X-43 Scramjet (2003)
About the Design
On March 27, 2004, a 12-foot-long, unmanned remote-controlled aircraft equipped with an air-breathing "scramjet" engine -- an engine that has no moving parts and uses a mixture of hydrogen vapor and super-compressed super-sonic air to create thrust -- became the first non-rocket-powered vehicle to go "hypersonic" -- in this case, Mach 7, a full seven times the speed of sound. This was just the second attempt to test NASA's revolutionary scramjet engine -- the first attempt in June 2003 met with failure unrelated to the vehicle itself -- and the short but successful flight of the X-43A proved the feasibility of scramjet-powered flight, a technology that may one day lead to an entirely new breed of high-speed combat and civilian aircraft.
The wedge-shaped X-43A was fixed to a specially modified Pegasus missile and then carried aloft by a NASA B-52B bomber. The Pegasus boosted the X-43A to an altitude of approximately 95,000 feet, at which point the hypersonic aircraft separated and boosted itself to Mach 7 -- in all of about 10 seconds!
About the Kit
This 1/6 resin model was made by ShadowAero, a company specializing in the manufacture of actual full-sized rockets. The kit was first released in 2003 prior to the first X-43A test. It was then re-released in April 2004 in celebration of the craft's first successful flight.
The model consisted of a single-cast resin fuselage/engine piece; the control fins were "printed" on sheet styrene and the modeler was required to cut them out by hand. The kit also came with a separate resin base and a plastic support rod.
This model was built from the 2004 re-release. This was a bagged kit with no box art.