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Bell X-1

Revell 1/32 Bell X-1 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2017 Manufacturer Revell
Subject Bell X-1 Scale 1/32
Kit Number 4565 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best X-1 in this scale Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $22.95

First Look

Bell X-1
Bell X-1
Bell X-1
Bell X-1

During World War 2, many folks believed that the speed of sound was a barrier that was unbreakable, but as weapons systems improved, pilots were experiencing 'compressibility' problems which caused flight control issues as an aircraft approached the speed of sound (or Mach 1) in a dive. Ironically, bullets normally fly supersonic and the engineers at Bell Aircraft found that one of the more stable rounds in flight was the .50 caliber bullet. It was from this starting point that in 1944, Bell proposed a supersonic testbed and built two rocket-powered aircraft called the XS-1 (experimental supersonic).

Flight testing of the XS-1 began in 1946 and progressed slowly toward the speed of sound. When the aircraft experienced compressibility problems near Mach 1, both aircraft were modified with a variable incidence (movable) horizontal stabilizer. On 14 October 1947, Captain Charles 'Chuck' Yeager became the first pilot to break the speed of sound in level flight, reaching Mach 1.06.

Here is one of Revell's gems, the 1/32 Bell X-1. First released in the late 1980s in the box art you see above, this kit has been reissued every decade (give or take a few years) and is still available today. Molded in orange styrene, this kit is presented on two parts trees plus one clear part which provides the clear cockpit glazing.

Among the features and options:

  • Simple but reasonable cockpit
  • Pilot restraints molded into kit seat
  • Optional seated pilot figure
  • Nice XLR-11 engine that won't be seen after assembly (except for the nozzles)

The kit also provides a stub to plug into the fuselage behind the main gear to keep the model from sitting on its tail. With a little planning, you have room to install ballast under the cockpit floor. The kit does provide a reasonable instrument panel though in this scale, you may wish to provide instrument faces using the generic decal set from Airscale.

Markings are provided to replicate the X-1-1 flown by Captain Charles 'Chuck' Yeager on that day in October 1947 at Muroc, 46-062 which carried the name of his wife 'Glamorous Glennis'.

You'll note in the images to the right, there is a nice resin conversion set produced over a decade ago by Meteor Productions (Cutting Edge) to convert the Revell kit into the X-1E configuration. This set changes the front of the aircraft around the cockpit as well as replaces the wings. The transparency is cast in clear resin, but since there is no replacement cockpit provided, I'll be building this one closed-up.

You'll also note that Cutting Edge had released two decal sets, one to render X-1-1 and X-1-2 in different markings/timeframes as Eduard did with their kit, and the other provides markings options for the X-1E.

This is another one of those 'project' kits that has been on the shelf too long now and I hope by exposing these to light and air, they will finally get their long-overdue time on my bench!