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Mach 2 1/72 Bell X-1A/B Kit First Look

By Roger Gaucher

Date of Review June 2007 Manufacturer Mach 2
Subject Bell X-1A/B Scale 1/72
Kit Number 038 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Unique historical subject Cons Extremely basic instructions
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $37.98

First Look


The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1A and X-1B were improvements on the original X-1 - the first plane to break the sound barrier - These second generation X-1s were created to investigate aerodynamic phenomena at speeds greater than Mach 2 and altitudes above 90,000 ft. They had a new canopy, longer fuselage and increased fuel capacity. They were also equipped with engines fed by turbo-driven fuel pumps, instead of using nitrogen under pressure

For its last three flights, the X-1B was also equipped with wingtips extensions. X-1B was also the first aircraft to fly with a reaction control system, a prototype of the control system used on the X-15 and the Space Shuttle. In addition, it was fitted with special instrumentation for exploratory aerodynamic heating tests.

Last flight of the X-1A took place 7/20/55 and for the X-1B 1/23/58 – they were the last flights of second generation X-1 series.

This is a brand new release from Mach 2. It’s the first of a new US experimental planes series by this manufacturer. The model is contained in a small illustrated box of the X-1A in flight. The kit is molded in white styrene and presented on two parts trees with an un-identified number of parts, plus a single clear part. The molding is short run type, detailing is quite well done with nice engraved panel lines.

As with other short run kits, the kit suffers from flash and edge roughness, though none of it is too bad and should be easy to clean up. The other parts details, undercarriage, wheels, wheel well and doors are delicately molded, but with similar edge roughness.

The cockpit is a simple representation with a basic tub, instrument panel, seat, and control stick. The combustion chambers back part will require drilling holes.

The decals are very thick and it will be necessary to place them with the decal setting solutions like Micro Set and Micro Sol.

The only real weakness of the kit is the instruction sheet. It is really only a single photocopied “Letter” sized sheet with the briefest of information or assembly steps. The sheet right side shows the two paint schemes for the two respective versions.

Markings are provided for two versions:

  • X-1A 48-1384 while in NACA service in over-all gloss white paint with bare metal control surfaces. The fuselage skin near the tank was left unpainted
  • X-1B 48-1385 in bare metal finish with U.S Air Force markings


This small kit is the first of a series on the US experimental planes and constitutes a continuation of the Tamiya model of the first X-1. Construction will require a little more work and of care that its famous elder.

My sincere thanks to my friend Didier Palix for this review sample!