Unicraft 1/72 RQ-1 Predator



Unicraft from Ukraine has a catalog of very unique models, mostly UAVs and 'what-if' designs. In 2005 I ordered the RQ-1 Predator and the Boeing 'Bird of Prey' directly from Unicraft for 25 dollars each. The kit is from 2002 or earlier. I was slightly shocked by the quality of the parts, but I started construction anyway. When Platz issued their injection molded Predator in 2008, I stopped work on the Unicraft model. I decided to show the results of this abandoned project anyway.



The model

The small box contains the following:
  • 21 parts in resin. The casting quality is the worst I've seen. There is a ton of flash surrounding all parts. The surface have a roughness that I've never seen in other resin kits - it reminds me a bit of a sand castle! The large parts show a sanding texture that was apparently present on the master model. There are quite a few air bubbles, and panel lines are not very sharp. I read in other reviews that the landing gear has wires inserted for strength, but there is no wire in my legs. The spinner is not usuable due to shifted mold halves. The Hellfire missiles are best replaced. Many panel lines on the fuselage spine are absent.

  • a 45 x 80 mm decal sheet. The decals show a dither pattern when viewed up close. The sharkmouth markings are a fabrication, a photoshop job

  • an instruction sheet. It offers little information on which antenna to use, but that's not strange considering the lack of information at the time

  • a reference photo sheet printed in color

  • a 1/72 three-view drawing

The model represents the first generation of Predators, that had a non-turbo Rotax engine. The rear fuselage therefore lacks the 'bump' that the later models had. The air intake is on the left side, whereas turbo versions have it on the right side.

On an older version of the FSM forum, 'fructose' wrote "Just so you know though, the unicraft model is really inacurate. Being a Predator pilot myself, I would know." That got me moving! I found extensive dimensional data in the 2001 Jane's unmanned aerial vehicles and targets. Although I doubt the data somewhat (why would they issue such detailed data, desinformation perhaps?), the Unicraft model agreed pretty well: the only problems were that the rear fuselage was 1 mm too narrow, and the tip chord was too large. Frankly, I don't see major problems when I compare the model to photos of the real thing. But I'm still worried.




Construction

This is the fuselage after a lot of sanding and priming, plus filling air bubbles with CA, and it's starting to look like a decent part. But many resin kits do not require this kind of preparations. Not visible in this photo is that the landing gear wheel wells are not deep enough and not symmetrical.

The photo also shows a part that is required for early Predators: a bulged fairing that is mounted mid-fuselage. The Platz model does not have it.
The wings start to look OK after a lot of filling, sanding and painting. Once you know about it, the excess wing tip chord is quite visible.

Planned improvements on my model:

All those plans were shelved when I obtained the Platz 1/72 RQ-1 in 2008, and the Unicraft model was abandoned. The only part I may use from the Unicraft kit is the mid-fuselage bulged fairing.




Links

Other modelers' Unicraft Predators:

Walkarounds:





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