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Muroc Models 1/48 M2F1 Kit First Look

By Kelly Jamison

Date of Review January 2009 Manufacturer Muroc Models
Subject M2F1 Lifting Body Scale 1/48
Kit Number - Primary Media Styrene, Resin, PE
Pros Very well casted. Nice decals eclectic subject Cons Price will keep some builders away
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $75.00

First Look


In the late 50’s and early 60’s scientist imaginations ran wild. Exotic ideas of flight and design fit perfectly with the political expediency of the space race. A group of aerodynamicist at NASA Ames Research Center bucked the traditional cannonball technique of earth re-entry and favored a system that would “fly” back to a base of operations. The culmination of ideas in design resulted in the M2 series of lifting body aircraft that would help prove the reusable spaceship concept that spawned the Space Shuttle.

The theory is based on a modified half-cone with a rounded nose to reduce re-entry heating. Information coming out of Ames Research piqued the interest of Robert Reed and some other engineers. Robert Reed built a successful flying model and impressed the local “powers that be” into giving the OK for a manned glider unbeknownst to Langley or NASA at Washington.

A local sailplane company built a laminated wooden shell and it was finished out by NASA folks that were private pilots and home build aircraft enthusiast after hours and on weekends. Parts were scrounged from old aircraft or made on the spot. After the aircraft was finished, a new problem arose. How to get it up in the air for the return glide test?

Since NASA would not fund any towing aircraft the team came up with the idea of using a powerful racecar. After a 1963 Pontiac convertible with a few modifications was purchased, the newly christened M2F1 was successfully towed and flown multiple times to a safe landing. Again, the impressed the local bosses gave their OK to release a C-47 for more ambitious tests. By this time NASA headquarters and the Air Force started to show interest in the gliding re-entry concept and Northrop was hired on to build a series of all metal lifting bodies that were referred to as “The Heavyweights”.

The M2F1 is the Great Granddaddy of the Space Shuttle and is an often overlooked subject because it is a “Tween”. Not really a spaceship, not really an airplane but it should be a very interesting addition to any collection.

This resin jewel comes in a very sturdy box with a picture of the M2F1 on the top. Opening up the box you will find a very well packed kit. You get two instruction sheets which have a parts list and a picture of all the parts numbered. Some color instruction pictures at the bottom of the sheet help you in painting and construction. The back side of the first instruction sheet has some actual pictures of the ejection seat and cockpit and some more of the landing gear and nose section along with the rest of the assembly instructions. The second page is a color reference line drawing to show you decal placement and painting instructions.

The decals seem very nice and delicate. The red should show up nicely on the white paint. There are three vac-u-formed clear pieces that are well done. They are taped to the resin block that was used to form the clear plastic. Two metal weights are also included to ensure the model sits nicely on all three wheels.

The fuselage is very well done with the internal ribbing well molded. The resin is high quality with very few air holes or blemishes. It is also dimensionally spot on with the assistance of drawings, photographs and the real deal sequestered in a small hangar area at the Dryden Flight Test Center.

I could not believe what a great job of casting was done on the fragile tube structures and landing gear. Some of the nicest casting I have seen yet in resin. The ejection seat is another very well done piece of casting. It will be a tough build with all the struts and spindly landing gear but far from impossible.

I would consider this kit for an upper level novice in resin or experienced builder in plastic. It would be a great first resin kit to build if you were well versed in limited run plastic kits or vac-u-form. I think this is a wonderful addition to anyone interested in the subject. It begs to have a 1963 Pontiac to be added onto a desert diorama. Careful assembly with epoxy or superglue will yield you a real showstopper.