Italeri 1/48 U-2R
This is my Italeri 1/48 U-2R, finished as an operational bird.
With the rise of the Cold War, the US military recognized that strategic reconnaissance could not be carried out by the then converted bombers and similar aircraft, as they were extremely vulnerable to Soviet air defense assets.
Whereas Bell, Fairchild and Martin received relevant USAF contracts, Lockheed, despite not receiving any, decided to nevertheless engage their top engineer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson in such a project.
Nicknamed "Dragon Lady", production U-2 provided day and night, high-altitude, all-weather intelligence.
Initially conceived to take off from a dolly and land on a skid, designers came to their senses and a bicycle configuration landing gear was finally adopted, with the wheels located behind the cockpit and engine.
Apart from their active role during the Cold War (the Gary Powers infamous incident included…), U-2s have not only taken part in post-Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but have also supported several multinational NATO operations.
It is an ageless aircraft, proudly serving the USAF for over 50 years, together with B-52, KC-135, and C-130, with its newest models (TR-1, U-2R and U-2S) entering service in the 80s and the latest version undergoing a technical upgrade in 2012. A total of 104 have been built between 1955 and 1989.
This is the venerable 1988 mold Italeri kit, regularly reboxed ever since. It was more or less a simple, straightforward build, the only "real" problem being finding a big enough space to place the quite big model. Should you wish to read the full build review, you may do so by visiting my beloved site Modelingmadness: