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F3H Demon in
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SBD Dauntless in
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F-102 Delta Dagger in Detail & Scale
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F-100 Super Sabre
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KIT REVIEW


Hypersonic Models AG-330 Start Cart -- 1:48 Scale

 

The SR-71 Blackbird holds many distinctions, including the title of the fastest operational piloted aircraft in history.  A pair of Pratt & Whitney J58 powerplants (each rated at a maximum output of 32,000 pounds of thrust each) pushed the Blackbird above Mach 3 and altitudes greater than 80,000 feet.  But the J58 would just sit on the ground doing absolutely nothing if it were not for the external start cart that got the engines running.  Here, we take a look at the most recent release from Hypersonic Models: the kit of the AG-330 start cart for the SR-71. 

Unlike most aircraft today that have a self-contained miniaturized turbine to start their engines without any need for ground support, most jet engines before the late 1970s needed some outside help.  The A-12, YF-12, M-21, and SR-71 were no different, and its J58 engines were started with the assistance of the AG-330 start cart.  The unit was positioned under one of the nacelles.  A single, vertical drive shaft was attached to the J58 and got it spinning to up to about 3,200 RPM.  At that point, the engine could maintain its own power and a bright green flash came out of the afterburner nozzle – the color of triethylborane (TEB) igniting the high-flashpoint JP-7 fuel.  Initially, the AG-330 derived its power from a pair of Buick Wildcat V8 internal combustion engines.  By the 1980s, AG-330s switched over to Chevrolet big-block V8 engines.  VROOM!  Even the Blackbird’s start cart was impressive.

This 1:48 scale injection-molded kit of the AG-330 by Hypersonic Models contains 43 parts on four sprues with 21 photoetched metal detail parts on one fret.  There’s also a Cartograf-printed decal sheet with extensive stenciling.  Markings options include early and late colors (yellow and Marine Corps green).  
Strengths:  Hypersonic Models has developed an excellent reputation for their cast resin and photoetched metal detail sets over the last few years.  This is their first foray in injection molded kits.  I’m very happy to say everything here is quite impressive.  The quality of injection molding is as good as anything that’s out there.  Sprue connection points are fairly small, especially when it comes to the finer parts.  Surface detail is great, and the plastic is as smooth as it comes.  Kudos to the folks who did the tooling. Likewise, the photoetched metal parts are beautifully made, thin, and easy to work with.

The set allows you to build either the Buick or Chevy-equipped cart.  Externally, they look nearly the same, but they did differ in their exhaust pipe configuration on the underside of the cart.  This kit contains the parts to build either.  You can also build the engine starter probe as extended or retracted, and the exhaust pipe shields can be positioned closed or open (running) on the Buick version.  The tow bar can be positioned stowed or in the lowered towing position. There are also really nice decals for the dials on the control panel.  The cart tires are also subtly flattened and a little bit bulged.  It’s a nice touch.  The instructions are gorgeously rendered and very clear to follow.

Markings options span early (yellow) and late (green) painted versions of both cart variants.  The instructions provide detailed guidance on the marking and stencil variations for carts at Kadena, Edwards, Beale, and elsewhere.  The decals were printed by Cartograf.  Decals don’t get any better than this.       

Weaknesses:  I’ve got nothing.  This little kit hits a home run.       

This is a great addition to the world of 1:48 scale SR-71 scale modeling.  While AIM (an aftermarket manufacturer based in the U.K.) does a 1:72 scale AG-330, this is the first of its kind in 1:48 scale.  Of course, this is also a taste of things to come from Hypersonic Models: their 1:48 scale new-tool SR-71 is to be soon forthcoming.  Keep up the great work, Hypersonic!  

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Our Most Recent Release!



F-100 Super Sabre in Detail & Scale

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U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
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