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V-173

Sword 1/48 V-173 Flying Pancake Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2006 Manufacturer Sword
Subject Vought V-173 Flying Pancake Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48006 Primary Media Styrene/Resin
Pros Easy multimedia kit with only three resin parts, no vac nor PE Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $59.98

First Look

V-173
V-173
V-173

The Vought V-173 prototype was a wood and fabric concept aircraft used to test the blend of wing and fuselage together. Powered by two Continental A-80 engines turning huge three-bladed propellers, the V-173 demonstrated excellent low-speed flying characteristics without sacrificing high speed performance. First flown in November 1942, the US Navy was interested in the radical design as the aircraft could be easily operated from carrier decks.

In tests, the aircraft would lift off at 40 mph after a take-off roll of only 200 feet. With a 28 mph wind over the flight deck, the aircraft would need virtually no take-off roll! Similar approach speeds meant that the aircraft could safely recover on the deck without a tail hook. During its extensive flight tests, even Charles Lindbergh had to fly the aircraft on several occasions because of the aircraft's unique characteristics.

The US Navy placed orders for two prototype combat aircraft designated as XF5U-1 in 1944. While the aircraft were completed in 1945, development problems with the aircraft's unique propellers delayed flight testing until 1948. By the time the aircraft was ready to fly, the Navy had already turned its sights on jet power and the XF5U was relegated to the history books.

While several manufacturers have produced the XF5U in 1/72 and 1/48, this is the first kit that I'm aware of that addresses the V-173 concept aircraft. Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is nicely done. You can see in the photos the subtle texture of fabric over wood on the wing surfaces. One of the two parts trees contains the propellers, landing gear and tail surfaces. The other has the clear styrene canopies (no vacuform parts!). Three resin parts are also included for the pilot's seat and consoles.

While assembly appears to be straightforward, care will be needed to align the huge counter-rotating propeller blades and to mount the long landing gear struts (I prefer liquid cement for jobs like this).

Painting of the aircraft is simple - all of the upper surfaces are trainer yellow and the lower surfaces are doped silver. Actually, the yellow does wrap over the leading edge of the wing and the vertical stabs are silver, but that's the extent of the painting challenge. That is except for the propeller blades. Since these blades were wood, here is an opportunity for some eye-catching detail. I'd recommend using some of the wood-grain decals that are available from several manufacturers.

This looks like a fun build and is a good multimedia starter kit given the simple resin content in the cockpit. It will certainly look cool on the shelf!

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!

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