MODELLED BY REVELL AT 1:32 SCALE, this is the largest conventional kit of the first aircraft to break the sound barrier, a mission achieved on 14 October 1947. The flight was made ten years to the month before the launch of the Soviet Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite.
Mat Irvine reports: The Bell X-1 kit is of reasonably simple construction, the bullet-shaped fuselage being in just two halves. The wings are in upper and lower halves, but the smaller horizontal tail comes as a single component for each side.
A plus point for the kit is that Revell includes a fully-detailed cockpit, complete with a seated figure of the pilot, Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager. He can fitted in place, or omitted, whichever you choose. The access door can be sealed shut, or left off. You even get the wooden stick Yeager used to help close the door – he didn’t let on to his bosses that he had broken two ribs the previous evening, making his movements somewhat impaired!
Also supplied is the four-chamber Reaction Motors XLR-11 rocket engine that propelled the X-1 to Mach 1.06, just over the speed of sound. The kit is intended to be built wheels-down, though if you want one in flight mode, anyone with reasonable building skills could modify it.
Revell supplies a clear strut to place under the rear fuselage to ensure the model sits in its proper stance. As supplied, the X-1 is a confirmed tail-sitter, though you can add weight to the nose, even if there’s not a great deal of room to do so.
There were three X-1s in the original form, although this kit provides decals only for the first, number 6062. However, the model can be built in one of three finishes of what is the same aircraft. One is overall orange, with wartime stars-and-bars markings without a red stripe. Also included is the post-war version that includes the central red bar. The third and later version features the fin and upper and lower spines in white.
Component check (below) shows all 51 parts present and correct. Note the transparent canopy and support strut in the middle.
Cover of the instruction booklet (below) and accurately printed decal sheet.
Double-page age spread (below) showing the easy to follow construction instructions.
Colour scheme drawings (below) are included.
First box (below) from 1988.
Second box (below) from 2003. The latest box (header pic) has fresh artwork.
The completed Bell X-1 (below), painted in the original overall-orange finish.
The finished model (below) in a diorama setting with an aftermarket standing figure of Chuck Yeager. The same-scale MG TC is from the Revell Highway Pioneers range, a series released originally by Gowland and Gowland.
The kit was first issued by Revell Inc in 1988 as part of the ‘Yeager Superfighters’ series. At that time it was moulded in orange. There was a second issue in 2003 by Revell-Monogram LLC, and this time it was moulded in light grey. This third issue is from Revell-Germany, and is moulded in a pale greeny-blue.
Overall, an excellent model of this very important aircraft.
Revell: Bell X-1 Supersonic Aircraft
Assembled length: 323 mm (12 in)
Manufacturer’s ref: 03888
Thanks to Revell-Germany for the review kit.
Note: The Bell X-1 was designed to be air-launched by a modified Boeing B-29, and all but one flight were made using this method. The only ground takeoff was in early 1949, when the first X-1, with Yeager at the controls, took off directly from Rogers Dry Lake. It needed all four chambers of the engine for liftoff, but the flight was successful, reaching 23,000 feet. Then Yeager cut the engine, and made a gliding return flight.
Click here for more Bell X-1 info at SMN.