Hobbycraft 1/48 P-59A Airacomet Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||October 2011||Manufacturer||Hobbycraft|
|Kit Number||1439||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Only styrene kit of this aircraft in 1/48 scale||Cons||Sparse cockpit|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$50-54|
The Bell P-59 Airacomet was the first American jet fighter aircraft, designed and built during World War II. The United States Army Air Force was not impressed by its performance and cancelled the contract when fewer than half of the aircraft ordered had been produced. Although no P-59s went into combat, it paved the way for another design generation of U.S. turbojet-powered aircraft and was the first turbojet fighter to have its engine and inlet nacelles integrated within the main fuselage.
The kit comes in an end-opening type box. The box art shows a P-59A flying over snow covered mountain terrain. It is illustrated as being bare metal with black number 88 on the sides of the nose and the serial number 422614 on the tail. It has a black anti-glare panel in front of the cockpit and black wing walks at the wing roots above the wings. Star and bar insignia are carried on the sides of the fuselage and on top of the left wing and below the right wing. There is announced below the box art that the P-59 was the 1st US Jet Fighter.
One side panel show the full color box arts for two more aircraft kits that Hobbycraft markets:
- Kit no. HC1434 “Viet Nam” A-4C in 1/48th scale
- Kit no. HC1435 the YP-59 “Airacomet” in 1/48th scale
Next to these it says that the kit is EXPERIENCED skill level and that the kit was fabricated in China. Hobbycraft’s street adresses for their offices in Canada and the UK are shown here, as well as their web site address.
The other side panel shows 2 more full color box arts of aircraft kits Hobbycraft also markets:
- Kit no. HC1429 “Marines” A-4M in 1/48th scale
- Kit no. HC1430 “Israeli’ A-4N in 1/48th scale
Next to this is a list of the kit’s features: detailed cockpit and landing gear, engraved panel lines and authentic markings.
The back of the box has full color illustrations of three different marking and painting schemes.
- The scheme shown on the boxart (already discribed above) US Army, California 1948
- A bare metal scheme like the boxart one. A cartoon character named SMOKEY STOVER on the nose and the serial number 422610 on the tail. US Army, Alaska 1944
- A scheme of dark gloss blue on the fuselage and orange yellow wings. Star and bar insignia above the right wing and below the left. Black letter code 960 NATC above the right wing and below the left. This letter code is also on the decal sheet printed in white, but not shown anywhere on the illustrations. An aircraft of the US Navy, NATC Pax River, 1947. A few stencil marks and dash board instruments are also on the decal sheet
All these markings are provided on the kit’s decal sheet.
The cover of a book titled “Air Force Legends Number 208 Bell Aircraft P-59 Airacomet” is shown and acknowledgement of cooperation of Historians Steve Pace, Steve Ginter and David M, Carpenter is given for help in the preparation of this kit.
Inside the box are three light gray parts trees, each in their own sealed cello bags. A third sealed cello holds loose light gray parts, The fourth sealed cello contains the clear parts and a tree of black vynil tires.
The decal sheet (described above) and the instructions complete the kits contents.
The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 6 pages in 8 ¼” x 11” format.
Page 1 begins with a black and white repeat of the box art. This is followed by a repeat of the kit’s features. A color list is given for 4 colors in the Floquil, Humbrol and Testor Modelmaster brands of paints. The bottom of the page has international assembly symbol explanations.
Pages 2 through 6 give a total of 11 assembly steps. No parts tree illustrations are provided. However, the parts trees are alphabetized and numbered next to each part.
The loose light gray parts are not numbered.
- Letter A parts are the left & right forward fuselage halves & the forward elevator parts (4 parts)
- Letter B parts tree holds: the cockpit floor, firewall, pilot seat, landing gear legs, exhaust nozzles, landing gear doors etc. (28 parts)
- Letter C parts tree holds the rear fuselage halves, wingtip parts and nose guns (8 parts)
- No parts are designated as letters D or E
- Letter F parts tree holds, wheel hubs, elevator and wing flaps and a lower rear fuselage strake. (10 Parts)
- Letter G designates the wing upper and lower halves (4 parts)
- There is no letter H tree
- Letter I tree is the black vynil tires (3 parts)
- Letter J clear parts tree holds: the canopy parts, nose tip blisters, reflector gun sight, and cockpit rear bulkhead (7 parts)
The canopy is in 3 sections, so it can be posed upon if desired. The cockpit interior is a little sparse and I purchased an aftermarket set designed to improve this kit (but is now out of business).