Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

U-2R / TR-1 Fuselage Update

 

Model Picture
U-2_FuselageUpdate-00

Actual U-2R/S Wheel Bay

Cutting Edge Modelworks

 

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number, Description and Price:

CEC48442 U-2R/S/TR-1 Forward wheel well bay, landing gear, and seamless air intakes

Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: TBA
Price: USD$19.99 available online from Meteor Productions website
Review Type: Preview and Detailed Look

 

Previewed by David W. Aungst
 


HyperScale is proudly sponsored by Meteor Productions


 

FirstLook

 

Cutting Edge is about to release three new update sets for the late generation U-2. I made the masters for all three sets. I'll appologize here up front for my enthusiasm about them. I am overjoyed with the way the resin pieces came out and look forward to using them in my current U-2S model. I'll try to keep the text objective here and let the pictures of the pieces do the talking, but my enthusiasm will likely bubble through.

I am only going to show the peices as they come out of the set in this review. Expect to see a built-up U-2S in the coming months on HyperScale using all these sets.

This review is on the Fuselage Update Set (CEC48442).


 

An Update Set Is Born

This set started simply as me wanting to make a better looking version of the main wheel well. What Italeri provides in the kit is not even close to what it should look like. They provide a shallow box that is not even deep enough to hold the wheels. My first attempt to fix this (working blind with no real documentation) was nothing more than deepening the forward section and adding some wiring.

 

Kit Main Wheel Well
Kit Main Wheel Well
Re-Built Main Wheel Well
Re-Built Main Wheel Well

 

Then, I received a set of pictures from Dave Roof that included a few main wheel bay shots. Now I had more information on the area than I really wanted to know. After some long study of the pictures and more than a little soul searching, I decided to take the plunge and attempt to scratch-build a new main wheel bay. The scratch-built wheel bay would not use any of the already modified kit main wheel well, so if I failed in my attempt to make a correct wheel bay, I could always fall back on the usage of the modified kit part.

Without getting into a lot of description, I took sheet styrene (mostly 0.030" thickness) and started cutting pieces and assembling them to match what I was seeing in the pictures. I cut two pieces to be the bulkheads at the front and rear of the bay. I cut, bent, and assembled pieces to create the "V" formed by the inner sides of the ducting. I cut a series of styrene circles and cut them into quarters, then attached them to the sides of the "V" to act as formers for the rounded outer sides of the ducting (step 1, below). With this built up, I then skinned the ducting in 0.005" sheet styrene (step 2, below).

The scratch-built unit (up to this point) created the basic shapes of the wheel bay. After some more dry-fitting of the new unit to verify that it still fit in the fuselage, I started adding the minor details like structural ribbing, actuators, and nitrogen bottles (step 3, below). I added mounting points on the rear wall for the landing gear strut and built-up the center position where the strut's retraction arm attaches. I was starting to get rather excited at the look of the new main wheel bay.

 

Step 1:  Basic Shapes
Step 1: Basic Shapes
Step 2:  Skinned Ducting
Step 2: Skinned Ducting
Step 3:  Details Added
Step 3: Details Added

 

With this killer wheel bay shaping up, now the kit landing gear strut just looked bad. I had already cut down the two mounting pivots so the piece could be added after the fuselage was assembled. I knew I wanted to add the reinforcing braces, but I was originally thinking that I would not do anything else to the gear strut. Closer study of Dave Roof's pictures showed that I could improve the gear strut and, specifically, the retraction linkage. I set off making a better retraction linkage using assorted sizes of Evergreen strip and rod stock. I also used several disks punched out with my Wadron punch set. The results are shown below.

 

Wheel Bay Forward Bulkhead
Wheel Bay Forward Bulkhead
Main Landing Gear Strut: Kit and Re-built
Main Landing Gear Strut: Kit and Re-built

 

All along this time I was e-mailing with "Mike B" in Canada. He commented that I really needed to make these pieces available to someone to be cast up into a resin update set. This made sense. I wanted to build at least two U-2R/S models and I sure did not want to do this scratch building a second time. Since I had worked with Meteor Productions before, they were the natural choice for me to talk to on this topic. Obviously, they were interested.

I made a series of modifications to the wheel bay to make it more cast-able. Most of this related to making the intake ducting into separate add-on pieces. I also added a bunch of 0.005" sheet styrene relief cuts so that the main landing gear strut could be cast as a one-piece molding.

 

Main Wheel Bay, Modified for Casting
Main Wheel Bay, Modified for Casting
Main Landing Gear Strut, Modified for Casting
Main Landing Gear Strut, Modified for Casting

 

 

The Update Set Described

The set is made up of 13 pieces. Most are molded in the medium gray resin that we have come to expect from Cutting Edge. There is also a small sprue of clear red resin for the anti-collision lights. There were no molding imperfections in the test pieces sent to me.

 

The Full Update Set
The Full Update Set

 

The centerpiece of this set is the full main wheel bay. I am very impressed at the casting process and how well it captured all the detail that I had in the original master piece. Casting does have limits on what it can do, though. Most of the wiring in the wheel bay stands well away for the inner surfaces. To simplify things, and because I did not want to incorrectly represent the wiring just for casting purposes, I chose to leave the wiring off the master piece. It will not be difficult to add to the casting. Pictures in the instruction sheet provide instruction on where the wiring is found. Flashed over holes in the front and rear bulkheads provide location information on the wiring.

 

Main Wheel Bay, Looking Rearward
Main Wheel Bay, Looking Rearward
Main Wheel Bay, Looking Foreward
Main Wheel Bay, Looking Foreward

 

The intake ducting attaches to the sides of the wheel bay as seen below. The main landing gear strut is a one-piece casting. Fearing the structural weaknesses that a multi-piece strut would have introduced, I made a point of trying to get the main landing gear strut to be a single piece. It means there are some excess mold marks and flash to remove from the piece, but the strength of a one-piece strut is worth this little headache.

 

Main Wheel Bay, Ducts Attached
Main Wheel Bay, Ducts Attached
Main Landing Gear Strut
Main Landing Gear Strut

 

Extending the ducting forward, the set provides replacement intake pieces. These are one-piece seamless intakes that directly replace the kit intake pieces. The ECM blisters found on all the later aircraft are molded in place on the intake sides. I felt it was easier ot file the ECM dimples off than it would be to have to add them. Hence, if the aircraft being modeled does not need the ECM dimples, remove them.

 

Forward Intake Pieces
Forward Intake Pieces
View Back the Assembled Intake
View Back the Assembled Intake

 

Beyond the wheel bay and engine intakes, the set also provides a few items missing from the Italeri kit to update it to more current configurations. Both the forward and rear data link antenna bulges are provided. The two bulges reflect the shapes of the later style data link fairing found on current U-2S aircraft. Also, the PLSS cooling intake scoop found on the left fuselage side is provided.

 

Data Link Bulges
Data Link Bulges
PLSS Cooling Scoop
PLSS Cooling Scoop
Anti-Collision Lights
Anti-Collision Lights

 

The final items in the set are clear red castings of the anti-collision lights. The set provides three lights. On early airframes (before the introduction of Senior Span/Spur), only two lights were on the aircraft. When the airframe is updated to support Senior Span/Spur, the upper light is deleted and replaced by two lights moved further back the spine and separated by about eighteen inches.

 

 

Conclusion

 

I wrote this review to show a little of what goes into the making of a set of masters for a resin kit update. And, of course, I wrote this to show off the new set. The castings caught every detail of my original masters with great clarity. As the designer of the masters, I do not think it is my place to recommend this set or not. I will let the pictures in this posting speak for themselves and leave any recommendations to a more objective reviewer.

As many people have noted, the list of statistics at the end of each of my project postings makes me a true "bean counter". This posting would not be complete without listing my time spent on the project. For the record, on all three U-2R/S update sets collectively, I spent 86.2 hours (5.9 on research, 80.3 on contruction). Very few models in my built collection have reached this high a number of working hours. Wanting to build more than just one U-2R/S (eventually), the time spent here will save me time in having to scratch-build all these items for each U-2 model that I build.

 

 

References

 

(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 21 April, 2003
Last updated 14 August, 2003

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reviews Page