The Ford Aerospace AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack is an electro-optical targeting pod developed by the USAF. It uses a laser and a forward looking infrared to find and designate targets for laser-guided bombs and other precision-guided munitions. Pave Tack was developed in the late 1970s and entered service in 1982, and was initially used by the USAF McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and General Dynamics F-111F Aardvark strike aircraft. Its combat debut came in 1986 during Operation Eldorado Canyon's air raid against Libya from F-111F aircraft stationed at RAF Lakenheath England. F-111s used it to great effect in the Gulf War of 1991, both against fixed targets and against tanks (the destruction of tanks with LGBs designated GBU-12, became known as "tank plinking").
Pave Tack is a large installation, with the pod alone weighing some 629 kg (1,385 lb) and measuring 4,220 mm (166 inches) in length. On the F-4, the size of the pod meant that it had to be carried on the centreline station in place of the standard drop tank, and it imposed a substantial aerodynamic drag penalty; crews referred to it as "Pave Drag," and it was generally unpopular. The F-111C and F-111F carried the Pave Tack pod on a rotating carriage in its internal bomb bay, retracting it when not in use to reduce drag and protect the sensors from damage. About 150 AVQ-26 pods were built, substantially less than originally planned. The last USAF Pave Tacks were withdrawn with the retirement of the F-111 in 1996.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) purchased ten Pave Tack pods in 1980 for its F-111 fleet. All 24 F-111Cs were wired for the pod, although there were not enough pods for all to be simultaneously equipped. Following the retirement of the USAF's F-111F in 1996 the RAAF purchased surplus pods to equip each of its F-111Cs to carry its own. The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) ordered an initial batch of eight pods in 1984 for delivery in 1987. The RoKAF uses the pods on its F-4 Phantoms.
The resin parts and decal sheet are safely protected within the plastic blister pack. There is a small piece of foam to stop the resin pieces rattling around too much.
This particular 1/48 scale AN/ANQ-26 PAVE Tack pod Eduard is designed for the F-4 Phantom II and comes with the centre line pylon. The pod is made up from four pieces of cast resin and you will need to detach the moulding blocks before assembly. The detail is nicely done and there is enough depth to the vents to make them look realistic. The turret with the laser can be rotated within the protective sheaf so you can display the lens or not. The thickness of the walls of the sheath are pretty thin just like the real thing.
Gunze Sangyo paints are used for reference. The whole pod is painted olive green with a couple of places in silver and the lens itself is gold. Decals are supplied as there are around twenty stencils to apply as well as numerous black lines.
The instructions are printed on a A5 sheet of paper and everything is on there that you need to know, except where to place the pod on a F-4. So you will have to do some research on that. The Background notes above state it was positioned on the centre line station.
This will be an interesting addition to your USAF f-4 Phantom II. The quality of the resin moulding is first class and the removal of the casting blocks should be straightforward. Itís great that the turret can be rotated and the stencils add that bit more authenticity to the pod.
Highs: Looks great, matches the reference image perfectly
Lows: Information on where it located on a F-4 Phantom IIVerdict: A really interesting release from Eduard and will certainly add a talking point when fitted to the Phantom II. Highly recommended