FM 1/48 Bell X-2 Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||December 2005||Manufacturer||Fonderie Miniature|
|Kit Number||6408||Primary Media||Styrene, Resin, White Metal, Photo Etch, Vac|
|Pros||Very nice details in this multimedia kit||Cons||You're going to need a larger display shelf!|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$65.95|
Chuck Yeager proved that the speed of sound was not an absolute aerodynamic barrier flying the rocket-powered X-1. While the aircraft did exceed the speed of sound with straight wings, it was clear that additional research was needed to find the optimum design for supersonic flight.
In December 1945, Bell was contracted to develop a Mach 3 capable test platform and much of their work was boosted by captured German aerodynamic research into swept wings and aerodynamic drag. Powered the XLR 125 rocket engine, the aircraft had promise to meet its performance objectives.
The first aircraft on the line was aircraft number two, 46-675, which engaged in a number of drop and glide tests before it was lost May 12, 1953 in an explosion while still mated with its B-50 mothership.
Aircraft number one, 46-674, came online in August 1954 and resumed glide testing. The first powered flight was conducted on November 11, 1955 when pilot Jack Everest took the X-2 to Mach 2.87. The aircraft made a total of 17 flights before it too was lost. Before its demise, the X-2 reached Mach 3.2 and exceeded 125,000 feet, man's first excursions into this corner of the flight envelope.
If you're a fan of the X-planes, you've no-doubt noted that the hobby industry doesn't share your interest very much. With a few exceptions offered in various scales in styrene, modelers have been forced to the resin or vacuformed kits to "fill in the blanks". Then along comes the Bell X-2 from Fonderie Miniature.
Molded in a light tan styrene, this kit is clearly a limited run project. The molds are low-pressure as the styrene exhibits a slight texture on the surface (that is easy to buff off) and some of the scribed details are a bit soft. For experienced modelers, these are non-issues.
While principally a styrene kit, this model is still a multi-media project. In addition to two parts trees containing the styrene portion of the kit, this kit features resin parts, two bags of white-metal parts, and vacuformed canopies.
The X-2 was not a 'detailed' aircraft. It's cockpit was kept simple to minimize weight. The cockpit tub is cast in resin with a white metal pilot's seat, stick and instrument panel.
To save weight and allow for greater fuel capacity, the aircraft did not have normal landing gear. It was carried aloft under the B-50 and landed on the dry lakebed on a nosewheel, centerline skid, and underwing skids. These details are provided in white metal.
One of the two white metal parts bags is the kit of the transport dolly that carries the X-2 back to the maintenance hangar and over to the B-50 mating dock. This dolly provides an interesting way to display your aircraft.
Markings are provided for aircraft number one, 46-674.
This is a nice-looking kit that is going to build into a stunning model of this much-overlooked subject. While not for the Tamiyagawa kit assembler, this model brings the best of the multimedia elements together to create a detailed replica. If your skills aren't quite ready to tackle a multimedia kit, you might want to stash one away as this kit won't be available for very long.
This is definitely recommended for the modeler with good multimedia experience!
My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!