Minicraft 1/48 XF5F Skyrocket Kit First Look
by Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||October 2012||Manufacturer||Minicraft|
|Kit Number||11660||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Simple build||Cons||Spartan cockpit|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$42.99|
Grumman saw the handwriting on the wall carrier fighters were going to need two engines to improve safety and get the pilot back aboard the carrier in the event of an engine loss. Single-engined aircraft get really quiet after an engine quits! Grumman interested the Navy in the concept of additional power and multi-engined reliability and built the XF5F-1. Unfortunately, the design had too much drag and did not realize much improvement in performance over its single-engined counterparts.
Grumman redesigned the XF5F-1 to reduce drag, while improving performance. While they succeeded in meeting some of their goals, Grumman and the Navy also learned a new problem with multi-engined aircraft. The location of the engines versus the cockpit prohibited the pilot from seeing the LSO during carrier landings. This design wasn't going to work either. Grumman and the Navy used the XF5F to conduct further research, and their efforts led to the first successful twin-engined carrier-based fighter the F7F Tigercat.
Over 12 years ago, I had the pleasure of building this kit in one of its previous boxings. You can see what this kit looks like in my Minicraft 1/48 XF5F-1 Skyrocket build review. As I recall, Minicraft released this kit as the long nosed and the short nosed versions in different boxes. In this release, the parts for both versions are included in the box.
Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on thre parts trees, plus one tree of clear parts. There is no sign of flash on this example so assembly is straightforward. Out of the box, this kit goes together quickly as it is not a complex model, though the cockpit is rather Spartan.
Among the features and options:
- Choice of short-nosed and long nosed variants
- Choice of unarmed or armed prototypes
- Engines are nicely detailed
- Positionable landing gear
- Both versions of the vertical stabilizers provided
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable gun bay door (for armed version)
If you look at that wing, you can see how this design was scaled up to become the F7F Tigercat.
One nice thing about the XF5F, this design is essentially a twin-engined Wildcat and that cockpit is very similar in layout to the Wildcat. With the wide range of aftermarket parts released for the 1/48 Tamiya and Hobby Boss Wildcat kits, you could adapt one of those cockpit sets to really dress up this cockpit, making the needed detail changes in there to reflect the differences between the two aircraft.
Markings are provided for two examples:
- XF5F-1 (early), 1442, prototype markings, spring 1940
- XF5F-1 (late), Unknown, camouflaged prototype, December 1944
Many years ago, the model that was in my original build review perished in a moving box. Ever since then, I've wanted to build another example and add some details to this one. As I mentioned above, there are a number of aftermarket options for the Wildcat and I'll be adapting some of these to a build-up of this kit in the near future. Thanks Minicraft for reissuing this gem!
My sincere thanks to Minicraft Models for this review sample!