Special Hobby 1/72 D.558-II Skyrocket

KIT #: 72180
PRICE:  $34.50 SRP ($29.25 at GreatModels
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes resin and photo etched parts


The Douglas Skyrocket (D-558-2 or D-558-II) was a rocket and jet-powered supersonic research aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Navy. On November 20, 1953, shortly before the 50th anniversary of powered flight, Scott Crossfield piloted the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket to Mach 2, or more than 1,290 mph (2076 km/h), the first time an aircraft had exceeded twice the speed of sound.

All three of the Skyrockets had 35-degree swept wings.

Until configured for air launch, NACA 143 featured a Westinghouse J-34-40 turbojet engine rated at 3,000 lb force (13 kN) static thrust. It carried 260 U.S. gallons (980 l) of aviation gasoline and weighed 10,572 lb (4,795 kg) at takeoff.

NACA 144 (and NACA 143 after modification in 1955) was powered by an LR-8-RM-6 rocket engine rated at 6,000 pounds force (27 kN) static thrust. Its propellants were 345 U.S. gallons (1,306 l) of liquid oxygen and 378 US gallons (1,431 l) of diluted ethyl alcohol. In its launch configuration, it weighed 15,787 lb (7,161 kg).

NACA 145 had both an LR-8-RM-5 rocket engine rated at 6,000 lb force (27 kN) static thrust and featured a Westinghouse J-34-40 turbojet engine rated at 3,000 lb force (13 kN) static thrust. It carried 170 U.S. gallons (644 l) of liquid oxygen, 192 U.S. gallons (727 l) of diluted ethyl alcohol, and 260 U.S. gallons (984 l) of aviation gasoline for a launch weight of 15,266 lb (6,925 kg).

All three aircraft are still extant with one at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum and the other two in Southern California.


It is great to see these aircraft being released in a more modeler friendly form, as previous issues in 1/72 scale have been resin. There is also an old box scale Skyrocket that can only be built as the rocket powered variant and it is a bit on the crude side coming from Revell in the late 1950s.

Judging from the two sprues, it appears that perhaps Special Hobby had considered two separate releases of this kit with one being jet and the other rocket powered. You get what amounts to two complete fuselage halves for both versions, though really, only the underside section is different.

Now I know that most will be looking in askance about goobering up a sleek plane like this with under wing fuel tanks, but the plane did carry them from time to time so that is accurate, though not exactly svelte.  As you can see, a ton of parts this kit does not have. But then, the Skyrocket was a pretty simple airframe.

The cockpit is well appointed, though little will be seen if you leave the canopy section in place. Some of the photo-etch is used in there, while the rest of it is for tank fins and landing gear bits. The gear is pretty complex with the gear attachment points being separate little pieces that one glues onto the bottom of the gear legs before attachment. The only other differences are wing fences and some exhaust pieces that need added. The modeler needs to add a couple of pieces of plastic strip to the rear fuselage as well.

Three markings options are included. First is the box art plane, NACA 145 with the drop tanks, jet and rocket engine. Next is listed as the second Skyrocket with the old style NACA markings and this one is also shown as a jet powered plane, though from the historical background, this one was rockets only. The last is also the first plane while with the Navy. I find it odd that the first plane is not part of the markings options, but so it goes. The decal sheet is well done with crisply printed markings and an addendum sheet for what is apparently a too large NAVY decals. I find it odd that there are no NACA wing decals as photos of planes with the later yellow band NACA tail markings show these rather prominently.


Despite what appears to be some confusion regarding markings (at least on my part), this is a most welcome kit for anyone who likes experimental aircraft. A nice offering and one that should meet with much favor from builders.



The best written reference there is on this plane is Specialty Press' Skystreak, Skyrocket & Stiletto

August 2009

You can get this and many other great kits and accessories at GreatModels

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