Friday, November 6, 2015


LOVERS OF WEIRD and wonderful aircraft of the past will be delighted that Kitty Hawk Model has made an excellent 1:48 scale kit of a 1940s rarity, the Vought XF5U-1, tastily nicknamed the 'Flying Flapjack.'

SMN report: Kitty Hawk Model offers a growing range of attractive aircraft models, in 1:32 and 1:48 scales. We're not sure who decides which wings belong to what scale, but this XF5U-1 is in the somewhat smaller of the two, and as 1:48 is our favourite, we have no sizeist issues to worry about.

The XF5U-1 is marked simply as 'coming soon' so it looks like a 2016 release, probably Q1 or Q2. These promo shots from Kitty Hawk Model show a worthwhile miniature, which looks excellent in US Navy dark blue. Note the top-mounted carrier arrester hook (below). It's a unique position, made necessary by the aircraft's high angle of attack on approach.

Plenty of detail and careful attention to rivet quality allow for a realistic look to the assembled and finished model. A diorama showing the XF5U-1 on deck with other aircraft of the time - Corsair, Avenger, et al - would look great, and really underline the way-out Vought design.

The design had an alarmingly steep angle of attack, seen (below) in these side-on shots.

Twin-wheel main and tail gear (below) are faithfully reproduced.

Two belly-mounted bombs (below) are included in the Kitty Hawk kit. The wheel wells are reasonably detailed.

The XF5U-1 is one of the aircraft that comes with the World of Warplanes combat-sim game. This promo video (below) is well worth watching, to see the level of detail included and the fast movement control included in the game.

An attractive World of Warplanes visual is this yellowbird XF5U-1, seen (below) climbing away from San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

The three-view drawing (below) reveals the truly odd proportions of this footnote in aviation history.

Removable aluminium steps (below) ran to the cockpit from the tail. The end of World War II marked the death knell for the XF5U-1. The future of combat aviation was clearly with jets, so proceeding with a highly unusual propeller design wasn't likely, and the aircraft was cancelled in 1947.

The XF5U-1's predecessor was the Vought V-173 (below) designed by Charles Zimmerman. Note the wooden props, fixed landing gear, and multi-pane window section under the nose. This allowed the pilot to see ahead during landing approaches.

The engines were buried (below) in the wing structure, either side of the cockpit. Maybe there's room for an outfit like Zoukei-Mura to give us a see-thru interior version, along the lines of the superb 1:48 scale Horten Ho 229.

The Vought V-173 is on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas, Texas.