|KIT:||Anigrand Craftworks 1/72 D.558-2 Skyrocket|
|PRICE:||$99.00 from Nostalgic Plastic (free US shipping)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run resin kit with vac canopy|
In 1943, the USAAF had an urgent need to fly photo-reconnaissance missions over the Pacific Theater to identify Japanese positions and movements. But its airfields were far too distant for the medium-range planes to make the round trip. Its only recourse was to issue a request for a new long-range, high altitude reconnaissance plane capable of the long-endurance missions the Pacific War required. In March 1944, Republic Aircraft responded to the USAAF by proposing to modify its experimental civilian RC-2 transport to the specifications. The proposal was accepted and Republic received an order for two prototypes which designated XF-12. Its competitor was the Hughes XF-11. While the Rainbow was under development, the USAAF converted several B-29 bombers into recon aircraft, reclassifying them as F-13s. Even after the war, Republic continued to develop the Rainbow, changing its designation from the XF-12 ("F" for "Photo" instead of the more logical 'P' which was already being used for 'Pursuit/Fighter') to the XR-12 ("R" for "Reconnaissance"). The first XR-12 made its maiden flight in February 1947. Its performance was up to expectations, making it the fastest four piston-engine aircraft flying at the time. Development of the two prototypes continued until 1948 when the USAF canceled the program, choosing recce variants of existing B-29s and B-50s instead.
Many of us would have been delighted if the Rainbow had reached production as it has to be one of the five most beautiful aircraft to have ever graced the skies.
This has to be the largest kit that Anigrand Craftworks have yet produced. The kit fuselage is so large that sections of the inner box had to be cut away to get it to fit diagonally. Fortunately, there was not a bit of damage, in part to Anigrand USA's careful packaging.
Molded in Anigrand's usual tan resin with large engraved panel lines, this one has little in the way of molding glitches, despite its size. I can see a few air bubbles and some big ones under the surface of the lower fuselage, but these shouldn't be a problem. The kit includes the usual weak-framed vac pieces including a number of circles to use on the fuselage windows. I'd use Crystal Clear or white glue myself as it will be easier to work with.
The very long wings were warped, but it is to be expected from long, thin resin moldings like this. The hot water treatment will fix that in no time. There are alignment pin holes for the wings and tail planes; some of which will need drilled out more as they have resin blobs in them. The real improvement in this kit is that the landing gear seem to be reinforced with wire. This is a big plus with all the weight of the resin and what you'll have to put in to prevent tail sitting. You may want to add wire to the axles as well, just in case.
The engine nacelles are numbered though they are different sizes depending on whether they are inboard or outboard. It seems as if Anigrand made a small glitch with the spinners as they are drilled for three blades; just like what happened with the XP-58. Not a problem to fix; if you have the skills for this sort of kit, you can fill and re-drill spinners. The good news is that new spinners are being produced. Those ordering kits from Nostalgic Plastic/Anigrand USA will have their kits shipped once these replacements are received. Contact your seller about replacements.
Instructions are standard Anigrand with a history, photo, exploded view and parts list on one side with the painting and decal placement guide on the other. Like most prototypes, this one is unpainted metal with insignia, serial and name. In this case, two small decal sheets with the serial and name are included with the insignia coming from another sheet. Anigrand decals generally work quite well so should provide no surprises. Those wanting something a bit thinner may want to replace the insignia with aftermarket.
This has to be the ultimate for Anigrand so far. It will be a huge model when done; larger than a B-17, perhaps. One thing for sure, it will be a real eye-catcher when shown.
Many thanks to Nostalgic Plastic, the US importer, for the review kit.
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