Atlantic Kit No: 04384
Scale: 1/72 Type: Injection Moulded Plastic
Manufacturer: Revell www.revell.de
Maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare and control of the sea lanes had provedthemselves time and again during World War II as essential to the projection of force and the protection of commerce. With the Soviet Union’s development of a Blue Water fleet after the war, it remained an important role for the nascent NATO alliance.
While US-supplied prototypes could be used, the newly resurgent European aviation industry was keen to have their own aircraft, and in response to a 1958 NATO specification as a replacement for the Lockheed P2V Neptune, Breguet's submission was declared the winner over several competing bids. To produce the Atlantic, a multinational consortium, Société d'Étude et de Construction de Breguet Atlantic (SECBAT), was established. In 1963, an initial order for sixty Atlantics, forty for France’s Aeronavale and twenty for Germany’s Marinefleiger was received, attaining operational status by 1965. Standard armament was either eight anti-submarine torpedoes or twelve depth charges, although occasionally Italian aircraft flew with NATO-supplied nuclear depth charges too. Pakistan also acquired three French airframes in 1973, retiring two in 2012, the third having been shot down in 1999 by India for an alleged airspace incursion.
The French upgraded their Atlantics in the late 1970s with totally new avionics and a turreted FLIR, rechristening these as the Atlantic 2. These second-generation aircraft could also carry two Exocet missiles and have since been further upgraded to maintain their effectiveness into the 2030s, although they are now known by the less evocative name of ATL2.
There was at one point a suggestion that the UK might consider a further upgraded machine, the ‘Atlantic 3’ as a contender in its Replacement Maritime Patrol Aircraft (RMPA) competition, however it was withdrawn in 1996 following alleged hints from Ministry of Defence officials that the submission was unlikely to be successful, the eventual winner being the Nimrod MRA4.
Designed specifically for naval patrol and attack missions, the Atlantic’s narrow, long wings gave good loiter time and endurance, while also allowing for rapid turns to prosecute swift attacks on targets. A ‘double-bubble’ bulged fuselage allowed for both a capacious, pressurized crew compartment and a large weapons bay with doors that opened by rotating into the fuselage. This reduced drag, as did the retractable panoramic search radar. The wing was mid-set to allow for a long, unobstructed weapons bay and to aid in flotation in case of ditching.
The colour scheme for the first generation Atlantic was white undersides with a medium grey top. This latter colour varied with the user it seems. German aircraft used the NATO-specified ASW colour of Medium Sea Grey BS637, French machines had their own Gris-Bleu Clair (similar to FS 15237), while the Dutch used Lichtblauwgrijs MLD 155 (FS 36270 is supposedly close). Italian aircraft used a Sky Grey similar to FS 36280.
In 1968 the Italian Military Navy adopted the Atlantic too, giving the SEBCAT parent consortium of companies, now including Aeritalia and Alfa Romeo, an order for eighteen aircraft. Their order, plus another from the Netherlands, was enough to re-open the production line with all deliveries being completed between 1972 and 1974. After Initial problems with corrosion were rectified, they served for forty five years, the final examples retiring in September 2017 from the 41º Stormo based at Sigonella in Sicily, having been replaced by the Leonardo P-72A.
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