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Old 12-13-2017, 12:53 AM
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dhanners dhanners is offline
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Ken West's X-15A-2

The X-15 is probably the most famous of the "X" planes. Over the course of 199 flights from 1959 to 1968, it expanded our knowledge of rocket-powered flight and winged re-entry. Three X-15s were built -- 66670, 66671 and 66672. After 66671 broke its back in a heavy landing, it was rebuilt with a 28-inch fuselage extension and other modifications and rechristened the X-15A-2. The fuselage stretch held a tank for liquid hydrogen to fuel a supersonic ramjet. (In a bit of irony, the working ramjet never flew so the tank was never used.) It also was capable of carrying two large external tanks for liquid ammonia and liquid oxygen; they provided about 60 extra seconds of powered flight. In October 1967, William Knight set a world speed record for a manned powered aircraft: 4,520 mph.

Despite hitting Mach 6.7, it could be argued the X-15A-2 was a dog. There were numerous aborted launches and in-flight failures. In fact, the X-15A-2's record-setting flight was its last. Although it wascovered in a white ablative coating, heat burned through the structure of the lower tail where a dummy scramjet was attached. The vehicle suffered other damage as well.

Ken West's model of the X-15A-2 hit the market in 2009 (it is available at https://www.ecardmodels.com/index.php/) and its quality and detail easily eclipsed the X-15 models then available. Still does. It included a detailed cockpit and landing gear. I put off building it for years because I'm not a fan of the 'A-2 and I was waiting for the shorter, un-stretched X-15 which Ken said he planned to do. That version has not been forthcoming, so I decided to build the 'A-2.

Ken's model is 1/32nd, but I shrunk it to 1/48th. I built it "in flight," with the cockpit closed, the gear up and the lower tail intact, and I modeled one of the flights without external tanks. Ken's model builds into a great replica, but I added some details to enhance accuracy. The big thing about modeling the X-15 is getting the weathering correct; the vehicle showed signs of heat stress and weathering, and the panels are a mish-mash of shades of blue-black (the vehicle's Inconel construction) or black paint. Ken's model depicts the black panels as gray, which I take issue with, but there's nothing I can do about that. It is also important to get the sheen correct. In looking at photos online, a lot of plastic modelers model the X-15 as matte black, which is incorrect.

It was an enjoyable build. Maybe doing it at 1/32nd scale wouldn't be so bad, but I'd MUCH prefer to model the original X-15, 66670. If only a good kit were available....
Attached Thumbnails
Ken West's X-15A-2-img_5990.jpg   Ken West's X-15A-2-img_5993.jpg   Ken West's X-15A-2-img_5995.jpg   Ken West's X-15A-2-img_5999.jpg   Ken West's X-15A-2-img_5994.jpg  

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  #2  
Old 12-13-2017, 04:25 AM
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Beautiful! And a great job. Just leaving off the tanks already improves the sleek look a lot. How did you get the surface shinier? Toner-based prints instead of inkjet? Or did you use a satin spray varnish?

Like we said in that other thread about this build, it indeed really is a pity there isn't a 'short' X-15 model in this scale/detail available. It seems odd to me that every model designer, be it plastic or paper, always tends to lean to the stretched version. I think the original version is aesthetically more pleasing, having better proportions and all. (just not the first appearance with the long christmas pitot tube, but the first ball nose appearance.)
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Old 12-13-2017, 05:50 AM
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dhanners dhanners is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paper Kosmonaut View Post
Beautiful! And a great job. Just leaving off the tanks already improves the sleek look a lot. How did you get the surface shinier? Toner-based prints instead of inkjet? Or did you use a satin spray varnish?

Like we said in that other thread about this build, it indeed really is a pity there isn't a 'short' X-15 model in this scale/detail available. It seems odd to me that every model designer, be it plastic or paper, always tends to lean to the stretched version. I think the original version is aesthetically more pleasing, having better proportions and all. (just not the first appearance with the long christmas pitot tube, but the first ball nose appearance.)
Thanks for the kind words. I'd like to say the model's finished sheen was the result of carefully chosen printers and inks, but I had the thing printed at my local copy shop and I'm not sure what kind of copiers they have. Part of the sheen comes from finger oils from handling the model while building it, and various matte streaks and sections came from smearing on a tiny bit of glue and then wiping it off.

And yeah, the original X-15 would be a welcome model; if you had alternate versions, you could build it with or without the pitot boom. I'm not convinced this model can't be shortened (Ken says it can't) and if a person has some scratchbuilding skill and ability to repaint graphics, I suspect it could be done.

I should list my alterations. They include:

-- Ken has you glue the horizontal stabilizers directly to the fuselage, but in reality, the stabs are attached at a pivot and in photos, you can see daylight between them and the fuselage side. I added a pivot, a small disk cut from black cardstock, to provide some clearance between the stabilizers and fuselage. (Similarly, you can see a sliver of daylight between the two sections of the vertical stabilizer. I should have modeled that but didn't. I did, however, add sections cut from black cardstock disks and glued them to the separation line at the pivot point; the disks show up in photos of the real thing.)

-- Most rear photos I've seen of the X-15 show a thin row of black and white vertical lines along the trailing edges of the wings and stabilizers. Not sure what it is, but I modeled it. Typed a long row of the letter "i" and printed it out, then cut very thin strips and glued them to the trailing edges.

-- I used a wooden ball to replicate the helium tank at the base of the upper vertical stabilizer. Ken provides a good dome part, but I hate building domes....

-- The rear of the moving section of the upper vertical stabilizer is corrugated, so I cut thin strips from black cardstock and glued them to the kit's piece to simulate the corrugation.

-- The A-2 had some sort of narrow silvery metal plate added to the upper rear fuselage. I cut pieces out of silver cardstock and glued them on.

-- Weathering was done here and there with a white pencil.
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Old 12-13-2017, 06:03 AM
rmks2000 rmks2000 is offline
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Outstanding job. Still one of my favorite aircraft from those exiting times in aviation and space.
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Old 12-13-2017, 06:30 AM
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Texman Texman is offline
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Very nice for sure!
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Old 12-13-2017, 06:43 AM
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rockpaperscissor rockpaperscissor is offline
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Now that's a great looking model. Well done.
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Old 12-13-2017, 06:44 AM
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umtutsut umtutsut is offline
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Most excellent work as always, David!

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Old 12-13-2017, 07:15 AM
Richschindler Richschindler is offline
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Like you I too have toyed with building this kit. Now that Iíve seen it finished I may have to move it up to the top of the, to be built pile.

Absolutely great job, very nicely done.
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Old 12-13-2017, 07:31 AM
elliott elliott is offline
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That's a great-looking model there David.
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Old 12-13-2017, 07:36 AM
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MacSongLi MacSongLi is offline
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Great looking X-15. Very nice build.

Gary
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