FDL-5 Hypersonic Research Craft (1969)
About the Design
In the 1960s, Lockheed and the U.S. Air Force's Flight Dynamics Laboratory (FDL) explored several design concepts for hypersonic flight. The three principal vehicles -- the FDL-5, the FDL-6 and the FDL-7 -- all looked markedly different, although all were based on 70-degree triangles.
The FDL-5 was distinguished by its variable-geometry wings, which could be extended for controlled landings. One proposal called for the craft to be carried aloft in the belly of a C-5 Galaxy transport and then released at high altitude, at which point three conjoined solid-rocket boosters would boost it into orbit.
Photos of Lockheed's full-scale FDL-5 mockup have been widely circulated, but the flat, Project Gemini-like cockpit windows shown in these pictures do not conform to the demands of hypersonic vehicles. Recently acquired documents suggest that the FDL-5's cockpit actually blended with the craft's overall body contours, which makes far more aerodynamic sense.
Some believe that the FDL-5 actually flew in 1969. If so, this makes the FDL-5 America's first reusable spacecraft!
About the Kit
Fantastic Plastic's FDL-5 Hypersonic Research Craft kit was released in November 2011. The model was designed in CAD by Chis Corke and then grown using stereo lithography. Casting was by BLAP! Models with USAF/NASA decal options provided by JBOT.
With booster, the entire model was 18 inches long. Without the booster, it could be built with landing gear down and control flaps deployed. The model also included a detailed cockpit with three suited astronaut figures.