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Mike

XF5U-1 Flying Flapjack 1:48

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XF5U-1 Flying Flapjack
1:48 KittyHawk


boxtop.jpg


At a time when engineers were struggling to squeeze every ounce of speed from the piston engines that had almost reached their limit in terms of power, there were some radical solutions proposed, and one such aircraft was the Vought XF5U, which began gestation during WWII as a carrier fighter with high top-speed, but good slow handling characteristics for deck operations. By mounting the two props at the edges of the disc-shaped blended fuselage/wing and giving them opposite directions of rotation, the prop-wash cancelled the energy sapping vortices, giving the aircraft a higher top-speed and allowing it to use a smaller lifting body to achieve its performance. That benefited carrier stowage as well as saving materials, so a great deal of effort went into developing the concept.

Based on a smaller prototype, the test aircraft was constructed and began ground trials that ended up with some small hops, but never fully-fledged flight if you'll excuse the pun. Vibration issues remained by the time the project was cancelled in 1947, by which time it was over-budget and being closed upon rapidly by the jet-age. It was doubtless an interesting proposition that struggled to find its feet due to the radically different technologies needed to make it function reliably, but it was ultimately to be the more promising jet engines that sealed its fate.


The Kit
An unusual choice by KittyHawk, but an interesting one nonetheless, from an age where anything was considered to steal a march on the opposition. The kit has been tooled to represent the development airframe, however the box art shows a what-if scene of a Flapjack scything through the sky having just destroyed a Japanese fighter that was attacking an Allied bomber stream, firing cannons at the next target "off-screen". Very nice artwork it is too. Inside the box are four sprues of mid-grey styrene, which are irritatingly (from a reviewer's point of view at least) still linked in pairs, having been folded at their centres at the factory. Clear parts are individually bagged, and a separate ziplok bag contains a tiny sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and three decal sheets of varying sizes. The instruction booklet is portrait A4(ish) with a glossy colour cover with fold-out inners that contain the colour guides. The rear cover has had its fold-out pasted closed at the factory however, and another page in thinner stock inserted in the centre of the booklet, possibly due to a mistake in the profiles, or more likely due to the large Animé/Manga style decal that has been removed from one of the decal sheets for wider release.

sprue1.jpg

sprue2.jpg

sprue3.jpg

sprue4.jpg

pe.jpg


The sprues are square, so there's a reasonable amount of room in the box, because the Flapjack was a small aircraft. The part count is also fairly low due to the blended nature of the design, with two large top and bottom fuselage/wing surfaces taking up the majority of two of the sprues. Construction is therefore straightforward and consists of creating the small cockpit from a floor panel, seat with PE belts, side and rear panels, plus the instrument panel, which has a decal for it and the side consoles. Rudder and control column finish off the area, and little more is needed due to the small opening in the fuselage. The two main gear bays are also built up from panels, and have the five-part gear legs and two-part twin wheels added before they are installed. Spacer ribs help to hold them firmly within the fuselage once installed too, which is good design. The small tail wheel uses the same construction method, although the twin wheels are single parts due to their size. Two exhaust tubes are made up and installed in the lower wing, at which point the four assemblies can be added and the airframe closed up. A turtle-deck behind the pilot is added, and twin main-bay doors are inserted on separate hinges, as are the tail wheel bay doors.

clear.jpg


Cockpit glazing is in two parts, and is thin with very little in the way of distortion, allowing the canopy to be posed open or closed. A gunsight is added before gluing the windscreen in place, after which the various airframe details are brought together, such as the twin intakes in the leading edge; twin tails and elevators; two inserts in the top and bottom engine humps; the two part elevons with separate mass-balances and formation lights in clear; the crane-like arrestor-hook, which deploys from the upper fuselage; and of course the twin props. The blades are separate from the spinner, which is made up from two parts each for the cylindrical extension and the spinner itself. Happily the blades are keyed, so will be easy to get set up to the correct angle. If you're doing the prototype, all you need do is bring these final assemblies together and add the clear nose dome, but KH have thoughtfully supplied a pair of bombs and pylons if you wanted to go a bit whiffy. There aren't parts for guns however, so you'd be expected to add those yourself from tubing.


Markings
There appears to be a decal for a Japanese manga style character missing from the three sheets, as evidenced by the half-moon edge of one of them. A small picture on the box contents page gives that fact away as do the stuck-together pages in the instruction manual, and a blanked off image on the box, so I guess that one of these little aircraft featured in animé somewhere along the line, but KH probably thought that the average Gaijin wouldn't be interested. From this boxing you can build one of three airframes, as follows:

  • US Navy – Midnight Blue with red prop blades & substantial walkways on upper surfaces.
  • US Army – Uncle Sam Wants You – Midnight Blue with large Uncle Sam decal and stars on the upper surfaces, red/white rudders & red prop blades.
  • US Navy – All over silver with red prop blades, and red/white rudders.

decals.jpg


The decals are spread across three sheets, with the national insignia, walkways and striped rudder panels taking up the majority of one sheet, while the tiny sheet contains just two images of Bugs Bunny on a flying carpet. The sheet with Uncle Sam on also contains the instrument decals, but the words "I want you" has the I replaced with a bullet, and O an oozing bullet-wound, which I've not seen before and find a teensy bit disturbing. The figure image seems to have been culled from one easily found on Google, so I hope they don't run into any copyright issues!

Quality of the decals is good, with sharpness, register and colour density up to standard, and the thin carrier film tightly cropped.


Conclusion
A nice model of an interesting technological dead-end during the last days of WWII that should provide a quick easy build due to its simplicity, although detail hasn't be sacrificed at all. If you read our reviews regularly, you'll see I like the esoteric so you can imagine that this one is right up my street.

Highly recommended.

Review sample courtesy of logo.gif and available soon from major hobby shops

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Nice review Mike and one that might just end up coming to africa with me...

For postal interest, any idea on the dimensions and weight of the box... :winkgrin::whistle: Just to make sure the Boeing can carry it... :wicked:

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Bugger, that's another one for the stash monster. :frantic:

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You do realise that the Stash Monster is YOU don't you Dave? :lol:

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Thanks for the review Mike looks like this one will be heading my way !

Guy

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I have one of these coming for either my Birthday or for Christmas, only twelve days apart so it doesn't matter which. The "Bonkers Brigade" are going to love it!

Martin

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How do these keep getting past me!?

Of course, what am I now to do with the resin (from Squadron Shop in 1997!) & vacuform kits of this beastie? Certainly, must be easier to build than either... but what happened to the anime schemes? Maddening!

Regards, Robert

Edited by rbeach84

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Based on a smaller prototype...

This is something you see stated all the time, including the Wiki pages for the XF5U and the V-173. I don't think this is true though, and the plan view diagram on Tailspin Turtle's page clearly shows that the proof of concept vehicle (V-173) and the XF5U were the same size. The V-173 was certainly lighter, due to materials and construction, but not smaller.

The Kitty Hawk model looks quite nice indeed, even including the unusual design for the arresting hook which may never have been fitted to the XF5U. The model is far more detailed than the Hasegawa branded box of the Hobby Spot 1:72 short run kit languishing in my stash. Maybe another reason for me to contemplate a return to the dark scale...

It's too bad the XF5U never flew. I think its STOL characteristics would have been very interesting. Vought have photos of the V-162 scale model in the "hovering" position, but I don't know if this was ever attempted with the V-162. Tailspin probably knows - any information on that Tommy? Maybe restrained in the wind tunnel?

Cheers,

Bill

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This is something you see stated all the time, including the Wiki pages for the XF5U and the V-173. I don't think this is true though, and the plan view diagram on Tailspin Turtle's page clearly shows that the proof of concept vehicle (V-173) and the XF5U were the same size. The V-173 was certainly lighter, due to materials and construction, but not smaller.

The Kitty Hawk model looks quite nice indeed, even including the unusual design for the arresting hook which may never have been fitted to the XF5U. The model is far more detailed than the Hasegawa branded box of the Hobby Spot 1:72 short run kit languishing in my stash. Maybe another reason for me to contemplate a return to the dark scale...

It's too bad the XF5U never flew. I think its STOL characteristics would have been very interesting. Vought have photos of the V-162 scale model in the "hovering" position, but I don't know if this was ever attempted with the V-162. Tailspin probably knows - any information on that Tommy? Maybe restrained in the wind tunnel?

Cheers,

Bill

Zimmerman's basic low-aspect ratio concept was theoretically capable of hovering and he patented a configuration that was intended to have hover capability. However, the F5U did not have the thrust-to-weight ratio required to hover. In fact, the XF5U SAC projects a stall speed of 58 knots with zero fuel (only 10 knots slower than the F4U-1's), hence the requirement for a tailhook.

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