Saturday, September 30, 2017

Review - Videoaviation 1/32 Mk82 Snakeye Bombs


  The ubiquitous Mk82 five-hundred pound General Purpose bomb has been the mainstay of American military air-to-ground operations since the Vietnam War. The bomb body is essentially the foundation of various types of ordnance needed to match a wide range of mission requirements, whether it's low level bombing or pin point accuracy from high altitude. The Mk82 has been fitted with computer control groups for laser guidance to GPS antennas for literally putting warheads on foreheads.
Mk15 Retarder Fin Assembly
  One of the earliest attachments mated to a Mk82 was the Mk15 Retarder Fin Assembly. The assembly was made up of four spring loaded fins that, when the bomb was released, would open creating a high drag configuration, slowing the bomb sufficiently to allow the attacking aircraft to escape the blast radius at low altitude. A Mk82 paired with a Mk15 became known as the Mk82 HDGP (High Drag General Purpose) or more affectionately, the Snakeye.
The Snakeye would see extensive use in the Vietnam War through Operation Desert Storm and updated versions still exist today.

  Videoaviation has ripped the high drag work horse from the pages of history and molded it in resin for us modelers to enjoy. But does it fall short, or hit the mark?

The Munitions


  The instructions are simple - just an exploded view displaying where each part should go. It also provided color call outs and decal placement.


  The decal sheet contains a set of four decals to complete all eight bombs included in the package. They are impossible to read while on the paper, a factor that came back to haunt me later on which I will explain. You will also notice that on the instruction card, only three decals are noted.

At left, all the necessary pieces to build your Snakeye. At right, a possible configuration contained in just one package of Videoaviation's Snakeyes...

  Though I am not going to photograph every single piece, trust me when I say the package contains enough parts to make eight bombs. That is a huge number of bombs, allowing you to fill two Triple Ejector Racks on an A-7 and still have two left over. One pour block contains four nose plugs if you are looking to make your bombs penetrate before they detonate. Another pour block gives you the option to add an M Series nose fuse rather than install the nose plug, giving your ordnance that familiar Vietnam style of the opening photograph above. A third block contains the bomb's shoulder lugs. Then finally there is the Mk82 bomb body and the Mk15 Retarder Fin Assembly.

The Assembly...

  The resin cuts easily with a razor saw and this time I left a small cylinder of resin at the base of the bomb body. I would use that cylinder as a peg to fit into a hole I would drill into the tail fin assembly. This would give me a sturdier bomb and make alignment much easier.


  After separating the Mk15 from its stub, the fin blades make it easy to find the center. I marked it with a pencil so I could drill it out with the Dremel.


With the Mk15 drilled out, all I had to do was fit the Mk82 peg into the hole...


And it was a perfect fit. No filler required.


  Here is the assembled bomb with lugs and nose plug installed. You can see that the nose plug base seems to over hang the bomb body slightly. You can sand that down to make it flush.


There is also the second option of installing the M Series nose fuse.


  Assembly was a easy. After having one set of Videoaviation ordnance under my belt, ensuring that all the parts lined up and settled snugly together was less of a problem. The hardest part remains removing the pour stub from the smaller pieces, like the lugs and fuses.

The Finished Product...

  I like to round out the reviews with a look at how the product looks with paint and decals in place. The Snakeye was finished with Tamiya acrylics and a series of salt masks were used to create a chipped effect. No other weathering was done.

A good shot of the overall bomb with the nose plug installed. In this photograph you can see that the nose plug overlaps the nose of the bomb body slightly. You can also make out a small imperfection in the mold along the front rim of the Mk15 tail assembly. The decals are thin and set perfectly onto the paint with only the help of Solvaset. I do not use a gloss coat for decals.


Here it is with the M Series nose fuse installed. The fuse was painted with Vallejo Model Color and is certainly big enough to add an arming wire to. Again you can see another slight imperfection on the Mk15 near the front edge.

Certainly a good representation of the real thing.
The real things, albeit USN/USMC versions. The first bomb in the center row is the look I went for.

Final Thoughts...

Issues in the Molding

  When you look closely you'll find there may be several surface imperfections on a few bombs and tail assemblies throughout the package. These are not a big deal and can be corrected with either sanding, some putty or a combination of the two. 

Issues in Scale

  I have never been one to turn up my nose at a product because of some dimensional issues but some people may, and for the sake of a good review I should include them here. If you are arming your aircraft with only these bombs, or paired with another set from Videoaviation, the scale variance is not likely going to be an issue. However, you should know that they seem to run a little big in terms of diameter and length, especially in comparison to Eduard examples. If you can live with the measurements being off by a few scale inches then there is no harm in purchasing these bombs.

Issues with Markings

  As I mentioned above, there is a discrepancy between the number of decals on the sheet (4) and the number of decals on the placement instructions (3). The instructions give no indication as to where the fourth decal should go nor does it state it should be omitted all together. To make matters worse, I could not read exactly what text was written on the decal in question. I theorized that it might be for the Mk15 but could not be sure until the decal was down.
  So, throwing caution into the wind I laid the decal on a blade of the Mk15's fin and discovered the marking was incorrect. Upon closer inspection, the first line of the decal reads MAU-93/B. The MAU-93 is indeed a tail assembly but obviously it isn't a Mk15 as you can see below.


  This type of fin assembly would go well with a Mk82 low drag. Considering Videoaviation also sells Mk82 LDGP bombs it makes sense that they would produce one set of decals to cover both munitions. However, it should be made clear on the instructions not to include that decal.

Good Price

  At 10 Euros, or about $11.81, it's a steal for eight bombs. Compare that to a nearly $30 price tag for an Eduard set of six. The only downside is that they only ship from Italy as there is no US distributor yet. 

Good Detail

  The detail you expect to be there at 1/32 scale is there. The options for two different bombs is a plus, as is the ability to choose whether to include the lugs or leave them off the bombs.

Good Decals

  Despite the issue with the mystery decal, they are good quality. The markings are completely legible - once off the paper. They are thin and adhere perfectly to the finished bomb. A layer of Solvaset and a shot of dull coat is all it takes to complete the look. I absolutely despise decaling but these decals gave me no problem at all.

Lastly...

  My reviews are a little like Reading Rainbow...don't take my word for it. I could sit here and shout highly recommended like every one else does but I'm not going to do that. Instead, take what I've written and make up your own mind. I have shown you how the bomb comes together, how it looks as a finished model, how it compares to the real thing, how it stacks up to the competition, its strengths and weaknesses. We all value different things in this hobby. In my opinion, these bombs represent a close to accurate Mk82 HDGP Snakeye and are worth a look for someone in the market for Vietnam era munitions. I definitely would not hesitate to arm one of my aircraft with them.

  Thanks for reading. There are a lot more Videoaviation reviews yet to come. I hope you find these useful and informative. Let me know your thoughts and I'm ready to field any questions you have!