50 C-160Fs for France.  Production continued from 1967 to 1972.  That was then followed by a second production run featuring modernized avionics in 1977 and into the 1980s.  More then 200 were eventually produced.

The C-160 has long distinguished itself.  Its versatility has contributed to its nearly 50 years of operational life with France and Germany, along with export customers South Africa and Turkey.  It has seen its share of combat, beginning with delivering French paratroopers into battle during the 1970s Angolan conflict.  C-160Fs have conducted extensive operations in a number of nations, including Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Bosnia, and Lebanon.  Others have served in SIGINT work and supported French AWACS aircraft including during the first Gulf War.  A pair of C-160Fs function as TACAMO aircraft to communicate with submerged French ballistic missile subs.  German C-160Ds supported peacekeeping efforts in Sudan and ISAF forces in Afghanistan.  In 2011, Germany's Transalls accumulated a total of one million flight hours.  While all South African C-160s have been retired, the others fly on, and will eventually be replaced by the Airbus A400M in the early 2020s.

The French C-160NG (Nouvelle Generation, or New Generation) produced from the second production run featured a fifth internal fuel tank in the mid-wing section, upgraded avionics, a fixed refueling probe, and the port side cargo door was deleted.  German C-160Ds fitted with the self-protection suite were designated as the C-160 ESS.

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Revell’s 1:72 scale C-160 Transall ESS/NG kit consists of 264 parts, with 251 parts on ten grey injection molded polystyrene sprues and 13 clear parts on one sprue.  The full color instruction booklet organizes the build over 100 steps.  Markings for two airplanes are provided:

Strengths:  The quality of Revell of Germany (and now, it’s just Revell) new-tool kits has been and continues to be high.  The 2006-era tooling of their 1:72 scale C-160 has come out a few times since then, and their late 2018 re-issue of the kit is again very, very solid.  The final product is also pretty large, with a fuselage length of 18 inches and a wingspan of 21inches.

The kit itself is molded in flawless fashion, with delicately recessed panel lines, raised details, and lots of great detail, especially for 1:72 scale.  The optical quality of the clear parts is also excellent.  The airframe exterior is, in fact, a real highlight of the kit, from the recessed lower flap wells to the air cooler scoops on the engine nacelles and windshield wipers.  The flight deck is very well done, and compared to my references, looks exceedingly spot-on and quite accurate.  While there’s really nothing on the instrument panel and various consoles for detail painters, the decals for these parts look very nice and again quite accurate.  Other nice touches are the upholstered seat backpads, trim wheels, and bulkhead details.

Another highlight of the kit is the cargo bay interior.  As with other airlifter kits by Revell, the cargo bay interior is a complete, enclosed structure (basically, it’s a shell) that fits within the fuselage halves.  It’s the best way to do an open bay, bar none.  Again, there’s a lot of very nice details in the C-160 bay, a variety of troop seating styles (some stowed, some with the seat extended).  I’m also a fan of the detail you get with the main landing gear and the landing gear bays.  Very nicely done!  Also, remember to add nose weight, or this will be a tail-sitter.                

The kit configuration does a nice job in representing both the German C-160ESS and the French NG variant as well.  The instructions also make it quite clear to distinguish parts between variants (e.g., the differing propeller styles, the fixed refueling probe on the NG, the countermeasures gear on the ESS, and a ton of subtle antenna variants).  Also, use of some of the alternate decals allow for you to “convert” the French NG into one of the five airframes that were made into aerial refueling platforms.  These were fitted with a hose that would deploy from inside the port side landing gear sponson.

The two paint schemes offered in the box are nicely representational of both modern German and French schemes, and I like the big ISAF badge on the German Transall.  However, the look of the French NG scheme and that refueling probe are more attractive to me, personally.  Also, the extensive AirDoc-designed decal sheet was printed by Cartograf.  It is technically outstanding.  It’s a large decal sheet to be sure, and a lot of the markings are stencils.  There are lots and lots of stencils here including the prominent walkways, interior cargo bay markings, and lots of other airframe stencil details.     

Weaknesses: I cannot claim to be a C-160D subject matter expert, and perhaps there are things that I’ve missed here.  Still I cannot see any basis to present any substantive critiques of this kit’s overall configuration, shape, and other major details.  Of course, I would argue that there are some generalized and probably under-detailed elements.  As is Revell’s design philosophy with 1:72 scale kits, there are no rivet/fastener details on the entirely of the airframe exterior, and this is certainly a simplification.  The cockpit, wheel wells, and cargo bays are good but basic, and the scale modeler can certainly add pipes, wires, and other detail items as appropriate if they wish.  I’m also not a fan on molded-on seatbelt details, but in this scale, I’ll be honest – they’re not too bad.   

A topic for further research – in reading up on the C-160, I do believe the NG fleet was upgraded with something of a glass cockpit and HUDs in the late 1990s.  This kit does not seem to reflect those changes in the cockpit.  

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Revell has produced another winning kit with their re-release of their 1:72 scale C-160D Transall kit.  It is overall very well done and it features a particularly nice range of interior and exterior details.  Fans of German and French air forces, European aircraft, and as builders of airlifters will all really enjoy this kit.

Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at https://www.revell.de/en/home/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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