SOME TIME AGO WE POSED the question, “What is the smallest model kit ever made?” We came up with an answer in the form of the tiny two-part Nike Hercules missile included as a ‘Revell kit’ in the My Merry Hobby Shop children's play set.
Mat Irvine: But the Nike Hercules (below) had two problems: firstly, it wasn’t actually a Revell kit, as it just used the logo. And secondly, it was part of the goods on display in My Merry Hobby Shop, so it was really more of a toy than a true model kit.
However, there is now a new contender for the smallest kit title. British garage company Freightdog Models has produced the Space Cruiser proposed Space Shuttle carried deniable weapon (below). And it really is tiny, as the assembled model measures just 55 mm (2.17 in) from nose to tail.
The Freightdog Models Space Cruiser is packed in a small plastic bag (below) which holds the five components. There are no supplied instructions, but with only a few components this is not an issue.
Two Freightdog Space Cruisers (below) one finished in black, one white, and both fitted to my scratch-built base.
The proposal for a single-seat spacecraft first came about in the 1970s, when US Navy researchers were exploring ways to attack Soviet spy satellites, which were then becoming an important part of the Cold War technology race. However the US Navy design was envisaged as a submarine-launched craft. The Space Cruiser was a different beast altogether, and came a decade later.
An artist’s impression (below) of how the craft might have appeared during orbital operations.
A cross-section diagram of the original concept (below) shows plenty of equipment - as well as the pilot - packed into a small internal volume.
The ‘deniable’ tag came about as the Space Cruiser’s small radar profile meant that it could perform clandestine tasks while - in theory - remaining undetected. Hence my logical choice of a black finish. Another version could carry out research - perhaps even as an X-Plane - so the white finish with national markings would be appropriate.
An interesting little kit of a Cold War era concept, though references differ as to whether the fins should be there or not - but they do make the model more interesting to look at. Whatever, the Freightdog Space Cruiser manages to (just) take the ’smallest kit’ title away from that Nike Hercules.
Freightdog Models Space Cruiser
Assembled length: 55 mm (2.17 in)
Manufacturer’s ref: FDR14403
Thanks to Freightdog Models for the review kits.
SMN Nike Hercules article here.