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Heritage of Controlled Flight - April 2013

Posted by Tim Kidwell
on Thursday, March 14, 2013

Frederick DeLisi, Staten Island, New York

Frederick writes: “I call this ‘Heritage of Controlled Flight.’ I wanted to show the evolution of controlled flight, from the first plane that flew 120' to the space shuttle that orbited the earth. I chose planes that I felt represented milestones in aviation. So, of course, I had to start with the Revell 1/39 scale Wright Flyer. I made several upgrades to the engine and drivetrain, replacing styrene with metal, when possible, and adding other small details. The next important step in my aviation timeline is Spirit of St. Louis (Revell, 1/48 scale). Much like the real plane, the kit is graceful in its simplicity. Another character in this story, and possibly one of the more significant (and most difficult to acquire), is the Heinkel He 178 (Condor, 1/48 scale). The He 178 made the first successful turbojet-powered flight. Since very little is known of the actual plane (it was destroyed in a bombing raid), the paint scheme is a guess, based on old black and white photographs and an artist’s rendition. Moving along, you can’t have an aviation history lesson without the plane that broke the sound barrier, the Bell X-1 (Revell, 1/32 scale). This has all homemade decals, as the kit’s decals were incorrect for what I was modeling. Next is North American’s X-15A-2 (Special Hobbies, 1/32 scale), the plane that qualified several of its pilots for astronaut wings as it soared above the 62.2 mile altitude requirement. Reading the book Hypersonic: The Story of the North American X-15, (Landis and Jenkins, Specialty, ISBN 978-1-58007-131-4), I knew I had to add the Washburn Observatory Star Tracker package to the top spine. It’s scratchbuilt from styrene tubing and wires.  There are also several scratchbuilt upgrades in the cockpit, including canopy cameras and control panels.  Finally, we have Revell’s 1/144 scale shuttle and stack in Discovery livery. The crawler is kit-provided; I added several scratchbuilt details to better represent the actual MLP.”

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