This kit is a special edition, re-release of the SR-71A Blackbird. This kit has markings for aircraft 17964, "Bododian Express", a SR-71A from the USAF 9th SRW Det.4 at Mildenhall Air Base England in 1981. This particular aircraft had to make a landing at the emergency recovery base for European flights, Bodo, Norway in 1981. I found the full story of the emergency at the following website - http://www.wvi.com/~sr71webmaster/bodo.html
The kit comes packaged in a large version of the usual Hasegawa cardboard box and contains 1 bag of black parts, 1 bag of clear parts, and markings sheet for the versions in this kit. The black parts consist of 1 sprue of 38 parts and the upper and lower fuselage/wing halves. The clear sprue has 3 parts. All together there are 43 parts in this kit. All panel lines are raised with the control surfaces being recessed. My kit had a little bit of flash on a few of the parts, but none that was difficult to remove. Just be careful to clean up the parts before assembly. There were also some ejector pin marks that will need to be taken care of or they will be seen.
The decal sheet has markings for 2 aircraft, 17964 mentioned above and 17976 from the same unit in 1977. The instruction manual has 8 steps of assembly and a complete markings guide for the older version of the kit. There is an additional markings guide for the 2 aircraft versions included in this kit. The color callouts are for GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby Color and Mr. Color paints. The generic color names are also listed.
Construction starts with the cockpit. I used Tamiya grey primer for the main color in the cockpit, I decided it was close enough to the neutral gray that the instructions call for. The seats were painted Vallejo black with Vallejo olive cushions and Vallejo red headrests. I used masking tape for the harnesses. The instrument panels and side consoles are provided as decals. I didn’t add any nose weight, but I did check and none would be needed to make sure it wasn’t a tail sitter.
After gluing the cockpit to the bottom fuselage half and adding the instrument panels to the top fuselage half, the two halves were joined together. The fit is really good on this kit, the seam is on the bottom side and I didn’t use any filler. I left the intake spikes off until after painting. This makes painting them easier. The exhaust pieces are installed next and fit with no issues. I also left the cans off until after painting was completed. The single piece tails fit perfectly.
I decided to build my kit with the gear up and on a stand that I had in my parts box. I did check the landing gear and it fit with no issues. The only modifications to make the gear doors fit in the closed position was to cut off the tabs on the main gear outer doors (parts C26 and C29). The doors fit perfectly in the closed position.
The nose is split into 2 pieces, upper and lower. They fit together perfectly and the nose piece fits the fuselage perfectly. Be careful of the pitot tube, it is molded with the upper nose piece and sticks out waiting to be broken off. I got lucky and managed to build, paint and decal the aircraft and not break it off. I did hit it a couple of time in my spray booth, but it didn’t break. I had no issues fitting the clear canopy pieces in the closed position.
I was pleasantly surprised with this kit, I used no filler at all on it. Everything fit together very well. I haven’t built a kit with no filler in a long time.
I used a combination of Vallejo Model Color and Tamiya paints depending on the color I needed. I started by spraying the whole aircraft Tamiya Semi-Gloss Black. I then went in and sprayed the centers of the panels with Tamiya NATO Black to try to break up the monotone look. I used a mixture of Vallejo Gunmetal and Black-Gray to paint the insides of the exhaust. I then dry-brushed with Vallejo Natural Steel for the afterburner ring and White on the insides of the exhaust cans. I dry-brushed the outside of the burner cans with a mixture of Vallejo Gunmetal and Black. The pitot tube was painted with Vallejo Natural Steel. I lined the cockpit windows with Vallejo Red to simulate the sealant.
I chose to use the markings for aircraft 17964, "Bododian Express". I used MicroSol and MicroSet on the decals with no issues and the markings settled down nicely with no silvering. Most of the markings went down with no issues, but I did have trouble with the long, red, no step stripes (decals 33 and 34). It was hard to keep them straight and in the correct position. It might have been easier if I had cut them into smaller segments.
Overall, this was a very pleasant kit to build. It is a simple kit and builds up quickly. The fit is excellent. I highly recommend this kit to anyone. I would like to thank Hasegawa, Hobbico, and IPMS for giving me the opportunity to build and review this kit.