Brad Eastman's kit review of Revell's Sanger.

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Revell's Sänger Space Plane

By Brad Eastman - images & text © 2000

Accuracy: 8. The overall shape is quite close to pictures of study models.
Ease: 8. Instructions were clear; some trimming required to get one part to fit well.
Overall Rating: 9. It looks great on the shelf.

[Side View]


The Sänger was a proposed two stage vehicle, and, if completed, would be doing its part today to aid in the construction of the international space station. According to the "Encyclopedia Astronautica," the German Hypersonics Programme and its Sänger vehicle received most of the domestic funding for spaceplane development in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Sänger was comprised of a large hypersonic booster aircraft capable of Mach 4 cruise plus a small rocket-powered delta winged manned orbiter (named "Horus," presumably after an ancient Egyptian deity often depicted with body of man and the head of a falcon) that could deliver people and cargo to low Earth orbit. An unmanned cargo module was also planned, aptly, though less imaginatively named, "Cargus." The booster aircraft (to be powered by turboramjets) was designed for maximum commonality with a supersonic passenger transport (with a cruise range of 11,000 km). Development was deemed to have been too costly and, unfortunately, the programme was cancelled in 1994. The following are some of the design specifications for what would have been a magnificent craft: liftoff thrust: 458,870 kgf; total mass: 366,000 kg; total length: 101.0 m.


^ Not a lot of parts to this kit.

[Top view, with Horus]

[Front View]

^ Top and front views of the completed kit.
Kit Overview

I picked up this kit three years ago at a hobby store in London for £9.95. Ever since I'd seen it in the Revell-Germany catalogue I'd wanted to get one, so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it. The kit itself was released in 1991, but it has never been easy to find on this side of the pond. The scale of the kit is 1/288. The length of the completed model is eleven inches (the shuttle portion is 3 and 7/8 inches).


The kit is easy to assemble, save for one piece which did not fit particularly well. The supersonic transport plane component is comprised of nine pieces, not including the landing gear. The kit gives one the option of building it with gear up or down. I chose to build it with the gear in the up position for three reasons: 1) it looks sleeker that way; 2) sooner or later, those gear would snap off (either in a move, or when a guest in our home gives into the compulsion to pick up one of my kits); 3) I didn't feel like painting all those tiny wheels and tires. Overall fit was fine, but I had to do some trimming to get the exhaust portion of the transport plane's engines to fit right. It wasn't a major problem, but it might cause a novice builder some difficulty. Also, no provision is made for a stand if one builds the Sänger with the gear up. I simply drilled a hole in the bottom of the fuselage, inserted plastic tubing, sanded it flush, mounted brass tubing one size smaller into a base from an Excelsior kit, and I had my stand.

The molding quality was good, with very little flash, though there were some swirls on two of the wing surfaces that were taken care of by some light sanding. There was virtually no flash. Some puttying of sems was required, but not as much as might be expected, since wing surfaces on both the shuttle and plane portions of the craft were solid pieces, with detail on both sides. Unfortunately, the panel lines that were included are raised, but perhaps it is better to have fine raised panel lines than engraved trenches.

There is not an overabundance of detail on the kit. For example, more could have been included on the aft of the shuttle. However, the lack of detail may also stem from the fact that the Sänger never made it into production and Revell simply did not have much to go on.

The shuttle component of the Sänger consists of six pieces, including three engine exhaust bells (the two smaller ones are actually solid pieces, but they are so small I never bothered to hollow them out). Fit was fine.

One can build the kit with either the cargo rocket or the shuttle mounted on the plane, but Revell did not include exhaust bells for both. This eliminates the option of alternating how one displays the Sänger. Even some of the decals must be used on either the shuttle or the cargo rocket. I chose to display mine with the shuttle.

Painting and Decaling

Assembling and painting the kit took only two weeks, working on it on and off. Painting the kit was very simple. Unfortunately, only a few resources were available to me to determine the color. As the instructions indicate, it seems that the transport plane is black and the shuttle silver. For the plane, I used Poly Scale flat scale black (RLM 66 Int. Blk. Gray), and for the shuttle I used Poly Scale flat aluminum. All paints were acrylics. For the nose portion and exhaust bells of the shuttle, I simply lightened the scale black (the instructions called for "anthracite") with a bit of white. Painting this craft was a nice break from Trek starships which require aztec patterns and the like. I did very little weathering to reflect the fact that the Sänger never entered service.

The decal quality was excellent, though there was very little detail over which I had to apply them. They were also produced with a flat finish, which is great for those of us who prefer to use flat finishes. One complaint I had with the decals was that the light decals used to outline the control surfaces on the transport plane must be cut to the correct lengths by the modeler. In and of itself, that is not too difficult. However, some of the lines were white and were printed on white paper, and, since I like to cut as much film away as possible, seeing what I was to cut away was a bit of a problem. Working in bright sunlight alleviated the problem somewhat, but did not eliminate it entirely. Light blue backing paper would have been helpful.


Would I recommend this kit? If you are interested in rare space subjects, and if you like the design of the Sänger, then yes. The one fit problem aside, it is an easy kit to assemble, and a breeze to paint. It is a bit on the smallish side, and is lacking in detail, but the kit is quite well executed. It seems to be quite accurate (though this is difficult to judge) and looks great on the shelf. If you want one, and you find one, buy it.

[Close-up of the cargo module]

^ Close-up of the shuttle module.

[Rear View]

[Top oblique]

^ Two more views of the completed model.

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