|KIT:||Valom 1/72 XF8B-1|
|PRICE:||$33.98 MSRP ($30.46 at Squadron)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run with PE fret, resin parts, and vacuformed canopy|
Though known mostly for its 'heavies', Boeing had produced very successful fighters for both the Army and Navy in the form of the P-12, F4B and P-26 aircraft of the 20s and early 1930s. In 1943, the Navy tendered inputs for a new long range fighter powered by the new Pratt & Whitney XR4360, a 3,000 horsepower, 28 cylinder, 4-row radial engine. Boeing's entry was among those considered and three prototypes were built, each with a 6 blade contra-rotating prop to counter the huge torque effects of the new engine. Thanks to other work taking time from the development of the XF8B, it wasn't until late November of 1944 that the first aircraft flew. The only real problem was when the landing gear collapsed early in the test program. The Air Force showed interest in it as well for the 6 20mm cannon and large internal bomb bay would make it a great fighter bomber. However, the waning war situation and the ascendancy of the turbojet spelled the doom of many very promising and capable aircraft like the XF8B-1 and the project stopped with only the three prototypes being built.
Valom's kit comes with two sprues of medium grey plastic. The plastic is a bit thick, but not terribly so. The engraved work is well done and not so petite that it will disappear under sanding. The overall detailing is a tad softer than you'd see on a Tamiya kit, but considering the nature of the beast, it isn't bad. The detailing on the engine parts is fairly good, but you'll not see much other than the front row as the close cowling will hide most of it. Interior consists of a seat, stick, rudder pedals, aft bulkhead, and floor. The instrument panel has an acetate instrument sheet and an etched brace face. A PE shoulder harness is included. This is all topped by a fairly clear vac canopy, of which two are supplied (thank you). The sprue attachment points are fairly small and some of them continue on to the part itself, requiring some care to remove and a bit of extra work to clean it up. My wing sprue had a couple of short shot parts on it, comprising a small section of the interior and one of the main gear doors. The landing gear legs are incorporated into the lower gear door as is the wheel axle. The only part not used is the tail hook.
Resin is used for the engine cowling, the two drop tanks (which are solid and rather heavy) as well as the drop tank attachments and the exhaust. Photo Etch is used for the seat harness, cooler intake grille, rudder pedals, oleo scissors, and the instrument panel. Instructions are unchanged in format from their earlier kits with large parts id number and color guides. The color chart is in a variety of different paint numbers as well as generic names and FS 595. Markings are for a single aircraft and consist of only four late war insignia. The aircraft itself is in overall bare metal with no anti-glare shield. I can only assume that this is one of the last two prototypes that was tested by the Air Force as the prototype was in overall sea blue with the name on the cowling. According to the Valom website, this earlier aircraft will be the subject of another kit. Actually, if you want to cobble together a serial from spare sheets, you can do the earlier plane in GSB just by adding the tail hook and hand painting the nose logo. Thanks to Boeing for the pictures.
Once again, Valom has come up with an interesting prototype aircraft that I never thought I'd see as an injected plastic kit. The 'what if' crowd should love this one as there is lots of room to add markings to it. Judging from other Valom kits I've built, it will take a bit of work to do, but all the basics are there for you and the end result will be a most impressive and unusual aircraft. We should all encourage Valom to continue with these types of kits by buying this and his other releases.
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