Anigrand 1/144 Martin X-24A

KIT #: AA-5007
PRICE: $64.00 for a set of five aircraft
DECALS: One option
NOTES: Resin


One of the key questions of the design program for what ultimately became the space shuttle was whether a lifting body shape could be glided in from re-entry to make a precise, controlled landing on a runway. The early Northrop designs, the HL-10 and M2-F2/F3, were busy exploring this during the mid and late 1960s.
Martin Marietta had a crack at the lifting body program with two major designs - this one, the X-24A, was the first. It first flew on 17 April 1969, and first fired its rockets on 19 March 1970. It achieved a top speed of Mach 1.6 and a maximum height of more than 71,000 feet during its 28 flights. 
According to, "the X-24A handled well as a glider, but in powered flight it exhibited a nose-up trim change that prevented it from flying at low angles of attack. Air Force interest then focused on 'high fineness lifting body' configurations and the X-24A airframe was converted to the X-24B configuration".

But that wasn't the end of the road for the X-24A. Much later, in the late 1990s, Scaled Composites won a contract to develop a Crew Return Vehicle that could get 7 people off the International Space Station in an emergency - a space lifeboat. Scaled Composites, of course, is the company started by Burt Rutan and now owned by Northrop Grumman. This company famously built a range of experimental aircraft including SpaceShip One, the first commercially-built suborbital spacecraft; Voyager, the first plane to fly non-stop round the world; and the Global Flyer, the first jet plane to do the same thing.
Scaled Composites looked back to the lifting body program and settled on the X-24A as a good shape for what would be known as the X-38. The rear end was reconfigured and of course it was made larger to fit 7 astronauts inside. 
The biggest difference, conceptually, was that the X-38 would have a jettisonable de-orbit engine to get it away from the ISS and on its re-entry flight path, and then, once inside the atmosphere, it would pop out a steerable parafoil (like a modern-looking parachute), which would slow it down sufficiently to glide in at a safe speed and plop to a very short landing roll. There is a cool video of it on the X-38 wikipedia page, linked below. 
The X-38 was cancelled in 2002 for budget reasons, and the ISS continues to rely on the workhorse Soyuz ships, which, like the X-38, can trace their lineage back to the heyday of space research, the 1960s.

I previewed this cool little combo set from Anigrand right here on MM.
The set comes with four other kits, making each one about $12. Three have been reviewed right here on MM - the HL-10 , HL-20  and M2-F3 .
Like the other lifting bodies in the set, this one has a single piece fuselage, three winglets or tail fins, canopy parts, and bits for the undercarriage. There is not much to it. It has a cavity for the cockpit with a basic little ejection seat and flat area for an instrument panel.
I didn't realise until I started the kit that there are not enough yellow NASA stripes to go around. The thinner ones fit the HL-10 and M2-F2/3, but you need thicker ones for both the X-24A and B (unless you do the -A in the scheme with white rudders, as pictured on the box instead of the totally bare metal scheme set out in the instructions). 
Another lifting body - another easy build. Remembering my safety mask, I sanded off the seams from the resin body, trimmed down the other parts, and put it all together with super glue. Like the other kits in the set, there is little sanding required. There really is not much to these kits, so it was off to the paint shop.
After painting I put the wheels on. The main wheels should face outboard. I had them facing inboard and had to break them off at the stem and repair them. Nothing a bit of superglue can't handle. After the mistake I made with the M2-F2/3, I used white glue on the canopy instead of superglue. And I used a bit of stretched sprue for the air data probe instead of the kit piece. Although the main gear doors should have a slight curve, mine don't because I made them out of plasticard. I sacrificed the curve for the thinner appearance. The kit parts are way too thick.

The X-24A has a simple bare metal scheme. Check your photos carefully though - it also flew with white rudders and just the very front of the yellow NASA stripes rather than complete ones on the fully unpainted version. Some of the markings differ. But I have found photos online of the scheme suggested in the instructions and it seems pretty accurate. That's the way I built mine.
I sprayed it with Tamiya TS-17 but then decided it wasn't bare-metal looking enough. So I painted, by hand, some Mr Color metaliser over it (using the "stainless" one) and then buffed it for a while with a make-up removal pad. It came up nice and shiny, I thought.


Another cool lifting body. Easy to build, great for your first go at resin, or if you like real space. Recommended.
Pics of the X-24A looking like my model:

Richard F

April 2015

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