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X-2 Kit

Golden Age 1/72 Bell X-2 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2008 Manufacturer Golden Age by Olimp
Subject Bell X-2 Scale 1/72
Kit Number 72001 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Simple kit Cons
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $TBA

First Look

X-2 Kit
X-2 Kit
X-2 Kit
X-2 Kit

The Bell X-2 was the second rocket-powered research aircraft developed for the fledgling US Air Force. The first was the X-1, which broke through Mach 1 in level flight for the first time on 14 Oct 1947. The straight-winged X-1 design was modified several times to push the envelope and understand the affects of supersonic flight on flight control and aerodynamic heating. The X-1E was the final variant which exceeded Mach 2 and nearly killed Chuck Yeager, the man who initially broke Mach 1, when the aircraft encountered a little-known phenomenon of inertial coupling.

The X-2 featured swept wings, taking German research that mitigated the onset of transonic wave drag by sweeping the wings forward or aft. While the swept wing design would obviously work out, the X-2 was also intended to explore the aerodynamic region of Mach 2-3. The so-called thermal barrier laid out there somewhere around Mach 2.5 and this aircraft was built to be more tolerant of aerodynamic friction at high speeds.

While the X-2 would break through Mach 3 on 27 Sep 1956, pilot Captain Milburn G. "Mel" Apt would lose his life after completing a flawless flight profile and starting a turn back to base while above Mach 3. The aircraft experienced the same inertial coupling that caught Yeager in the X-1E, but unlike Yeager, Mel Apt was unable to regain control of the X-2. It is worth noting that neither the X-1 series nor X-2 were equipped with ejection seats.

Golden Age is a kit line by Olimp, this being their first in the series. The kit is presented on three parts trees plus a single small clear for the canopy. The styrene has a slight texture to it which isn't as noticable in the gray parts as was the clear. In this scale, you couldn't see inside that cockpit regardless of the clarity of the canopy.

While the kit is very simple, it does indeed provide a detailed cockpit which will look great with the canopy set aside. The kit also provides a nosewheel, main gear skid, and two wing skids, so you can pose the aircraft after landing on the dry lakebed if you'd like. You'll have to provide your own dolley if you want to pose the aircraft in pre-launch configuration.

The underside of the wings insert into the upper halves and may require some filing and filling to get these set without gaps. Otherwise, construction appears to be straightforward.

Decals are provided for X-2 (XS-2-BE) 46-674, the aircraft that conducted the high-speed flights before being lost in the crash that killed test pilot Mel Apt.

It is interesting that while Olimp was kind enough to send this kit for us to review, I was unable to find any listing of the kit on their website nor find any source for the kit yet. A quick trip over to Hannants reveals that there are several X-2 kits available in 1/72 including one from Alliance and one from Mach 2, making me wonder if this is all the same tooling. If you can find one of these kits, it will be a fun build.

My sincere thanks to Olimp Models for this review sample!