The good folks at AFV Club have graciously provided a test-shot of their new 1/48 Lockheed U-2A “Dragon Lady” for review. The U-2 is one of the most historically significant aircraft that has been resoundingly underserved by scale modeling. For ages the old Hawk/Testors offering was the only injected styrene option available: no more.
AFV provided the grey and clear styrene sprues and rudimentary instructions for their forthcoming Dragon Lady and I have to say this is a very nice piece of work. No decals, PE, or information on the kit schemes was provided. This review will focus, therefore, on just the styrene components of the kit. A full review of the final production version of the model will be published when it’s available.
In the Box:
The immediate impression is overwhelmingly positive. The inscribed panel lines are scale-appropriate with sufficient and consistent depth. Of note are the nicely done lines of rivets that run adjacent to the inscribed panel lines. Surface details rendered in relief are crisp and beautifully done
Close inspection of the sprue attach points reveals some very nice engineering and design as all the attach points are positioned on the mating surfaces of the parts. There are no attach points on leading or trailing edges: very nice.
Construction begins with a very nicely detailed seat and cockpit. The seat (a product of slide molding) is cast as a single, highly detailed piece that is augmented with additional parts.
The cockpit tub has detailed side panels that will look great under carefully applied paint. The instrument panel is supplied as a well-molded clear part. I suspect a decal for the instrument panel will provided in the production kit.
Next in sequence is the beautifully detailed camera assembly that installs just aft of the cockpit. The multiple camera view ports in the belly are incorporated into a single, clear part: nice.
The nose and tail wheel wells and gear are assembled next. The fidelity of the landing gear parts is very nice and will look great under paint and washes.
The aforementioned assemblies and additional bulkheads are then trapped between the fuselage halves. The intakes, comprised of 3 very nice fitting parts, are then added followed by a dorsal spine piece just aft of the rear canopy.
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It is clear from the design of the fuselage and the presence of an extra (and unused) cockpit tub, that a two-seat trainer version is planned as a future release: cool. Similarly, two different clear belly pieces are provided: one with multiple camera ports and one with a single large window suggesting additional versions are planned.
The speed brakes can be posed open exposing the nicely detailed wells that will look really convincing under paint.
The rather large wings have the same well done inscribing and surface detailing as does the fuselage. The flaps attach by a beautifully replicated piano hinge that looks awesome when assembled.
The fit of all the major components is spot-on. In particular, the fit of the wings to the fuselage is exemplary and results in a join that’s almost ready for paint with no filling or blending.
Likewise, the single-piece horizontal stabilizer/elevator assemblies fit perfectly with no gaps or issues.
The canopy parts are crisply molded and crystal clear. The fit of the front and rear canopy parts is excellent. Similarly, the multi-windowed clear belly part clips in like a Lego.
Not surprisingly this is going to be a rather large model. Pictured next to the U-2 is the Special Hobby 1/48 Wirraway. To prevent sagging of those long wings after assembly, supports and outrigger gear legs are provided.
The canvas sun shield that was placed over the cockpit when the aircraft was held at readiness, is beautifully replicated and will add a nice, seldom seen detail to what is already a very detailed model.
And there you have it. This is simply a beautiful kit that utilizes straightforward simple engineering that will make for a quick and easy build. The surface detail is excellent as is the fit of all the major components. When added to the beautifully molded canopy parts this is going to be a very popular kit, indeed.
Now that I’ve been bitten by this Dragon Lady, a build guide with weekly updates will start on Monday, November 12. I’ll start with the cockpit assembly and end with that final coat of semi-gloss. I’ve been told the kits decals will arrive in time for final assembly so here goes nothing 🙂
Special thanks to AFV Club for providing the test shot.
Now I’ve gotta go prime some U-2 Parts!
More AFV Club U-2A Pics Below: