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HobbyBoss 1/72 scale Lockheed U-2A "Dragon Lady" plastic model kit review

Quick build and decent detail outshine some inaccuracies
Kit:87270 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$59.99
HobbyBoss (Sample courtesy of Model Recifier Corp.
Excellent exterior and interior detail; excellent fit
Some external scoops and fairings not appropriate for this early U-2; no brake calipers on main wheels; decal and color guide inaccuracies.
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 73 parts; decals
Developed in secrecy and given a “utility” designation to further obscure its primary mission, Lockheed’s U-2 made the headlines in May 1960 when a CIA-operated aircraft was shot down while on a surveillance mission over the Soviet Union.

HobbyBoss’ new 1/72 scale U-2A features fine recessed panel detail on the outside, a decent cockpit, and good wheel-well detail. The decal sheet has three marking options for early U-2As. There is no indication of the “Q Bay” in the fuselage between the intakes where the surveillance cameras and sensors are held. Separate leading-edge fillers and some of the scoops and fairings indicate later U-2 variants are planned.

With only 73 parts, construction is quick and simple; the excellent fit of the parts speeds the assembly process. Intake ducting and bracing for the main wheel strut are molded into the forward wheel well. The eight-part pilot’s seat has good detail, but there is no harness. Instrument panel and consoles receive decal details. A two-part control yoke rounds out the interior.

There are a few boo-boos in the instructions and the moldings. In Step 1, you are directed to open two small holes on top of the fuselage, but you won’t be adding anything there. Just ignore that. Also, the starboard speed-brake well should be labeled B7. The prominent brake calipers are missing from the main wheels.

Wing construction is easy, but the large sensor fairing on the trailing edge of the starboard wing should be removed; it was installed on later U-2s. I carefully sawed it off along with the tiny fuel-dump pipes. The leading edges have separate parts to fill the area where “slipper” tanks were fitted on later versions.

Three air scoops are added to the lower fuselage, but photos of early U-2s show that some were not there originally. Same goes for two tiny clear domes on the nose. I omitted the one in front of the windscreen and filled its hole.

I just had to do the high-visibility test bird at Edwards Air Force Base, so I painted my U-2A with Alclad II Polished Aluminum (No. ALC105) over gloss black and Mr. Color Fluorescent Orange (No. C173) over flat white. The kit’s full-color markings guide doesn’t show the absence of the Day-Glo paint on the ailerons and elevators.

While the kit decal sheet is adequate, the style of the large “U.S. AIR FORCE” on the test bird is not correct, and the bare-metal outlining of some of the letters and the background of the serials on the tail are printed in a muddy gray. I substituted Caracal decals for the very same aircraft.

I spent about double the time painting and decaling as I spent building this nice little kit — 23 hours total. I look forward to later operational versions like the U-2C coming from HobbyBoss.

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