The TR-1A is/was a development of the famous U-2. The U-2 is a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft with multiple sensor arrays, allowing photo, radar, electronic, and signals intelligence. The original U-2A was developed for the CIA by Lockheed, using a fuselage from the F-104 and extra-long, glider-like wings. This allowed the U-2 to fly at altitudes well above those which could be reached by any other jet aircraft. The U-2’s ability to fly over any area with impunity ended with the development of the Soviet SA-2 Guideline SAM, which shot down Francis Gary Powers over the Soviet Union in 1960 and Major Rudolf Anderson Jr. over Cuba in 1962.
The TR-1A was put into production in the 1980s as a tactical reconnaissance aircraft. It is identifiable by the two large sensor “superpods”, one on each wing. It is identical with the U-2R, and all TR-1s have been redesignated as U-2Rs. The U-2R is larger than the original U-2.
There were only two operators of the TR-1, the USAF and the Nationalist Chinese. The U-2 is supposed to go out of service in 2014.
Building the Kit
This is a nice, simple, and quick build. The cockpit consists of a tub, seat, panel, and control yoke. Once this is painted and assembled, it fits into the fuselage front. The intakes are added, the fairing behind the canopy is added, and the nose cone is put on. The tail section is two fuselage parts with the vertical and horizontal stabilizers added. The center section is the two wings attached to a fuselage section.
The three fuselage sections are assembled with the jet pipe inside the back two sections. The sensor pods on the wing are a front, bottom and rear sections, with the wing providing the top center.
I didn’t need any filler to complete this kit to this point. Everything fit tightly and cleanly against adjoining parts. I did scrape the seam line along the back of the intakes and the nose cone.
OK, a couple of hours into the project, and it’s time to paint.
I put the canopy on to protect the interior. I cut a mask from Tamiya tape to do the windscreen, the canopy rails, the line between the canopy and the windscreen, and the black area above the seat. Once this was done, I painted everything with Floquil Grimy Black. I also hit the detail parts I hadn’t yet taken off the sprues at the same time. I took my time and did the whole thing in about 20 minutes after the mask was installed.
I added a coat of Future to the tail for the decals.
I had decided to do the one from Det 2/9 SRW, which was based at Osan AFB, Korea. One of the times when I was at Osan, I saw a U-2 take off. It looked like it was on an elevator going up.
The decals are great quality, and there are only 3 on each side for this aircraft. A white stripe is at the base of the fin, then the serial number and a unit marking on the tail below the serial.
The ROC aircraft markings are not much more complex, with only national markings added on the fuselage.
I put a coat of Testors Acrylic Flat on to flatten everything.
I added the main landing gear wheels to the struts, and installed these. The U-2 uses a bicycle gear setup reminiscent of the B-47. The wheels on the rear were a challenge, as they’re so tiny. The outrigger wheels went on with no problem, except one of them doesn’t touch the ground. If I were doing this again, I would probably not glue the wings on until I had adjusted them to give a 4-point stance.
Highly recommended. This kit goes together SO well, the color scheme(s) are ultra simple, and everything fits. I’m still a sucker for reconnaissance aircraft, and this one is a winner.
Thanks to Dragon Models USA for the review kit, and to Steve and IPMS/USA for the chance to build it.