Douglas D-558-2 "Skyrocket" (1948)
About the Design
In June 1945, the U.S. Navy contracted Douglas Aircraft Co. to build six high-performance research craft to study aerodynamic characteristics at transonic and supersonic speeds. Three straight-wing, jet-powered products of this contract became the D-558-1 "Skystreak" while three swept-wing, rocket-powered versions became the D-558-2 "Skyrocket."
The first "Skyrocket" took to the air in 1948 under the auspices of National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the precursor to today's NASA. After receiving several upgrades, the second plane made history as the first aircraft to reach Mach 2 when it achieved this speed on November 20, 1953, piloted by the legendary A. Scott Crossfield.
All three D-558-2s were retired in 1956. The D-558-2 #2 (which actually bore NACA markings when it broke Mach 2), is currently on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.
Aside: Stock footage of the Skyrocket was used in the syndicated kit-friendly adventure series "Captain Midnight" aka, "Jet Jackson," which first aired in September 1954 and ran for 38 episodes. In that series, the aircraft was dubbed the "Silver Dart."
About the Kit
This all injected-molded plastic kit in 1/65 scale was released by Revell in 1955. It was subsequently re-released several times during the 1960s and 1980s, and finally in 1994 as part of Revell's "Selected Subjects" program.
Some interesting aspects of this model:
• The odd 1/65 scale was the result of Revell engineers designing their first-generation kits to fit pre-existing boxes. It wasn't until some years later that 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 became the hobby's "standard" scales
• As with many first-generation plastic kits, decal designs were actually molded onto the plastic model pieces. (For this model, the raised designs have been sanded off.)
* The model came with an exterior ladder and pilot figure (not shown) so one could re-create the scene on the box art.
This model was built from the 1994 re-release.