Special Hobby 1/72 Bell X-1B 'NACA Modification Program'

KIT #: 72168
PRICE: $33.00 SRP ($29.70  from GreatModels )
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with resin parts



The X-1B (serial 48-1385) was equipped with aerodynamic heating instrumentation for thermal research (over 300 thermal probes were installed on its surface). It was similar to the X-1A except for having a slightly different wing. The X-1B was used for high speed research by the US Air Force starting from October 1954 prior to being turned over to the NACA in January 1955. NACA continued to fly the aircraft until January 1958 when cracks in the fuel tanks forced its grounding. The X-1B completed a total of 27 flights. A notable achievement was the installation of a system of small reaction rockets used for directional control, making the X-1B the first aircraft to fly with this sophisticated control system, later used in the X-15. This is shown on the box art with the broader wings. The X-1B is now at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton, Ohio, where it is displayed in the Museum's Research & Development Hanger.


This kit continues Special Hobby's X plane series with the X-1B as it was modified over its life with NACA.

As you'd expect from modern MPM kits, the exterior molding is very nicely done. I'm thankful that MPM molded in the large elevator hinges as the thought of applying that in photo-etch is not a pleasant one. It wouldn't be an MPM kit without resin and photo etch. The resin is limited to the main wheel wells and a flat fairing aft of the nose well. Photo etch is mostly for the cockpit along with a few exterior bits. The cockpit is well done with sidewalls to add some additional detail. Thanks to the one piece wings and stabs, construction should go quickly. I was somewhat surprised that it has a separate rudder, but that my well have been done for trailing edge thinness. This particular boxing fills in the gaps in the previous X-1A/D sprues with the different and more square tailplanes and wings that have the reaction jet nozzles. There is also an additional resin part for the ailerons on these newer wings.

Instructions are well done as usual, with Gunze paint references. I was surprised that no nose weight information was provided. I'd add it in as the X-1 landing gear has a short wheelbase. The kit does come with a one-piece injected canopy that is a bit thick, but is clear enough to see interior details. Though only three pages are needed for construction, eight are needed for markings and decals. The instructions point out the differences in the different aircraft and most of it hinges around what wings it has and what you do to the wings. One option requires removing the thinner wing's ailerons and installing the resin ones. All of them are in overall unpainted metal with white keels.  Decals are superbly printed by AviPrint and shown still in their sealed plastic bag.


This isn't a new kit but it is of a plane that no one else has done outside of the MPM family of kits. It is a historical footnote for the most part, and that is what helps make it so interesting.



September 2009

You can find this and many other great kits and accessories at GreatModels

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

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page