Special Hobby 1/72 D.558-I Skystreak

KIT: Special Hobby 1/72 D.558-I Skystreak
KIT #: 72159
PRICE: $22.90 at GreatModels
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Multimedia kit


In December 1944, after NACA launched the rocket engine powered XS-1 (X-1) with U.S.A.A.F for the supersonic flight research, NACA and U.S. Navy preferred other aircraft that could able to fly transonic speed for a long time with turbojet power. Douglas was selected to propose the design as Douglas was conceived some high performance planes for Navy at that time. In February 1945, Douglas offered the Model D-558 design and was received contract for six testbeds but later changed to three. The first D-558-1 was rolled out in February 1947 and was made it first flight in April. During its ninth flight in August, the D-558-1 set a new world speed record at Mach 0.85. After it reached its max speed at Mach 1.01 in September 1948, the first D-558-1 was served as spare for the third D-558-1 while the second D-558-1 was crashed during test by NACA. From April 1949 to June 1953, the third D-558-1 carried out an intensive research programs that allowed NACA to perfect its knowledge in aerodynamics.


This is the third kit of this aircraft of which I'm aware. The first was a VERY short run kit by Meicraft while the second was the very nice resin kit by Anigrand Craftworks. This is the first modern injected plastic kit of this important, though somewhat obscure experimental aircraft.

Molded in MPM's usual grey plastic, the kit shows the improvements MPM has made over the years with nice and crisply done surface engraving, no flash and no readily apparent sink areas. The lone injected sprue contains most of the airframe parts. Tailplanes are a solid mold while the wings have a single lower section and two upper wings. There is nice wheel well representation in the upper win portions. Resin and photo etch are used for most of the cockpit bits, though the tub itself is injected plastic. The intake splitter section is resin. There is little room for nose weight and you will need it on this kit. Instructions would have you cram 6 grams under the tub forward section.

Photo etch is also used for the main gear doors and it would be appropriate to thin down the nose gear door to match. An errata sheet is included as the modeler will need to remove some duplicate plastic from the nose gear well. Pitot tubes will need to be made from plastic or small steel tubing. The kit provides nice, clear optional canopies for early and later variants.

Instructions are well done and give 10 well drawn construction steps. Color information is provided for Gunze colors. The Skystreak is a somewhat distinctive orangish red color and not the pure red I used on my Anigrand build. There are full markings for the aircraft during three of its flights. No markings are included for the time it was seconded to NACA for further tests. During this time, the aircraft was painted white, though the control surfaces were left in the original color so they would not have to be rebalanced. Aftermarket might be useful if wishing to do this variant. Probably Special Hobby will do a reboxing to cover this period in the aircraft's history.  Decals are very nicely printed and should provide excellent service.


Overall this is a very nice kit and from what I see, is the best that has yet to be produced of this aircraft. If you are looking for something that is a bit different and won't take up a lot of shelf space, then this is a kit you'll enjoy building.

January 2008

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