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U-2 Senior Span / Spear Update Set


Cutting Edge Modelworks



S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number, Description

CEC48104 U-2 Senior Span/Spear Update Set

Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: See text and images
Price: USD$19.99 available online from Meteor Productions website
Review Type: FirstLook Review
Recommendation Recommended


Reviewed by David W. Aungst

HyperScale is proudly sponsored by Meteor Productions




Back in 1998, Cutting Edge released a few update sets for the Testors / Italeri U-2R/S / TR-1 "Dragon Lady". The most extensive of the sets was the Senior Span/Spear set with its dorsal antenna pod mounted on a large pylon, a canoe fairing under one super pod, and lots of varying shaped blade antennae.

I immediately picked up one of these sets when it was first released. I liked what I saw in the pack, but then I shelved it until now to finally get it out and build it. More recently (just last year), Italeri released a new U-2R "Senior Span" kit that provides in the box all the parts provided by Cutting Edge in their Senior Span/Spur/Spear set. In order to investigate what Italeri added to the kit in their new release, I ended up picking one up. The following review is for the Cutting Edge release and contrasts it against the Italeri pieces from the new "Senior Span" kit..



The Update Set Described



The Full Update Set
The Full Update Set


My first impression of the Cutting Edge set was quite good. Everything looked to be good for whenever time I decided to build the model. Now that the time has arrived, I have spent a lot more time reviewing and investigating the details of this set, comparing it against various pictures.

Close inspection of the Senior Span/Spur/Spear set showed the outline of the Senior Span dorsal antenna pod was a bit off. It is not a lot off, but just enough to change the "feel" of the pod. It is a bit too fat and shortened in length by about a scale foot. This was the biggest reason I picked up the new U-2R "Senior Span" Italeri kit -- I wanted to see how Italeri did on the shape of their pod. As it turned out, the Italeri pod was a better match to the shape I saw in my pictures.

The Senior Spear canoe fairing for the left super pod was another place the Cutting Edge and Italeri pieces were different. Both are about the same length, but the Italeri part has a bit more refined shape. Determining detail shape variations on a predominately black airframe is not easy. Thus, I have not yet decided which I like better or which better matched my pictures -- Cutting Edge or Italeri. I will leave that for you to decide.

The differences in the parts between Cutting Edge and Italeri seem to come down to having access to the aircraft. Cutting Edge likely had only pictures to work with (many being taken at the 1996 Andrews AFB air show where I got my pictures). It seems pretty obvious that Italeri got direct access to a U-2R Senior Span at some point, thus allowing them to be more precise on their pieces. The differences are not really enough to detract from the model. If I did not have the Italeri pieces to use, the Cutting Edge ones would look good on the finished model.


Senior Span Pods
Senior Span Pods
Senior Spear Canoe Fairings
Senior Spear Canoe Fairings


The Senior Spear blade antennae present a different problem. Both the Italeri and Cutting Edge antennae are the same size. The Cutting Edge antennae have a nicer shape and "feel" to them. The trouble is that they are all too big. Attached to the model, they hit the ground and prevent the tail wheel from touching. Fixing this seemed a simple proposition -- cut down the antennae to a workable height. It is more complicated than this, though.

The "hockey stick" shaped blade antennae are the big issue. Cutting Edge has them in the correct proportions to start with. Thus, chopping them to be shorter makes them look too wide. Call me anal, but I can not accept this. So, I'll likely end up scratch-building a new set of the antennae so they will be in the correct proportions.


Senior Spear Blade Antennae
Senior Spear Blade Antennae


The Cutting Edge instructions for placing these antennae on the model state that various configurations exist. Indeed, the Cutting Edge instructions show different locations for the antennae than the Italeri instructions do. The best option here is to know the aircraft you are building and go from there. The Cutting Edge instructions are correct for the antennae locations on the aircraft that was at the 1996 Andrews AFB air show.





If you already have the old Testors / Italeri U-2R/S / TR-1 "Dragon Lady" kit (not the "Senior Span" release) and want to do a Senior Span update to the model, getting the Cutting Edge set is the less expensive way to go. The only real issue is the size of the blade antennae. You as a modeler can choose the way that best suites you to resolve this size issue when building your model.






(Newest to Oldest)

  • U-2R/S Walk Around by David W Aungst
    On-Line HyperScale Reference, 2003

  • U-2: The Second Generation by Chris Pocock
    World Airpower Journal, Volume 28, AirTime Publishing, 1997

  • Dragon Lady by Ted Carlson / Toyokazu Matsuzaki
    Koku-Fan Magazine, Volume 1996-04, Bunrin-Do Company, Limited, 1996

  • Recce Tech by Paul F Crickmore
    Osprey Color Series, Osprey Aerospace Publishing, 1989

  • U-2 Spyplane in Action by Larry Davis
    , Squadron In Action #86, Squadron Publishing, 1988/2002

  • Lockheed U-2R/TR-1 by Jay Miller
    AeroFax MiniGraph #28, AeroFax, Inc., 1988

  • Lockheed U-2 by Jay Miller
    AeroFax AeroGraph #3, AeroFax, Inc., 1983


Cutting Edge Modelworks products are available online from Meteor Productions website

Images and Information Copyright 2003 David W. Aungst
This Page Created on 24 April, 2003
Last updated 14 August, 2003

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