Kit preview of Collect-Aire X-24B Lifting Body.

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Collect-Aire X-24B Lifting Body Preview

By John Lester - images & text © 2002

Scale: 1/48 - about 9 3/8"/ 23.8cm long when built
Parts: 32 resin, 2 vacuformed (canopies), 13 metal
Instructions: 6 pages; 2 exploded diagrams for assembly, two pages of profiles for painting/marking, one page history
Decals: Waterslide, printed by Scale-Master; markings for operational schemes
Molding Quality: 8 - some minor flash and bubbles, but nothing not easily fixed
Detail: 8 - finely engraved panel detail, some interior detailing
Accuracy: 9+ From all I can tell, it's spot-on.
MSRP: $79.95 USD (~$123.62 CAN/ 84.61 EUR) available from Collect-Aire
Overall Rating: 8 - Decent kit of a unique subject

[Box art]

The Martin-Marietta X-24A/B aircraft was one of three manned lifting body aircraft built to stuydy the concept of maneuverable re-entry spacecraft. The program pioneered the way for the Space Shuttle.

[Click to enlarge]

^ The two-part fuselage is shell cast and comes taped together, helping to prevent breakage

[Click to enlarge]

^ Some cockpit detail is molded in to the sidewalls

Image: Detail parts


^ Decals are provided for three marking variations worn by the craft throughout it's career.
The X-24B was a rebuild of the X-24A; the original airframe was encapsuled in a new outer shell, and outer ailerons an a new nose gear were added.

After launching from a B-52 mothership at 40,000-45,000 ft (13,300 - 15,000m), the pilot would ignite the craft's rocket to gain speed and altitude, after which it became a glider. Six different pilots made 30 flights, totaling 4 hours flight time, between August 1, 1973 and Nover 26, 1975. The X-24B now resides at the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

What You Get

Inside the sturdy box are 32 resin parts plus metal and vacuform bits. The fuselage is in two pieces, taped together, with the rest of the resin and metal parts sealed in small baggies. Also included is a brief assembly/painting guide and a sheet of waterslide decals.

The resin parts are cast in a hard, tan resin familiar to anyone who has bought a Collect-Aire kit. There are few defects (bubbles, pinholes, etc.) and very little flash. Detail consists primarly of finely scrived panel lines, with some raised bits in the gear wells and cockpit. The metal parts are well cast and none of mine were bent or warped. The vacuform canopies (a spare is provided - thank you!) are thin, distortion free, and clear -- though polishing and/or a dip in Future will greatly enhance them.

Collect-Aire has several sources of masters, and the quality of those masters can vary between extremely good and disappointing (the XP-67 comes to mind here). This kit falls towards the "good" end of the scale. The engraved detailing is consistent in width and depth, and there are no over-runs or other goofs that I can see. The surface of the major pieces is consistently smooth, a major plus since this aircraft was natural metal or gloss white.

The assembly/paint guide is brief, but adequate.

Two exploded diagrams show where the parts go. Two more pages briefly explain exterior colors for three variations in finish (actually four, but one was never used in flight and decals are not provided for it). No information is provided for cockpit, wheelwell, or rocket motor colors. There's also a note that there were minor variations in markings throughout the program, so research will be critical. Fortunately, there are a number of photographic references on-line at various NASA and Air Force websites.

Decals are printed by Scale-Master. They've had their own ups and downs in quality over the years; this sheet also appears to be one of their better efforts. Everything is perfectly registered, images are sharp and colors are vibrant. I forsee no problems using them.

Assembly and Finish

Building this doesn't look to be too difficult. Dry-fitting the major components shows few surprises. Properly aligning the cockpit inside the fuselage will probably be the toughest part, and that just calls for patience and careful test fitting. I'll polish the entire exterior with an automotive finishing kit and then jeweler's rouge before painting, to make sure the surfaces are properly prepaired for the gloss white/ natural metal finish.


This looks like another good kit from Collect-Aire - a bit pricey, but that's what you get with low-volume production runs of esoteric kits. Recommended to those with the interest and some experience working with resin.

Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 2000+ readers a day? Contact us!

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This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 14 June 2002.