Twelve Squared 1/72 Bell XP-77

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $20.00 when new
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Joel Hamm
NOTES: Short run kit, long out of production

HISTORY

 The XP-77 resulted from two ideas, both bad, that in 1942 lodged in the brains of Air Corps planners. The first: aluminum supplies would dry up, so planes had to be built of wood.  Second: if you build a fighter really small it will be really light and really maneuverable. On the first count, they were wrong.  By 1944, when the 2 prototypes were finally born, no aluminum shortage had materialized.  On the second count they were right.  Trouble was the really small, light, fast, maneuverable fighter was also really useless.  It could carry neither the fuel to get where it needed to go, nor the guns to do what it needed to do. Adding load capacity, something planners have done with every design ever conceived, whittled away any advantage the plywood airplane might have had over machines already flying.   One of the 2 test planes was destroyed in a crash.  The other sat as a gate decoration at some air base until dry-rotting to dust.

THE KIT

             This was a small, simple kit; so the review will be likewise.  Twelve Squared, as noted in earlier reviews, was one of a handful of companies that sprang up in the 80s, turned out some intriguing subjects, then succumbed to the economic and technical realities of the business.

CONSTRUCTION

Twelve Squared had a penchant for stuffing twenty dollars of parts into a two cent plastic bag; then stapling it closed with a label flap that served as an instruction sheet. At least it kept the sprues from rattling around and gouging each other. By the time the Bell had been released, the quality of short run molding was approaching the lower end of the Big Boys League, and Twelve Squared seemed to lead the pack. Once mating surfaces were planed down, fit was nearly filler free.  Contours, particularly airfoil sections, were realistic; and surface texture and detail needed neither sanding nor scribing. The canopy was injected and clear. Nothing noteworthy about the sequence of sticking things together.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Ditto.  Coat of Model Master enamel, good quality kit decals, layer of Future and it was all done.

Editor's Note; The XP-77, being basically a wooden aircraft, was painted in aluminum lacquer with aluminum struts, landing gear wells and the whole thing. It is one of the things that makes it an easy kit.

CONCLUSIONS

 The Bell XP-77 was also released in 1/72 scale by Special Hobby, and in 1/48 by Czech Model.

Editor's Note: There was also a very nice vacuformed kit by, I believe, Rareplanes. I built this beastie as one of the earliest vacuform kits I did back around 1978 or so. It turned out very well and would have been even better had I not overdone the cement on the wings, causing some rather nasty deformations! The Czech Model kit is actually quite nice and here is a link to the one I built in 1998.

Joel Hamm

May 2006

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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