Lockheed YF-12
(Blackbird interceptor)

Academy/Minicraft model in 1/72 scale : kit review & modelling report
The Academy kit manufacturer issued a very nice kit of the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird years ago. It was marketed by Minicraft in the USA (kit no 1627) in 1/72 scale. THe kit has a limited number of parts, but these are nicely done 
This family of aircraft was developed at the Lockheed Skunk Works, work starting at the end of the nineteen-fifties. The program had various challenges as the fastest most challengable plane was to be designed, tested and build in unknown technology areas. Max target speed was in excess of Mach 3 flying above 100,000 ft. 
The A-12 was a single seat high fast reconn plane, which flew in 1962. It had a pointed nose and still temporary engines fitted. Later on, a requirement was to make for a variant as "fighter interceptor" with huge Hughes AIM-47A/ GAR-9  missiles in internal fuselage bays; this variant was called the (Y)F-12, a crew of two and special tracking devices and radar in a converted nose. It also has various smaller ventral fins below the aft fuselage and engine pods. 
Later on, the A-12 / F-12 evolved into the later well known Lockheed SR-71 strategic reconnaissance plane, called the Blackbird because of its black paint and "black" missions.

Please check the reference below for more information.

The SR-71 is depicted in the Academy/Minicraft kit, but it seemed nice to convert it into an YF-12 fighter. This can be done with little effort and in the model collection you get a very special model.
(NOTE: also Italeri issued a kit of the YF-12, so when you get that model you don't need to do a conversion)

So what are the big external to be seen differences of the YF-12 compared to the SR-71? 

A. changed nose shape with radar and Infra trackers
B. shortened fuselage tail cone 
C. big (fold able) ventral fin under the aft cone
D. 2x1 ventral fin under rear of engine nacelles
E. missile bays
F. no refueling panel on top of fuselage aft of rear cockpit

Otherwise, the SR-71 and YF-12 seem alike. Cockpit hatches seem the same. Maybe there are slight differences in panel layouts etc, but these are hardly seen in a small 1/72 black model!

[A] The nose shape was derived from conversion drawing from an old modeling magazine. The point of the nose should be cut off 48 mm aft of the pitot base (parts C5 and C17). Next, a cut out should be made to accommodate the IR trackers. The radar nose was made using an old 1/72 Phantom nose, sanded round in shape; it has the exact diameter at the base to fit on to the fuselage. Next use putty filler, close gaps and sand into shape. 



[B]. the aft fuselage cone was cut out and a mid section removed. The pointed cone was they glued more forward onto the fuselage; use some plastic card to close gaps, fill and sand in shape

[C]. the big foldable ventral fin below the rear fuselage cone  was made of a spare airfoil shaped piece of plastic from the spare parts box; the fin's base was made of a shaped piece of cart. 

[D]. Smaller Ventral fins were made also from spare plastic. 

[E]. missile bays were not opened; they can not been seen as they are flush with the lower fuselage contours. So no work was needed here.

[F]. the small refueling panel and its gap were filled and sanded flush.

So, the basic model was converted into an YF-12A. 

The model was made to represent a Lockheed YF-12A, USAF,  that set in May 1965  the "absolute speed and altitude record for its class" which essentially still remain unchallenged up till now. 

What is very nice is the alternative finishing / paint scheme of the YF-12. It can be made in a combination of dull black areas (mainly at edges of the fuselage and wings), and titanium panels on other sections of the plane. Also, at certain markings (serial, star-and-bars and U.S. AIR FORCE" title a slightly different panel colour can be seen on the real YF-12. This was made from "silver" decal on the model. First, the overall model got sprayed on gloss black coat. They the panels were masked off, and TESTOR silver paint was sprayed on with some black paint mixed in for the darker titanium. Recessed grills were given a treatment with very thinned coat of black paint. 

note: water droplets are seen still on the picture,.model being cleaned after masking

In the main undercarriage bay, two small half circles from card were added (the wheels should fit in). 
Pitot tube was made from a needle, undercarriage legs and wheels were used as from kit, painted in a mix of black and silver (heat deflection). The small cockpit interior was left as is from kit, only adding seat belts and instruments from spare decals. 

Unfortunately, my kit had no decals. However, the basic markings can be obtained from the usual spares box. Red walkway striping was used of an Aeromaster decals sheet. See also the note on the different panel tints at the titles and markings!

So, there the model is!
Note filled/ closed refueling panel

  upper view

Back to 1/72 models.......



Lockheed Skunk Works, first 50 years, Jay Miller, Aerofax 1993 edition, 
ISBN  0-942548-56-6

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Created this page September 21, 2003