by: Luciano Satornetti [ ]
History The U-2R, is significantly larger and more capable than the original aircraft. A tactical reconnaissance version, the TR-1A, first flew in August 1981. A distinguishing feature of these aircraft is the addition of a large instrumentation "superpod" under each wing. Designed for standoff tactical reconnaissance in Europe, the TR-1A was structurally identical to the U-2R. The last U-2 and TR-1 aircraft were delivered to the Air Force in October 1989. In 1992 all TR-1s and U-2s (all U-2Rs) were designated U-2Rs. After upgrading with the F-118-101 engine, the former U-2Rs were designated the U-2S Senior Year.
The Kit The kit arrives in an end opening box which was already showing signs of crush just from its journey through the postal system. A nice artist rendition of a U-2 graces the front of the box while the back has the painting and markings guide, all round the sides are Dragon’s virtues on how great this kit is which to this reviewer is a bit old hat as the slide moulding technique is now several years old and been flogged to death in the advertising. What’s inside the box? Two grey plastic sprues individually bagged, a small zip-loc bag containing the canopy, another small zip-loc bag containing the small decal sheet and a single page instruction sheet.
The plastic part count is forty although three parts are not used and just to add a bit of confusion, the box claims a parts count of over forty five, anyway the parts all show very fine engraved panel lines and where required raised surface detail. The fuselage is made up of four sections which appear to join at panel lines, three of which are one piece ‘slide moulded’ while the rear fuselage is a ‘conventional’ two piece affair. One of the un-used parts is a different nose which hints at a different version coming along. The cockpit is very finely detailed for this small scale with raised detail for the gauges but no decals for the instrument panel so this would need some very fine painting. An interesting item is that Dragon have supplied what they call on the box side ‘Turbojet engine clearly modeled’ but in fact is just a long tapering tube which slides in between the main fuselage section and the rear more to add strength than anything else. The kit does have the option of either raised or lowered landing gear which is a nice feature I wish more manufactures in this scale would follow.
An interesting note is at the bottom of the painting guide on the back of the box is license information with Lockheed Martin but Dragon have not called this kit a Lockheed U-2R.
The Instructions The instructions are on one double sided sheet with a mono copy of the box art at the top of the front page with a parts layout below a guide to symbols and a paint colour call out at the bottom, the paints are listed in GSI Aqueous color, Mr color and Model Master.
The construction stages amount to five the first deals with the cockpit and front fuselage, stage two is the wings and mid fuselage section while stage three is the rear fuselage and tail. Stage four brings all the sections together while the last stage is where the detail and undercarriage are added. The instructions are clear and in Dragon’s standard non colour style. One issue with the instructions are that there are no colour call outs during construction, nothing for the cockpit, air intakes, landing gear bays or jet exhaust this lets the instruction sheet down.
Markings Two options are supplied with this kit both in the standard very dark grey (black) scheme which Dragon list as FS36270 ‘Light grey’ H306 or MM1725, I don’t have access to the Mr color or Model Master paint charts but FS36270 is ‘medium grey’ and still too light a shade for the U-2 so check your references and choose the paint accordingly.
1. Option one: U-2R ‘Black Cat’ of the ROCAF
2. Option two: U-2R 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, RAF Mildenhall 1977
The decals are printed by Cartograf so should be what we can now expect from them although there are very few marking on either aircraft, mainly just the BuNo and tail art.
In Conclusion An interesting kit that some have been waiting a long time for a modern moulding of, it features nice clean very fine engraved detail but is let down by a lack of a detail painting guide and a suspect main colour call out. If Dragon put more into the finish of the product and less into the gimmicky advertising on the box side then they could get a top mark.
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