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Card 1/32 scale
X-15-1, Flight 1-51-81

by David Hanners

X-15-1, Flight 1-51-81


Description

 

This is my build of X-15-1, 66670, as it appeared on Flight 1-51-81, flown by Joe Engle on 10 December 1964. The model is a conversion and digital repaint of Ken West’s 1/32nd-scale X-15A-2. A friend did the repainting, which included adding, deleting and correcting markings on the original model. I did all the reconstruction necessary to convert the longer ‘A-2 into the shorter 66670.

 

 

During the X-15 program, NASA and USAF looked for ways for the vehicle to carry different experiments. One of them was the addition of wingtip pods. They were 58 inches long and weighed 200 lbs. each. They first flew on 66670, on 15 October 1964, and 1-51-81 was their second flight. (Only 66670 and 66672 were wired to carry the pods; 66671 was never fitted with them.)

 

 

One of the objectives of Engle’s flight was to determine if the pods were in the X-15’s “flow field.” Technicians used two different colors of temperature-sensitive paint to determine how hot the pods got. As it happened, they found the pods were indeed in the flow field, causing some experiments to not work as expected.

 

 

I scratchbuilt a number of features and improved the accuracy of others, including the XLR-99 engine. The pods were made out of the ends of wooden knitting needles I found, cut to size and sanded to shape.

 

 

When modeling the X-15, research is a must as there were no “standard” markings, and they often changed from flight to flight. I checked with various sources and it appears there are no photos of 66670 on Flight 1-51-81; by late 1964, photo coverage of X-15 missions was scarce. But there is a good color photo of 66670 taken nine days before the flight. Dennis Jenkins, co-author of “Hypersonic,” told me that is most probably how the vehicle looked for Engle’s flight. In it, 66670 is surprisingly clean, so I went light on the weathering. The temperature-sensitive paint was replicated with spray paints I got at the local pound store.

 

 

On Flight 1-51-81, 66670 carried U.S. AIR FORCE on the side tunnels, although they were uneven. It carried no markings on the wings and lacked roundels on the fuselage. (My research showed 66670 lacked roundels as early as November 1960, and only rarely carried them after that.) The dorsal rudder had the NASA band on the left side only, and the dorsal stub had 66670 on both sides. The wings lacked national markings.

The model parts were printed on 170gsm semi-gloss cardstock.


Model and Text Copyright 2024 by David Hanners
Page Created 3 May, 2024
Last Updated 6 May, 2024

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