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XF5U 'Flying Flapjack'

Kitty Hawk Models 1/48 XF5U 'Flying Flapjack' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2015 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk Models
Subject XF5U 'Flying Flapjack' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80135 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros First kit of this subject in this scale Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $43.95

First Look

XF5U 'Flying Flapjack'
XF5U 'Flying Flapjack'
XF5U 'Flying Flapjack'

At the early stages of World War II, the U.S. Navy was looking for effective fighter designs that could operate from the limited confines of a carrier deck. At the time, Vought was experimenting with an unconventional design that was almost a disc in shape powered by two engines turning large counter-rotating propellers. The Navy was interested in the concept and funded the building of a fabric-covered wooden proof-of-concept test aircraft and the V-173 was born. The V-173 proved Vought's concepts were sound and the aircraft was nearly impossible to stall - a nice feature when approaching a carrier deck to land. The Navy approved construction of two full-scale prototypes but technical problems delayed the program beyond the end of the war and well into the age of the jet engine. The program was cancelled in 1947 without progressing beyond taxi testing.

Kitty Hawk Models has released their 1/48 scale XF5U kit and it is a nice looking model. Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on four parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. The molding looks good and the kit has some nice features and options. Let's take a look:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Positionable canopy
  • Detailed wheel wells
  • Detailed landing gear
  • Positionable elevons
  • Positionable rudders
  • Positionable tail hook
  • Optional underbody bomb racks with optional bombs

Three marking options are provided for this kit:

  • F5U, notional all-blue scheme
  • F5U, notional silver scheme
  • F5U, notional recruiting scheme

The kit is laid out nicely and should be a simple build, especially given that the full-scale aircraft wasn't very complex (visually) either. One thing that is noteworthy is that the technical publications say that the F5U was going to be equipped with an ejection seat to help pilots safely clear those huge propellers, but the kit seat is a conventional bucket. You might opt to tweak the seat to represent an early ejector seat for the model.

The kit does have a fourth marking option should you live in Japan - there is an anime figure that goes onto the dorsal side of the airframe which isn't included in kits outside of Japan due to licensing restrictions. If you want something eye-catching atop your notional fighter, the huge Uncle Sam recruiting poster graphic (option three) will work.

Until recently, the only kits of the Flying Flapjack were of the V-173 available in a few scales from different manufacturers. Planet Models released the first XF5U kit in 1/32 scale and that was a nice hunk of resin and money. Here is an alternative in 1/48 scale that is nearly all plastic and offer you some what-if opportunities for the F5U-1, F5U-2N, etc. If Vought had been able to get this aircraft in the air sooner with a less-complex drive system, the skies over the Pacific might have looked a little different.

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!