Saturday, 30 November 2013

SR-71A Blackbird

The SR-71A is a reconnaissance aircraft designed and build by the 'Skunk works' team of Lockheed. This is the same part of the company responsible for developing aircraft like the F-117 and U2. The SR-71A is the successor of the A-12 spy plane. Both of the look almost identical accept the for fuselage length (the A-12 is shorter) and the SR-71 is flown by one person instead of two like the SR-71A. It's is well known the SR-71 is the fasted operational aircraft in the world (flying at more then 3 times the speed of sound) and could reach an extremely altitude. The fact that the friction with air heated up the airframe during flight up to 230 degrees Celsius causing the airframe to expand several inches is also well known. The aircraft was designed to operate at this temperature, when taking off at about 20 degrees it leaked fuel because the fuel tanks pipers would not fit properly together until the aircraft was heated up to it's operating temperature. A single aircraft with an extra pilot cockpit for training was also made.

Designing and building such an extreme aircraft posses many engineering and building challenges. In addition to overcoming these the 'Sunk Works' team also experimented with stealth. These days it is hard to believe that the aircraft was engineered without aid from powerful computers, 3D drawing software, was made without the aid of CAM equipment and navigated on the stars instead of GPS. It was literally designed on a drawing board. The aircraft is not just an advanced military jet but also a pinnacle of human engineering in general and American engineering especially. More on the aircraft, it's development, production and operational history can be read on Wikipedia and many other sources as well.

Dragon released a model of the SR71A last year. ARII (or micro ace as it is called now) also produced a model of the SR-71 which was (very) briefly rereleased when Dragon announced the release of it's own version. I stumbled across it when browsing on the Hobbylink Japan webstore and bought a few. The model looks very good, the only weak point are the total lack of a cockpit and wheelbay interior. I painted the cockpit glass brown on the inside to make it look like tinted glass. I didn't do anything to the wheelbays since you really have to pick up the aircraft and turn it around to see this. There is a little more space between the wing and the right engine compared to the leftside of the aircraft making it not completely symmetrical. The real SR-71 was painted in a very dark blue colour, I painted mine in drakgray, painted the main panel lines solid black and gave the rest of the aircraft a black wash. The aircraft comes with decals for three variants. The markings are in white, red and a bit of yellow colouring very nicely with the almost black aircraft. Because the aircraft is so dark I painted a gloss finish on mine. On to the pictures:

I can recommend this model of the SR-71 but unfortunately it is not available which is quite strange since it is an popular subject. I haven't seen Dragons offering but it will nodoubtly look very good as well.

2 comments:

  1. Nice kit
    Great assembly and paint job

    This one is on my shopping list

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Geordie,

      I wish you good luck with your reincarnation of this magnificent beast of velocity!

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