|In 2018, Combat Kits, a sub-brand of Freightdog Models, issued a kit of the BAe Mantis, with catalog number KCR-007. The kit is no longer listed in their catalog, or not yet? In the thread Topic: Freightdog at Telford 2018 dated 3 November 2018, Colin Strachan from Freightdog reported: "The Mantis was not going to be released as the decals are not ready, but a sample batch were cast up, so Dave has decided to release the kit which might be of interest to whif modellers wanting to put in operational markings. Its a great kit, resin with white metal detail parts and bigger than you would think. The Mantis UAV will be £25." I bought my kit one year later, at the Telford 2019 show.|
|The largest components are of course the fuselage and the wings. The wings were packaged with a cardboard support to prevent the wings from deforming. The kit includes a nice three-view drawing, and at least the fuselage and wing halves match that drawing nicely.
In my kit, the fuselage tail suffers from a mould shift, that mismatches the last one-third of the fuselage about 0.5 mm left and right. My estimate is that a cut right down the middle, and regluing, is less work than trying to sand the mismatched halves to a circular cross-section.
|The other major parts are the vertical tail, two engine pods, two horizontal tails, a ventral fin, the engine pylons, and lastly the fake canopy. The parts are all cast very well.|
|The smallest parts are five sets of identical intakes, plus two spinners and two sets of wheels and FLIR turrets. All are cast impeccable.|
|The white metal parts are also near-perfect. Two propellers, five landing gear parts and a pitot tube. The photo-etch parts are antennas and pitch/yaw vanes.
The kit does not include decals.
Here I ran into a brick wall: I could not find any reliable measurements, and the number of photos was also amazingly low. They were all just low resolution, preferably backlighted, nothing hi-res. That leads me to the question how Combat Kits managed to make a model of the Mantis, if even the basic numbers are unknown. I don't see any problem in publishing the main dimensions; the Mantis is a non-stealth, non-combat, medium performance, 10 year old technology prototype. I've worked on UAVs and I would consider the software the most valuable part. In general terms I'm often amazed how well US companies 'milk' their projects PR-wise, and how bad European companies are at this.
I wanted to compare the model's shape with photos, but that doesn't work with a model in parts. I therefore used the two photos of W879SP2's model (see links), and compared them to photos of ZK2210. On first sight I did not see any serious shape errors. But this is just a preliminary verdict.
My limited research turned up three examples of the Mantis:
the first mockup, without panel lines, and with blunt leading edge wings
the second mockup, maybe a refined version of the first, with panel lines and a realistic wing leading edges. The logo is revised and has no slanted lettering
flying prototype ZK210. First flight was on 21 October 2009 in South Australia. I found no details of the subsequent flight test program, or the current status
First impression is that the prototype was simply black. The box art also suggests black all over. But if you look closer, the colour looks like a deep brown-bronze bare carbon fiber. I think it's high-temperature cured epoxy-carbon, where the epoxy gets a deep golden-brownish colour. The 'canopy' (antenna cover) is more black, as are the wings, horizontal tails and engine pylons (as far as I can see). My first idea is to use 'bronze' carbon fiber decals to cover the complete model. For starters I found the following sheets:
I also read the warning "Never use MFH carbon fiber. Waste your time and money."
|The kit came without decals. Here is my first attempt at drawing the markings. I copied the logo design from the first mockup. But the second (or revised) mockup had the logo without slanted 'MANTIS' lettering. I could not find a decent-enough photo of ZK210 where I can see the lettering well enough.|
|In 2021, on Ebay UK, I noted Mantis models sold with a decal sheet, and detailed decal placement instructions (revised from the drawing in my kit). The kit also has new box art, shown here.|
1/72 - BAe Systems Mantis UAV resin kit by Combat Kits - box art on BritModeller
BAe Mantis UAV by Combat Kits on BritModeller