Stratos 4 TSR.2MS

Published: October 2nd, 2011     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: Mike Hinderliter - IPMS# 45124
Scale: 1/72
Company: Airfix
Price: $44.95
Product / Stock #: A08011
Product provided by: Hornby America

My son was really excited when he saw that a model of the Stratos 4 was being put out by Airfix. He is an avid Anime fan and wanted us to build this model together. Before the kit even arrived, he had already brought out his DVDs of the Stratos 4 series. The Stratos 4 series was done by Studio Fantasia and Bandai Visual and directed by Takeshi Mori. The story is about the comet defense system that was formed when, 50 years earlier, scientists discovered that a group of comets was on a collision course with the Earth. The defense system comprises a two-tiered plan - the primary a space-based comet blaster group and the secondary a ground-based meteor sweeper group. The idea is for the space-based Comet Blaster ships to blow up the comets and the ground-based meteor sweeper group cleans up any chunks that remain too big from the initial explosion.

Most of the series follows the female pilots of the ground-based units that are on Shimoji Island in 2024.

The Aircraft

The ground-based meteor sweepers use the TSR.2MS aircraft that is based on the British TSR-2 from the 1960s with a few changes. Airfix has done a really nice job of adding another sprue of parts to include these changes with their original kit. Another plus is, if you aren't into Japanese anime, you can also build the Airfix TSR-2. All of the original parts are there, including the decals and instructions - that's right, you get both sets of instructions. This is definitely a win-win from a marketing aspect.

I watched the interviews on the DVD, given by military commentator Isaku Okabe, about why the TSR-2 was picked for the series. He stated that the TSR-2 was selected because of the aircraft's characteristics. First, it was a supersonic aircraft. Although a British author had said that the TSR-2 platform design could have been able to function up to speeds of Mach 3, its materials wouldn't be able to withstand these conditions. The second reason was that it was an attack aircraft and that there was a lot of space inside dedicated to carrying bombs. Because of that large space, it would be able to hold a lot of rocket fuel and be equipped with a reaction control system.

The main change made from the TSR-2 to a TSR.2MS is adding a RATO system (Rocket Assisted Take Off) so that it could be launched from a TELAR (Transporter Erector Launcher). This is a truck-based method for runway-less take off of interceptor aircraft, similar to surface-to-air missile launchers. This kit doesn't have one, but Airfix magazine has an article showing how to scratchbuild it. The reason for this particular launch style is so that fuel isn't wasted on a runway takeoff, preventing the aircraft from reaching the high altitudes required. When the RATO system gets them to the predetermined altitude, the rockets, located under each wing, are jettisoned. After that, the 3 engines underneath the vertical wing flap are started, giving the aircraft the further acceleration into the higher orbit. The bomb bay has been converted so that it can store liquid fuel for the 3 engines that get it into super-high altitude.

Since the air will be thinner, the wing flaps and vertical rudder will become unresponsive. To fix this, an RCS (Reactive Control System) takes over control, much like the one used by the US space shuttle. It uses the reactions from the gas expelled from either the nose cone or the edges of the main wings.

Finally, when the aircraft gets into range of the meteor, a Titan missile is launched from underneath the main body. All in all, my son taught me an awful lot about this sci fi aircraft, and I did enjoy watching these shows with him.

The Kit

The good news for the aircraft purist is that the kit contains all the parts from the original TSR-2 kit so you can build the TSR-2 prototype or one of the "what-if" aircraft that have been released by several decal makers.

The Changes

Probably the biggest changes are the cockpit and the landing gear. The cockpit is very different on the Stratos 4. The ejection seats have been replaced with bicycle-style seats, with the pilot leaning forward like a Tour de France winner. The theory from the series is that this position allows the pilot and weapons officer to manage the huge acceleration of the RATO lift off. The other theory is that this is Anime, and the girl pilots look sexy in this position.

The landing gear was problematical on the TSR-2. Since it's built gear-up for the Stratos 4, there are few problems with the gear, except the poor fit of the doors.

The other add-ons are the extra engine on the tail and the maneuvering jets on the nose, the underwing rockets, and that huge missile under the fuselage.

Assembly and Painting

Assembly was pretty straightforward. The cockpit required removing some of the framing for the original TSR interior and installation of the bicycle seats and controls. This went pretty well. The canopy for the Stratos is very different from the TSR, and doesn't fit well. I left mine open. So we have an aircraft with the gear up and the canopy open. Next project is to build the TELAR launch vehicle.

Painting was an interesting project. The Stratos has some gray panels on the wings and control surfaces which aren't on the TSR. This solves some of the problems trying to cover all the putty required to get the landing gear doors to fit.

Decals

This is the original decal sheet with a few markings added for the Stratos in one corner of the sheet. The decals went on smoothly, had good adhesion, and displayed no problems getting them to line up and snug down.

Overall

I highly recommend this kit for the Anime fan, or those folks who missed the original Airfix TSR-2 release. The build problems are the same as the original TSR-2, which means any modeler with moderate skills can produce an acceptable model.

Other aircraft which appear in the "Stratos 4" Anime series would really add to the appeal of this kit. They were the Yak-28MST (trainer), SAC-1B Comet Blaster, and Stratos Zero, which is a combination of a B-58, a Backfire and a B-70.

Thanks to Hornby America for the kit, IPMS/USA for the chance to build it, and John Noack for his patience while I applied copious amounts of putty.

  • Cockpit
    Cockpit
  • Cut line for Stratos 4 canopy
    Cut line for Stratos 4 canopy
  • Completed kit
    Completed kit
  • Original and Anime version
    Original and Anime version

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