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Convair Space Shuttlecraft

Atlantis Model Company 1/150 Convair Space Shuttlecraft Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2019 Manufacturer Atlantis Model Company
Subject Convair Space Shuttlecraft Scale 1/150
Kit Number H1828 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Welcome return of a classic subject Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $24.95

First Look

Convair Space Shuttlecraft
Convair Space Shuttlecraft
Convair Space Shuttlecraft

Years before the first human reached the edges of space, engineers had been working through the problems and technologies needed to fly into orbit. Werner von Braun was pushing to go to the moon before the first launch of his V-2 rocket. After the end of World War II, von Braun and numerous other scientists were brought to the United States to continue their scientific developments. One of these scientists was Krafft Ehricke who worked with von Braun and later came to the US as a propulsion engineer. After his service with the government at Huntsville, Ehricke helped design the Centaur upper stage for Convair as well as developed a reusable space shuttle concept and a space station based upon the Atlas booster airframe.

In 1959, Revell produced a kit of Ehricke's Space Shuttle (this kit) while Hawk produced the Atlas Manned Orbiting Laboratory. The space shuttle was released once in 1959 and later reissued once with space pirate markings. Thanks to Atlantis Models for rediscovering these molds in the vast stock of stored kit molds acquired after Hobbico's (Revell) bankruptcy.

This release is molded in white styrene and presented on five parts trees. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Classic 1950s launch stool and base for display
  • Spacecraft can be displayed with all three stages glued together, all separate, or pinned together for removal at-will
  • Second stage makes up the rear section of the space shuttle
  • Third stage designed as a conformal belly tank for the space shuttle
  • Space shuttle has hinged top to reveal five seated figures inside cabin
  • Three optional figures to pose on the display base

When this kit was originally released, it featured notional markings for a US spacecraft that included what look like modified presidential seals in place of military stars and bars. Atlantis has recreated these markings for those who want to build the original nostalgic concept, but they also provide early and current NASA markings, as well as USAF markings, should you want to 'modernize' the concept.

I will probably build the nostalgic version first, for the fun of it, but my engineering eye wants to do some tweaks to the concept to make it look more capable of getting into and back out of orbit. First up will be lengthening the first stage to get fuel capacity to reach the typical 2-3 minute burn time for sufficient altitude and velocity. I'll also merge the so-called second stage with the shuttle to create a delta wing like our Space Shuttle and not a swept-wing fighter. That will make the third stage into the second stage and an expendable unit like the Space Shuttle's external tank. With the included NASA markings, this would make for a Convair alternative to the Rockwell space shuttle.

This is a great kit to see back in daylight, and now I just wish someone would reissue the Hawk Atlas Space Station/MOL kit as well.