Hasegawa 1/72 SR-71A Blackbird w/D-21B Drone Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||May 2013||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Subject||SR-71A Blackbird w/D-21B Drone||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||02041||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice details||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$57.95|
In the early 1960s, the Lockheed Skunkworks developed the next generation of special mission reconnaissance aircraft to provide the capability for deep reconnaissance missions where their previous design, the U-2, could no go. Like the first U-2s, these first aircraft were a series of single- and two-seat Mach 3+ aircraft nicknamed "the article". These were operated out the same desert airbase that U-2 operations were being conducted to maintain secrecy.
Further development of these aircraft were being worked for the US Air Force when-then President Lyndon Johnson revealed the existence of these aircraft in the 1964 presidential campaign to counter criticisms that his administration had let technology fall behind the Soviet Union. Needless to say, the sudden revelation of an operational Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft quickly quieted the critics.
As the new USAF reconnaissance aircraft entered service as the SR-71, Lockheed was also looking at an adaptation of this design to serve as a Mach 3 interceptor to replace the F-106 Delta Dart for Air Defense Command. This variant, the F-12 series, was armed with a revolutionary high-speed missile in the AIM-47 and flight tests of the type were very successful. Unfortunately, then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara cancelled further development of the type to help generate funding to pay for combat operations in Vietnam.
The SR-71 did survive budget cuts with 29 single-seaters and two trainers built. The type entered service in 1966 and remained in service until 1989. Political pressure in 1993 forced the resumption of SR-71 flight operations though the Air Force only reactivated three aircraft and these were once again retired in 1999 leaving only two Blackbirds left in airworthy condition at NASA/Dryden.
Here is Hasegawa's 1/72 SR-71A kit with the rarely reissued D-21B drone. The kit is molded in black styrene and presented on four parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. While I haven't had a chance to build one of these (yet), I understand that the kit goes together easily and with minimal filler. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Detailed cockpits
- Canopies can be positioned open or closed
- Positionable landing gear
- Optional D-21B drone and dorsal pylon
The D-21B was essentially a miniature, single-engine SR-71. It was routinely launched by one of two CIA-operated M-21 motherships, one of which was lost in action and the other is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Markings are provided for two aircraft:
- M-21, 60-6940
- SR-71A, 61-7950
The decals provide the black letterig for the M-21 which go on the bare titanium airframe surfaces (the aircraft was painted all-black before being put into the museum).
It is good to see this kit again and now it is time to try it for myself!
My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!