Today our journey takes us to a ship that's so good, the science boffins decided to tell the military it was rubbish so they could keep it to themselves, Stuart Crawshaw's LL-301.
For over 100 years the Federation's main research arm has been the Advanced Spaceflight Technology Research Agency (ASTRA). The scientists and engineers of ASTRA undertake design, development and evaluation projects across a range of disciplines: dynamics, propulsion, communications, life support and many more. The LL-301 'Falcon' was an unexpected by-product of one such project: the flight trials of the EX130 dual-technology engine required a flying test-bed, which turned out to be such an exceptionally easy-to-fly ship that a limited production run was eventually commissioned, of which most are now in service with the scientific corps. An unarmed two-seat craft, the LL-301 is - unusually for a spaceship - suited to long periods of flight within a planet's atmosphere, thanks to the relatively high lift of its wings and the fuel-efficient EX130 which switches to a traditional turbojet mode whenever the atmosphere's density is high enough to support it.
Stuart has this to say: As is so often the case, this ship started with an engine, to which the cockpit area was added soon after. These then sat around for many months while wings of various shapes & sizes were tried and rejected. The inspiration to use 1980s train track came quite late, and from then on the model came together quite quickly. The construction is basically 'studs out', making heavy use of the launderette brick; by a happy coincidence this left enough space in the lower body that I was able to make the three-legged undercarriage fold neatly away inside the fuselage.