Dragon 1/144 SR-71 Blackbird

KIT #: 4639
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Richard F.


If you ever played the card game Top Trumps you'll remember this plane had a killer winning feature: speed. At Mach 3+ it beat every other plane in the deck. It was no slouch in maximum height, either, with 80,000 feet.

Speed and height were ultimately no salvation for strategic bombers like the XB-70, the previous aircraft in the numerical sequence, which managed Mach 3 at 77,000 feet. The ICBM, especially submarine launched ones, and the fact that low level was safer than high level for penetration by bombers, saw to that. But you can't get very good photos at 100 feet above the ground, especially at the speed you need to survive, so up high and fast was still good for a recon plane. And the Blackbird was the highest and fastest.

The SR-71 managed to stick around for 30 years, flying out of the US, Japan and the United Kingdom. It was shot at many times, but never hit.

Back to that top speed. The Blackbird holds the absolute record for New York to London - a shade under 1 hour 55 minutes with an average speed of Mach 2.68 (including time spent slowing down, refueling and speeding up again). Next fastest was Concorde at 2 hours 52. A Boeing 747 needs more than 6 hours.

Hard to see that record being beaten any time soon, given the Blackbird finally retired last century and the Concorde left the sky forever in 2003. A Mig-31 is about the fastest plane there is these days, but at its top speed of Mach 2.8 it can only fly a few hundred kilometers before running out of fuel. Even with heavy tanker support it could never maintain an average speed of better than Mach 2.7. The Blackbird's record is safe for many years to come.

I bought this to participate in the MM Cold War Group Build. Previewed ably on MM, this is one of Dragon's nice new small scale offerings. Excellent moulding, fine detailing for the scale and even a little cockpit.

The fit is excellent. Apart from some very big alignment points, all of which go together neatly, the top half and bottom half of the fuselage go together very well and practically don't need glue. Remember to install the cockpit but in reality it's going to be difficult to see anyway. I painted the whole thing dark grey and didn't bother with any other colours. The side windows are a few millimeters square.

The tailfins don't fit 100 per cent perfectly. The engine exhausts fit very smoothly.

The lightly-detailed undercarriage bays pop in nicely from the outside and the undercarriage itself is a simple fit.

According to the internet, that vast pool of information true or otherwise, the Blackbird wasn't black but very dark blue. I used Tamiya XF-1 flat black anyway, because in every photo I have seen it looks black to me.  I used some 2000 sandpaper and buffed it back. This left a slightly glossy finish, but nowhere near as shiny as even semi-gloss paint. I had read on the net that the plane did in fact have a slight sheen to it, especially after high speed flights, so this was the look I was going for.

It's about the best I can do in matt black with a paintbrush. I'm happy enough.

The only choice of decals with this kit is to choose your plane's number and its tail art. I quite liked the little devil creature but under a magnifying glass I discovered it reads "Rosemarys Baby-Sam" instead of "Baby-San". It's all in uppercase and it's really small so if you don't mind an M instead of an N, then you could safely go with that.

But I chose the white badge with a little skunk on it. That looks pretty cool too.

Simple and precise build of a unique looking plane. If you like the SR-71 but don't have the space for a monster in 1/72 or 1/48 (this plane is as long as an early 737), then this kit is hard to beat.

Richard F.

October 2012

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