The Mk-15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) is fitted on practically every modern United States Navy ship, some United States Coast Guard cutters and
used by various allied navies as well. The 20mm M-61A1 6-barreled Gatling gun can fire at a rate of 3,000 to 4,500 rounds per minute. The Phalanx automatically
detects, evaluates, tracks, engages, and performs kill assessment against anti-ship missile (ASM), high-speed aircraft and littoral combat threats. The Phalanx was first
deployed in 1980 on the USS Coral Sea and has gone through several upgrades since then. The current Block 1B version has a forward looking infrared (FLIR)
sensor. The FLIR was developed to provide a defense against small vessel threats and improve the weapon's performance against slower low-flying aircraft. The
radome and stout profile of the Phalanx bears a strong resemblance to the Star Wars droid R2-D2 and for that reason they have been nicknamed that.

Black Cat Models has released a 3D printed set of four Phalanx CWIS. Each installation is comprised of the base mount and a separate Gatling gun barrel which fits
into a slot in the base mount. The mounts are nicely detailed and represent the current Block 1B variant with the FLIR. However, I was a bit disappointed with the
Gatling gun barrel. The photo in the banner clearly shows that the base of the barrel is not solid but instead a lattice-like brace. I have seen first-hand that
Black Cat
is capable of producing some very delicate printing, such as raised ladders and grab handles on a Mk. 37 gun director and even some rather fine radars. I
would have expected that a brace could have been done here instead of a solid block, but perhaps it is not feasible even with the current technology. One solution
could be including a bit of photo-etch with the set.
Regardless of my criticism, the Black Cat Models Phalanx CWIS are a much-improved alternative to what you get in plastic model kits and even some after-market
offerings. I plan to use these R2-D2s on my builds. My thanks to
Ben Druel as Black Cat Models for the review sample, and may the Force be with him.
Felix Bustelo
New York