Phantom Works
"Bird of Prey"


scratch model in 1/72 scale : kit review & building report

McDonnell Douglas had in the 1990s a secret military department called the Phantom Works. A project was started in 1995 to test stealth ideas for the Joint Strike Fighter to be developed
and to validate design techniques. In 1997, the McDonnell Douglas company was acquired by Boeing.

The stealth test article was code named "Bird of Prey" with a nod to the Star Trek Klingon Bird of Prey. To save costs, components of the Cessna Citation were used.
The Bird of Prey aircraft made about 32 test flights from Area 51 between 1996 and 1999, but its existence was only admitted in 2004.

  the real plane....

 photos: Boeing

Obviously, no model existed of this Bird of Prey. But I wanted to have one in the collection and it can be done.

Flight International magazine, issue 29 Oct- 4 November 2002 had an article: "Boeing's secret Bird of Prey emerges from Phantom Works".
The article had a drawing published was scaled up to a 1/72 scale plan. The wing span was said to be 23 feet. Also, various other sources on the Internet showed pictures to get a feel for this model project. 

In order to get some basic parts, I bought a cheap Italeri X-35 kit and "kitbashed" it using also various parts from the scrapbox and plastic sheet. 

With sanding, cutting and using lots of filler, the basic fuselage shape was made first. After that was about OK, the wings were made using spare wings from a F100 I had. The wings and tip fins are set at an angle and the various smaller parts of undercarriage and doors were from the Italeri X-35 kit. I also used the kits canopy, seat and cockpit instruments as a basis. 
After sanding, filling, sanding and filling..... the shape was about right. 
The cockpit area was painted, using also the kit's seat and the canopy added and the gaps filled. After that, also the basic undercarriage parts (made from the kit parts) were attached.
The overall colour appears to about dark grey on upper surfaces and lighter grey on the lower surfaces and this was sprayed on. I used FS 36320 (Humbrol 145) and FS36375 (Humbrol 127) enamels.

The Boeing text and logo was made on clear decal with black paint applied with a toothpick.

The undercarriage was made from the scrap kit with cut legs and the doors were also made from the scrap parts from the X-35 kit. The canopy was given a Smoke tint using Tamiya Smoke transparent paint look as on the real plane.  

bird of prey

The features of the plane can be seen...

The intake was covered on this model with some aluminum household foil... to "conceal the secret intake shape" and a "remove before flag tag" was added...

Also, the moving controls gaps/edges were painted as black linessed gaps with seals for to keep stealth characteristics.

rear view with a red protection guard added to get some colour....


And there she is!  Out of Black in the Model Collection!
bird of prey
bird of prey 
bird of prey
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Created this page November 10, 2002