Military Models Blog


New Delivery Soon To Leave The Work Shop!

Our newest project, five custom built Aircraft models with a new twist. Their being built to light up a pool room in a hanger!

Look for completed pictures on the site in the next few weeks. Below see a sneak peek!

We have been working hard on detailing these models to the T. They are all being painted and will be crated up and shipped off to a special customer in the next few weeks. All of the landing lights, running lights, cockpit lighting and an extra row of under lighting will add some light to the room.

More details to come but we just wanted to share a sneak peek with our readers.

Don’t forget we can build custom display models for museums, airports, aviation displays, flight simulators and movie props. We recently finished a movie for Angelina Jolie and have allot of extra props from the movie for sale!

E-mail for a list!

Happy holidays to all, God Bless!


Bob Winfrey & Dee Dee Winfrey

Custom built LED Lit

Custom built LED Lit



Very cool touch on this plane model, a highly detailed cockpit


Crystal Clear Canopy on this Aircraft

Clear canopy

Clear canopy

Look at the detail!

Look at the detail!


Aircraft Models on the Grounds and in the Air

LANCASTER — Don’t be surprised to see some low flying aircraft buzzing around the fairgrounds Saturday morning.

That’s when the 39th annual FORKS remote control model show and swap shop is set to take place at 8:30 a.m. at the AAA building on the Fairfield County Fairgrounds, 157 W. Fair Ave.

Tony Scott, one of the event’s organizers and member of the Fairfield Ohio Radio Kontrol Society (FORKS), said this year will be special, because the club will feature World War I airplanes in honor of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the “war to end all wars.”

The war started when on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to Austria-Hungary’s throne, and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip while the couple were visiting Sarajevo. Within months all of Europe was embroiled in war and airplanes played a significant role in the fighting.

“We thought with the anniversary, it would make sense to feature WWI model aircraft in the show,” Scott said.

But it is not going to be limited to them; after all, this is also a swap meet.

“You’ll be able to see all kinds of new model airplanes on display, ranging from little trainers to giant gas-powered aircraft,” said Darlene Scott, Tony’s wife and another of the event organizers. “You can buy or sell just about anything in the hobby, including remote-controlled cars and boats.”

Tony said the swap meet is a great way for new people interested in the hobby to check out different models and remote-controlled types of aircraft and vehicles.

“One of the things that scare people from the hobby is the cost of some of the new equipment,” Tony Scott said. “But here you can get some decent used equipment at really reasonable prices to start out with. That way you can see if you like it.”

The annual event normally brings in about 70 vendors from across the state. Attendees also will get the chance to watch computer-simulated plane demonstrations and see the latest in remote-controlled model technology.

Many of the people who are involved in the Fairfield Ohio Radio Kontrol Society have an interest in aviation or are pilots. Many members of the local club will attend the event to explain the various models and provide advice and tips about how to get started in the hobby.

The organization started in 1965 and generally brings in people who are interested in aviation or boating and begin with remote-controlled vehicles.

“Right now we have about 80 active members, with five still with us who helped start the club in 1965,” Tony said.

Trophies for best in show will be awarded in classes for giant, sport, scale, boats, helicopters and surface vehicles. Trophies will be awarded to the top three in each class.

Food, which includes brats, coney dogs, sloppy joes, and dessert, along with door prizes also will be available.

In addition to the annual event, the club sponsors The Air Venture in July and races and fun flies throughout the year, including the giant big bird fly-in every June. Attendees there can see giant scale model airplanes fly, Scott said.

For more information about the club or its events throughout the year, visit its website at

“If you’re interested at all in remote controlled vehicles, aircraft, or boats, this is a great way to see what it is all about,” Tony Scott said. “It’s a great way to spend Saturday morning.”

Alot of Aircraft models in the house!

Alot of Aircraft models in the house!

Veterans Wife donates Military Model Aircraft

WASHINGTON TWP. Carol Penn, widow of World War II Marine aviator John “Jack” Penn, presented Washington Township American Veterans Post 1776 with one of her late husband’s collection of World War II military aircraft models.
The model is included in the Post 1776 “Flying Squad Living History” program to honor the service of men and women “in war and in peace.”
Mr. Penn, who was a civilian pilot before enlisting in the Marines at age 17, served in the Pacific Theater of Operations from November 1943 to July 1946 as a “non-commissioned” (Sergeant) pilot.
“This is an incredible collection of memorabilia and artifacts that will engage both students and adults in learning about the heroism and dedication of all who Serve this great Nation. We thank Mrs. Penn and we hope to honor the memory of her husband in making good use of his collection,” said Forrest “Woody” Burgener of Post 1776 and also a member of the West Point Chapter of the “Company of Military Historians.”
Mr. Penn was an avid photographer as well as an accomplished pilot. He was able, as the first aviator to walk through the city of Nagasaki, Japan, shortly after the second atomic bomb leveled the city, to photograph the destruction that ended World War II, a statement said.
He continued as an active flyer throughout his life and was inducted into the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame in 1998. Among Penn’s many honors was the award of the “Knight of the Order of St. Michael” by the Army Aviation Association of America in 2013. Penn was also the honorary chairman of the New Jersey Aviation Association.
Mr. Penn was a former Assemblyman representing the 16th District and a former Somerset County Republican chairman.
The Penns lived in Bedminster. Mr. Penn died last year.

FAA clears up drone law misconceptions

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to debunk some misconceptions about FAA regulations regarding unmanned aircraft as it works to come up with a plan for their use in the United States.

The FAA posted an article on its website, “Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft,” detailing what it called common myths and corresponding facts.

The FAA estimates that by 2018, about 7,500 small commercial unmanned aerial systems could be in use, assuming the federal government develops and implements rules for their use.

In 2012, Congress passed a law tasking the FAA with developing a plan for “safe integration” of unmanned aerial systems by Sept. 30, 2015. That integration will be made incrementally.

The FAA expects to publish a proposed rule for small unmanned aerial systems – those weighing less than 55 pounds – later this year. The rule likely will include provisions for commercial operations.

One myth regarding use of such systems is that the FAA does not control airspace below 400 feet, the FAA said.

In fact, the agency is responsible for the safety of U.S. airspace from the ground up. The misconception may have come because manned aircraft in general must stay at least 500 feet above the ground, it said.

Others believe that commercial unmanned aircraft flights are OK if they are over private property and under 400 feet.

But the FAA, in a notice published in 2007, said that an unmanned aerial system may not be flown for commercial purposes by claiming it’s operated according to the Model Aircraft guidelines, which state the model aircraft must be flown below 400 feet, be three miles from an airport and be away from populated areas. Commercial operations are authorized on a case-by-case basis, the FAA said.

Commercial flights require a certified airplane, a licensed pilot and operating approval. To date, only two UAS models, the Scan Eagle and Aerovironment’s Puma, have been certified, and they can fly only in the Arctic.

A third myth is that commercial UAS operations are a “gray area” in FAA regulations. Not true, the FAA said.

“There are no shades of gray,” the FAA said. Anyone wanting to fly an aircraft, manned or unmanned, in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval, it said.

Private-sector users can obtain an experimental-airworthiness certificate to conduct research and development, training and flight demonstrations.

Commercial operations are limited and require the operator to have a certified aircraft and pilot and operating approval. Federal, state and local governments and public universities may apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization.

Flying a model aircraft for hobby or recreation doesn’t require FAA approval. But hobbyists must operate according to the FAA’s model aircraft guides, which prohibit operations in populated areas.

Molly McMillin

FAA regulations may classify R/C planes as drones

Model airplane enthusiasts have flown radio-controlled (R/C) aircraft for decades, with models ranging from trainers made out of Styrofoam to highly detailed replicas of specific airplanes and helicopters.

But they’ve been caught up in the furor over “drones,” or what the federal government calls Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). In the strictest sense, an R/C airplane is a UAS, although a UAS typically has a specific, often commercial, use and R/C airplanes are flown for personal enjoyment.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s only current rules dealing with R/C airplanes are found in a one-page 1981 Advisory Circular, which specifies that they must not be flown above 400 feet, and the operator must notify an airport if they fly within three miles of it.

The FAA is about to issue new rules, agency spokesman Ian Gregor said.

“We plan to propose a small UAS rule in 2014,” he said. “The public and

other interested parties will have ample opportunity to comment on it.”

Dave Domzalski, president of a local R/C flying club, said pilots of model airplanes police themselves already.

“We fly under the regulation of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA),” he said. “They’re the ones that have the rules that all the various clubs abide by.” The AMA is a national organization, which represents 150,000 model aviators, and lobbies on their behalf.

Still, “I can’t say that I’m not concerned at all” about the impending rules, Domzalski said. “Will the FAA be able to come to a consensus? They’ve been kicking the can down the road, chronically.

“I think what going to happen is a continuation of the status quo,” he said.

Rich Hansen, spokesman for the AMA, said the FAA rules aren’t their main worry. It’s state laws that constitute “potentially onerous and overreaching regulation” that present a problem.

“There is concern, however, that individual states may pass well-meaning legislation aimed at protecting privacy rights that have unintended consequences for the hobbyists,” Hansen said. “Last year the AMA tracked over 40 bills introduced in the statehouses aimed at protecting personal privacy and/or Fourth Amendment rights by limiting the use of this technology.”

Those bills could hit home. “Arizona had UAS legislation last year that passed the House but died in the Senate,” Hansen said. “We expect the issue to be revisited in the 2014 session.”

“We’re not spying on homes with our airplanes,” Domzalski said.

Commercial use of UAS for aerial photography is currently prohibited, although there is no restriction on video shot for personal use. “But if the same person flies the same aircraft and then tries to sell the video, or uses it to promote a business, or accepts payments from someone else to shoot the video, that would be a prohibited commercial operation,” McGregor said.

One area of concern is vigilantes, who could potentially shoot video of their neighbors’ activities and turn it over to law enforcement. But a YCSO spokesman said they wouldn’t necessarily give it any more credibility than any other tip.

“Like any call to Silent Witness or the YCSO, we would look into the information to determine whether it is criminal or non-criminal,” Dwight D’Evelyn said. “We generally desire to obtain secondary-source information to corroborate initial findings usually necessary for search warrants.”

Prescott Police Lt. Ken Morley said, “We would look at it on a case-by-case basis, keeping into account the source, the location and the type of possible crime.”

One area where R/C aircraft could prove helpful, if the FAA allows it, is search-and-rescue missions, Chino Valley model aviator Randy Mothrell said, “I hope there will be special dispensation for areas concerning public safety” in the upcoming rules.

Right now, model airplanes can be flown only as far as the ground-based pilot can see them, he said. If the FAA allowed autopilots that operate with GPS coordinates on R/C aircraft – technology that exists now – “we could use that to find lost people.”


Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier

Restored Fighter Plane Pays Tribute To Flying Tigers

New Orleans will get a flavor of one of the most heralded episodes of World War II when a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, restored in the shark-nosed markings of the famed Flying Tigers, goes on display at the National World War II Museum.

The aircraft, a P-40E model, is the kind flown by the 1st American Volunteer Group formed in China by Gen. Claire Chennault shortly before the United States entered the war. However, this one never flew for the Tigers; its service was limited to the Aleutian Islands.

Thousands of P-40s were produced during the war and supplied to U.S. allies in every theater. Most were scrapped as advanced fighters such as the P-51 Mustang became available. Today, P-40s are rare.

Having any P-40 is important in telling the Tigers’ story, said Nell Calloway, a granddaughter of Chennault, who organized U.S. volunteer pilots in 1941 as a civilian adviser to the nationalist Chinese government of Chiang Kai-Shek.

“Because the relationship between China and the United States is so important, we have to do whatever we can do to try to remember that airplane and how they used that airplane to contribute to defeating the Japanese,” said Calloway, director of the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe.

Chennault, a Texas native who grew up in Louisiana, resigned from active U.S. duty in 1937 to become an adviser to Chiang. He designed airfields and a warning network “of people, radios, telephones, and telegraph lines that covered all of Free China accessible to enemy aircraft,” he wrote in his autobiography. He retired as a U.S. Air Force lieutenant general. He died in 1958.

Japan, which had moved aggressively in China since 1931, stepped up its attacks in 1937, and full-blown war broke out.

The museum’s P-40 was painted to match the shark-faced aircraft flown by Robert Lee Scott Jr., commander of the 23rd Fighter Group created by Chennault when the Flying Tigers were brought into the U.S. Army Air Force after the United States entered the war.

Chennault wrote in “Way of a Fighter” that he never knew why the public dubbed his group the “Flying Tigers” when the planes were painted with a shark nose copied from a Royal Air Force squadron.

The Tigers found fame in the air and on the silver screen. The 1942 film “Flying Tigers” put a swashbuckling John Wayne in the cockpit of a shark-nosed P-40 blasting away at Japanese aircraft.

The museum’s P-40 has the shark face but is painted with the modified fuselage logo designed for U.S. service: a tiger bursting through a star with a torn Japanese flag and Uncle Sam hat, said Rolando Gutierrez, chief engineer of Flyboys Aeroworks, the San Diego, Calif., company that restored the aircraft.

The museum’s curators began searching for a P-40 in 2004, said Tom Czekanski, director of collections and exhibits.

“We knew we wanted it to represent the Air Force in China-Burma-India, so it would be a Flying Tiger — the shark-mouth paint,” he said.

Czekanski wouldn’t say how much it cost to buy and restore. Lafayette oilman and philanthropist Paul Hilliard, a World War II Marine, provided a big chunk of money, he said.

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Curtiss built more than 14,000 P-40s of various models from 1939 to about 1944, but high-performance aircraft such as the Mustang, Republic’s P-47 Thunderbolt and the Vought F4U Corsair outclassed the Warhawk by 1944.

Adding to the P-40′s scarcity is that after the war, enthusiasts snapped up surplus high-performance aircraft for air racing and private piloting. But the P-40 found little demand.

Gutierrez estimated fewer than three dozen remain.

The museum’s P-40 was shipped to Cold Bay in the Aleutian Islands, where it had fewer than 20 hours of flying time when it was scrapped after a taxiing accident in 1942.

“The fields were very muddy, and often the plane would dig in. Then it would flip end over end,” Czekanski said.

In the 1980s, he said, someone looking for a P-38 found the P-40′s remains in a ditch near the airfield.

“We came to this a little late in the collecting game,” Czekanski said. “Early on, people were collecting planes that were in service or parked and saved. As the supply goes down, people go to greater and greater lengths to get them.”

The Warhawk will be the 10th aircraft installed in the museum, though only one can still fly, Czekanski said.

Gutierrez said the P-40′s engine, landing gear, some castings and most of the instruments are original, but most of the plane had to be built from scratch in a 72-week effort using copies of more than 3,000 original drawings provided by the Smithsonian Institution and 4,000 pages of ground-crew manuals.

The aircraft was shipped by truck to New Orleans. Eventually it will be lifted into the second floor of the museum’s Campaigns of Courage pavilion.


Cessna Has New Owners


WICHITA, Kan. — Cessna Aircraft parent company Textron Inc. said Thursday it will buy Beechcraft Corp. for approximately $1.4 billion, a deal that would combine two mainstays of Wichita’s general aviation industry.

The announcement by Providence, R.I.-based Textron caps a year that saw Beechcraft emerge from bankruptcy largely freed from debt and its unprofitable Hawker business jet operations, which it stopped making to focus on turboprop and piston aircraft as well as trainers and light attack planes for the military.

Textron said it expects to complete the acquisition early next year.

“The acquisition of Beechcraft is a tremendous opportunity to extend our general aviation business,” Textron chairman and CEO Scott C. Donnelly said. “From our customers’ perspective, this creates a broader selection of aircraft and a larger service footprint — all sharing the same high standards of quality and innovation.”

Donnelly said Beechcraft’s line of King Air turboprop planes “perfectly complements” Cessna’s Caravan and Citation jet lineup.

Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture called the sale “an important step forward in the evolution of Beechcraft’s business.” He had said in recent months he expected the company would sell at least its idled business jet assets by the end of 2013.

“Textron’s experience in the industry and its willingness to invest in and maintain the iconic Beechcraft brand make it an ideal parent company, one that will help us continue to satisfy our customers and meet our business objectives at a faster pace,” he said.

In August, Beechcraft announced a nearly $1.4 billion order from Wheels Up, a New York-based private aviation membership company, to build up to 105 King Air 350i aircraft and to serve as Wheels Up’s North American maintenance provider. An industry expert called it the largest propeller aircraft order by value in general aviation history.

Beechcraft exited bankruptcy with roughly 5,400 employees worldwide, including about 3,300 at its headquarters. Boisture said in February that he anticipated those employment levels to remain stable.

Beechcraft has more than 36,000 aircraft in service and continues to support its Hawker business jets, according to the Textron news release.

Founded in Kansas in the 1930s, Beechcraft was bought by Canadian investment firm Onex Partners and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s private equity arm in 2007. The company struggled in the sluggish business jet market during the economic downturn that followed its purchase and filed in May 2012 for bankruptcy reorganization, from which it emerged Feb. 19.

Cessna Aircraft was founded in Wichita in 1927 and has built and delivered nearly 200,000 airplanes worldwide since then, including 6,500 Citation business jets, according to Textron. It also makes Caravan single-engine utility turboprops and single-engine piston aircraft, and provides aftermarket services including include parts, maintenance, inspection and repairs.


DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Known as the Doolittle Raiders, the 80 men who risked their lives on a World War II bombing mission on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor were toasted one last time by their surviving comrades and honored with a Veterans Day weekend of fanfare shared by thousands.

Three of the four surviving Raiders attended the toast Saturday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Their late commander, Lt. Gen. James “Jimmy” Doolittle, started the tradition but they decided this autumn’s ceremony would be their last.

“May they rest in peace,” Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 98, said before he and fellow Raiders – Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93, and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, 92 – sipped cognac from specially engraved silver goblets. The 1896 cognac was saved for the occasion after being passed down from Doolittle.

Hundreds invited to the ceremony, including family members of deceased Raiders, watched as the three each called out “here” as a historian read the names of all 80 of the original airmen.

The fourth surviving Raider, Lt. Col. Robert Hite, 93, couldn’t travel to Ohio because of health problems.

But son Wallace Hite said his father, wearing a Raiders blazer and other traditional garb for their reunions, made his own salute to the fallen with a silver goblet of wine at home in Nashville, Tenn., earlier in the week.

Hite is the last survivor of eight Raiders who were captured by Japanese soldiers. Three were executed; another died in captivity.

A B-25 bomber flyover helped cap an afternoon memorial tribute in which a wreath was placed at the Doolittle Raider monument outside the museum. Museum officials estimated some 10,000 people turned out for Veterans Day weekend events honoring the 1942 mission credited with rallying American morale and throwing the Japanese off balance.

Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said America was at a low point, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other Axis successes, before “these 80 men who showed the nation that we were nowhere near defeat.” He noted that all volunteered for a mission with high risks throughout, from the launch of B-25 bombers from a carrier at sea, the attack on Tokyo, and lack of fuel to reach safe bases.

The Raiders have said they didn’t realize at the time that their mission would be considered an important event in turning the war’s tide. It inflicted little major damage physically, but changed Japanese strategy while firing up Americans.

“It was what you do … over time, we’ve been told what effect our raid had on the war and the morale of the people,” Saylor said in an interview.

The Brussett, Mont., native who now lives in Puyallup, Wash., said he was one of the lucky ones.

“There were a whole bunch of guys in World War II; a lot of people didn’t come back,” he said.

Thatcher, of Missoula, Mont., said the raid just seemed like “one of many bombing missions” during the war. The most harrowing part for him was the crash landing of his plane, depicted in the movie “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo.”

Cole, of Comfort, Texas, was Doolittle’s co-pilot that day. Three crew members died as Raiders bailed out or crash-landed their planes in China, but most were helped to safety by Chinese villagers and soldiers.

Cole, Saylor and Thatcher were greeted Saturday by flag-waving well-wishers ranging from small children to fellow war veterans. Twelve-year-old Joseph John Castellano’s grandparents brought him from their Dayton home.

“This was Tokyo. The odds of their survival were one in a million,” the boy said. “I just felt like I owe them a few short hours of the thousands of hours I will be on Earth.”

Organizers said more than 600 people, including descendants of Chinese villagers who helped the Raiders and Pearl Harbor survivors, were invited to the final-toast ceremony.

The 80 silver goblets in the ceremony were presented to the Raiders in 1959 by the city of Tucson, Ariz. The Raiders’ names are engraved twice, the second upside-down. During the ceremony, white-gloved cadets presented each of the three with their personal goblets and their longtime manager poured the cognac. The deceased’s glasses are turned upside-down.

Sally Lauckner

New Technology by Northrop Grunman

Northrop Grumman will highlight its unmanned aircraft systems and radar technologies capabilities at Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) from 29 October – 3 November.

Northrop Grumman’s airborne surveillance capability will be highlighted with a full-scale model of the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system on display. The combat-proven Global Hawk carries a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads that allow military commanders to gather imagery and use radar to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground. The system also provides airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units in harsh environments.

“We have strong, well-established business relationships across the region and participating in the Seoul ADEX provides us with an opportunity to continue our dialogue not just with our customers, but also with other key stakeholders,” said David Perry, corporate vice president and chief global business development officer, Northrop Grumman. “We have considerable capabilities to offer and our objective is to continue to work closely with our customers to provide long-term solutions and help enhance defence and national security in the region.”

The Northrop Grumman exhibit will feature the company’s industry-leading Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar technology.
Models of the corporation’s family of AESA fire control radars including the AN/APG-81, AN/APG-80 and the Scaled Agile Beam Radar (SABR), the newest multifunction AESA radar, will be on display.

The exhibit will also include an AH-1Z helicopter cockpit demonstrator which will highlight the capability of Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Avionics System (IAS) that powers the glass cockpits of H-1 helicopters. Mission computers provide centralized control of the IAS, interface with the tactical moving map and display both situational awareness and health monitoring information. Additionally, the IAS and mission computers feature an open, modular architecture that allows for system upgrades and insertion of new technologies. Critical mission data is shown on four displays, reducing workload and increasing aircrew situational awareness.

Other radar capabilities highlighted will include the LONGBOW Fire Control Radar, AN/ZPY-1 STARLite small tactical radar and AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR).

The LONGBOW Fire Control Radar for the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter, which Northrop Grumman is producing in a joint venture with Lockheed Martin, is a battle-proven radar system that provides Apache pilots with target detection, location, classification and prioritization, in any weather, over multiple terrains and through any battlefield obscurant, increasing situational awareness and survivability.
Northrop Grumman’s AN/ZPY-1 STARLite Small Tactical Radar – Lightweight is a wide area surveillance radar which features synthetic apertures, ground moving target indicators and dismount moving target indicator capabilities.

The AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) system is ground-based, multimission radar designed to detect and track a wide variety of threats and is built with an open, scalable architecture to enable digital interoperability. The AN/TPS-80 also enables new capabilities to be added through software-only updates.

Also being featured is the company’s APR-39 radar warning receiver and electronic warfare suite controller. The APR-39 acts as a radar warning receiver and a controller for an aircraft’s electronic warfare survivability suite, capable of integrating with and displaying data from a wide variety of onboard sensors. Incorporating modular digital receiver/exciter technology, APR-39 provides rapid identification and continuous 360-degree threat warnings for today’s complex battlefields. This cost-effective system features advanced technology in a small, lightweight configuration that protects a wide variety of fixed, rotary-wing and tilt-rotor aircraft from even the most advanced threats.

PALMDALE, Calif. – Oct. 22, 2013 – Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE:NOC) F-35 Integrated Assembly Line (IAL) was named “Assembly Plant of the Year” by Assembly Magazine in recognition for the facility’s world-class processes to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve quality. Northrop Grumman is the first aerospace company to receive this award.

Inspired by automation systems used by automakers, the IAL was designed and developed by Northrop Grumman, working with Detroit-based KUKA Systems Corporation’s Aerospace Division, a commercial automation integrator. The IAL is central to producing the F-35′s center fuselage as well as driving new levels of efficiency into the manufacturing process, reducing process times, increasing precision and quality, and reducing production costs.

“Northrop Grumman has been a leader in designing, developing, and applying automated systems to the complex task of assembling modern fighter aircraft,” said Brian Chappel, vice president of the F-35 program for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “The IAL is one example, where Northrop Grumman maximizes robotics and automation, providing additional capacity and assembly capability while meeting engineering tolerances that are not easily achieved using manual methods.”

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th Generation fighter aircraft, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.

As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, Northrop Grumman performs a significant share of the work required to develop and produce the aircraft. In addition to manufacturing the F-35 center fuselage, Northrop Grumman designed and produces the aircraft’s radar and other key avionics including electro-optical, communications, navigation and identification subsystems. Northrop Grumman also develops mission systems and mission planning software, leads the team’s development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware and manages the team’s use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies. In 2012, the company delivered 32 center fuselages and is on track to exceed delivery quantities in 2013.

Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale site is a world-class facility that provides assembly, integration, testing and long-term maintenance capabilities for the F-35 and some of the world’s other most advanced aircraft, including the B-2 Spirit and RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit for more information.

New technology

New technology

Other programmes highlighted will be directional infrared countermeasures and Northrop Grumman’s exportable family of interoperable command and control systems including International Track Server (iTRACKS). The iTRACKS system, ideal for international customers, including the Republic of Korea, provides a common operational picture and greater interoperability with coalition forces.

F-35B STOVL Jet Put Through Paces At Sea by the Marines

USS WASP: The Marines and Navy have spent most of the last three weeks putting the new F-35B through its paces here, executing more than 90 short takeoffs and vertical landings, including 19 at night.

More than 1,200 Marine test pilots, engineers, experts from the Joint Program Office running the program and Navy and industry civilians are collecting enormous amounts of data from the two aircraft, BF-1 and BF-5, and the ship itself to ensure the planes are performing as they should. The Marine version of the Joint Strike Fighter is designed to take off from smaller aircraft carriers, some other Navy ships, roads and land bases. It can land vertically and usually does a short take off.

I headed out to the Wasp yesterday morning with a small group of journalists on V-22s, Marine aircraft capable of taking off and hovering like a helicopter and flying like a plane. Ironically, both JSF planes had glitches while we were out on the ship, though BF-1 began flying again soon after we left. The second plane appeared to have a “pretty significant problem,” a crew member told me. Its Integrated Power Package, a sort of super generator that powers many of the plane’s sophisticated electronics would not start. I’ve emailed the Joint Program Office for an update and will update this as soon as we hear from them.

One of the biggest concerns about the F-35B, which directs most of the engine’s power directly down to the ship’s deck as it lands, was that it would damage the ship’s deck so much at each landing that the Wasp and other ships — or the F-35B — would have to be redesigned to mitigate that problem. I spoke with several deck crew, the men and women who wear yellow shirts on the carrier deck and execute the dangerous ballet of launching and retrieving aircraft from the Wasp. They say that, after taking off and landing several times almost every day since Aug. 12, they are seeing less damage to the deck than it sustains from some other aircraft that routinely fly from the Wasp and other LHD class ships.

The Navy and Marines have added a new coating to the deck where F-35Bs land, called Thermion. From all accounts, it’s a remarkable product composed of aluminum and ceramic bonded together by heat at application to form a very smooth and tough heat-resistant coating.

There is one part of the ship that is sustaining unanticipated — if not critical — damage, namely the edge of the bow. Nets to catch crew members who might lose their footing in rough seas or be blown down by a passing aircraft are being severely rattled by the enormous downwash from the F-35B’s jet engine as it passes low over the end of the ship. The wire netting is snapping and some of the structure that supports the nets is being bent. And lights just under the deck’s lip are being shattered.

Chief Steven Vlasich, who is responsible for maintaining the deck, took me up to check the damage. I leaned over the bow, saw a few snapped wires. It didn’t look too bad, but then Vlasich and his crew had been fixing everything they could. The chief and three other yellow shirts told me the Thermion appeared to be working well. But Vlasich said he’d like to keep much of the deck covered with its current aluminum product, which is much rougher than Thermion. He thinks it gives crew members better traction, especially when the deck is wet and covered in leaking hydraulic fluid and oil.

Joe Spitz, a systems engineer with Naval Sea Systems Command, told me they’ve got several solutions they’re considering for the nets. One would be pretty simple: drop them down as the jets take off.

He doesn’t agree with Vlasich about Thermion. He says it is safer than the older surface and grips better. Perhaps most important, you can clean oil and other fluid from it more effectively, Spitz says. The Wasp is reportedly going to have its entire deck coated in Thermion.

But these are secondary, if important issues. What really matters to those on the Wasp is that they are getting the F-35B into the air consistently and safely.

If you want to get some idea of just how much this means to the Marines, note the applause by crew lined up on Vultures Row as the F-35B lands on the deck in the video above.

To give you an idea of how well run this ship looked to be run, the captain kindly let us eat in the officer’s mess (we all paid our $5) and we were treated on Slider Wednesday to some of the tastiest cheeseburgers and freshest condiments any of the press corps could remember. The Army may march on its stomach, but the Navy may be sailing past them.

By Colin Clark

F35 aircraft model