Willy Ley Orbital Rocket (1958)
About the Design
The Orbital Rocket was the military variant of the Passenger Rocket designed by German émigré Willy Ley. Instead of a suborbital airliner, this craft's payload was a stubby-winged "United States Space Force" spaceplane capable of performing high-altitude reconnaissance missions as well as ferrying military personnel to and from orbiting space stations.
To boost the spaceplane to orbital velocity, the winged reusable launch vehicle carried additional side-mounted fuel tanks and a disposable "second stage" mounted directly to the orbiter.
About the Kit
Unlike the Passenger Rocket, the Orbital Rocket was issued just once -- in 1958 -- and has yet to be re-released. The kit included the same launch vehicle as the Passenger Rocket (molded in blue instead of red) as well as an identical display stand. However, the orbiter, cylindrical second stage, side-mounted fuel tanks and decals were all unique to this variant.
Today, the Willy Ley Orbital Rocket is extremely difficult to find, even on the collector's market.
This model was built from an original issue.