KIT: Revell 1/48 Spirit of St. Louis
KIT #: 5244
PRICE: $12.00 MSRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Bill Michaels
NOTES: New Mold kit


Named for the group of St Louis businessmen that had provided the funding, the “Spirit of St. Louis”, a Ryan NYP (New York to Paris) was built for one purpose:  to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean.   In 1919, financier Norman Orteg had created a $25,000 prize for the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris.  Several people tried, and by 1927, six people had died in the attempt.  By 1927, expectations were high—a number of groups were planning an attempt— but who would be first?

 Anyone with an interest in aviation has probably heard of Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis.  Books have been written about the man and his accomplishment, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here.  Instead, I’ll just provde a brief description of the aircraft….

 Lindbergh’s plane was a modified Ryan M-2 Brougham mailplane.  A number of modifications were made to the aircraft to enable it to carry 2,750 pounds of fuel, giving it a range of over 4,200 miles. (600 miles more than needed for the historic flight.) One of the notable modifications was the removal of the front windshield—the space was filled with a large fuel tank.  This left Lindbergh with two small side windows for visibility, plus a retractable periscope for use if he needed to see dead ahead.   

The NYP was powered by the reliable Wright J-5C Whirlwind engine, which developed 295 hp, and gave the plane a top speed of 129 mph. 

 Charles Lindbergh picked the plane up in San Diego, and after some local testing, took off for New York.  His flight to New York set a transcontinental record, but bigger things were yet to come.   Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in New York on May 20, 1927, and arrived 33 hours, 30 minutes later, on May 21, at Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris.  Lindbergh’s accomplishment won the Orteg prize, and made him a world-famous aviator.  After the famous flight, the plane was returned to the USA by ship, where Lindbergh embarked on a good will tour.

 The original Ryan NYP now hangs in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.  Several replicas of the NYP have been built- both static and flying.  The EAA owns a couple, and replicas are also on-display in Paris and at the Minneapolis-St.Paul International airport.


 This is a new mold from Revell, developed with assistance from the San Diego Museum of Flight.  The kit consists of over 50 parts, molded in silver and clear plastic.   The kit is molded in a slightly softer plastic than I’m used to seeing. 

Overall, the moldings look to be pretty sharp.   There is very little flash on the kit parts- my copy had a little on a couple of the smaller details.  There are no panel lines, per se, as the plane was mostly fabric covered--  instead the kit has fine raised lines representing the stringer detail on the flying surfaces and sides of the fuselage.  Many of the parts are covered with ejector pin marks on the backside.  In most places, they won’t be visible, but the interior of the fuselage in the cockpit is an exception- more below…

 The cockpit is reasonably well detailed.  There is a nice instrument panel, control stick, control linkage, seat, and sidewall details.   The interior of the fuselage has fine interior bracing wire detail, but is marred by a pair of ejector pin marks.  Fortunately, the ejector pin marks fall between the raised details, so none will be damaged if you fill them.   A nice touch is that you can pose the cockpit door in the open position if you want, so you can see at least some of the nice interior details. 

 The wing is molded in top and bottom halves.  The ailerons are attached, but feature nicely done hinges.  The fabric covering is, in my opinion, properly represented for a model in this scale.  There is no fabric weave detail on the surface, just a smooth surface with gentle undulations for the ribs and valleys.  Fabric covered aircraft had the weave sealed with dope (aluminum colored on the NYP), and the surface on a full scale aircraft will appear to be a smooth surface unless you are right on top of it. 

 The exposed engine is a prominent feature of the NYP, and this one looks OK.  It is molded in four main pieces, with the front, rear, pushrods, and front cowling all separate items.   I do have a couple of concerns about this prominent feature.  First, there is a mold line that runs across the top of all the cylinders, bisecting the valve covers on the top of each cylinder.  Cleaning this up will be somewhere between tedious and difficult.  Also, when test fitting the front and back half of the engine, there looks like some gaps at the tops of the cylinders.   Filling that seam will also be a challenge, I fear…

 The front of the aircraft is a separate piece- the part that was the metal cowl on the NYP.  This will allow you to apply a metal finish to it separately, if you wish.  (The rest of the aircraft was fabric covered, painted with aluminum dope.)  If you don’t want to mess with a metal finish, the kit includes decals to cover the cowl. 

The decal sheet looks very nice- the decals look thin, and are printed in register.  The decal sheet is quite complete—in addition to the major markings you’d expect to see, it also includes a number of small markings.  Included on the sheet is a nice instrument panel decal, and several manufacturer logos- including ones for the prop.  An interesting idea is that the kit includes decals for the swirled metal finish on the nose of the aircraft.  These decals are segmented, and provide a creative solution to finishing the cowling.  Another nice touch is that the decal sheet includes a decal of all the flags added to the lower cowling during the 1927/28  goodwill tour after Lindbergh’s historic flight.  (So you can do the plane before or after the historic flight.)

 A nice little extra is the inclusion of a couple of pilot figures.  You have the option of posing Charles Lindbergh seated in the cockpit, or standing next to the aircraft.  The figures are not what I’d call “well sculpted”, as the detail seems to be a bit soft.  The head is molded separately, but the detail on face is reminiscent of old Airfix 1/72 figures—that is, not very sharp.  Interestingly, you can only use one of the figures, as the kit only supplies one head!

 The instructions are very well done, as well. The instructions are printed in a nice, large eight-page  booklet.  There is a nice history included, and a full page of drawings for decal placement.   It is apparent that this kit is aimed at the US market—it does not use the common picture only, multiple language format we are used to seeing these days.  The instructions are written in English, and each part is identified by name.  So, you know that part 37 is the control stick, and that part 34 is the trim and throttle quadrant.  Personally, I like this, as I learned a lot of aircraft terminology as a youngster from kits with this style of instructions. 


 Recommended.  This kit looks to be pretty good.   It is fairly well molded, has nice decals, and is inexpensive to boot.   The only other NYP I’m aware of in plastic is the ancient (40+ years old?) 1/72 scale kit currently boxed by Testors.   It is nice to see a good kit of this famous plane in 1/48 scale!

January 2006


Kit instructions

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