Kit #AA2073. 1/72 scale. This is a highly-detailed
resin kit of the Soviet Myasishchev M-17
Mystic, complete with decals.
In May 1960, when an American U-2 spy-plane
was shot down over Ukraine, America’s CIA stepped up use of an alternative
reconnaissance vehicle – an unmanned balloon that, released from Allied
territory, would be carried by prevailing jetstream winds completely across
Soviet territory. The Soviet Air Defense Force, their PVO, found this stratospheric
threat difficult to counter with existing technology. They directed the Myasishchev design bureau
to develop an interceptor capable of reaching and destroying these
high-altitude balloons. By way of Subject
34, nicknamed Chaika, this resulted in the M-17, NATO code-named Mystic-A.
The single-seat first prototype had an
inverted gull wing, a single turbojet engine and a twin-boom design with high
aspect ratio wings, and the plane was to be armed with two air-to-air missiles
and two 23mm cannon mounted in a dorsal turret.
This prototype was first flown in 1978, and crashed during a botched
taxi test. However, when the Lockheed A-12 and later first-generation spy
satellites replaced the balloons, the threat evaporated and the high altitude
interceptor design was shelved.
The second prototype, built to a modified
design and now called the Myasishchev
M-17 Stratosphera, was first flown in 1982. As an ultra-high-altitude
aircraft, which can reach 70,000 feet in 35 minutes, it was used for
reconnaissance, aerodynamic and atmospheric research – and in flight, from
above or underneath, it looks like a twin-boomed Lockheed U-2, reflecting their similar missions. In 1990, it set 12
international speed/ climb/ height records, several of which still stand. In
1992, the M-17 investigated the "hole" in ozone layer over the
Antarctic. A later development was equipped with two turbojet engines and a
revised airframe, and was known as the M-55
Geophysica, NATO code name Mystic-B.
In this form, it set another 15 world records, all of which still stand.