Saturday, April 29, 2023

Building AMP’s X-20 Dyna-Soar Space Plane


Finally after decades we have an injection-molded, polystyrene kit of the proposed X-20 space-plane! Major kudos to the Ukrainian model company AMP for producing this kit! With that said I am quite hesitant to state that this kit is not without its problems. These problems can be overcome with a little work and “elbow grease” so please, do not let this discourage you to purchase it! This will be a multi-part review covering the process to build the X-20.

Opening the Box 

The kit features 78 detailed part plus a nice decal sheet. The identification numbers are set for each part tree. Tree A parts 1-3. Tree B 1-7 etc…. The modeler will need to reference this aspect when identifying the parts as they relate to their individual part trees.

The instruction sheet features simple illustrations to the assembly process. Also featured are paint suggestions for the parts.

Over all the kit features subtle recess panel lines, a fully detailed cockpit, and options for landing gear up or deployed. Sadly, this kit does not feature a transtage. Hopefully some enterprising garage kit entrepreneur (hint-hint  ) will come up with a resin or 3D print aftermarket parts. 

The Cockpit Interior

I would say that the greatest challenge in building the AMP X-20 would be the cockpit. It features 26 tiny separate parts! I would recommend free-hand hobby magnifying glasses! In hindsight I wouldn’t have bothered with assembling the cockpit interior since I opted to close the canopy. Having said that if I have an opportunity to build a second AMP X-20 I would feature it with down landing gear and opened canopy. The detail is too fine to not be able to see it.

Assembling the Fuselage

If I had one main criticism of this kit it would be the poor fit of the parts. With that said, sanding, scraping, and trimming will be required to overcome the kits shortcomings! I utilized a couple of filler putties: 1) AV Vallejo acrylic resin plastic putt and 2) Tamiya white putty. The Vallejo putty is easy to fill gaps in the seams. Tamiya was used where some sanding is required.

The ailerons had no means of securely attaching to the wings. I had to scrap and sand both surfaces to have even and level surfaces to attach. I used Mr. Cement to attach the parts. I had to hold both parts together until the glue set. That was a bit of a pain…

The Canopy Dilemma…

One of the things I loved about this kit was the optional canopies! One of the interesting things about the X-20 design was how the canopies were configured. There was a protective “shield” over the canopy in the on-orbit configuration. There were only 2 windows the pilot to actually look out while in orbit. Once the X-20 de-orbited the cover was ejected affording the pilot a full view for the landing sequence.

AMP offers each of the versions. Since I opted for the on-orbit version I did not have to do the landing mode. The landing mode canopy consists of a clear canopy, 6 detail parts, and an option to leave the top open for viewing the interior cockpit.

The real surprise to me regarding the canopy was that it did not fit on the fuselage. It was too long and required trimming to make it fit. There also were some gaps along the side of the canopy and fuselage.


Once I finished the obligatory “sanding-smoothing-priming and repeat” process I was ready to prime the X-20. I used Mr. Surfacer 1000 gray spray primer. Once it was set I airbrushed a coat of Vallejo Black-Grey Acrylic paint (70.392).

I re-scribed the shallow recessed panel lines. I worked in a light gray powdered pastel onto the panels and recesses. I buffed the pastels out and repeated the process. Following I sprayed a second coat of acrylic clear gloss over the entire model.

With the AJ10-138 rocket engines I airbrushed Vallejo Bright Brass (71.067), let it set, and finally dipped it into a bottle of Tamiya Clear Smoke (X-19).I was pleased with the final results on the engine.

Decaling the X-20:

The kit decal sheet adhered great! I did add a couple of ejection seat decals from a Papa Tango X-15 set since that decal was not included on the kit set. Once the decals set I sprayed the decals with a second coat of clear acrylic gloss. Once the clear paint set I worked a second application of dark grey and light grey pastels.

Once the second coat of clear gloss was set it was time to add the transtage adapter to the fuselage.

Speaking of the transtage, there have been several good questions, comments, insights, and inspirations about the feasibility connecting the X-20 to a circular transtage (like RealSpace’s 1/72 Titan II kit). The problem is creating a transition from the end of the kit to a circle…

There are several more advanced modelers out there than I that have either the 3D software and printers (like the late Robert Small) that could create a transtage for this kit. Please refer to the photo below to show what I am talking about.

Without an aftermarket option of access to a 3D printer the only thing I can think of is using a scaled X-20 paper model kit. One might create a plastic part from the paper model template.

 Final Remarks

The following are my final conclusions about AMP’s 1/72 X-20 Dyna Soar kit.

1) I freely acknowledge that my love of space-model kits is an influence. With that said I like the fact that a model kit company produced an injection-molded model of this subject!

2) Even though this kit has it short-comings I still recommend it!

3) This kit is not for novices. It will require some experience in model building techniques.

4) I encourage any garage kit company to produce an accompanying

transtage aftermarket kit for this model.

5) For my North American readers I recommend Scott Zuieback’s

Dauntless Hobbies Scott is a distributor for overseas model kit producers including AMP.