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DML 1/144 TR-1A Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2012 Manufacturer DML
Subject TR-1A Scale 1/144
Kit Number 4640 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice looking model Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $20.00

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.

While the SR-71 was intended to replace the U-2 program, the flexibility and endurance of the U-2 kept the program active far longer than anticipated. Even with satellites performing more of the reconnaissance chores, the ability to park a persistent surveillance platform in a small block of airspace provides greater operational flexibility. The next logical upgrade to the U-2 was an updated engine and greater payload capacity. Since the airframe was already filled, Lockheed added 'super pods' to the wings of the U-2 to create the U-2R. A further upgrade to the platform added side-looking radar and other sensors to create the Tactical Reconnaissance or TR-1A, though these have since been redesignated as U-2S.

DML has produced an impressive yet simple kit of the TR-1A/U-2S. 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
  • New wings and super pods

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.

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!