Kit: Revell 1/65 X-3 Stiletto

Kit #: 8652 (History Makers)

Price: $9.98 (1981)

Media: Injected Plastic

Decals: One version: USAF 49-2892

Date of Review: 30 July 1997

The X-3 Stiletto was designed to obtain experience in the design of high-speed combat aircraft. The contract was signed in 1945, yet the aircraft did not fly until late 1952. Originally designed for the J-46 turbojet, it eventually flew with the J-34; a choice that left the X-3 seriously underpowered. It was fitted with a downward firing ejection seat and had diminutive wings and a long, streamlined fuselage. As fast as it looked, the lack of power resulted in a max speed of Mach a dive. Straight line speed was limited to Mach .987 or 706mph at 20,000 feet. Although it was a disappointment in the speed department, it pioneered construction techniques in the use of titanium and other then exotic materials. Many of the X-3's design characteristics found their way into Lockheed's F-104 Starfighter.

Revell's kit is a good representation of the X-3 at initial rollout. Comparing this kit with the aircraft at the USAF Museum shows several changes made during its career. The Revell kit is devoid of the then popular rivets and all panel lines and control surfaces (except the rudder) are fine, raised lines.

The first thing to build is the cockpit, which is surprisingly complete for a kit of this age. It consists of a floor/rear bulkhead, seat with engraved belts, control column and instrument panel. These items were painted black, as was the surrounding interior. Next the windows were inserted in the fuselage. This was time-consuming as the windows were not a perfect match and some adjusting needed to be done. The fuselage halves were then cemented. No nose weight was required. The intakes were then cemented in place. There is no detail in the intake or exhaust areas, simply a blank wall. The depth of the intakes and exhaust areas are about1/4". Not very believable, but typical of the era.

The horizontal stabilizers and wings are an easy job with good, positive mating surfaces. These items are also one piece, but suffer from mold release marks on the underside that must be dealt with. Same goes for the landing gear doors which have mold release marks on the inside. The gear itself is quite simple but sturdy. The wheels are snapped on the gear in a rather toy-like manner, leaving large axles sticking out of the hubs. There is well detail in the main gear, but the nose gear well is not blanked off in any way.

Now on to the painting. Revell would have you paint the entire aircraft gloss white except for the area around the engine exhausts. And that is what I did. Unfortunately, the wings on the real aircraft are a highly polished natural aluminum. Check your references. I used Model Master Gloss White and Metallizer on the exhaust area. The decals worked beautifully with no silvering at all. I stupidly coated the finished aircraft with Testor's Gloss Cote. As a result, I now have a slowly yellowing aircraft.

The Revell X-3 was a trip back in time. It is very simple to build and even the most inexperienced builder can make a decent model from this kit. It's availability is in question, but should be available from  "used kits" dealers. A pleasure to build and a trip down memory lane.

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