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AURORA  129-98 Nuclear Airliner  (« Impetus ») [1960]

This kit actually includes two models : the Impetus a Nuclear Airliner and a "donkey" aircraft . The word "donkey" aircraft is used in the instructions but "pusher" would be a more apt description.

The "donkey" aircraft made the cover of   "Mécanique Populaire" / Popular Mecanics" which illustrate a similar configuration to that offered by Aurora .This solution avoid the need to encumber the main aircraft with a chemical propulsion system for the take-off and landing phases. The rigid tug concept had been tested with success in Germany  in 1944 using an Arado Ar 234 jet . This suggests that the Aurora design is of the "direct and dirty" variety . Actually you can notice there is no air intake on the Impetus . This airliner is powered by a nuclear rocket ! It must leave a trail of phosphorescent clouds behind it !

The general configuration of the airframe seems based on an early projected version of the B-58 (logical when Convair was nominated as the company which was to build the A-plane) . It seems this study was the only one to have used the diamond wing shape first proposed in 1944 by the German for the "Zitterochen" missile. Still today the only aircraft with such a diamond shape is the YF-23 (which is rumored to be continued in the black world by a secret stealth jet)

The two flush observation  bays probably hide cameras . At the time it was expected that in future airliners (seen as highly supersonic in the Mach 3 -  Mach 7 ranges) there would no longer be port holes to simplify the airframe resistance to heat . Inside "ports" would actually been TV screens visualizing the outdoor view (at 60 000 feet ?) 

Aurora reissued this kit in 1975 as the "Ragnarok Orbital Bomber" a pure SF concept masterminded by Andrew P. Yanchus, then consulting product designer for the company.  The tooling was altered by the removal of the rigid docking system , the small accessory aircraft becoming a parasite fighter carried half recessed in the rear of the main aircraft.

Plastic is white for the Impetus , black for the Ragnarok

Boxart for the « Ragnarok  Orbital Interceptor ref 253 » in  1976

Comparison between the fuselages of the Impetus and the Ragnarok showing the very different rear end.

Impetus fuselage with Preiser  1/160 figures for scale .  The instructions quote a length of 255 feet which gives a scale of 1/175  ,with a carrying capacity of 200 passengers and 16 crew members . This capacity would make a 255 feet aircraft somewhat crowded so it is my impression you can easily double this length . The quoted length would still make it an aircraft about the size of the Concorde. Note the diamond

A very odd feature of this model is the provision for a rocket bay (for atmospheric sampling perhaps ?) Note details on the rear panel..

The highly  kitsch  decals  for the Impetus . Note the « Nuclear World Airlines »  and the atom-symbol logos … but not a single "danger radiation" label in sight !

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