Douglas D-558-1 "Skystreak" (1947)
About the Design
In 1945, the U.S. Navy and NACA (later NASA), formed a joint venture to produce a jet-powered aircraft to test airframe performances at transonic and supersonic speeds. First flown in 1947, the Douglas D-558-1 "Skystreak" was built from a combination of exotic magnesium and more conventional aluminum alloys. Its entire front section, including the cockpit, could be jettisoned in case of emergency.
Originally nicknamed "The Crimson Test Tube" because of its bright red color, the Skystreak was eventually painted white for better tracking during tests. In total, three Skystreaks were built, the first setting several speed records during its initial testing phase. (These records were quickly shattered in subsequent flights -- and by other American test aircraft.)
Although the Skystreak could only go supersonic in dives, the plane flew successfully until 1953, when it was officially retired. The third and only surviving copy now resides at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, N.C.
About the Kit
This is a limited-run injection-molded styrene kit from Meikraft Models, a virtual "one-man shop" in Dallas, Texas, that produced simple but acceptably accurate aircraft models during the mid-to-late 1980s. In total, only 289 copies of this particular kit were produced, making any surviving kit a true collector's item. Although the kit came with landing gear, the pieces were a bit oversized and clunky, so I decided to built it "wheels" up.
Until Special Hobby came out with its D-558-1kit in 2008, this was the only styrene model of the Skystreak available in 1:72 scale. (Allyn Models had produced a highly simplified Skystreak in the 1950s, but it was in 1:48.)
This model was built from an original issue.