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Testor's 1/48 scale kit converted
Lockheed U-2A

Part Two

by Jan Forsgren


Lockheed U-2A


Testor's 1/48 scale U-2C is available from Squadron.com


Construction Continues


Continued from Part One


I decided to present the model with extended flaps since I have seen several such photos, and the model needed something to break the large, flat NMF surfaces. The flaps were cut out, the edges were trimmed and the panel lines were sanded off.

The wings and the flaps were all thinned down at the rear ends to give a more realistic appearance. When assembling the wings care had to be taken to get the “right look” on them. They should bend down slightly to the Pogo wheels and outside them more prominently, to imitate a fully tanked airplane. Where the flaps were cut out sprue and plastic card were used to fill the gap and give the wings strength. All the edges were trimmed and the wings could be assembled to the fuselage. They are absolutely horizontal where they meet the fuselage; this was achieved using a very temporary jig.

Finally the wing tip skids were glued to the wings and the small right wing aileron trim tab which is missing in the kit was made from plastic card. The left wing trim tab is integrated in the aileron.

Click the thumbnails below to view full-sized images:

Tail plane

Now it was time to glue the fin halves together, much easier when the wings were there. The raised panel lines on the fin were sanded off and all the sanding work around all the exchanged parts were done. The stabilators got the same treatment, and then new panel lines were scribed. As these were to be painted dayglo I wanted “real” panel lines, compared to the panel lines for the rest of the airplane, more of that later. The stabilators were assembled to the model, in a “jig”.


The final work with wet sanding paper and Milliput was done on the tail plane, again for several hours. (Picture 17)


Of course I should have bought the Squadron replacement windshield, but the original looked good enough, and it’s always nice to use some original parts on a highly modified model. The fit against the cockpit sill was not good at all, so I tried a new method using Milliput where the fit was worst and just squeezed the windshield in place. When the Milliput had set I gently carved the excess Milliput off and trimmed around the windshield, and finally the windshield was knocked off.



I continued sanding the putty and the result was very good.



Painting and Markings



The complete airframe was primed with Tamiya Primer in a spray can, with a terribly strong smell. I don’t usually use a primer but this big model with lots of Milliput and CA glue looked terrible. The primer was easy to apply and after a very short drying time I began sanding with fine grip wet paper. Even though I sprayed a lot of primer my sanding demanded further primer layers before I had a smooth surface all over the model. Of course I should have used the complete Mr Surfacer line of products, but you know how it is…Now I have every product at home awaiting the next NMF project.

I had scribed the panel lines on the tail plane already, and now I used a sharp lead pencil and drew lines to be scribed on the rest of the model. I used the plans in the Squadron in action book and photos for references. I was very careful to make the lines barely visible as this was to be a model of an exhibition airplane, and I never scribed through the primer layers into the plastic.



The rudder and elevators were painted Alclad II Aluminum on the white primer, and looked fine.

I found an old Revell dayglo paint jar in my cupboard that matched the Cutting Edge information for FS number. After careful masking the tail plane minus moving surfaces, wing tips and nose were air brushed dayglo orange. It dried quickly and the Xtracolor black on the nose was painted after further masking.

As all other surfaces would be painted NMF it was now convenient to give the dayglo and black surfaces a coat of Future to prepare them for the decals.

Alclad II

Now, “remasking”; all black and dayglo surfaces were masked and on the white primer surfaces the masking was taken off.

I knew Alclad II Aluminum is recommended to be painted on their own gray primer, but as I only had the black primer and I had already painted the moving surfaces on the tail plane on the white primer and was happy with what I saw, I was ready to try! Do I have to say this was my very first experience with Alclad II.

I used my air brush and sprayed three thin coats of Aluminum but the natural metal finish looked strange to me and I felt very uncomfortable suddenly! After one more coat I was convinced; I would not go on until I know what to do. Once again the model was put away for a week while I was planning my next move.

I have been using SnJ to get nice NMF finishes earlier, and I had one untouched bottle left and decided to give it a try. I gave the surface a wet sanding treatment with 1200# paper, and inspected the panel lines; yes, they were still visible.

The SnJ was shaken thoroughly and poured into the cup of my old Paasche VL and I sprayed a thin mist on my U-2 and waited the appropriate time until the next coat. This was repeated four times until I realized that something was wrong with the paint! The surface felt like a very coarse sand paper and did not cover enough to give anywhere near a good NMF look.

My plan was to bring the model to Scale Modelworld in Telford and the day for my departure was only one week away, and I was getting very frustrated. The only NMF at home that maybe would give the result I wanted was Alclad II and it apparently needed a gray undercoat to give the right look. Back to wet paper sanding again, washing the model, inspecting the panel lines; yes, still there, but not so prominent now.

I picked out an Xtracolor medium grey jar, in the state I was I didn’t register which one, and gave my U-2 a light coat of paint, and off to bed.

Usually, Xtracolor doesn’t dry in less than 24 hours for me, but this time it was completely dry in the six hours I was asleep. Early next morning I inspected the panel lines again and this time some of them needed my attention. Very carefully I used my sharp scriber, but the grey paint chipped off the SnJ, and I stopped immediately. No more scribing, there were only a few panel lines that were faint and I could live with it.

I painted several light coats of Alclad II Aluminum, White Aluminum and Dark Aluminum and it was like a dream, and this time not a nightmare!


I trimmed off the excess carrier film from some decals but as it was almost impossible to see it when the decal was applied to the Alclad surface I stopped trimming. The Cutting Edge decals worked fine with Micro Set, and as I rubbed off the small amount of glue from the decals Micro set was essential to fix the decals to the Alclad surface.


The decals were very good; shiny enough to match the Alclad II and make them almost invisible. The decal work took three hours, one side of the aircraft first and then the other. The position of the US Air Force letters were carefully marked with tape before the backing NMF decals over the dayglo part was applied as the lettering continues onto the air brakes.



The Cutting Edge decals were easy to apply, the instructions have useful information and I highly recommend them to U-2 fans.


Finishing Details


The main landing gear comes with the air brake resin set and with the leg fully compressed the U-2 sits perfectly. The gear bay is amply detailed; only needing tubes and cables for the super detailer. The rear wheel well and gear assembly is less detailed but you don’t see much of it unless you pick up the model. I painted all wheel wells and air brake interiors zinc chromate yellow, but that’s only a guess as I’ve seen both gray and black interiors. The air brake interiors were hand painted as I didn’t dare masking with tape on the decals. I used the Xtracolor matte paint which dried instantly and really helped me finish my model in time.


The landing gears and wheel hubs were painted light gray, the gear bay door insides zinc chromate yellow and the entire pogo wheels (original parts) bright red. The gears and wheels were assembled to the model and voilá, all wheels touched the ground!

The eyes for the drift sight, original clear styrene parts, were glued with Johnson Future after drilling the somewhat oval holes with a 2,2 mm drill.

The wind shield and canopy were masked with Tamiya tape on both inside and outside and painted an Xtracolor dark gray and Humbrol Metalcote Polished Aluminum, as I feared Alclad would dissolve the clear styrene.

I glued the wind shield with small droplets of Future which bonds well enough and is invisible when dry.

The white sun shade in the canopy was painted after masking with Micro Mask, with Tamiya acrylic, a paint that does not stick very well to the clear surface and was easy to trim with a tooth pick.

The small resin fan and the hot air tube inside the canopy were painted dark gray and glued with epoxy glue. I found some old Phantom II photo etched cockpit sill parts which were glued to the canopy framing and the canopy itself.
The canopy seems to open exactly at 90˚. Two small plastic rods were glued to the cockpit sill and the canopy was glued to those with epoxy glue. This rods are needed for strength only, as I hate gluing loose canopies at exhibitions.

A small rear view mirror comes with the kit, it was modified using a 0,25 mm piano wire and glued in a 0,3 mm hole in the wind shield. For the red navigation light a drift sight bulb was used, the drilled hole was painted red in the bottom and the bulb glued with Future. For the antenna wire elastic thread painted with a marker pen was used.

To add some more color to the model RBS-tags were attached to the pogo wheels and the two landing gears and on the locks for the elevators and the rudder.

Click the thumbnails below to view full-sized images:

There is almost no weathering done as this particular aircraft was also exhibited in air shows, and in the sixties it was wearing this NMF/dayglo finish in the annual Edwards Air Base shows.





Building this converted U-2A has given me many interesting experiences; all of them have not been pleasant!



I managed to get it ready for Telford last year and earned a silver medal, but the comments that warmed my heart the most was given by Mr. Chris Pocock of Aviation International News, author of “50 Years of the U-2”, THE work on the Dragon Lady, he said……….let that be a secret between him and me.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized.
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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2006 by Jan Forsgren
Page Created 03 May, 2006
Last Updated 21 February, 2007

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