Testors 1/72 XR-7 Thunderdart

KIT #: 567
PRICE: $ Out of Production
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Shawn Payne
NOTES: Model very large for 1:72

HISTORY

 The Company Testors has a history of producing ďTop SecretĒ subjects.  Back in the mid 80ís they released a kit of the then Top Secret F-19 Stealth fighter.  Designed from rumors and guesses they came out with a very interesting looking stealth fighter that a few years later we all saw how far off they missed the mark.  But the kit did sell well and made news headlines; I even saw it on the nightly news as a visual aid for the stealth stories.    Little side note here.  During this time period I was in the USAF and assigned to the 4450th test squadron.  I really liked the kit and bought several in both scales.

So Testors decided to take a stab at another highly classified aircraft project that was in the news a lot in the early 90ís.  The jet is based on the rumored technology of high altitude, high speed ram jet capabilities.  Now today some ten or more years since the rumors were all over the news the public has not been shown any aircraft that was believed to been flown out of Groom Lake with these capabilities, so we donít know this time how close Testors came to the classified project of this mach 6+ aircraft.  

If my memory serves me I believe this model was released as just the XR-7 by itself or with a modified SR-71, the SR-75 to which it piggy backed on until the altitude and speed required to separate was achieved and the XR-7 separated and went on its way on its various classified missions.  The price of the set dictated that I bought just the XR-7 alone.

THE KIT

 Molded in black plastic, there are only 45 parts to this model.  The first thing that stands out is the two halves to the fuselage, upper and bottom.   They are quite large.  The nose parts are molded separately from the two main body halves.   The shape of the body looks like a stretched version of the F-117A with the characteristic facets slightly rounded off.  I guess Testors believed that technology has progressed since the 80ís.   The parts are fairly cleaned of seams and flash, which is what you come to expect from Testors.  

There are no weapons bays, as this aircraft was not designed to carry any ordinance.  It is just for recon missions only I guess.

The decals are well printed and the instructions show a step-by-step assembly that when followed make for an easy assembly. 

CONSTRUCTION

Starting with the cockpit I painted the tub, sidewall and instrument panel Testors Model Master Medium Gray.  The Ejection seat is a very nicely done ACES II seat.  All it required was painting to bring out the details to the seat.  Once done I glued it into place in the upper fuselage.  Next step the landing gear bays.  A shot of gloss white and they were glued into place in the lower fuselage.  I did not weather the bays figuring that sense this aircraft was new and probably undergoing constant maintenance is never had a chance to get dirty.  I added the appropriate amount of weight to the nose and glued the upper fuselage to the lower fuselage.  These parts went together without any alignment problems.  I glued the two small parts of the nose together and looked at how it fit to the main body.  Donít know what happened here.  But the nose contours were larger than the body.  This took a good deal of sanding and filling to get it to conform to the lines of the jet.   I was glad that I was dealing with flat surfaces instead of rounded contours here.

I assembled the vertical stabilizers and the ram air pulse jets and set them aside for painting.  This takes care of all of the major components to this model. 

COLORS & MARKINGS

Being that this is of an unseen aircraft I decided to come up with a paint scheme that I thought would look realistic for it in operational use.  After primer I airbrushed the top of the jet with Testors Model Masters Medium gray for the no step boundaries.    I masked off the boundaries with pin striping tape and then sprayed over that with Testors Model Master Gunship Gray.  Masking off the areas that I want to stay Gunship Gray the rest of the jet got a coat of Testors Flat Black, both top and bottom.  The ramjets and vertical stabilizers were also painted Flat Black. 

Once dry and the masking tape removed I glossed the jet for decal application.  Now here I varied from the kit decals.  I used them along with decals from my spare and half used sheets and came up with the markings I liked.  The tail markings came from a 1:72 super scale A-7E set I had left over, I finished the jet with Testors Dull Coat and glued in the landing gear, and bay doors.  Then on went the vertical stabilizers and the ramjets. 

CONCLUSIONS

This makes a nice addition to my experimental and what-if aircraft.  The model was easy to put together, with the exception of the nose part, and can be built by a beginner to get a good-looking jet.

Shawn Payne

December 2009

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