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OK - I go to Rio on the 29th so this is a bit of a gamble......I started looking at the kit whilst finishing the A10 and Harrier......then I cut some parts from the sprues....then primed.....you know how it is!! The kit looks fairly shake and bake, simple colour (!!), with a bit of post shading can add some wear and tear.... Decals are from Wolfpak Recce birds, with a choice of the older white serials, 17964, or the later red serial, 17964 or 17980, which also had camels painted on after the Libyan raid in 1986. I lived in Lakenheath and remember the Habu well, going up to the end of the runway on school hols, early, to catch them launching and going vertical! I was on leave as a 16 year old Junior Para during the week before and the night of the Libyan raid, and the 2 Habu's were flying daily, so we knew something was up. The night 48TFW launched 24 F111F's, (6 returned as spares, 18 pressed on) and we could here the KC135 and KC10 launches from Mildenhall.....we thought WW3 had started - it was in fact the start of the attack phase of Operation El Dorado Canyon. The Habu's had been gathering intelligence and target photos in the week before. 17980 taken on 25 April 86, post Op El Dorado Canyon Later we heard about the strike in Libya and that 1 F111F of the 494TFS 'Karma 52' was lost, with both crew. http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/operation-eldorado-canyon-libya-under-air-attack-in-1986/ The Mildenhall SR71 story http://www.wvi.com/~sr71webmaster/mildenhall.html http://www.airsceneuk.org.uk/oldstuff/2006/sr71/sr71.htm This raid operation was a distraction from their day to day role in the 1980s....strategic recce for NATO against the Warsaw Pact. The SR71A was, in hindsight, one of the main symbols of the cold war in my eyes....as well as the U2/TR1. The KIT! So, I needed 2 crew - you remember the doomed Hobbycraft F5E - the Pilot was rescued, converted slightly and made to look like he was wearing a 'David Clark S1030' Full pressure suit.....along with a Harrier Pilot that looked like a Spitfire Pilot in my last Sea Harrier build. A bit of filler and sanding and he was now in the rear pit! Didn't try too hard as when the canopies are closed you can see very little inside. http://www.wvi.com/~sr71webmaster/press_suit001.html Primed and painted the interior the standard US airforce colour. I then pretty much put it together! Be some work to do on seams, cleaning up the gear doors etc.....so I am on track....ish!
SR-71A Blackbird ‘Gravestone’ 1:72 Hasegawa If it were to be rolled out of Lockheed’s famous ‘Skunkworks’ factory for the first time tomorrow, the SR-71 Blackbird would still look like something from the future. It’s simply phenomenal to think that the sleek design of the aircraft, with its blended wing, colossal engines and sinister matt black paint, is over 50 years old. The SR-71 flew for the first time in 1964, two years after the aircraft it was developed from, the A-12. In comparison with its predecessor, the SR-71 was a larger aircraft, with a stretched fuselage designed to hold more fuel for greater endurance and a second cockpit for a Reconnaissance Systems Operator. The SR-71 began its active service career in 1966. The aircraft was used for reconnaissance missions over North Vietnam and Laos, flying from its base on the Japanese island of Okinawa. It also flew missions over the Baltic Sea from Mildenhall in the UK. Always a hugely expensive aircraft to operate, the Blackbird was retired in 1989, with the funding for the programme redirected to the troubled B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit programmes. However, with no suitable replacement in the development pipeline and increasing tensions across the globe, the SR-71 programme was reactivated in the early nineties, only to be retired for the second and final time in 1998. During its 32 year career, the Blackbird set dozens of records for absolute altitude and absolute speed, most of which still stand today, making the aircraft a true Cold War icon. Hasegawa’s SR-71A has been around for quite some time now, and although it lags some way behind newer kits in terms of part count and detail, it’s still a good all-rounder which will fulfil the basic requirements of most modellers. The kit arrives packed into a large top-opening box, inside which are just 43 parts. This is surprisingly few parts for such a large aircraft, but it’s as much down to the sleek, uncluttered design of the SR-71 as it is the vintage of the kit. The parts are moulded in glossy black plastic, with the obvious exception of the clear parts. When I say the plastic is glossy, I mean it. If you’re thinking of skipping the primer coat when you paint this model, I have one word of advice for you: don’t! Hasegawa’s moulds always seem to stand the test of time fairly well, and this is no exception. There is very little flash present, with the exception of the part for the windscreen on the clear sprue. Surface detail on this model is comprised of consistently fine, raised panel lines, with the exception of the control surfaces which are recessed. Given the choice I would opt for recessed panel lines, but I guess one of the virtues of a kit that must be painted near-black is that this feature doesn’t matter so much. The cockpit is comprised of a floor with side consoles moulded in place, onto which have to be added the bulkheads which fit behind each seat and the ejector seats themselves. These are well-shaped but fairly basic items, so you might want to replace them if you particularly want to pose the canopy in the open position. The instrument panels fit into the inside of the upper fuselage rather than the cockpit tub itself. In typical Hasegawa style, there is no raised detail on either the instrument panels or the side consoles, with decals being provided instead. That, as far as interior detail is concerned, is that. As you can see from the photographs above, the fuselage is comprised of upper and lower halves, with wings and nacelles moulded in place. The fit of the two halves appears to be excellent, and as the join line is around the SR-71’s distinctive chines, there will be little in the way of seams to clean up. The nose cone, with pitot tube moulded in place, is a separate assembly. The engine nacelles require the addition of the distinctive spikes at the front and the flame holders and exhausts at the rear. The flame holders are rather basic, solid parts, but they will help to prevent the dreaded see through effect. After the addition of the vertical stabilisers, all that remains to be done is add the parts for the undercarriage and the cockpit canopy. The undercarriage parts are fairly respectable in terms of detail, although the undercarriage bays themselves are fairly basic. I like the design of the main gear legs as the central of the three wheels is moulded in place. This will give the undercarriage greater strength and will aid with the alignment of the inner and outer wheels. The canopy is pretty thin and clear, although the aforementioned flash will need to be cleaned up. Decal options are provided for two aircraft: SR-71A of Detachment 1, 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Kadena Air Force Base, USAF. This aircraft features the gravestone artwork depicted on the lid of the box; and An SR-71A identified only as ‘Nighthawk’ owing to the tail artwork. Both aircraft are finished in a near black scheme. The paint used on the SR-71 in real life was, I believe, extremely dark blue so I’d be tempted to try Tamiya’s new Rubber Black or a similar shade from another manufacturer. The decals are nicely printed, if a little on the thick side. In my experience, however, Hasegawa decals usually perform quite well. Conclusion Although it’s no spring chicken, this is still a pretty reasonable kit. Whilst it may lack some of the finer details here and there, the fit of parts seems to be very good and it should build up into a pretty nice model. Having said that, this edition is not a cheap option, so you’ll need to decide whether you particularly want the decal options included before you decide which version to buy. Overall though it’s a decent kit and should be a fun, quick build. Review sample courtesy of UK distributors for