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X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit

Anigrand Craftswork 1/144 X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2010 Manufacturer Anigrand Craftswork
Subject X-Planes VSTOL Set Scale 1/144
Kit Number 3005 Primary Media Resin
Pros Beautiful casting, nice test-fit Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $90.00

First Look

X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit
X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit
X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit
X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit
X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit
X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit
X-Planes VSTOL Set Kit

The US X-plane series represents a wide range of aerodynamic concepts and experiments (hence the X-designation) that are designed to push the boundaries of some aspect of flight. From the X-1, which successfully broke through the speed of sound through the X-45 which broke through the boundaries of advanced unmanned flight, these aircraft have enabled many of the technologies we take for granted today. One such group of X-planes tackled another aerodynamic challenge - vertical/short take-off and landing - VSTOL.

While helicopters have been performing VSTOL since the early prototypes before World War 2, rotary-wing flight also has limits in speed and payload not to mention the cost and complexity. Bell approached the challenge initially with the X-14A which was little more than some available light aircraft parts assembled around a pair of British Viper engines to explore turbine-based VSTOL. The aircraft first flew in 1957 and remained in use for well over 20 years by the Air Force and NASA. While successful, the concept didn't materialize into a operational application before the British developed their own VSTOL prototype - the Kestrel - which led to the highly successful Harrier.

Bell took another approach to a practical VSTOL design with the X-22, an aircraft that was propelled by four ducted fans that could be rotated to vertical for take-off/landing and to horizontal for cruise flight. The first prototype crashed after failure of a propeller control, the second prototype incorporated improvements in flight stabilization and control. While it continued as a test aircraft for 20 years, no further exploration was made using ducted fan technology.

Meanwhile, Curtiss-Wright developed their own concept around the X-19 which used two turbine engines to power four tilting propeller pods mounted to the sides of the airframe. This aircraft first flew in 1963 and while initially successful, a crash in 1965 led to the cancellation of the program.

Hiller entered the VSTOL arena with the X-18, the first approach to a VSTOL cargo aircraft. First flown in 1961, propeller pitch control led to a loss of control of the aircraft and while control was regained, the aircraft was used only in ground testing before the program was cancelled. Key lessons learned from this program would shape future VSTOL aircraft - propellers must be cross-linked to allow for continued safe flight in case of an engine failure. Attitude control must be performed with propeller pitch control rather than throttle as throttle response with turbines (especially the early ones) is too slow.

Anigrand Craftswork has returned with an interesting collection of the four X-Plane VSTOL designs plus a 'bonus kit - the LTV XC-142. These five aircraft provided a number of key lessons that led to the development of today's Harrier (and lunar lander) as well as the V-22 Osprey.

Cast in tan resin, all five kits are molded in standard Anigrand fashion with hollow-cast fuselage halves, plug-in wing halves and tail, engine nacelles, and resin props and landing gear. All five kits have clear resin transparencies.

As you can see in the images to the right, the top shows the nice packing to get your kits safely to you. The second shows the parts layout of the Hiller X-18 with the twin turboprop engines and the unique tail jet pipe for low/no speed pitch control.

The third photo shows the layout for the star of this set - LTV's XC-142 prototype. This includes the four main engines plus a small tail-mounted propeller that also provided pitch authority while the aircraft is below minimum control speed.

The fourth image shows the layout for the X-19 in its business aircraft styled airframe and the four sets of paddle propellers for lift.

The fifth image shows the simple layout of the Bell X-14 with its open cockpit (the only X-plane with an open cockpit).

The final parts image shows the nicely cast ducts for the four ducted fan engines on the Bell X-22. This really shows some nice casting skills to render these units.

Markings are provided for all five examples including:

  • X-14, 56-4022
  • X-18, 57-3078
  • X-19, 12197
  • X-22, 1521
  • XC-142, 62-5921

Anigrand continues to turn out some interesting subjects to fill in the gaps of aviation history for those aircraft that didn't get past flight test. Congratulations on this nice set!

My sincere thanks to the US importer, Nostalgic Plastic for this review sample!