Monday, April 11

Review: Four new sets of improvements for the 72nd Airfix Shackleton, 48th Grumman Tracker & Guardian from Barracuda...

Barracuda Studios has sent their new sets that they have released to suit some well-known 48th and 72nd scale aircraft that will have a lot of modellers rubbing their hands together. Bruce has taken them under the microscope and compared them with the real thing and the existing parts. Let’s see what he thought of these four sets….

Barracuda Studios recently released eight new products in three different scales. Bruce Anders has had a look at four of these releases in today’s review. These correction kits look pretty simple so we decided to keep the reviews as concise as necessary also.

Grumman Guardian Mainwheels
1:48th Scale
Set contains: Two Wheels in cream resin
Price: US 7.95 – Product Link
Special Hobby’s 1/48 kit of the big Grumman Guardian makes up into rather a nice model out of the box, however the kit wheels feature eight spoke hubs whereas in service the aircraft were fitted with six spoke wheels
Enter Roy Sutherland from Barracuda Studios on his continuing quest to right the wrongs of the kit wheel world. Roy’s beautifully cast wheels allow you to correctly model a Grumman Guardian with the wheel hubs fitted to these aircraft whilst in fleet service with the U.S. Navy.
These resin wheels were designed by Lee Coll and they are based on careful measurements and photos he took of the Guardian at Pensacola. The casting looks excellent with brake disc and all nuts looking very sharp with even the maker’s logo appearing on the sidewalls.  The tread lines look even and straight too
 This set also comes with a set of vinyl masks to aid you getting that sharp paint delineation between hub and tyre.
All that is needed to fit them to the kit is remove the minimal casting block and wafer, then drill the holes out to accept the kit axles.  The header card also notes the wheels can be used on the Collect-Aire kit as well.

Tracker Early Mainwheels
1:48th Scale
Set contains: Two Wheels in cream resin
Price: US$7.95 – Product Link
Here’s the kit that these wheels are designed to be used with
Well, if you're going to make wheels for the Grumman Guardian, you might as well make some early Grumman Tracker wheels too, as to me it looks like the same wheel was fitted to both aircraft.
Kinetics Early Grumman Tracker S-2A kit is a lovely kit, however they carried over the wheels from their S-2G kit, which is incorrect as the early trackers had different wheel hubs as seen in the photos below. (The Kinetic Grumman Tracker kits come with late style main wheels as fitted to all Trackers after the retrofit to upgrade the brakes was completed in the 1970s. Before that, all Trackers were fitted with these early style wheels.)
This overall blue tracker (above) is fitted with the early hubs whilst the close up shot below shows the later style hub that is incorrectly included in Kinetic’s “A” Model Tracker

The RIGHT wheels on this early Tracker
The kit replacement from Barracuda Studios
Fear not though as Barracuda comes to the rescue again with this new release.  Again, beautifully cast resin wheels that correctly portray the early style hubs fitted to these aircraft. Once again, just the hub needs drilling out to accept the kit axle. Simplest of construction that beats multi part assemblies is always something to admire in Barracuda Wheels over other producers.

Avro Shackleton MR2 AEW2 main and tail wheels.
1/72nd scale
Set contains: Two wheels in cream resin
Price: US$7.95 – product link
This set contains the mainwheels and tailwheels (note that there was a double tail wheel unit on the Shack) to directly replace the Airfix kit as well as being an easy upgrade that can be adapted for the new Revell kit as well. The mainwheels feature a fine tread pattern and detailed asymmetric husband in this case they were designed by Mike O'Hare.
1/72nd not being my chosen scale, I did not take a lot of notice of the recent Airfix kit, although I think it is an inspired choice for a new kit and I hope they release it in 48 scale one day.  The reviews I did read all said it was a lovely kit, and fairly accurate, so when Roy released a set of wheels for it, I did a bit of digging to see what was so wrong with the kit wheels, that Roy felt the need to release a set of corrected wheels.
The tread pattern, hub detail and the one part simple replacement are features of this kit.
The wheels in the kit have the same hub detail on both sides whereas on the real aircraft the hub faces were different from side to side.  I could not find any really good photos of real shacks to illustrate this, but I’ll trust Roy Sutherland on this.  You can see in the below pic the difference between the kit hubs which are the same on both faces and the Barracuda hubs which have the correct detail on the different sides.
I was really impressed with the detail and sharpness of these items, especially given the scale.  Just look at that tread, a nice dry brush will highlight that beautifully
Also included are two tailwheels which again replace the kit items.

Avro Shackleton MR 2 Early Exhausts
1/72nd scale
Set Contains: Eight exhaust parts in cream resin
Price: US$7.95 – product link
This set contains a simple kit of eight drop-in fit replacement exhaust inserts for the early Shackleton, so suited for the new Airfix kit again. These exhausts are tiny but carefully hollowed out for a more authentic look and have fastener detail not present on the kit parts. Again these kits are designed by Mike O'Hare.
The last item provided for review was a set of exhausts, again for the Airfix Shack.  These are the early style, before the shroud and ducts were fitted that allowed the exhaust gases to exit under the wing.
The resin exhausts are a definite step up from the clunky kit exhausts, having a slightly more refined shape with added fastener detail and indented ends that will take a dark wash to give the effect of hollow pipes.
Kit parts on the left, Barracuda replacement on the right - see the hollowed out exhausts?
A test fit revealed they are pretty much a drop fit, maybe just requiring a smear of filler. Again ease of construction and attention to what is the tiniest of detail are trademarks that we are used to from Barracuda.
All these latest releases from barracuda go some way towards correcting the inaccuracies of the kits they have been designed for. 

Even if accuracy is not high on your list, these sets will still lift your model, especially the Shack exhausts and wheels.  They are fantastically cast with no hint of flash or air bubbles.  In all cases the detail is better than what is provided on the kit parts.

Using these wheels will also negate the need for assembling the kit wheels and possibly losing some of the tread detail when dealing with resultant seams, or some other messy multipart wheels from other manufacturers. And frankly, and who of us REALLY wants to drill out 72 scale exhausts??


Bruce Anders

Thanks to Barracuda Studios for sending these kits to review… All new products are in stock and ready for purchase on the Barracuda Studios website.