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The Tsybin RSR (020-3)
Scratchbuilt in 1/48 Scale

by "Bondo" Phil Brandt


Tsybin RSR (020-3)

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Although reverse engineering and direct copying of Western aircraft technology was a way of life for the Soviet Union ever since several 'mis-appropriated' WW II B-29s resulted in the Tu-4, the Tsybin RSR was a notable exception. Designed as a no-holds-barred bomber by brilliant designer Pavel Tsybin, the project instead morphed into a Mach 3, high altitude reconnaissance vehicle... at least three years prior to the Skunk Works design of the A-12/SR-7.

Five RSR airframes were completed by 1959 and were awaiting engine installation when Premier Nikita Kruschev axed the program in 1961, ordering all five airframes scrapped. Loyal Tsybin design bureau workers resisted the edict until 1965, and all that remains of the RSRs is one wing and stabilizer assembly.

Although the full size airplane was never flown, concurrent successful flights of the lookalike, three-fourths size NM-1 test vehicle showed that the project was certainly a viable one.





This is Bondo Industries' initial foray into the labor intensive world of scratchbuilding.

Working plans were enlarged to 1/48 from drawings in Bill Gunston's authoritative (and weighty!) Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft.



Two layers of .010 plastic sheet were laminated around a 12-inch length of one-inch O.D. clear lucite tube. The large, squared-off ventral sensor housing was built up with plastic sheet, and the unique fairings at either end of the sensor housing were molded out of A&B epoxy putty.

The forward fuselage was created from the large 1/48 Monogram B-58 fuel pod, and the empennage was formed from a section of the Airfix 1/72 B-29 empennage combined with a section of the Testors 1/72 C-119 tail boom.

The wide fairings on each side of the fuselage were formed of laminated 1/8" strips. The prominent spine and empennage ventral fairings were built from plastic channel. The instrumentation boom is also from the B-58.


Monogram's beautiful B-58 again fell under the knife and furnished the sleek wings.

The sweepback angle was increased, B-58 flight control surfaces were filled and new ones scribed.

The outer 'winglets' were formed out of .030" sheet.


Engine Pods

Monogram to the rescue again!

The circumference of the forward half of each outboard B-58 pod was slit lengthwise in eight places, and plastic 'darts' were added to 'fatten' the whole profile. Inlet spikes from 1/48 O.E.Z. Su-7 kits were used, as they had the characteristic Soviet "cone with bump" profile.



Hustler burner sections were used as is. Skid housings on the ventral surface of the pods were scratchbuilt, as were the six small cooling air fairings.



An appropriately kitbashed Black Box F-105 set furnished the tub and instrument panel. A Neomega KS-3 seat provided Soviet cockpit ambiance and is a realistic choice since this type was used in the Su-15/21 series of that era.



The pilot's viewfinder mounted on the instrument panel coaming was scratchbuilt.



The Tsybin RSR used a sleek, one-piece windscreen/canopy. I carved a blank out of basswood and vacuformed a couple of 'em just in case. Canopy 'rails' were cut from sheet and glued to the vac'ed canopy with R/C 56 white glue. The canopy erection mechanism was kitbashed from the Monogram F-5E, and plastic tubes glued into the avionics shelf provided a mounting base.


Landing Gear

The single main gear strut is white metal from an obsolete 1/72 Contrail XB-70 kit. Actually, this strut was somewhat offbase for the Valkyrie, but was fairly close to the RSR!

Main wheels are from 1/72 F-111s. The nosegear strut was taken from another Soviet kit whose name escapes me; nosewheels are from an F-4. The main and nosegear wells were cut into the fuselage and the walls and ceiling built of plastic sheet. Gear doors were scratchbuilt with two laminations of plastic sheet. Although the original RSR bomber design used outrigger struts/w small wheels in the manner of the Harrier weapons system, Tsybin designers of the reconnaissance platform reverted to simpler skids ala X-15.

The model's skids were scratchbuilt.

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


External Tanks

1/48 Zhengdefu F-111E external tanks were lengthened approximately two inches per the Gunston encyclopedia, and pylons were kitbashed from the old Revell 1/32 RF-4 Sargent-Fletcher outboards (a little 'inside' F-4 talk here; kindly indulge the curmudgeon!).


Slabs and Vertical Fin

The above-mentioned Zhengdefu F-111E again furnished the all-moving tail surfaces, albeit highly kitbashed, for the RSR. Slabs and vertical fin are attached through brass rods which slip into brass tubing glued into the empennage.



Painting and Markings


Natural Metal Finish

Alclad II as always! Many iterations of automotive lacquer primer and wetsanding up through 12000 grit resulted in a gloss undercoat completely compatible with four shades of topcoat. Testors acrylic was used for the anti-glare panel and radar housings.






No pictures of the finished airframe were available (the NM-1 test vehicle did make it to a Russian museum, however) and I don't think just the Soviet national insignia will be considered "spurious" by IPMS judges.





The RSR would've been a goin' aerochine, running very close to 'Big Dog' SR-71 parameters. Unfortunately for the Tsybin design bureau (and others of the period), Nikita Kruschev's obsession with strategic rocketry was a serious setback to many forward-thinking Soviet aircraft designs, and that industry didn't really recover until the Mig-25/31 series.

"Bondo" Phil Brandt, IPMS 14091



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright 2003 by Phil Brandt
Page Created 16 June, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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