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U-2R 'Dragon Lady'

DML 1/144 U-2R 'Dragon Lady' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2012 Manufacturer DML
Subject U-2R 'Dragon Lady' Scale 1/144
Kit Number 4636 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice looking model Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $20.95

First Look


The U-2 program was one of the first major 'black programs' of the United States (with the atomic bomb probably being the first). With the inability to see what was happening behind the Iron Curtain, a special program was developed for a high-altitude reconnaissance platform that could operate well above Soviet defenses. While not initially selected for competition, the Lockheed design was the ultimate winner and was based upon the F-104 fuselage mated to sailplane wings. First flown in 1955, the U-2 program needed a safe place to operate from and a little known dry lake near the Nevada nuclear test range was selected. This very remote location near an obviously hazardous one allowed for clandestine operations and would be designated Area 51 (one of numerous land blocks, or areas, across Nevada).

While the loss of Gary Power's aircraft to an SA-2 Guideline in 1960, the U-2 program was out in the open. While the loss was a setback to US reconnaissance, the changing threat led to a new platform to operate in dangerous airspace, the A-12 Oxcart that would lead to the SR-71 Blackbird. In addition, the utility of the U-2 was still needed in less hostile airspace and a second production batch yielded a larger platform with greater range and payload - the U-2R. One of the more noteworthy deployments of a U-2 was a U-2R operating from the USS America CV 66.

DML has produced an impressive yet simple kit of the U-2R. Produced in 1/144 scale, this kit is still a fair-sized model and provides some nice details and options. Among these:

  • Innovative airframe design
  • Positionable landing gear

If you look at the parts, you see a one-piece tube for the nose section and another for the center section. There is also a long tube which is the engine exhaust duct that runs through the mid and aft sections. The aft section is molded in halves and the vertical stabilizer mounts atop of that assembly. These one-piece tube sections represent some really impressive molding technology at work.

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • U-2R, 'Black Cat', RoCAF
  • U-2R, 9 SRW, RAF Mildenhall, 1977

I had no idea that you could get so much detail into such a small-scale kit. I'll never look at the 'simplistic' details of the 1/144 scale kits the same ever again as it is clear that DML has raised the bar quite significantly. This will make a really nice project that doesn't take lots of time or effort to complete.

My sincere thanks to DML for this review sample!