|KIT:||Czech Model 1/48 XF2R-1 'Dark Shark'|
|PRICE:||$39.95 (35.96 at Squadron)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run with resin parts and vac canopy|
During the middle 1940s, the various services were working on aircraft powered by the new turbojet engines. While the Army was able to produce viable systems (as in the P-80), they had the advantage of operating from fixed bases with long runways. The Navy, however, did not have this luxury and so their initial foray into the world of gas turbine engines was to add the turbojet to a rather standard airframe with a normal reciprocating engine.
This was the Ryan FR-1 Fireball. While not a world-beater, it did provide experience in operating turbojet engines from carrier decks and allowed other designs to benefit from this experience. Along the way, it was decided to produce a land based aircraft with both a turbojet and a turboprop engine. As Ryan already had half of the formula, it was a simple matter to remove the reciprocating engine and install a GE TG-100 turboprop engine. As it was to be land based, all the carrier equipment was removed.
First flying in late 1946 the resulting aircraft had somewhat disappointing performance and was only 75 mph faster than the similar FR-1. Much of this was due to the weight of the TG-100 turboprop and the gearbox which cut into performance. Since all-turbojet projects were already well underway and showed better promise than this hybrid aircraft, plans for full production of the aircraft were abandon and only the prototype flew. Testing was concluded a year later before the aircraft was retired. The lone prototype was rescued and displayed by the San Diego Aerospace Museum, where it was totally destroyed along with a number of other aircraft and artifacts in a fire.
The kit is nicely molded in rather thick plastic with finely engraved panel lines. The large parts all have ejector pin towers, many of which will need to be removed prior to construction. Those of you who are familiar with the FR-1 Fireball kit will notice that much of what you see is the same. Indeed, Czech Model only had to provide a new sprue for the fuselage and prop as well as incorporate a few new resin bits to take care of the new aircraft.
The resin parts, which I left in the bag to keep from losing them, are very nicely done and free from air bubbles and other glitches. These parts cover mostly the cockpit and wheel wells. Some work will be needed to remove some of the larger pieces from the resin pour stubs, but most of us who have worked with this material will be used to the routine. Two somewhat thick, but nicely molded vac canopies are also included. Personally, I like the thicker vacuformed parts as they are so much easier to attach.
Instructions come on a single folded sheet of paper with all of the appropriate color information supplied. Since the aircraft is an overall gloss sea blue, it will be much easier to paint than most models. A very nicely done decal sheet provides markings for two aircraft. One is the standard and somewhat dull scheme carried by the prototype. The other is a 'what if' set of markings for VF-41 which many will probably use as they are much more colorful. Of course, when dealing in the world of the what could have been, there are a number of other possibilities and one is only limited by one's imagination.
I'm glad to see that Czech Model has decided to produce this variant. It isn't an aircraft that has been often modeled and will really look nice on the display shelf when done.
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