AEW Aircraft Models
Ian M. Shaw


Last updated April 10, 2009

Eastern Aircraft TBM-3W2 Avenger Douglas AD-4W Skyraider
Lockheed MR 1 Neptune
Lockheed WV-2 Warning Star More to come!
Boeing PB-1W Flying Fortress  
Avro Shackleton AEW Mk2 Return to Bombers in Blue

I have always been fascinated by AEW aircraft since boyhood, I have been lucky enough to serve at RAF Waddington in the UK twice and on both tours was involved in AEW aircraft trials and operations. Last year (2004) I returned to plastic model aircraft making after a gap of nearly 20 years. During August a group of modellers and I from the RAF Cranwell model club visited a Model Expo at Southwell, I saw there a wonderful 1/72 scale model of an Avro Shackleton AEW Mk2 which fired my enthusiasm to build one myself. I had previously built a “Shack” in 1978 using the old Frog kit and balsa wood to create the radome. Unfortunately I gave it away when the kids came along. At the show I purchased another Frog donor kit and the Aeroclub conversion set and decals to complete the kit. However, this project was quite a comprehensive one for an initial attempt on return to modelling so this project is still on the back burner.

The RAF Cranwell model cub has its own on-going project to create a model of every aircraft that has served at RAF Cranwell (that’s another story) so I used a few models built for them to get my eye back in and to update my skills alittle.

I have several more AEW modelling projects in the pipeline, the next being an AMT 1/48 AD-4W Skyraider in Royal Navy colours so watch this space. If there are any other AEW buffs out there please don’t hesitate to get in touch, I can be e-mailed at

I would like to thank Scott Pedersen for his generosity in time and effort to post my models on his website. The World Wide Web is a wonderful thing that allows like minded people to communicate in friendship and fraternity wherever they are.

Ian Shaw
Lincoln, England, June 2005


Eastern Aircraft TBM-3W2 Avenger VS-32 USS Palau 1951

MODEL DETAILS— This was my first “AEW” aircraft project; I thought it would be a quick one because I had a built up Frog Avenger and a spare Aeroclub radome to put on it. How very wrong could I be, the fuselage profile is very different from normal Avengers and the radome surrounds and rear cockpit required heavy filling and sanding. The end result wasn’t bad for a first attempt, but I later researched and found out this version was more a sub hunter than an AEW variant in this TBM-3W2 form. I now have the Falcon Conversions fuselage set and a new un-built Airfix donor kit to build a proper AEW prototype as used in “Project Cadillac 1” in the near future.

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Lockheed Neptune MR 1 RAF, 1453 “Vanguard” Flt

MODEL DETAILS—As part of the AEW research I discovered that the RAF had operated a few Neptunes as AEW aircraft, notably, Fighter Command’s Vanguard Flight which was formed on 1st November 1952 at RAF Kinloss, disbanded on 5th June 1953 to then become 1453 (Early Warning) Flight, which reformed again on 5th June 1953 at RAF Topcliffe and was finally disbanded again on 30th June 1956 at Topcliffe. One of their four airframes was WX501 coded’4’ and finished in Dark Sea Blue Gloss. This particular aircraft has no MAD boom, the Emerson ball type turret in the nose and a very different cockpit canopy to the later P2V-7. I had also discovered that Falcon conversions do a triple conversion set that includes a complete new Neptune MR1 nose forward of the wing roots, Emmerson nose turret, tail turret (no cannons though) and a new flat top canopy. This set also includes an Avenger TBM-3W fuselage of the correct profile. The model took a long time to complete as I had a false start. After a lot of work on the fuselage, I started again by grafting the Falcon parts onto the front an rear fuselage, I’m happy with the overall results but just wish I could find out more about 1453 Flts missions!

The subject of my model WX501 Neptune MR1as she was in service with 1453 Flt circa 1953.

Initially my intention was to model the later RAF Neptune version complete with MAD boom and nose glazing as per the FROG kit, however, on realising that Falcon Conversions of New Zealand did the conversion set I decided to go the whole hog and model the early version that the RAF used for AEW missions. So many hours of previous work was aborted and the semi complete fuselage butchered again to include the vac-form parts. The cockpit furniture was rescued and re-fitted into the new nose along with a lot of lead weight.

Most of the construction is complete but many hours of rubbing down is still to be done. The white metal nose and tail cannons were robbed from the Aeroclub Shackelton conversion set. The rudder and an aileron had been lost from the old donor kit so had to be fabricated from plastic card, I used the “Neptune Warpaint” 1/72 plans for reference.

Finished at last, the undercarriage was again white metal from Aeroclub, Beware, fit the main gear struts as the engine nacelles are put together or you’ll be faced with a lot of fiddling to get them to fit!

This top view shows the exhaust staining to the upper wing surfaces, Neptunes suffered greatly from this and in fact I’ve underplayed the staining when I compare the model to pictures of in service Neptunes. The upper turret was donated by a generous friend (Mike Barnes) who also moulded some large resin wing tip tanks for me for the first conversion attempt. They were not wasted, as on the re-start of the model they were sanded down and fitted inside the vac-form tanks to give them weight.

A rear view, the astrodomes were formed from acetate sheet using a male and female mould. The stretched sprue aerials are a little on the heavy side and will be replaced with nylon fishing line in due course.

The windscreen wipers and pitot tubes were from constructed from stretched sprue. The acetate cockpit canopy was a nightmare to cut out and fit but accurately represents the “flat top” cockpit canopy fitted to early Neptunes.



Boeing PB-1W Flying Fortress

MODEL DETAILS—As a result of “Project Cadillac 2” the US Navy obtained several B-17Gs from the Army Air Corp and converted them to PB-1W AEW aircraft. This was the first real “AWACS” type aircraft to enter operational service as the Avenger transmitted its radar picture via a data link to surface vessels where it was interpreted. The PB-1W carried its own radar operators as part of the crew. Both “Project Cadillac” aircraft were conceived as radar pickets to counter the Kamikaze threat in the Pacific, however WW2 ended before they could be deployed. The PB-1Ws were developed as very effective radar ACI and surveillance platforms by the US Navy and were the precursors of the airborne ‘DEW Line’ protection for the USA. They served until the early 1950s when the were replaced by the WV-1 Constellation, which went on to be the extremely effective EC-121 Warning Star (see below Lockheed WV-2 Warning Star).

The early US Navy PB-1Ws were a standard B-17G obtained from the US Army Air Corps with the chin turret and cheek guns removed (later during overhauls the whole chin turret assembly was removed), the upper turret was faired over, an additional small astrodome was fitted on top of the nose, tail turret guns removed and the AP/ANS 20 radar was installed in a fibreglass radome at the forward end of the Bombay.

The subject of my model Buer No 77138 as she was when serving with VW-1 at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii in 1952.

Most of the construction complete, the 1/72 Hasegawa B-17G kit was used as the donor kit with the faithful Aeroclub AP/ANS 20 radome fitted, almost ready for the Sea Blue Gloss to be applied.

Two views of the completed model, there’s something very aesthetically pleasing about the “Fort” she looks even nicer in her blue uniform.

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AVRO AEW Shackleton Mk 2


This is the 1/72 Avro Shackleton AEW Mk2 that I built in 1978 using the FROG MR3 kit as the donor. The radome was fabricated from balsa wood with talc and dope mix filler. The wing tips, nose wheel bay and main undercarriage were all heavily modified. This all took many hours, unfortunately I used a friend’s photographs to match the overall colour and consequently the grey used was too turquoise in shade. When our first child came along the study was converted into a nursery and I sadly said goodbye to many models that I didn’t have the space for anymore. This model was donated to the Intelligence Cell at RAF Waddington in 1986,  I would love to know where it ended up! There is another AEW Shack model on the horizon though; I have 2 FROG Shacks and the full set of conversion parts to do another AEW 2 in the not too distant future. I’m also working on a model that will come as a surprise to many, the first true ACI/AEW Aircraft ever from 1942, and it was British!


Lockheed WV-2 Warning Star



WV-2 Warning Star of VW-1 Buer No 145930, ‘TE 6’, as she was when serving with the VW-1 “Typhoon Trackers” based at NAS Agana on Guam. Initially they provided AEW/CIC support to Wets-Pac 7th Fleet operations around July 1960. On the 1st July 1961 VW-1’s primary mission changed to Weather Reconnaissance. Doing a model of a WV-2 was the natural progression from the PB-1W and to be able to build an example from the same Sqn was a bonus.

The basis for my model was the Minicraft 1/144 EC-121 Warning Star, I would have preferred to have used the Heller 1/72 version but could not obtain an example from model shops here in the UK or in Germany and kept on being outbid on e-Bay.  Here the main construction is complete, windows have been drilled out and the undercoat applied.

The completed Warning Star, I was very pleased with the end result even if it is a little small.

The multitude of aerials on the Warning Star varied between different airframes so close attention had to be paid to the original reference photographs to get it right.




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