26 March 2023

LEGO® Technic review & MOC: 42152 Firefighter Aircraft

Posted by Zachary Hill

The largest and loftiest of the LEGO® Technic sets launched in March 2023 has taken to the skies, but New Elementary is calling it into to the hangar for inspection. Before we clear this airplane for takeoff, why not refit it into something a little more whimsical? Keep reading to see the features of 42152 Firefighter Aircraft; one of which inspired me to repurpose its parts into a giant dragonfly.

Products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.
LEGO® Technic 42152 Firefighter Aircraft
US$99.99/ £94.99/ 109.99€/ AU$179.99
1134 parts
1 March 2023
Buying from Please consider using our affiliate links, we may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop.

Fighting Fires and a Flappy Flier

This sizeable set is one of four LEGO Technic sets released this season. I will return soon with a review of the other three: 42153 NASCAR® Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, 42154 2022 Ford GT, and 42155 THE BATMAN – BATCYCLE™, and I have already examined the new elements in all four of them in an earlier article. 

So let's launch this series of build and features reviews with the biggest build – which also boasts the most unique features.

At first, I was put off by the jarring colour scheme of 42152 Firefighter Aircraft, but the violently vibrant yellow-and-red combo is realistic for aerial firefighting planes, and emergency vehicles in general. Once the build came together, I quickly shelved my aesthetic qualms as I was too distracted fiddling with the ailerons and elevator.

At the body's bottom edge under the starboard wing waits a lever, ready to release a payload of "water" — ten Trans-Light Blue round 2 x 2 bricks — out of the bird's belly; similar to how the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400AT deploys 10,000 litres of water or fire retardant. Though this set bears no licensed branding, there are numerous similarities between the Technic air tanker and a Dash 8 such as the twin turboprop engines, landing gear arrangement, T-tail, and proportions.

Loading the water is an intuitive and simple play function, if less aligned with reality. Two doors on top open the tank.

Despite the prominent air tanker capabilities, I found myself enamoured with plain plane features: landing gear retraction and propeller movement. Those two systems share space at the heart of the aircraft. 

After finishing bag one of the build you're left with this tight bundle of gears; best demonstrated in video — and we've done just that, at the end of this article.

Outer gears connected to the Light Bluish Grey perpendicular axle slowly extend the landing gear; at this point only the front wheels are attached. To spin the propellers at high speed and in tandem, a Dark Bluish Grey 1 x 14 Technic Gear Rack (18942) is pushed, visible at the center underneath everything. This slides forward-and-aft, meshing with the one green gear. Gravity assists that gear's ratcheting motion, which lets the rack pass back through under power of a rubber band in a smooth, satisfying cycle. Since gravity puts the green gear back in place, the only drawback is a lack of power when flying upside-down.

When the plane is finally assembled, that rack is accessed through the belly of the aircraft just toward the nose from the wings. Red axles pass that push power into the engine nacelles, which also cleanly hide the aft landing gear.

The forward landing gear's Light Bluish Grey liftarm and Black tow ball retract up into the cockpit, leaving it visible inside from above unlike its aftward counterparts. This works though; I think of it as a little flight stick for my imaginary pilot.

The body is strong and easily supports the model's weight when gripped from anywhere. Few advanced techniques are utilized in constructing the fuselage as it's really just a long box, but some subtle tapering of the tail is appreciated. The plane has heft at 59 cm long with a 60 cm wingspan (23" x 23.5").

What I had thought was the ugliest set of this wave has won me over, and is now my favorite over the three land-based machines. The play features in 42152 Firefighter Aircraft are both plentiful and unique, particularly the propellers; don't miss seeing them in action in the video at the bottom of this article. 

As the only non-licensed set in the Q2 2023 lineup, it bears a reasonable price tag at US$99.99/ £94.99/ 109.99€/ AU$179.99 for a massive multi-featured set too.

MOC: Zach Hill's 42152 B-Model, Dragonfly

Inspired by the ratcheting propeller mechanism and determined to enjoy building in colours which normally hurt my eyes, I used only parts from 42152 Firefighter Aircraft to build this buzzing buddy. The wildfire-dousing airplane really put a bee in my bonnet with its push-powered propellers; I love the idea and had to build something else around it.

It's supposed to be a bit cute, but dragonflies successfully kill 95% of the prey they hunt and those bulging eyes aren't exactly comforting either. No hard feelings if you consider my buddy more creepy than cute.

Given the vehicular nature of this season's LEGO Technic wave I started with the intent of making another speed machine, a racing boat. Instead of using it to generate the same kind of motion the plane sports, I modified it for flapping dragonfly wings. This time around Technic cams (6575) spin and press down to lift each wing up with a cantilever motion.

No gear reduction takes place since these wings need to flap much slower than the propellers spin. While prototyping the dragonfly, the plane's gear ratio just made the body explode and intermediate ratios were still too hard to push. The final mechanism moves pretty well but isn't totally gentle since the cams are slowly wearing grooves into the LBG liftarms.

On the fire plane, operating the gear rack mechanism takes two hands. I simplified that with a design which allows the dragonfly's gear rack to be pushed by thumb only, shown in the video below. To do this, I built the tail narrow enough to be grasped and included an ergonomic pointer finger grip (I swear that's what it is). These changes make it possible to play with the dragonfly using one hand compared for the two needed in the original airplane design.

One testament to the rebuildability of this set is its moderate use of stickers. I applied all stickers to my firefighting plane before rebuilding it and still had enough unstickered pieces to make a bare bug, save for the propeller tip stripes found under the ends of the wings.

The first version of the tail didn't flex. After play-testing the bug a bit, I decided to make the handhold handle my hand better by making it longer, leading to a convertible grip doubling as a posing feature. When the handle is bent, the tail shoots straight back with aerodynamic determination. Extending the grip out straight bends the far end of the tail up. Probably not the way dragonflies articulate, but I'll sacrifice realism for playability.

The new Technic Panel Round Corners 5 x 3 x 2 (2438, 2442) came in handy below the neck since their curved profile makes way for the turning head. I had hoped to feature them more prominently, but they just fit so darn well at the front of the chest.

At 70 cm (27.5") long, my B-model uses most of the airplane's parts. Designing any alternate build is a challenge, but the assortment of parts in 42152 Firefighter Aircraft proved to be an excellent source of useful parts for something I was excited to build. I don't even mind the blinding colour scheme that much.

Flying friends in action

A video is the best way to convey the genius mechanism at the heart of the plane's propellers. GIFs can only do so much, and this propeller function deserves the spotlight. 

The dragonfly also buzzes by with a demonstration of its flappy wings and moving limbs.


After this set pleasantly surprised me, I'll be cautious of judging a LEGO Technic set before playing with it. The big but simply-built 42152 Firefighter Aircraft is definitely a case where the play features outshine the techniques used to make it, and that's okay. After all, if you ever feel like a set needs a bit more complexity, re-build it your own way!

If you decide to buy it from, please consider using our affiliate links, we may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop.

READ MORE: The build and minifigures of LEGO® 10316 Rivendell, with insight from lead graphic designer Ashwin Visser

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