iModeler

1/72 Italeri SR-71 Blackbird (13 posts)

  • I started this project about 12 years ago right before my 4th back surgery. I was in a lot of pain and on some serious meds as a result. I dug this out of my stash a couple of weeks ago and it looked like I had been on drugs when started building it. I decided I would finish what I had started all those years ago. The kit itself looks like it’s molded from black tar. the plastic is really soft and panel lines are raised. Nothing fits properly and the whole thing is just a mess. I decided I would display it in flight and at some kind of dramatic angle. I added the mounting point using some Evergreen plastic square tube. Getting the angle was a bit tricky, but it all worked out. The landing great doors are going to require additional work in order to properly blend everything into the fuselage. The seams ( and all the raised panel lines) will be re-scribed later. The thing is a total mess now, but stay tuned for more updates.

    4 attached images. Click to enlarge

    Tags: 1/72 Italeri, Blackbird, Spy Plane, SR-71

  • Hey George,I once built the Testors kit in 1/48 that looks to be identical to yours in everything but size ,stick with it pal it will look great when it’s done and black hides a multitude of sins !
    N.

  • Thanks, Neil. I think it’s going to look great.

  • I was inspired to pick up an SR-71 when I saw a 1/48 version nicely done at a contest a few years ago. I’ve already bought some paint that I was going to “test” on it, and was considering it a challenge to figure out how to use some subtle weathering to try to make it pop a bit more from that monochromatic finish. I’m counting on you to give me some creative ideas!!!

  • Hey Greg- I’ve been wanting to do an all black plane for a while. I think getting the finish right will be the real challenge. We have an SR-71 here at the Evergreen Aviation Museum that I’m going to go take a look at before I paint this thing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give you some ideas. The pressure is on.

  • This ought to look great when its done! There are some ‘warts’ with every 1/72 Blackbird kit that’s available. Viper Enforcer did a great comparison post back in 2010 on them:

    From what I’ve learned, the Monogram kit is slightly better; primairly in the main fuselage, though the cockpit sill opening is too wide. Tony Landis and I were talking about this last week when I was doing some business at NASA. He gave me a but-load of SR-71 and ACTIVE F-15 reference material. As we talked about kits, he mentioned the Monogram SR was one of the better ones in 72nd, with Italeri a close second. Here’s a synopsis of what I compiled so far:

    The two best 72nd SRs are the Monogram and Italeri kit, in that order. Both have some accuracy and shape issues, but overall Monogram has the better Blackbird.
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    Monogram SR-71:
    Monogram has the best lines for an SR, as the fuselage and spine are nice and straight. It also doesn’t have a droopy/sagging profile problem in the lower aft fuselage. The wing fillets and engine nacelles have the best proportions of any kit. The wing corrugations are also the best.

    The upper vertical tail straight profiles should be more rounded. There is also a beef up plate on the outboard of each vertical tail which should be removed or sanded down. This might have been taken from one of the test SR-7s that had similar plating, which was not carried over to the production SRs. The wingtip camber is decent, but could have been a little better defined.

    The Monogram SR has the most accurate cockpit/canopy side profile out of all the SR kits. The only problem is that the cockpit sill (opening) dimension is too wide, resulting in a noticeable bulged out cockpit area. This gives a pudgy appearance to the cockpit fuselage sides, when viewed from above. Also note that the canopies do not fit all that well in the closed positions. Some adjustments will be in order to get them to fit well.

    The MLG, MLG wheels, and wheel wells of the Monogram are more accurate (though a bit soft) and better detailed than Italeri’s gear/gear wells. The wheel wells do lack depth though, but then again, so do the rest SR kits.

    Monogram’s SR kit is the only one to have a detailed cockpit that actually looks the part. They also include two well detail crew members. Even so, the seats could use some improvement, but are still better than the unrecognizable chairs that come in the other SR kits.

    Engine nacelle contours are a bit too subtle, as they should taper a bit more sharply toward the nose cones. This will not be an easy fix. Monogram’s Exhaust nozzles are set partially closed, which in the powered off mode should be full open. The interior nozzle detail is lacking and not near as well done as Italeri’s. Monogram really dropped the ball here.

    A D-21 drone is included and has a similar nacelle contour issue.

    Italeri SR-71
    The canopy side profile is flat out wrong. It’s more representative of an A-12 than an SR-71. Italeri’s SR would serve as a better basis to make an A-12 than an SR-71.

    The front windscreen wedge (a later mod to help dissipate heat) in missing, but then again it’s missing from the rest of the SR kits. There is practically no raised cockpit surface detail and the console and instro panel decals provided, are a joke. The instro panels have some raised detail, but they pale in comparison to Monogram’s.

    Italeri’s SR nose is short, being somewhere between the A-12 and SR-71. The nose is also too shallow for an SR and the forward RWR antenna fairings are totally wrong. The lower aft fuselage (aft of the MLG wheel wells), has a drooping/sagging profile, which will be no easy fix. The forward fuselage spine profile is off and the upper aft fuselage has a much too aggressive contour towards the tail cone.

    While the wing corrugations are for the most part represented, they are somewhat crude and not as near as nice as they are on the Monogram kit. Wingtip camber is well done and probably the better of the two kits.

    The main gear struts and wheels are tooled quite nice, but lack detail and are not all that accurate. The wheel wells are ok, but are too shallow and again are lacking detail.

    Italeri’s SR has the worst fit out of the lot. The fit is real bad of the radome and tail cone to the main fuselage. While it may have the worst fit, it does have the most options. The SR-71B 2 seat trainer version can be built from the same kit. Italeri also offers the YF-12 variant in separate kit form, though it’s real hard to find.

    The Exhaust nozzles have a slight closed configuration, though still more open than Monogram’s. The Italeri exhausts are the only ones that have ribbing detail on the inner nozzle segments.

    Hasegawa SR-71
    The Hasegawa kit has some real shape issues with a narrow canopy (poor upper profile), sagging rear end, over scaled nacelle spike cones, and the fuselage cross section is proportionally to narrow. The landing gear though well tooled, is not all that accurate.
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    Overall the Monogram is more accurately shaped than the Italeri kit, as well as better detailed. It’ll serve as a better basis for an accurate SR-71 in 72nd, though it will need some work. Until some new aftermarket sets are made, to build the an accurate SR it’s going to take parts from the Italeri (like the exhaust) and some scratch building to turn out a truly accurate SR. That is, until some new aftermarket sets are made.

  • Hi Lee- Thanks for the most comprehensive review ever! fantastic research and writing. I’m not at all familiar with the SR-71, but at least now I know how bad these kits are. The Italeri kit is a mess, but hopefully I’ll be able to make it into a decent representation. I’ve put it down for a few days because I want to finish my MiG-31, first. There’s an SR at the Evergreen museum in McMinnville, OR that’s not too far from here that I might go take a look at this week. I’ll take some pics and post them if I go.

  • No sweat, George! I kept this when I found it back in 2010. It’s incredibly useful to know and I hope it doesn’t deter you from finishing yours. I think you will do a terrific job! If you go to Evergreen I know we would welcome some pics for sure. BTW, did you figure out what decals/markings you are going to use?

  • Hey Lee- Thanks. Haven’t figured out what markings to use, yet. The decals that came with the kit are in pretty bad shape so I have to buy an aftermarket set. I started re-scribing panel lines a few days ago and made some good progress with that. The plastic is really soft and scribes easily.

  • I always feel like such a pup in these conversations. Historical accuracy is a daunting task when it comes to these things, and when information like this comes to us we are fortunate.

  • Yes, we are fortunate. Generally, I don’t stick to historical accuracy as it can get too obsessive at times taking away from the enjoyment. My models are usually a composite of what I like in a particular aircraft. To me, it’s more of an artistic interpretation than a miniature clone of the real thing.

  • There’s also one at the San Diego air museum in Balboa Park. It’s up on a pylon.

  • On Snakes old site, there was a guy who did “what ifs”. One of them was an A-12 in ADC gray with squadron insignia, in a lineup of real and proposed fighters, like the F-108 Rapier, no less.