|KIT:||Freight Dog 1/72 Saunders-Roe SR. 177|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Resin with vac canopy|
The Saunders-Roe SR.177 was a 1950s project to develop a combined jet- and rocket-powered interceptor aircraft for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The German Navy also expressed interest in the project, which was cancelled due to changes in Britain's military policies in 1957. An even larger variant was studied under the SR.187 project, but this work was also cancelled in 1957.
In 1952, Saunders-Roe had won a contract to develop a similar aircraft, the Saunders-Roe SR.53. However, as development progressed, the shortcomings of the design became increasingly evident. Most particularly, as with the German rocket-powered interceptors of World War II, the range and endurance of such an aircraft were limited by the high rate of fuel consumption by the rocket engine. However, as turbojets developed and became increasingly powerful and efficient, soon new powerplants were available that would make the aircraft more practical.
The SR.177 began as an advanced design concept for the SR.53, but when a development contract was issued by the Ministry of Defence (specification F.155), the project was given its own designation.
The most significant difference between the two aircraft was the use of a jet engine with nearly five times the thrust of the one chosen for the earlier aircraft. This meant that while the SR.53 relied mostly on its rocket engine for climbing, the SR.177 would be able to add considerable endurance by conserving use of its rocket only for a dash towards a target. It was expected that the added endurance would allow the SR.177 to perform roles other than pure interception, and these were expected to include strike and reconnaissance. The SR.53 design was considerably enlarged to accommodate the new engine, and the original sleek lines were forfeited for a large, chin mounted intake to supply it with air.
Funding was secured in July 1956 for a total of 27 aircraft, and the first was expected to fly by April (later, October) 1958. However, 1957 was to see a massive re-thinking of air defence philosophy in the UK, outlined in the 1957 Defence White Paper which called for piloted warplanes to be replaced by missiles. By the time that the programme was axed later that year, the aircraft had proceeded little past mock-up stage.
Work on the aircraft continued a little longer, however, in the anticipation of continued interest from Germany. The British Ministry of Supply agreed to continue funding development of five of the six prototypes, but nothing was to come of it. The German government had changed its priorities from looking for an interceptor to a strike fighter, leading Saunders-Roe to redesign the aircraft for this role. This was followed immediately by another redesign when Rolls-Royce successfully convinced the German government to replace the de Havilland engine intended for the SR.177 with a Rolls-Royce turbojet. Even with Heinkel preparing to manufacture the aircraft locally under licence, Germany withdrew support and eventually chose to purchase the F-104 Starfighter instead.
This is an Anigrand produced kit so everything that you'll find on a standard Anigrand kit you'll find here. That includes somewhat pronounced engraved panel lines and a number of small molding glitches, mostly air bubble pockets on the ends of things like the wings. Nothing major and all easy enough to fix. There is also flash and some resin attachment bits that will need to be cleaned up. I had one of the fins on the missiles break off during shipment, again, nothing unusual though Anigrand does try to keep this from happening by shipping parts in a compartmentalized plastic bag.
The kit has a nice bang seat and control stick for the interior. That is it. A bit Spartan, but standard for Anigrand. You can spruce things up a bit from your spares box should you wish, though I don't think you'll see much through the small openings in the canopy. Speaking of which, you get two of them in this kit. I appreciate that as often I'll botch one. Another note is that what looks like thick flash behind the intake lip is part of the moveable intake, so don't cut that off. You may want to trim it by about 1/3 as it is a tad too long, but that is about it. One also needs to remove a bulge inside the nose gear door. I'm sure it will need at least a bit of nose weight and there is sufficient room for that.
This is a pre-production kit so does not come with instructions or any sort of markings. I've been told that the production kit will have not only nice instructions but several sets of markings for the prototypes and for the 'whiffer' crowd.
Within a week I get in not one but three British experimental aircraft. This one will be quite a nice if unusual looking plane when it is done. No one can call it sexy, but it sure has a look of purpose about it. Apparently those units that went from aircraft to missiles would be the best bet to do markings for this aircraft, unless one wants to do one of the prototypes, which would probably be in all white like the TSR.2. It should be a relatively painless build and will definitely arouse some conversations when shown to friends.
Thanks to FreightDog Models for the review kit.
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