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Lockheed TR-1

MPM 1/72 scale

by Fabian Vera


The Lockheed U-2 was conceived as a reply to the request of the USAF and the CIA of a plane able to fly at high altitude and carry optical reconnaissance equipment.
Introduced in 1956, this U-2 is basically a glider powered by a single jet engine. It became notorious when it was shot down on Russian territory piloted by Francis Gary Powell.

After some improvements and a new program of tactical reconnaissance, the production of this plane restarted in 1979. In August 1981 the TR-1 was born. This TR-1, which was capable of flying at almost 25.000 mts, carried out several missions during the Gulf War, delivering information on the movements of the Iraqi troops.

This simple plane, updated and modified several times and flown by anonymous pilots, will continue to be a key factor for the gathering of information in future battlefields.


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The kit

I have no information as to the availability of any other TR-1 in 1/72 in the market. This kit manufactured by MPM is very well detailed, with fine recessed panels, a simple assembly with few component parts, supplemented by a great variety of resin parts (Review). It also carries a set of decals printed by Propagteam, for which reason you won't have to purchase any extra items.

Assembly and Detailing

As it generally happens with most of the kits manufactured by this company, the difficulties appear at the assembly stage. You will find some problems as well with the fit of the fuselage and wings. I would recommend the use of a crossbar that holds the main wings, which are very heavy and long and as I already said this kit does not provide guides for the fit between parts.


I decided not to follow the instructions for the interior parts, since they indicate a black color, but when you take a look at the pictures (included those on the back of the box) you will clearly see that the interior is painted grey. I decided to use Humbrol grey 140 for this, Humbrol black 33 for the dashboard and seat, and Humbrol matte aluminum for the undercarriages.

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Once ready, I started with the assembly process, which is quite simple since we have few parts. However, this model needs a good deal of filling a sanding on almost all joints.

At this stage, you will have to follow the steps indicated by the manufacturer since all the joints of the tanks must be filled before adding them to the wings.

After the general assembly, we concentrate on the vacformed canopy. This is not the best one but neither the worst in the market. Once detached from its support I decided to cut this part in order to insert it in its open position and painted the interior with the same grey color used for the cockpit.


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I chose one of the three options suggested by the kit, the one that represents a plane used during the "Desert Shield" and "Desert Storm" operations. The decals are excellent despite an almost imperceptible offset on a few decals. This particular version is the one that appears on the pictures printed on the box. This allows us to check the accuracy of this version, something really remarkable.

Painting was perhaps the simplest task of this project since this plane is entirely black. I used Humbrol glossy black and then applied directly all decals and finish with a matte varnish. In order to highlight some areas I painted some panel with black drawing ink, thus achieving a contrast by using several shades and shines, which change according to light.

All varnishes are Model Master.

Bibliography and other sources of information

"Gulf Air War - Debrief - Described by the pilots that Fought - World Air Power Journal".
"The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes - Blitz Editions".
"Desert Storm: The Weapons of War - Orion Books".


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