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HABU for learner drivers - Italeri SR-71 1/48 - B or C model


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With the news that the long awaited Revell rendering of the SR-71 has finally started landing at the homes of folks in nations far and wide, naturally there is an uptick in folks wanting to commence builds of this subject matter. In fact three managed to make their way to my abode and I plan to start building one in the near future.




Naturally, this has meant that ’ve decided to inflict maximum pain on myself and choose to build the old Italeri SR offering instead. Why I hear you cry? To be honest, there are several reasons. One is that I want to hone my scribing skills and the raised panel lines of the old Italeri kit offers ample opportunity to refine those skills whilst being relatively low on complexity. The second is that I can also use it as a (very large) paint mule to try and test techniques ahead of tackling the Revell. The third reason being that whilst the new Revell tackles the ‘A’ model, the Italeri offers the opportunity to build the ‘B’ and ‘C’ models too. 


I’ve long had a fascination for this incredible feat of design and engineering. As Mike alluded in his excellent review on this very forum, the Blackbird would still look futuristic if it rolled out of the hanger for the first time today, which makes it all the more incredible to think that this aircrafts gestation can be traced back to the 1950’s. Having accumulated and read many books on the aircraft over the years and even obtained a small piece of titanium taken from the airframe of Super Skater and having a dear friend whose company recreated the mounting pod for the D-21 drone and display stands for the M-21 on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle and had the opportunity to crawl all over that aircraft (he also obtained the piece of titanium that I have too). 


For this build I have a small selection of aftermarket, the Metallic Details nose correction set, the Squadron Products cockpit set (I’ll use the pilots cockpit section, the seats and the glare shied). I also have the Caracal Decal sets for aircraft too. I’m somewhat undecided as to which one to build at present. Current thoughts are to do one of the NASA schemes, but there is also an opportunity to do the ‘B*stard’ or ‘two aircraft flying in close formation’ SR-71C. 




So, first things first, scribing. I’ve made a start and have a good many of the various pieces of plastic scribed. I do not know whether this is unique to the Italeri kit, but I am noting some delaminating of the surface from the scribed areas. I’d say I am around 75% done with the scribing, and have started knocking back the little peaks that the troughs created by scribing create. After that I will use a toothbrush and some alcohol to clean the plastic, then run some liquid poly into the scribe areas to level them out. 




I’ve read that the build process can be made easier if you glue the top halves of the fuselage together first. Having done a test fit, it would appear that the cockpit section is a little wider than the section that butt joins behind it. I’m thinking that I could use superglue and squeeze the halves into alignment, then run liquid poly to secure the join, or build as per the instructions and break out the filler if needed. Anyway, tools down the time being, the F1 is on… 

Edited by March
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I've made some progress this week, although not as much as I intended to. I had some bad news on Tuesday and that stopped me in my tracks for a few days. Long story short, my partner and myself were looking forward to taking on two adult cats that belong to my neice, unfortunately her circumstances have changed and was looking to rehome the pair of them. My other half and myself were on the look out for a pet and jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately fate had other plans - the senior of the two cats was involved in a tragic accident and unfortunately, for his welfare, had to be put to sleep. He was a unique character. With everything that has gone on, it's not the right thing to take on the other cat at the moment, it'll only compound my neices grief. It's been a tough week... 😢


So, where are we on the build? Well, I've finished the scribing and have washed the plastic and run Tamiya Extra Thin down the grooves to level them out.


Next up I decided to glue the upper fuselage cockpit piece to the middle section of the upper fuselage. This is a butt joint and some dry fitting revealed that this was not going to be a simple excercise of picking a flat surface. The width of the fueselage section was slightly wider than the section I was joining it too. Running through several permutations I ended up gluing the top sections, then once these had set, using a clamp to align the two sections (using the lower fuselage to aid alignment) and glue the rest. The result has led to a tiny step, but this was dealt with with a few minutes of sanding.


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Edited by March
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Additionally I have been having some delamination issues with this kit. Here is and example.




I've also started the assembly of some of the other large sections. The rear fuselage sections were best tackled with a 'take it slowly' approach. Attaching the rear tail sections to their respective rear fuselage sections and then slowly glueing the upper and lower sections together.




Whilst I waited for the glue to set I turned my section to the engines housings and outer wings. The outer sections of the engine nacelles are known for being a weak point due to there being no mounting lugs, it's a thin butt joint of the upper and lower halves. I decided to line these up as best I could then attach a small strip of thin plastic card. Once this had dried in place I then hit it with Extra Thin until it became gloopy, then using the rounded end of a paint stirrer I smoothed it into the join. The end result will hopefully add some strength to this area and allow for sanding without the two sections splitting apart. I've forgotten to photograph the final part, but will do so once the internal sanding is complete.


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All in all, it's coming along slowly, and I'm currently mulling exactly how much effort I want to put into this kit, not that it will be added to the shelf of doom anytime soon. Initially I intended to use the Squardon cockpit with this, but given that I intend to have the canopies down and being a B, the Squadron set does not have the Instrustors raised cockpit section, I've decided to go with the kit parts. I have another Testors SR-71 in the stash, as well as a YF-12, so I am thinking I can repurpose for these builds. I still intend to use the Metallic Details nose cone though. Lot sof sanding and filling lie ahead.






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  • 2 weeks later...

Over the Christmas period progress made is best described as ‘fits and spurts’, I’ve had important things to attend to, such as eating and drinking. At this point I am absolutely certain that I have foie gras’d my liver. Despite all of this, some progress has been made. 


The top half of the forward fuselage has now added and via the means of clamps, brute force and a modicum of ignorance, I’m pleased to say that panel gaps have been kept to a reasonable minimum. 




Attaching the wing halves have also called for some creative thinking. In his build @bar side ultilised the cunning use of elastic bands to ensure there was enough tension to keep the wing half being attached as close as possible to the body. This worked a charm on the first wing, but the second wing took a drastic turn as too much tension pulled the wing out of tab sockets, breaking one of the tabs in the process. This led to some creative thinking, with two elastic bands being joined via a knot, fed through the already glued engine nacelle and around the tail stinger. This then allowed me via the a screw driver and a humbrol paint tin to adjust the tension, enough to keep the wing as close to the body as possible, but not too much as to ensure a repeat of the SR-71 undressing itself. 


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In addition to this, I took care of some pretty impressive sink marks in the rear engine sections. 




These have now been coated in primer. Talking of primer and paint, with such a large beastie on my hands I’ve decided that it may be an opportune time to give this recently acquired gadget a go:




It slots on to the neck of the can and via an arm connected to the trigger, presses down on the diffuser. Whilst I am not expecting anything approaching airbrush levels of control, I am hoping that it will allow me to coat primers and maybe varnishes quickly. I am not so sure on the latter, but on first attempts to use, it is certainly allows for more control than the analogue route of just using your finger to press down on the diffuser. Additionally, as I suffer from some arthritis in my wrists, it actually helps here too.


As of today I now have the cockpit canopies attached, I’m finding that Ammo Mig ultra thin cement works well for this job, in my experience it has not caused any fogging of clear parts associated with Tamiya cements, although I hasten to add that this is my experience, and my perceived experiences in modelling do tend to crash headlong into reality and bite me in the butt in the process, so treat this advice with caution.


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With that little lot out of the way, I have started filling some of the pitted areas caused by the delaminating I mentioned earlier. One thing I have done to try and reduce this is to deal with some of the areas where delaminating is occurring by running some Tamiya Extra Thin into these areas. It gets in between the top layer and the main plastic layer, hopefully reducing the effects this head scratching issue has been causing me. 


Next up is to fill and sand the gaps on the underside and top side of the wing to body joins and well sand those pitted areas that I have already filled. Once that is done I will tackle any rescribing that may be required and attach the Metallic Details nose. To help with alignment I am considering adding some thing plastic sprue in strategic places on the main body.




All in all, it is now starting to resemble a Blackbird, that’s if you look at it from six feet away whilst squinting having carved an onion before hand… 


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Still a lot of work to be done. For the main base colour, I’m actually considering using some Mr Surfacer black primer toned down a tad by adding seem grey primer to it. Some experimentation may be required… 


In the meantime may I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2022. May all your paint jobs turn out perfect and decals perform and conform correctly… 







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Looking good & quite familiar!  I rather hoped that the sink marks on the rear engine section disappear under the vertical stabilisers and the outer wing sections as the extra thick parts should line up with these.  Nice to see a B model being built.  Also looking forward to seeing your choice of scheme.  Happy New Year to you!

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