Airbus A400M RC Model Took 6 Years to Build, Drops Scale Paratroopers Mid-Flight

Whether they're off-road trucks, race cars, or airplanes, RC models are a hoot to "drive." But planes are a bit more entertaining, mostly because you need to hone a few extra skills to take off and land them safely. Not to mention that controlling them in the air is not as easy as it sounds. And the bigger the model, the more difficult these tasks become. Now imagine flying an Airbus A400M replica that's almost four meters (13.1 feet) long and tips the scales at 84 pounds (38 kg).

It may sound ridiculous, but it's as real as they get. And it's not a production RC model put together by a kit manufacturer. It's the work of Hannes Heppe, a dedicated enthusiast that spent no fewer than six years building it.

A realistic replica of a military-spec Airbus A400M Atlas, this model has a total length of 3.87 meters (12.7 feet), which means it's longer than a Toyota Aygo. Its wingspan is just as impressive at 3.78 meters (12.4 feet). Weighing in at almost 84 pounds, it uses electric motors to take off and fly and it's quite fast once up in the air. And it actually sounds like the real deal.

But that's not at all. On top of being a fully functional, accurate replica of the A400M Atlas, it's also equipped with a ramp that can be remotely opened up mid-flight. When that happens, scale-model paratroopers with actual parachutes drop out of the plane.

If you're not familiar with the Airbus A400M Atlas, it's a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed by Airbus Military, now Airbus Defence and Space. Built to replace transport aircraft such as the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Transall C-160, the A400M Atlas took its first flight in late 2009 and went into service in 2013.

Eight countries have taken delivery of A400Ms as of 2021, including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. Malaysia was the first and only non-NATO country to purchase the A400M.

Originally estimated to cost around €80 million, an Airbus A400M Atlas is now priced from around €130 million. That's about $153 million at the current exchange rates.

Needless to say, this RC model was significantly less expensive to build. Hit the play button below to watch it take off, circle around, and launch paratroopers mid-flight. It puts on quite a show. 

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