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Spiros Pendedekas
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Testors 1/48 SR-71 Blackbird

December 16, 2022 · in Aviation · · 40 · 1K

Known to pilots with many nicknames ("Sled", "Habu", "SR", "Lady in Black" and, of course, "Blackbird"), with performance that in many aspects still remains unsurpassed today, the easily falls into the “Legends of the Skies” category.

Typically covered by a veil of mystery, this fabulous machine with the exotic shape has fascinated and will continue to fascinate even those who do not care about aviation.

It was developed as a top secret military project by Lockheed and its designer Clarence Johnson, with the first flight taking place in 1964.

It was used by the USAF until 1998 and by NASA until 1999, where it was finally retired. Of the 32 built, 12 were lost in accidents, but none by enemy fire.

The high temperatures created by friction in the upper atmosphere during its extended Mach 3+ flights required a range of specially designed materials, including high temperature fuels, sealants, lubricants, wiring and other components.

Ninety-three percent of the aircraft was made of titanium alloy which allowed the aircraft to operate in a mode where temperatures ranged from 450°F (232°C) at its rear middle to 950°F (510°C) near the engine exhaust.

The cockpit canopy was made of special durable glass that could withstand temperatures as high as 640°F (338°C).

Needless to say the SR-71 became a platform for testing and implementing edge technologies, with many of them said to be classified even today. Those included astro-navigation systems, opto-electronics, IRs, laser sensoring, various data acquisition systems and so on.

A worthy successor did not appear, perhaps obviously not needed, due to the advances of other technologies (satellites and the like).

It has been stated, however, that even today there exist “voids” at those “new” technologies that the Blackbird could fill very efficiently!

Nicknamed "ICHIBAN”, the SR-71A s/n 61-17974 was lost on 21 April 1989 over the South China Sea, when, flying at Mach 3+, the port engine disintegrated and shrapnel hit the hydraulic lines, causing a loss of flight controls. Both pilot Lt Col Dan House and RSO Blair Bozek ejected safely and were rescued by native fishermen. This was the last ever Blackbird loss.

This is the venerable kit, definitely superseded by the newest Revell offering, but, still, with some effort, can provide an acceptable result.

Should you wish to read the full build review, you may do so by visiting my beloved site Modelingmdness:

Happy modelling!
Reader reactions:
11  Awesome

40 responses

  1. That’s a beautiful airplane, Spiros @fiveten , you do such excellent work !

  2. Very nice Spiros @fiveten now you can build the new tool release of the Revell version and see how they compare! Your Testors kit came out excellent!

  3. "Clicked like!" 👍 And who wouldn't?!? That is a great looking Blackbird Spiros @fiveten; sinister and sleek, it did look like Mach 3 sitting still. 👽 You did a fine job with that black finish; so well done my friend! 🤗

  4. Fantastic BlackBird, Spiros @fiveten
    You did an amazing job on this really big girl.
    Thanks for sharing all this background information as well.
    Unbelievable that this aircraft already took its first flight in 1964 and achieving these extreme performances.

  5. Great looking Sled, Spiros!
    I normally don't build so-called "modern" aircraft but with your build I may have to add this one to my it's just such a kick A** aircraft.

  6. Very nice Spiros @fiveten. Bet it takes up some serious shelf space. Liked your MM posting of a few days ago.

  7. Way to show me up, Spiros! 😉

  8. Spiros, this kit is a rare beast indeed and you really did it justice mate , I built it years ago and eventually punted it on, mine was pretty good but yours is better , I sold it because it was too big and now I have the 1/48 in the stash...I didn't think that through did I ?
    Great job on this .

  9. Wow, we’re spoiled, two Blackbirds in one week, great build of this classic kit, Spiros, you’ve caught the look very well. Just how long is it in 1/48 scale?

  10. Such a beautiful and inspiring work! Great model, man!

  11. AWESOME Habu. You definitely got the best out of this old gem. Well done Spiros.

  12. Real nice! Must be huge in this scale.

  13. Great work, Spiros. It sure is a big one!

  14. Well done, Spiros (@fiveten). Monotone paint scheme came out perfect. This is a big plane in 1/48!

  15. Spiros that Blackbird really looks great !

  16. Fantastic looking SR-71 Spiros, nice job!

  17. This is excellent! Keep building big models like this and soon you will need a bigger house.

  18. Another excellent, and iconic, model project! Looks fantastic. Park that in your garage?

  19. Wow Spiros @fiveten, this is a brilliant build, the black paint you did looks on point. Perfect to see the detail on it. Really well done. What a great model.

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