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White Knight and Spaceship One


Manufacturer: AModel
Scale: 1/72
Product No: AMO72201
MSRP: $35
Materials: Injection molded styrene, photoetched brass, waterslide decals
Available from: Hobby Terra
www.hobbyterra.com
Text By: Neal Izumi Photos By: Valentine Bueno

Check Out Club Meeting: June 2010 Meeting

Featured In: June 2010 Newsletter

 

Amodel's Whbite Knight and Spaceship One in 1/72scale

Spaceship One (SS-1) was the world’s first (and for now only) privately funded suborbital craft. Designed by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, SS-1 was carried aloft on October 4, 2004 by the equally unique White Knight (WK), rocketed to an altitude of 367,442 feet, and in so doing, claimed the Ansari X-Prize.

White Knight

Amodel's Whbite Knight and Spaceship One in 1/72scale

The nose of AModel’s WK and SS-1 are identical as on the real things, and all those tiny windows are thankfully molded with the nose cone as a single part. There are some blemishes to be sanded and polished out, but the windows are acceptably clear.

Amodel's Whbite Knight and Spaceship One in 1/72scale

The builder will need to make a punch to cut masks for the sixteen (!) windows. A little help, Eduard? A quick test fit to the horizontally split fuselage revealed that the nose cone diameter was slightly less than the fuselage. The nose cone is round in section, which is correct; it is the fuselage that will need to be adjusted.

The engine pods have mounting holes, but their locations do not match the pins on the pylons. The photo-etched engine face details represent stators I think, but the vanes should face edge-on into the airflow. Thankfully the fit between the engines, their pylons, and the fuselage are pretty good. As on the real thing, the kit’s engine aft sections are curiously exposed, looking like something out of Star Wars.

Amodel's Whbite Knight and Spaceship One in 1/72scale

The inner surfaces of the upper and lower wing halves will need to be sanded a bit so that they mount flush with each other. Back the outer surfaces with a rigid object to keep the wings from flexing during sanding. The mounting pins for the wings are short, and will not offer any strength whatsoever. These are best replaced with longer metal wires that pass through both inboard and outboard wings.

Amodel's Whbite Knight and Spaceship One in 1/72scale

The twin tail booms trap the landing gear wells and struts. The wells comprise only a roof and rear bulkhead. I am not sure if the forward portion of the well is supposed to be open or not. The instructions do not mention that the landing gear legs and actuators should be painted US Interior Green. Photo etched bits are provided for the landing gear door mounts. The mounting pins molded to the horizontal stabilizers are a tad oversize and will not fit into the holes in the fin tips. Photo-etched control horns are provided for the rudders, but the builder must fabricate the pushrods and clevises. The real setup looks awfully like something from a radio controlled model airplane.

Amodel's Whbite Knight and Spaceship One in 1/72scale

Spaceship-One

Construction of the fuselage is similar to WK’s, in that the canopy and interior parts are identical. The fuselage pieces will need to be tweaked to match the clear nose cone’s round cross section. The wings need a bit of sanding on their insides, just like WK’s. Note that SS-1’s outer wings and stabilizer trailing edges are supposed to be squared off, not sharp-edged.

Amodel's Whbite Knight and Spaceship One in 1/72scale

The spindly landing gear looks fragile, and they mount to precariously tiny points within the fuselage. This will be moot for those modeling SS-1 slung beneath WK. Note that both models will need nose weight to balance properly on their gear.

The rocket engine tube does not reach the back end of the fuselage, and the location for the nozzle is unclear. From photos of the real thing, it appears that it should attach at the end of the fuselage from the outside. The nozzle configuration changed during SS-1’s career, so check your references.

The pylon which SS-1 mates to WK has short pins which should be replaced with wire for greater strength. There are two large anti-sway struts that are missing in the kit, although their locating holes are provided in the lower wings. Refer to photos of the real thing to fabricate the struts.

Amodel's Whbite Knight and Spaceship One in 1/72scale

Conclusion

I had dreamed of an injection molded kit of White Knight / Spaceship One, but never really expected to see one, much less from AModel. The kit is limited run and has a bunch of idiosyncrasies, but it can be built into an eye catching model. Too bad Platz didn’t make the kit, but I am nevertheless grateful that AModel has allowed us to build a model of this groundbreaking aircraft combination. I wonder if they plan on doing the Proteus as well? Recommended to intermediate and advanced modelers.

By the way, I was initially skeptical of ordering anything from the former Soviet Union, but Hobby Terra’s turnaround time was only one week from the “buy this” button being pressed! Their prices are low and if your order is over $150, shipping is free. If you are interested in Russian kits, do not hesitate to check them out!