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1/72 White Swan C-13S USN Shuttle

By Al "Alvis 3.1" Petrie

Designed as an alternate shuttle system to the NASA/USAF STS, the US Navy "White Swan C-13S" was built by Rockwell International at the behest of the Carter Administration as a covert program against the Soviet Union. Primarily designed to launch RORSAT recon satellites, the C-13S was also used to deploy USN Space Platform components, and ironically, the first operational Orbital ABMs, known as "Ronnie's Rayguns". After the loss of the Challenger in 1986, the C-13S fleet became even more vital to the space defence of the USA. A total of four were constructed. Nicknamed "White Swan" by the design team and the early crews, it was never officially adopted by the USN. It was apparently in compliment of its' graceful lines and a dig at the "Ugly Duckling" Shuttle.

Using design components of the Shuttle and the recently cancelled B-1, Rockwell created the next logical step in shuttles.  A redesigned ET, now fully engined with 3 SSMEs, and four SRBs provided primary liftoff power, while the C-13S retained one SSME as additional boost capability, as well as an orbital maneuvering motor capable of rapid orbit change. This was a much enhanced maneuvering capability over the STS shuttle, and the engine could also be fired after reentry to extend the glide range. The smaller cargo bay limited the size of the payload, however, and at least one joint STS/C-13S mission was flown when the "White Swan" lacked the sheer load capacity the shuttle had. It has never been confirmed if any foreign satellites were "abducted", but a Soviet Era Cosmos satellite in the USN Special Artifacts exhibit at McMurdo Air Base has yet to be explained...

Flying out of Johnston Atoll, launches were highly secret, and landings often took place at night at Edwards AFB. Using a 747 carrier aircraft for return to Johnston Atoll sometimes required airlines to be diverted, lest some snap happy tourist get lucky.

On three separate occasions, the Single Shot ABMs likely prevented WWII from breaking out. Twice, rouge nations fired what were most likely nuclear weapons at "friendly" targets, and in both cases, the Ronnies' Rayguns turned them into scrap. The third occasion appears to be where a routine training mission on an SSBN went awry, and an SLBM was accidentally launched. While the actual nationality of the boat has been kept secret, a look at who had SSBNs at sea in April 1992 will make it easy to guess whose it was. The Red Phone was likely busy that day!

Entering service in 1983, the C-13S is scheduled for retirement by 2015. It is unknown what will be replacing it.

Yes, it's all made up. It's what happens when I have a couple models laying around with no purpose left to them. In this case, it was the Airfix B-1 and a broken up Revell Shuttle. The B-1 is horribly inaccurate, and had been robbed for parts anyhow, and the Shuttle was beyond repair. Hey, both were designed by Rockwell, and actually went together quite easily...with some putty helping. The aft end needed some sheet styrene, the Ronnie Raygun ABM was scratchbuilt, as were the egress steps, decals came from the spares bin and the flight crew/standing dude from a Revell SR-71 kit. Now, allI need are two 1/72 scale STS stacks to make the booster...

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