Crashed Hawker Hurricane Model Diorama, Hornchurch

crashed hurricane model diorama  Crashed Hawker Hurricane Model Diorama, Hornchurch(Image: Lightningboy2000, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

This image by Lightningboy2000 brilliantly captures a model Hawker Hurricane crash diorama, set in the Pacific theatre during World War Two.  The model, which appeared at the Hornchurch Southern Expo in 2010, reflects the level of realism and detail that can be achieved even in 1/72 scale.  If you’re into model making and historic recreation, there really are no limits to the imagination, as stirring wartime scenes can be recreated in less space than is taken up by a computer keyboard.

Keep reading – if you enjoyed this 1/72 scale model, check out these full scale replica Hurricanes and Spitfires, as well as these mock-up aircraft used as film props.

F-117 Nighthawk at Holloman Air Force Base Heritage Park

yf 117 holloman  F-117 Nighthawk at Holloman Air Force Base Heritage Park(Image: US Air Force, public domain)

Of the six F-117 Nighthawks on display (including a wreck in Belgrade), one stands in the Heritage Park at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, the official home of the Stealth Fighter after it was declassified during the late 1980s. These photographs show the retired “Black Jet” – a YF-117 full scale development (FSD) aircraft, serial number 79-0782 – being towed across the base to its new home in the park.

yf 117 holloman 2  F-117 Nighthawk at Holloman Air Force Base Heritage Park(Image: US Air Force, public domain)

The move was carried out by the 49th Maintenance Squadron on April 5, 2008. Named Scorpion 3 (one of the original Senior Trend aircraft of the Baja Scorpions), the jet was originally used for acoustics and navigation system testing, and – with an American flag painted on its underside – was the aircraft that revealed the Stealth Fighter’s existence to high ranking officials at Groom Lake on December 14, 1983, while the programme was still top secret.

f 117 american flag  F-117 Nighthawk at Holloman Air Force Base Heritage Park(Image: US Navy, public domain)

Repainted to represent the first production F-117 to drop weapons in combat (85-0816 – which is now stored at Tonopah Test Range Airport), Scorpion 3 has taken pride of place alongside other great planes like the F-15 Eagle and F-4 Phantom.

yf 117 holloman 3  F-117 Nighthawk at Holloman Air Force Base Heritage Park(Image: US Air Force, public domain)

Five YF-117 FSD aircraft were originally built. Four are now on display, while one was scrapped in 2008 to test effective ways of destroying F-117 airframes, which contain both classified technology and toxic materials. With the exception of wreckage from a Nighthawk shot down during the Kosovo War and a hybrid airframe on a pedestal outside the Skunk Works, no production F-117s are on public display.

yf 117 holloman 4  F-117 Nighthawk at Holloman Air Force Base Heritage Park(Image: US Air Force, public domain)

While several Stealth Fighters have been sighted back in the air over Nevada, most of the retired fleet rests semi-dismanted in their original hangars at Tonopah. It has also been suggested that the iconic jets are in the process of being ploughed into deep pits on the massive Nevada Test Range where their 30-year-old stealth technology will remain forever off-limits.  That said, a full size replica has been spotted in China.

Lockheed’s CALF Aircraft Powered Model Seen on Google Earth

Lockheed CALF  Lockheed’s CALF Aircraft Powered Model Seen on Google Earth(Image: Google Earth 2011)

Sitting in a junk filled corner of Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, Texas, is a corroding aircraft that formed the basis of Lockheed’s Joint Strike Fighter design. At first glance, the plane resembles an F-35 Lightning II, but is actually a large scale powered model built by Lockheed to meet DARPA requirements for an Advanced Short Takeoff Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) and Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) aircraft.

F 35 lift fan  Lockheed’s CALF Aircraft Powered Model Seen on Google Earth(Image: Duch.seb, cc-sa-3.0)

The stealthy canard design, developed in the early 1990s, adopted a revolutionary lift fan to achieve short takeoff and vertical landing, helping cement Lockheed’s success in the later Joint Strike Fighter programme against Boeing’s X-32. At this stage of the programme, renamed Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) by 1995, competing designs were also submitted by McDonnell Douglas and Boeing.

Lockheed CALF Fort Worth  Lockheed’s CALF Aircraft Powered Model Seen on Google Earth(Image: Google Earth 2011)

While the ASTOVL/CALF/JAST design was not a flyable aircraft, it was also not a traditional full size replica. As a large scale powered model, the stealthy demonstrator was used in a series of ground-based tests, many focusing on the lift fan system. Despite an obvious resemblance, the final X-35 and F-35 designs differ significantly from CALF. The powered model, similar in size to the F-16 alongside it, looks like a gutted shell in these recent Google Earth images. Nearby is a mock-up of the ill-fated A-12 Avenger II attack aircraft, designed for the Navy, and cancelled in 1993 amid ongoing legal difficulties.

Chinese F-117 Full Size Replica – a Cause for Concern?

f 117 full size replica china  Chinese F-117 Full Size Replica – a Cause for Concern?(Image: Google Earth via GeoEye)

Previously we reported that Pakistan may have given China access to the stealth helicopter that crashed during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.  In that article we mentioned that the F-117 Stealth Fighter shot down during the Kosovo War may have found its way to Russia.  Interestingly, this 2010 Google Earth image shows the faint outline of an F-117 in the Chinese city of Luoyang, reportedly sitting outside the Electro-Optical Technology Development Center – an R&D centre for Chinese air-to-air missiles.

f 117 mock up china  Chinese F-117 Full Size Replica – a Cause for Concern?(Image: Google Earth via GeoEye)

Not surprisingly, the F-117 in the satellite photo is reportedly a full size replica.  China is believed to have developed several Stealth Fighter and SR-71 mock-ups (see here) over the years, in a bid to better understand U.S. stealth technology.  These images purportedly show the Blackbird attempt along with an F-22 Raptor.  But the authenticity of the images is in question because the F-22 certainly is not a full size replica built by China – it’s a direct mirror image of this legitimate American photo of the first operational Raptor in the paint shop.

china j 20  Chinese F-117 Full Size Replica – a Cause for Concern?(Image: Air Defense, cc-sa-3.0)

The F-117 in the satellite photo was reportedly spotted by the China Defense Forum and appears to be partially complete, perhaps missing its forward fuselage.  But the grainy image – with a fuselage that fades into the concrete as it nears the front – almost looks as if the wannabe Stealth Fighter is painted on the ground.  Either way, is this replica a cause for concern?  Probably not, since the F-117’s faceted stealth is decades old by modern standards.  China’s fifth generation Chengdu J-20 stealth prototype (above) is far more concerning.

6 Full Size Replica Aircraft used as Movie Props

F A 37 Talon  6 Full Size Replica Aircraft used as Movie Props(Image: U.S. Navy, public domain)

In modern day film making, special effects alone can accomplish what the likes of George Lucas and Clint Eastwood achieved, through a combination of models and clever photography, in Star Wars and Firefox.  But close-up shots demand accuracy and even today the only way to achieve authenticity is through the use of full size replica aircraft – assuming the real thing doesn’t exist or isn’t available.  Here are six full scale movie prop aircraft, ranging from fictional stealth fighters to historic wartime bombers.

Firefox – Fictional MiG-31

firefox  6 Full Size Replica Aircraft used as Movie Props(Image: MilborneOne, public domain; inset)

The MiG-31 Firefox was a fictional Soviet stealth interceptor created by novelist Craig Thomas in Firefox and Firefox Down.  In the film version, Clint Eastwood’s character slips into the Soviet Union and steals the high performance warplane, which required a full size replica for close-up scenes.  It’s a sinister looking jet, but the MiG-31 Firefox mock-up was actually built around the skeleton of a radio station broadcast-antenna, and could taxi at 30-40 mph.  The Firefox is seen here parked at Van Nuys Airport, California, in 1982.  If anyone knows where it is now, please get in touch!

F/A-37 Talon – Fictional Stealth Aircraft

F A 37 Talon 2  6 Full Size Replica Aircraft used as Movie Props(Image: U.S. Navy, public domain)

The futuristic F/A-37 Talon appeared in the 2005 film Stealth, and is pictured here during a simulated launch from USS Abraham Lincoln (although reportedly filmed aboard USS Carl Vinson).  The F/A-37 Talon was a single seat stealth fighter built to test cutting edge technologies on the battlefield.  It had a central computer “brain”, which predictably caused it to develop a (dangerous) mind of its own.  The film is considered one of the biggest financial losses in Hollywood history.  The “Talon” bore a striking resemblance to the Northrop Switchblade concept.

AV-8B Harrier Replica – True Lies

(Images: Vortech, Inc., reproduced with permission)

If you’ve seen True Lies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, you may remember a scene where Arnie blasts a terrorist off the front of an AV-8B Harrier II using a Sidewinder missile.  While the True Lies Harrier was a full size replica with no working parts, it used a canopy and landing gear from a real aircraft and looked spectacular in the film.  Seen here languishing on a hillside, the faded movie prop has reportedly just been blown up (literally!) as part of a new film production.  Does anyone know which film this was?

Avro Lancaster Bomber – The Dam Busters Remake

lancaster bomber dambusters remake  6 Full Size Replica Aircraft used as Movie Props(Image: Dominion Post, reproduced with permission)

This full size Avro Lancaster bomber replica is one of 10 designed by the Weta Workshop for an upcoming remake of the classic 1955 film The Dam Busters, dramatising Operation Chastise and the famous bouncing bomb.  The Lancaster bomber, built from steel and fiberglass – reportedly in China – is seen here at Hood Aerodrome in New Zealand as crews test new camera techniques.  While the scale of production is clearly impressive, here’s hoping the end product lives up to the original.

Spitfire Replica – Battle of Britain Film

spitfire replica battle of britain  6 Full Size Replica Aircraft used as Movie Props(Image: Robert Hodgson, reproduced with permission)

This fiberglass Supermarine Spitfire replica was originally built for the 1968 Battle of Britain film and is now preserved at Wellesbourne Wartime Museum in Warwickshire, UK.  The production brought together 100 period aircraft, known as the “35th largest air force in the world”, some of which were airworthy.  To make up numbers on the ground, a large amount of full size replica aircraft were employed, some of which could taxi and others to be destroyed by “falling bombs”.  Learn more in this rare behind-the-scenes footage.

Hurricane Replica – Battle of Britain

hawker hurricane replica  6 Full Size Replica Aircraft used as Movie Props(Image: Phillip Capper, cc-3.0)

Like the Spitfire replica above, this beautifully restored Hawker Hurricane full size replica is also believed to have been built for the Battle of Britain film.  Pictured in 2007 at Omaka, New Zealand, the vintage fighter was reportedly imported down under after filming was wrapped.  Like these wartime aircraft mock-ups, there are more historic Hurricane and Spitfire replicas at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne in Kent, UK.

Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne

spitfire hurricane replica  Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne(Image: Helmut Zozmann, cc-sa-3.0)

Located near the famous White Cliffs, between Dover and Folkestone in Kent, the pleasant village of Capel-le-Ferne is home to a monument dedicated to the allied aircrew who fought in the Battle of Britain.  Sitting adjacent to a Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire replica – enduring symbols of the heroic British and Commonwealth fight against German invasion – a lone airman gazes out over the English Channel in a poignant gesture to missing friends.

battle of britain memorial  Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne(Image: Chris Barber, cc-sa-3.0)

Initiated by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and opened by the Queen Mother in July 1993, the Battle of Britain Memorial was designed as a large propeller shape with the seated pilot, carved by Harry Gray, at its centre.  Nearby, the names of almost 3000 aircrew from Fighter Command, who took part in the Battle, appear on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall.

spitfire replica  Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne(Image: Bill Henderson, cc-sa-3.0)

The full size replica aircraft stand to the west of the monument.  The Spitfire replica (above) is a newer addition to the Hawker Hurricane (below), and together they form a fitting tribute to “The Few“.  Their position under the now-peaceful Kent sky, where the Battle of Britain raged during the summer of 1940, is highly significant.  So too is their proximity to the White Cliffs of Dover, considered a symbolic guard against invasion at the narrowest point of the English Channel.

hurricane replica  Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne(Image: Bill Henderson, cc-sa-3.0)

While the Spitfire captured the public imagination and created a lasting legacy due to its speed, agility and grace, the Hurricane deservedly cemented its reputation during the Battle of Britain, claiming 60% of the RAF’s air victories.  Cheaper and significantly easier to fly than the Spitfire, it was a popular aircraft with pilots.  This Hurricane replica (coded US-X) represents the plane flown by 20-year-old British fighter ace Geoffrey Page when he was shot down, surviving despite suffering terrible burns.

More Battle of Britain: Don’t miss this rare behind-the-scenes footage from the 1968 feature film.