Meikraft Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak
The Army Air Force had the Bell X-1, the Navy had the Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak, or "Crimson Test Tube" as it was appropriately nicknamed. Like the X-1, three were built, the first one making its maiden flight on May 15th, 1947. Unlike the rocket engined X-1 however, the Skystreak was powered by a General Electric J35 turbojet rated at 5,000 pounds of thrust.
WW2 Marine Corps ace Marion Carl set a new world speed record of 650.6 mph in this aircraft on August 25th, 1947. This was beaten less than two months later when good ol' Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the X-1. Skystreak #2 crashed on May 3, 1948 when a compressor fan disintegrated shortly after takeoff severing fuel and control lines. Pilot Howard Lilly was killed instantly in the crash. The other two D-558-1s survive - #1 in the National Museum of Naval Aviation and #3 in the Carolina Aviation Museum.
Meikraft's D-558-1 is damn near impossible to find these days but well worth seeking out if the subject appeals. To date it is the only 1/72 scale kit of this aircraft as far as I know and it is quite accurate in most respects. The main gear bays are a bit too far apart and the landing gear is a bit crude but neither detracts from the overall look. The intake and exhaust will need some attention with sandpaper wrapped around a suitable round object (an X-Acto knife handle is ideal, but do take the blade out first!) to ensure they are perfectly round. I managed to completely destroy the vac-formed bubble canopy (the later style canopy is also supplied but I wanted to finish this in its roll out configuration) so I modified half of one of the optional tip tanks to plunge mould a replacement.
According to the excellent Ginter book (Naval Fighters # 56), 12 Squared plan to re-release this kit with appropriate corrections sometime soon. Don't hold your breath.
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