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AFTERMARKET REVIEW


Metallic Details SR-71 Blackbird Landing Gear
1:48 Scale

Testor’s 1:48 scale SR-71 Blackbird is a truly classic kit, at least in your reviewer’s opinion.  First released in 1984, it was the first (and still, the only) quarter-scale injection-molded kit of the world-famous Mach 3+ spy plane.  It still stands as being rather well done for that era and can be built into an excellent scale model of the SR-71A or –B with some work.  It does have raised panel lines and is missing the real aircraft’s extensive surface rivet/screw details.  I still love the kit.  I remember how my mom bought the kit for me the day it arrived at Men-at-Arms Hobby Shop in Middle Island, New York.  I may have been seven years old, but I basically wrenched the kit out of her hands (and that was what mom was shooting for, after all!).

Today, we can look back and say that the kit’s most inaccurate and detail-poor areas involve the cockpit, landing gear, and wheel wells.  Beyond being filled with various fictitious details, the gear wells are also notably very shallow.  Still, one cannot to blame Testors, since much of the aircraft was still classified when they designed the kit and they did their best.  For the cockpit, one can turn to True Details who did a nice cast resin replacement more than 10 years back.  But we've been out of luck for the gear and wheel wells…until 2019 when Metallic Details from Ukraine released a trio of 1:48 scale detail sets for the SR-71.  Here, let’s take a look at their landing gear set. 

This Metallic Details SR-71 Blackbird Landing Gear set includes the nose and main gear along with complete replacement nose and main gear wells.  It consists of 47 cast resin parts and 30 photoetched metal parts on three small frets.  The casting is absolutely flawless and replete with detail.  The photoetched metal parts are also very high quality, fabricated out of very thin brass sheet and connected to the fret by very small attachment points. 

First up:  the landing gear.  The nose gear builds up out of eight resin and three photoetched parts.  The detail here is both very accurate and far superior to the kit parts.  Wheel hubs are separate parts which makes painting a breeze.  Further, the wheel hubs just snap right into the tire – tolerances are tight– and nicely done.  That’s no small feat in resin casting.  There’s also the nose gear up-lock hooks and the landing lights.  The main gear each consist of 14 cast resin and five PE metal parts.  Again, these outdo the kit parts by a mile in terms of detail and accuracy.  The wheel hubs are also separate parts from the tires, and the PE scissors (oleos) are awesome.  Tire tread details are present and very finely done.  Also, you can barely read the BF Goodrich manufacturer’s imprimatur and other raised detail on the tire sidewalls.  But – this detail is present and it’s not overdone in this scale.  

Second:  the gear wells.  The gear themselves are quite impressive, but the gear wells are outstanding.  They are remarkably detail rich, with all the structures and plumbing that should be there present and accounted for.  This includes all the major and minor plumbing and wiring.  The design work here is very impressive.  When you look at the gear wells themselves, you can see some very fine line texture to indicate these parts were cast from a CAD designed, 3D-printed master.  The work is very impressive. 

The walls of the nose gear well are filled with some great detail and include wiring bundles, junction boxes, and the two big tanks on the ceiling of the nose gear bay.  If I recall, these are the two 105-liter liquid nitrogen flasks that provided the gas that pressurized and inerted the Blackbird’s internal fuel tanks.  The ground refueling point inside the nose gear well also looks great.  It’s one of many nice touches here.  The main gear wells are perhaps even nicer.  The titanium tire heat shroud that surrounded the main gear tires is excellent. This structure was to serve as a heat shield for the nitrogen-filled tires during Mach 3+ flight, and if a tire blew from overheating, it would hopefully absorb all the damage.  Even the rivet details on their inside surfaces of the shroud are present.  Wire bundles and other structural items also look great here.  This set also provides PE metal replacement nose gear well doors and cast resin main gear well doors.

Do note that a little surgery will be required to fit the wheel bays, particularly since the nose gear wheel well is integral to the lower half of the forward fuselage chine.  Less work will be needed to get the main gear wells integrated into the kit, but definitely test fit until it works.  The instructions, unfortunately, don’t really help out here very much. 

Especially as a student of all things Blackbird, I carefully compared these parts to my collection of SR-71 and YF-12 reference photos along with published images.  Here’s my verdict:  this set provides a very high level of accuracy built upon the foundations of very rigorous research.  This set does justice to the classic Testors 1:48 scale SR-71 Blackbird.  This is outright great work and will go far to improve one of the most unrealistic areas of the Testors Blackbird kit.  In other words, this set will help realize the latent potential within this 35 year-old kit.  To my knowledge, there were no gear/gear well production changes across the SR-71 family to include the YF-12A and A-12, and this set should work for those versions as well.                

Many thanks are owed to Metallic Details for the review sample.  You can find them online and order their products at http://www.metdetails.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/metdetails/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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