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Anigrand's 1/72 scale
Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak


Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak

or, Train guys don’t know how to cut plastic!

by Bill Dye

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I never built a resin kit before.  Vacuforms were challenging enough.  Horror stories of grinding diamond hard surfaces; sagging landing gear struts and air bubbles the size of walnuts came to mind.  But then somewhere I found out about Anigrand.  They are making 1/72nd scale resin model airplanes many of which, of course, I had already purchased the vacuform version years ago – except for the Rainbow. That one I just plunked down some bucks for the vac version, plus extra parts, only to find out that these guys have a resin version out for, true, just a tad more money, but hey, it’s resin. Oh well, I’ll save my money for the Martin Sea Master; that one I don’t have yet. 

The kits Anigrand produce are, for me, like gifts from above (trumpets here).  Some of their subjects I remember seeing in magazines when I was little but I never saw a kit of them; not even a vac – at least none that I knew of.  They have stuff like the four engine tilt wing airplane, the four engine ducted fan looking thing and even a Mixmaster, Sky Lancer and of course the XF-84H Thunderscreech because I just finished the vac kit; shoot me now!   



So, I took the plunge and, being a sucker for prototypes and the unusual, I bought the Skystreak, the Cutlass, the XB-46 and the Sky Lancer.  When they arrived only 2 weeks later I opened the package that would be a stamp collectors dream and found there were only two boxes.  What gives?  I ordered four kits.  I opened the XB-46 and the Sky Lancer boxes and found that they had taken the contents out of the other two smaller kits, neatly folded the boxes and put them inside.  Pretty clever! 

I looked at the Skystreak and thought, ‘It’s a tube with wings; should be the easiest to build . . . . I think I’ll do that one first.’  I bought a book about building resin models1 and after realizing that plastic glue was not for these kits, I grabbed my trusty epoxy and super glue and dug in.  But wait . . the real aircraft blurb:

Historical Background

“The Douglas Skystreak (D-558-1 or D-558-I) was designed in 1945 by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, in conjunction with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The Skystreaks were turbojet powered aircraft that took off from the ground under their own power and had straight wings and tails. 

Conceived in 1945, the D-558-I Skystreak was among the early transonic research airplanes like X-1, X-4, X-5, and XF-92A. Three of the single-seat, straight-wing aircraft flew in a joint program involving the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the Navy-Marine Corps, and the Douglas Aircraft Co. from 1947 to 1953. In the process, the Skystreaks set several world speed records. All three D-558-1 Skystreaks were powered by Allison J35-A-11 turbojet engines producing 5,000 pounds-force (22 kN) of thrust.”2


Anigrand's Skystreak in the box

Well it’s pretty basic, a tube fuselage in halves with nice wings and horizontal stabilizers.  It was so nice not having to scrape the trailing edges of the flying surfaces as one does for vac kits.  To pick up a wing and have thin trailing edges right there . . already done!  I realized just how much of a drag vac trailing edges are for me.  These were quite nice. 



The little bits – gears, doors, cockpit, etc. – were nice; not very much flash on any of the parts and very delicate looking – at least compared to what I’m used to, and since I broke a gear door hinge strut trying to get it cleaned up. 

I particularly enjoyed the fact that molded into the wings and fuselage were the wheel wells with detail!  WOW I’m not used to that!  The holes for the gears protruded through the top surface of the wings but a dab of putty and it was gone.  The cockpit was sparse but that didn’t bother me since I wanted to build the all metal canopy version.  . . well, the whole canopy wasn’t metal . . I mean ‘cuz if it were all metal then the guy couldn’t see out . . . . it’s the almost all metal one with the teeny weenie windows that I wanted to do.






I put enough weight in the nose to counter balance a bowling team with balls, so to speak.  I added the control panel (habit), put in the intake splitter and glued the halves together. 

I filled the too deep and too wide for my taste panel lines with TAMIA putty and/or Mr. Surfacer.  But that was after I tried superglue. Yikes! The resin is soft and it was a job trying to sand the super glue without marring the resin even after only about an hour and a half of drying.  The super glue wasn’t even at that ‘hard as a diamond’ state yet.  First resin lesson for me: don’t use super glue to fill panel lines.  

Let’s see, very small cockpit with teeny weenie windows. What to do? Solution:  gloss black interior, put canopy on and hope Plastic Model proctologists with flashlights and magnifiers don’t peer in and see what’s not going on in there.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The Tail

But wait.  A reference photograph I had3 was taken exactly from the side looking right down the wing centerline. Something was wrong with the tail. I looked at the model kit tail and then the photo and then the kit tail and then the photo.  I held a fuselage half with the kit tail propped up against the photo. Hmmmm.  The kit tail looked kind a like a DC-6 tail.  Not only that, but the slot for the horizontal stabilizers had a couple of degrees of incidence.  Was it too far aft? Nope. Too far forward? Nope. Was it just me? Maybe, but I didn’t think so. 

The photograph of the real a/c showed that the tail had a more pronounced ‘hook’ in the leading edge and the horizontal stabs were at zero degrees incidence.  I debated.  I don’t fix things that I have to measure to see if they’re out a whack.  But this . . . this, to me, was out a whack.  So, I decided to make a new tail.  I measured the thickness at the base and it was not quite 0.10 inches thick. 

I went to a train shop because they sold plastic sheet and I wanted to see if they had an N scale box car I wanted – oh, sorry, wrong hobby.  I found some .080” white plastic; close enough.  The guy at the counter, who always wants to know ‘Why are you doing it that way?’, and, oh by the way, ‘you can do it better my way,’ says, “Oh man this stuff is really tough to cut, you have to use a jig saw; you sure you want plastic that thick?” 

I was tired of being polite.  I was a tad . . ‘pointed’.  I mean, I had a bad day – with the tail out of whack and all and, oh yeah, work stuff too, so I said, “No, it’s not tough to cut and yes I need it that thick.” 

“So, how do you think you’re going to cut it?” as he looked down his nose. 

“With an X-Acto knife.” 

“Yeah, right. (snicker) How many cuts do you have to make? 30? You’ll go through a lot of blades!” 

“Nope, one dull blade, one cut; one firm snap,” I said. 

“Yeah, sure; well, good luck.” 

“Won’t need luck, just an Xacto knife.” 

He looked at me like I was nuts.  I paid my $4.90 for a hunk of plastic and when I got home I took out one of my normally dull knives and make one pass and snapped the plastic.  I did it again in another direction and just like that I had a small rectangle of .080 plastic in my hand.  

I smiled.  It’s these little things in life that can be so rewarding sometimes. 



I made the pattern for the new tail by photocopying the magazine photo.  I changed the copier magnification until the fuselage length was the same length as the model.  Shhh, I smuggled a fuselage half into work and used the fancy-schmancy machine that can enlarge or reduce copy.  Like I said, this photo was a perfect side shot and even if there was some photo distortion, it would be closer than the kit DC-6 tail.   

I had to transfer the photo of the correctly shaped tail to the white plastic.  As Agent 86 Maxwell Smart would say, “Well Chief, I transferred the pattern to the white plastic using the ol’ – ‘rub a pencil on the back of the pattern then put the pattern on the plastic and trace over it with a pencil’ – trick.”  I broke out the trusty dull Xacto and made cuts about a 16th of an inch all around in case it didn’t snap cleanly. . . . . . “Would you believe 3/32nds plus an armored car?” Sorry, I’ll get out from under the ‘cone of silence’.  It did; snap OK I mean.  I sanded the pattern of the new tail with my 80 grit vacuform dry sanding matt to finalize the shape and to taper the thickness toward the tip. It was finished by sanding with wet 400 then 600 paper. I scribed the rudder and then added some plate like thingies copied from the kit tail using 0.015” thick plastic. I transferred some bumps that I cut off of the kit tail onto the new tail in the same spots. (The little bumps were tiny fairings for the counter weights for the elevators and rudder).


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Final Assembly

For each flying surface I drilled small holes into each root chord (poke with a pin or something where you want the drill bit centerline to be so the bit doesn’t wander) and inserted brass wire pins. (See photos.)  These pins really gave the wing and tail joints strength. Without these I’m sure the thin little horizontals would snap off if you just breathed on them. 

I carefully cut out the nice canopy by lightly scoring it with an X-acto and then again and again until it started to give.  I sanded the bottom of it until it was smooth and then dry fit it.  Holy cow! It fit! 



I marked the outline of the canopy on the fuselage with a pencil and then painted everything that would be on the inside of the canopy gloss black so the flashlight guys wouldn’t see the yellow plastic inside.  I dunked the canopy in Future, let it dry for a few hours under a paper cup to keep kitty hairs off of it and attached it with superglue. Some Mr. Surfacer was added around the joint and then scotch tape covered the teeny weenie windows. 

Ready for primer.



Painting and Finishing


First I sprayed the clear canopy gloss black, plugged the wheel wells and intake with wet paper towel fragments and later hosed the entire model with a very light coat of Testors Model Master Acryl gloss white (I thought I’d give these a try . . not too bad). As usual I found lots of ‘gotta fix its’ so I sanded some more.  Another coat of white, then another, finally it looked OK.   The next night, I misted on a coat of red.  I tried Signal red, but it looked too orange so I went back to D&J Hobby in Campbell, CA and with Al’s help I bought  some Model Master Acryl ‘Guards’ red.  It matched the photos better (I know, I know, photo color changes with type of film etc. etc., but I only know the airplane from the photos so I pretended they were gospel.)  I added another coat, and another and then the final coat.  WOW! Is that bright red or what! 



Oh yeah, before you put on the red; if you have to sand a small spot on the white paint and think the red will cover it . . . it won’t.  Well, OK, I admit, I was too lazy to set up the air brush with white again just to paint another coat of white in that one itsy bitsy wee little spot . . . ‘the red should cover it’.  It didn’t.  After the first few coats of red I had to go back and hose on some white and then more red.  Trust me on this one: The entire model must be flaw free white before you put on the red.  Another thing, once you see it white, you’ll want to buy another kit to do the white version. Get your wallet ready!  This airplane looks great in white too. 

I pulled out my reference photos because the instructions showed the all metal canopy version I wanted to build but without the Skystreak decal.  Hey, I gotta have one with the Skystreak decal.  Sure enough I found a photo in an old yellowed magazine article,3 that I had in my files since Reagan, that showed the teeny weenie window metal canopy, bright red paint, stars and bars and the Skystreak decal.  Woo-hoo! Life is good!  This configuration was to test an extended exhaust.  So, all I had to do was extend the exhaust. Big deal. 

A few days later, decals; but I replaced the stars and bars with ones from Microscale (OK, Superscale Decals . . the old Microscale decals) because the decal was situated right over the speed brakes and the kit decals just didn’t nestle down even with Micro Sol.  The Superscale decals worked fine. Then I put on the Skystreak decal. That one went on nicely. Uooo cool!  

After a few days I applied a Gloss Water Soluble Varathane clear coat.  I thinned the Varathane with ONLY water (alcohol or any other solvent gets you cottage cheese in the little paint bowl) about 15 to 20% and misted on the first coat, misted the second, waited 5 minutes then did another one but a tad thicker and finally increased thinner to about 30% and gave it another shot.  Really glossy!!  It’s thin, so if you get a run you can either swipe it quick with a Q-tip and hose on some more to level it or wait and hit it with 1,500 wet paper and then polish it out.  I’ve done both and it comes out fine.  It’s very forgiving stuff. After awhile you know just when to stop before it runs.  Like anything it takes some practice but it’s very thin, clear, dries rock hard, is impervious to hot fingers and in several years has not yellowed. But use the clear coat of your choice at this point. 



The teeny weenie canopy window masking was removed – hey, look, you can see. . . .ahhhh  . . nothing inside.  Then wing pitot probes, (I forgot to predrilled these before I painted, Doh!) made from 0.20in. Brass rod hand painted with Testors Metalizer Dark Anodonic Gray and polished with SnJ powder, were attached to the wing tips.  I only punctured my finger once while polishing it – I was distracted by Star Gate SG-1’s 200th show. 

I masked the antiglare panel being very careful not to get the tape on the ‘Skystreak’ decal. (Hint: Anigrand has extra decals and clear parts (sold separately).  Do your self a favor and order a second canopy and decal sheet for a couple of bucks.) 

It took a couple of tries at paper patterns that wrap around the exhaust area and when I got one that was close I traced it onto Bare-metal foil (I like that stuff!) and applied that onto the exhaust area and trimmed it with a super duper sharp Xacto #11 blade.  The exhaust tube itself was painted with Poly Scale grimy black (railroad color) and then a little bit of blue and violet Rub & Buff on the outside.  I smeared it with my fingers to mush these colors together until it looked just kind a cruddy and burnt.  I put some brown and gray chalks (from railroad pastel chalks) on the inside of the exhaust and glued it in with some Elmer’s glue. 

Gears, doors and the bottoms of the wheels were sanded just a tad.  Done. TA-DA!





Even considering that I had to make a new tail.  I STILL think this was a great kit and I’m glad I purchased a few more subjects from Anigrand.  I think I really like these resin kits!  I bought the 4 engine tilt wing, the 4 engine ducted fan thing and the D-558-2 . . I’m in love!



Lessons learned:

  1. Fill excessive panel lines on resin kits with TAMIA putty or Mr. Surfacer but not super glue.
  2. White under red must be flaw free, i.e. uniform white.
  3. Buy an extra canopy and decal set when you order your Anigrand kits or when you order through your hobby shop.

Bury me with sandpaper!





  1. Marmo, Richard; How to Build and Modify Resin Model Aircraft Kits, Specialty Press, 2002

  2.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Skystreak (free)

  3. Trimble, Robert L., “Skystreak”, Air Classics, (unknown date), pp28-32, 91-93.

  4. Libis, Scott; Skystreak, Skyrocket, & Stiletto Douglas High-Speed X-Planes, Specialty Press, 2005.


Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text by Copyright © 2006 by Bill Dye
Page Created 18 September, 2006
Last Updated 21 February, 2007

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