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U-2A 'Dragon Lady' Kit

AFV Club 1/48 U-2A 'Dragon Lady' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2019 Manufacturer AFV Club
Subject U-2A 'Dragon Lady' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48112 Primary Media Styrene
Pros New tooling Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $52.00

First Look

U-2A 'Dragon Lady' Kit
U-2A 'Dragon Lady' Kit
U-2A 'Dragon Lady' Kit
U-2A 'Dragon Lady' Kit
U-2A 'Dragon Lady' Kit

Here is the aircraft that changed aviation in so many ways. Designed by Kelly Johnson of the Lockheed Skunkworks, the U-2 was the first high-altitude reconnaissance platform designed to penetrate hostile airspace well above the air defenses of the day. These aircraft were so secret in fact, that Johnson established a remote outpost in the Nevada desert to keep them out of the public eye and to conduct tests before the CIA began operations. This facility was built on a dry lakebed inside what is now known as Area 51. On one such CIA flight, the aircraft was sent to check on military installations deep within the Soviet Union but was shot down by a new air defense capability - the Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM). It's pilot, Gary Francis Powers, was captured and imprisoned before being exchanged for captured Soviet spies.

The original U-2 was a manned spy satellite before man had put anything into orbit. As air defenses became more robust, the U-2 was redesigned to carry a larger payload and be capable of operating a wider array of sensors from a safe distance. Even after capable spy satellites were put into operation, the U-2 distinguished itself by being able to stay in an area of interest for extended periods, where a satellite was limited in its duration over target by its orbit. The U-2A/E/G versions were powered by modified J57 engines optimized for high altitude operations. The J57 also powered the F-100, F-102, B-52, C-135, and more. The U-2C/F versions were powered by modified J75 engines and featured enlarged intakes to handle the increased airflow. The J75 also powered the F-105, F-106, F-107, and more.

AFV Club has released this completely new-tool kit of the early U-2 in 1/48 scale. Until now, the only option for the early U-2 was the venerable Hawk kit, while the later U-2R/TR-1 was produced in this scale by Testors/Italeri. AFV renders this U-2A with all of the detail you'd expect in a contemporary kit. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees (duplicate tree not shown) plus one tree of clear parts.

Among the features and options:

  • Beautifully detailed ejection seat (needs aftermarket pilot restraints)
  • Beautifully detailed cockpit
  • Positionable canopy
  • Optional sun cover over cockpit area
  • Detailed three-camera pallet for Q-bay
  • Optional trolley for camera pallet
  • Q-bay cover molded in clear plastic
  • Detailed wheel wells and landing gear
  • Intakes down to compressor face
  • Optional dorsal hump (if your subject used one)
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Positionable flaps
  • Optional outer wing 'pogo' struts
  • Optional outer wing jacks

This kit provides some colorful subject options with its decal set:

  • U-2A, 56-6701, AFFTC, Edwards AFB, 1960
  • U-2A, NACA 368, 1958
  • U-2A, 56-6721, 4080 SRW, Laughlin AFB, 1959
  • U-2A, 56-6681, 4080 SRW, Laughlin AFB

The decal sheet provides walkways, stencils, and national markings for the three USAF examples as well as the markings for the NACA (pre-NASA) airframe. These are three bare metal and one light blue example. Note that there are no CIA examples nor markings for the dark blue or black airframes, though these may appear in a future release for the U-2C. If you want more examples, look to the Caracal Models set for the U-2A/C that we looked at here.

This is a beautiful kit of a distinctive cold war veteran. It is a shame that there wasn't a boarding ladder/boarding platform included nor any pilot restraints for the ejection seat. Nevertheless, the engineeing in this kit is excellent, right down to the hollow sun shade over the ventral periscope viewer. The MSRP listed above is what I paid over at Lucky Model, though as of the date of this first-look, they've sold out of this kit (a sign of this kit's popularity), but I expect the US pricing to be somewhat higher. Neverthless, this is one kit you'll want to add to your collection!