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Fantastic Plastic 1:48 resin Northrop HL-10


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This is the experimental lifting body flown during the late '60s, familiar to many (as the box art suggests) from the opening sequence of The Six Million Dollar Man. (Remarkably, Steve Austin left the B52 in an HL-10 and crashed in an M2-F2.)

 

The kit doesn't have many parts, and those it has are relatively undetailed. The resin needed a lot of hot-dipping to straighten out various kinks, and a lot of filling and sanding to eliminate seams or improve fit, in particular at the join between upper and lower fuselage halves. The decal sheet was badly printed. I contacted Fantastic Plastic about this, but got no reply, so ended up scanning the sheet and rebuilding or replacing several decals using Experts-Choice decal paper.

The paintwork is an experiment I very soon regretted. Other people appear to be able to use Alclad unsealed, but I'm not one of those people--the surface of my polished aluminium got distinctly unpolished and worn just with the very careful handling required to bed down the decals, and the different reflectivity of the decals is a bit of an offence to the eye from some angles.

 

Altogether it was a dispiriting build, which very nearly ended up in the bin several times, and I never mustered the enthusiasm to begin a WiP thread. The highlight of the whole experience was the point at which I lost one of the control surface parts for a week, only to discover it in my trouser pocket while hunting for change for a parking meter. Old age doesn't come itself ...

 

Here's what the real thing looked like:

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And here's what I produced. Some additional detail with styrene and brass rod. Paint is Alclad polished aluminium and matt white. Ejector seat straps are cannibalized from an Airwaves set, and the cockpit was detailed up a little using Airscale early Allied jet instrument decals.

Either the kit undercarriage gear is too long, or I mistook part of the pour stub for part of the gear, so the model sits a little too high. This annoys me, but doesn't annoy me enough to make me want to revise it at present.

It's a tail-sitter, of course, and I've made no effort to edit out the transparent rod I tucked under the engine bells for support.

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Thanks for looking, and well done for getting past the outpouring of negativity with which I started this post!

 

Edited by Hamiltonian
Updated photos
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1 hour ago, Hamiltonian said:

 (Remarkably, Steve Austin left the B52 in an HL-10 and crashed in an M2-F2.)

 

Well, Steve Austin performed a more remarkable feat on a cross-country flight. He took off on one type, cruised on another, and landed on another type. I don't remember the sequence, though one was an F-104 another was an F-102 or F-106. Continuity wasn't a priority then.

 

Beautiful and unique model, despite all your troubles. I'm glad you persevered. The photo with the pilots show the real item lost its mirror-like sheen after a few flights, so a perfectly polished finish isn't really needed on the model unless you want it to look factory fresh.

 

Cheers,

Wlad

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Hi, Hamiltonian, that is very very nice, and well done to you for a very good result.  I totally agree that it is not an easy build - I am desperately trying to finish an HL-10 and an M2-F3 for SMW and they are fighting back all the way.  I wish Fantastic Plastic had not moulded the cockpit side walls into the main mouldings - and that the cockpit was a bit more detailed.  However, they are better than the Collect-Air versions which I abandoned 10 years ago, and are rather more accurate in size. 

Tim

 

     

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Nice result despite the troubles and a very interesting and unusual subject. I'd love to know what they are doing in the picture with the pilots - looks like one of them has a hammer!?

 

Cheers

 

Malcolm

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18 hours ago, TimB said:

Hi, Hamiltonian, that is very very nice, and well done to you for a very good result.  I totally agree that it is not an easy build - I am desperately trying to finish an HL-10 and an M2-F3 for SMW and they are fighting back all the way.  I wish Fantastic Plastic had not moulded the cockpit side walls into the main mouldings - and that the cockpit was a bit more detailed.  However, they are better than the Collect-Air versions which I abandoned 10 years ago, and are rather more accurate in size. 

Tim

 

     

Thanks. Yes, the cockpit's a bit of a mess, and the instructions require a bit of detective work to figure out how it's all supposed to fit together. Here's what I came up with before closing the two halves, showing the harness and dials I added to try to perk it up a little.

hl-10-cockpit1.jpg

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17 hours ago, Baldy said:

Nice result despite the troubles and a very interesting and unusual subject. I'd love to know what they are doing in the picture with the pilots - looks like one of them has a hammer!?

 

Cheers

 

Malcolm

I guess it was a bit of larking around during the same test-pilot group photoshoot that produced this image. The guy being dragged away from the cockpit is Peter Hoag, an Air Force test pilot, and I at first assumed that what was being enacted was a bit of the inter-service rivalry that military pilots seemed to enjoy cultivating when working for NASA. But the fella pretending to wield the mallet on Hoag's fingers is Jerauld Gentry, who was also Air Force, so it doesn't really make sense. Maybe it's a reference to the fact that, of the four pilots pictured, Hoag had made the fewest flights, and the others are pretending to be trying to stop him catching up?

 

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Many thanks, all, for the kind comments.

Just to continue with the theme for this model, I noticed after I'd posted that one of my bits of detailing (the little fin under the nose, which I carved from a bit of styrene sheet) had contrived to fall off unnoticed at some point. Sigh.

I've replaced it, and updated the relevant low-angle photos in which it appears.

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Thanks again for the kind comments. My eye is of course constantly drawn to the worn areas on the Alclad!

 

 

On 11/10/2021 at 8:11 AM, Bertie Psmith said:

I think this is wonderful model and it's enhanced by those charming photos of the pilots mucking about. It's interesting how much weathering/burning the aircraft shows in those photos.

Yes, there seems to have been some interesting patch work done on the starboard fin, in the photo featuring the mock-fighting pilots. Difficult to make out what's going on, though, because of the reflective surface.

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Ah, yes- one of the famous flying flatirons! Northrop sure liked to think outside the box with all of their designs, didn't they? Sounds like a real pig f a kit, but the end result sure looks good! Well done!

Mike

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21 hours ago, 72modeler said:

Ah, yes- one of the famous flying flatirons! Northrop sure liked to think outside the box with all of their designs, didn't they? Sounds like a real pig f a kit, but the end result sure looks good! Well done!

Mike

Thanks. I'd forgotten the phrase "flying flatiron" for these lifting bodies (and the Gloster Javelin, IIRC). I'm hoping Fantastic Plastic eventually get around to producing their promised X-24B, which really looked the part.

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