The “dark art” of electronic warfare includes many diverse tools. Since the early 1970s, U. S. Navy and Marine Corps electronic attack aircraft, such as the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, Douglas EA-3B, ERA-3B, and EKA-3B Skywarrior, and McDonnel Douglas EA-18G Growler have all used AN/ALQ-99 jamming pods. While they have not changed much in external appearance, AN/ALQ-99s have received many upgrades to their internal hardware over the years to keep pace with the latest threat developments. AN/ALQ-99s are “noise jammers” that produce overwhelming amounts of electromagnetic energy at specific frequencies – some as low as 64 megahertz or as high 40 gigahertz. Beyond their pure brute force, these pods also utilize various jamming modes and tactics to cripple hostile communications, search radars, and other signals. No less than 10 versions of the AN/ALQ-99 cover low, middle, and high-band frequency ranges. While today we have a good range of 1:48 scale EA-6B and EA-18G kits to choose from, the AN/ALQ-99 pods in most kits leave a lot to be desired and contain various deficiencies in shape and detail. To attend to this problem, Eduard recently released 1:48 scale low and high-band AN/ALQ-99 pods in their Brassin product line.
First, let’s check out the low-band pod (Eduard Brassin # 648552; MSRP: $14.95). This version of the AN/ALQ-99 is carried only on the centerline station of the Prowler and Growler, and it features a distinctive bulged and flattened lower radome. The set contains parts for one low-band AN/ALQ-99: seven cast resin parts, six photoetched metal parts, and a small decal sheet. The pod body is a single-piece resin casting. The other resin parts cover the pod’s mounting lugs, pylon adapter, ram air turbine (RAT) fairing, and a really nice remove-before-flight protective cover for the RAT. The RAT’s four turbine propeller blades are perfectly represented by the PE metal parts (with two spare blades provided should you need them). The shape of the low-band pod looks excellent, especially when carefully compared to my references. The raised rivets are spot-on. A feature that is either neglected or botched in injection molded kits involves the four radiator grills (two grills on each side of the pod; jamming produces a lot of heat, and these grills help disperse that heat). The grills are beautifully represented here. AN/ALQ-99 pods are covered with a lot of stenciling, and the decal sheet covers all the fine identification, warning, and maintenance markings on the pod for both high visibility and tactical paint schemes.
At the same time, Eduard released a high-band AN/ALQ-99 pod (Eduard Brassin # 648554; MSRP: $14.95). These leaner-looking pods were carried only on underwing stations, and never on the centerline station. The set contains six cast resin parts, six photoetched metal parts, and a small decal sheet. Mirroring the low-band pod set, this set features one single-piece pod body, mounting lugs, one pylon adapter, RAT fairing, PE metal RAT blades, and a protective RAT cover. The pod is again characterized by high accuracy and great detail.
For any 1:48 scale project that calls for an AN/ALQ-99 pod, we highly recommend these sets. As noted, detail and accuracy are excellent and manufacturing quality is equally strong. We conclude this review with two notes. First, some readers may be wondering, “Well, what about the mid-band pods?” The mid and high-band families of AN/ALQ-99 pods are externally identical, differing only in their internal jamming gear. Therefore, Eduard’s high-band pod can be used to represent a mid-band pod just as well. Frankly, that Brassin set really should really be labeled as “mid/high-band pod” to avoid any consternation of confusion. Second, depending on the mission configuration, a Prowler or Growler might carry up to four mid/high band pods and one low band pod, which means one will need to purchase a number of individual sets. Perhaps, one day, Eduard will bundle these in a BIG SIN boxing containing a missionized stores loadout. In any event, I’m planning Kinetic Prowler and Hasegawa Growler builds in the near-term, and both of these sets will be used in those projects without a second thought.
We extend our sincere thanks to Eduard for the review sample. You can visit them on the web at http://www.eduard.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EduardCompany/
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale