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Spirit of St. Louis

Revell 1/48 Ryan NYP 'Spirit of St. Louis' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2006 Manufacturer Revell
Subject Ryan NYP 'Spirit of St. Louis' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5244 Primary Media Styrene
Pros This is the best (and one of the only few) kit of the Spirit of St. Louis ever made Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $12.75

First Look

Spirit of St. Louis
Spirit of St. Louis
Spirit of St. Louis
Spirit of St. Louis
Spirit of St. Louis
Spirit of St. Louis

In May 1927, the names Charles Lindbergh and the "Spirit of St. Louis" would forever be etched in aviation history. Lindbergh wanted to achieve an aviation first - the first successful non-stop aircraft crossing of the Atlantic. Bear in mind that man had only lifted off for the first time in an aircraft only 18 years earlier and even then could only fly a distance of what would be the wingspan of a 747 airliner.

The Ryan NYP was a modified version of Ryan's M2 sportplane, a high-wing, fabric-covered, single-engine monoplane. In order to fly across the Atlantic, the aircraft would have to be converted into a flying gas tank. Since the concept of "wet wings" was still a few decades away, fuel could be carried inside a small tank in the wing or in a larger tank in the fuselage. To fly roughly 3600 miles, the Spirit was going to need LOTS of fuel. The fuel capacity was 2750 pounds, whereas the empty weight of the Spirit was only 2150 pounds!

To get all of that fuel inside the aircraft, the tanks would have to be at the center of gravity in order to avoid having the aircraft become too nose heavy or too tail heavy as fuel burned off. This meant that the area around what was the windscreen had to house the fuel tanks. Forward visibility was almost nil - almost. A periscope was provided to see forward when Lindbergh wanted, otherwise visibility was only available out the side windows and through an overhead skylight.

Remembering that up until Lindbergh's flight, six men had died trying to achieve the same goal - New York to Paris non-stop. Charles Lindbergh did this in a small, single-engine, fabric covered aircraft . This is a remarkable achievement, but then again, a mere 40 years after Lindbergh's flight over the Atlantic, men set foot on the moon for the first time. It seems that aviation history is moving so fast, anymore it is almost routine!

Here is a newly tooled kit of that very famous aircraft from Revell in 1/48 scale. The kit is molded in silver-gray styrene and presented on eight small parts trees, plus a single tree of transparencies. The design of this kit is a nice blend of simplicity and detail. Nice work Revell!

This kit is definitely state of the art in tooling. While you won't find finely scribed panel lines on the kit (nor will you on the real aircraft), the fabric and underlying structure detailing is very well done. What's more, the inside of the fuselage also has structural detailing inside that will be visible after assembly.

Unlike most aircraft kits, assembly of this project starts with the pilot. This kit features two figures - well two bodies anyway and one head. One body is posed standing whilst the other is posed seated in the cockpit. The sculpting is nice and a good result can be achieved by most modelers.

The cockpit is simple, just like the real thing, but the structure of the instrument panel frame, rudder pedals and control stick linkages are nicely represented as is the rear face of the fuel tank. A decal provides the instrument panel detail. The left fuselage even has a throttle quadrant.

The cockpit subassembly goes inside the fuselage halves followed by the addition of the horizontal stabilizer and its support structure.

The beefy landing gear is nicely rendered. This had to be very strong in real life as well to keep the fully loaded aircraft from becoming a dedicated belly-sitter (or worse, a ball of fire).

The J-5 engine is also nicely rendered and will look great with the right combination of paint and oil washes. The spinner, prop, and engine all mount to the nose which is in turn mounted to the fuselage assembly.

The wing halves go together next and the completed wing is mounted to the fuselage along with its own support structure. Assembly is completed by adding the main cabin door.

Painting of this kit is simplicity itself. paint to the airframe with a dull silver to simulate the silver dope applied to the fabric. The unique polished effect on the nose is replicated with decals to make your life easier. The nose, spinner, and prop are painted a metallic silver.

This kit is a bargain and is simple enough for younger modelers while providing a nice painting and detailing opportunity for the AMS modeler as well.