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Buran OK-1.01 Kit

Anigrand Craftswork 1/144 Molniya Buran OK-1.01 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2008 Manufacturer Anigrand Craftswork
Subject Molniya Buran OK-1.01 Scale 1/144
Kit Number 5002 Primary Media Resin
Pros There are four models in this release! Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $76.00

First Look

Buran OK-1.01 Kit
Buran OK-1.01 Kit
Buran OK-1.01 Kit

The reality of the reusable spacecraft came in the form of the Space Shuttle Columbia, with its first flight into space in 1981. Prior to Columbia's first powered flight, another space shuttle named 'Enterprise' spent the preceeding four years conducting flight tests to understand the flight characteristics of this DC-9-sized glider in its unpowered return to Earth.

The Soviets designed their own space shuttle called the Snowstorm (Buran) which strongly resembed the Rockwell design. They too conducted a number of flight tests to characterize the gliding characteristics of this large glider, but with a twist. Not long after the Challenger accident, I was flipping through some television channels and stopped at some test video of the Shuttle shooting an approach to its runway. I dropped whatever I had in my hand along with my jaw when I saw the Shuttle shoot a missed approach and climb back into the sky. It was then I noticed that the chase plane was not a T-38, it was a MiG! When the Buran came around for another approach, this time you could see the engine pods mounted to the rear fuselage and obviously a fuel cell must have been mounted into the cargo bay to feed those four engines. Not bad...

Like the US, the Soviets modified an aircraft to carry the Buran between the test sites and its maintenance facility.This aircraft was NOT the An-225, rather a specially modified 3MD Bison. The 3MD could do the job of lofting the Buran on its back, but after a landing accident that left the 3MD and its Buran backpack stuck in the mud off the end of a runway, work was started in earnest for a better airlifter. A modified An-124 Ruslan was selected with a lengthened wing, two more engines, and twin rudders which gave the airlifer greater lifting capacity, reserve power, and much greater braking authority to keep the monster carrier out of the mud.

Buran did fly into space once on 15 Nov 1988. This was an unmanned up-and-back flight to validate the operations of the Energia solid rocket boosters and Energia's own main engines. In fact, the most notable difference between the US Space Shuttle and the Buran is in the rear. The Shuttle has three main engines fed by the huge external 'drop tank'. Two orbital maneuvering (OMS) engines are mounted into fairings on either side of the tail to facilite orbital adjustments and to conduct the deorbit burn to return to Earth. Buran on the other hand has no main engines per se, these are mounted on the external tank that is Energia. The OMS motors are mounted in the rear of Buran where the Shuttle's main engines would be, creating a more streamlined airframe.

Anigrand Craftswork has turned out another beauty - the 1/144 Buran Soviet Space Shuttle. This bit of engineering for the model is right up there with Anigrand's usual kit molding excellence. My example didn't take much to dry-fit without any tape or adhesives. A little more smoothing of the edges would make for some very tight seams.

This kit features a nicely detailed (for this scale) flight deck with four ejection seats and flight controls. This mounts into an enclosed cabin so you won't be peering into space through the windows. You can see from the first image that the fuselage halves are hollow, so it won't take much ballast to keep this model on its nosegear (assuming you opt for landing gear).

The kit provides parts for two robot arms and some basic detailing inside the cargo bay. The cargo bay doors are molded closed, but these are designed to be surgically opened should you want to display your Buran in orbit.

The rear engine housing actually has two options provided in this kit, one for the flight vehicle as depicted in this kit, and one with the engine mounts that I have dry-fitted in the second photo.

You have the following options available to you:

  • Positionable landing gear
  • Positionable bay doors
  • Optional mounting frames to mount atop a carrier aircraft or onto the Energia
  • Optional aft maneuvering thruster pods
  • And the spaceflight or test flight rear engine bay cover

The kit provides one sheet of decals to provide markings and the black/white edge of the nose section heat shield tiles.

Space enthusiasts will want to have this gem on their shelves as a 1/144 scale rendition will blend in nicely with other spacecraft rendered in this same scale, and will occupy 75% less shelf space than my 1/72 Space Shuttle.

My sincere thanks to the US importer, Nostalgic Plastic for this review sample!