MPM 1/72 X-4 'Bantam'






Both aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Short run kit with resin bits


Who doesn't like X-planes? Can't think of any long time aircraftmodeler who has not built at least one. One of the least known of the early Xplanes is the Northrop X-4. This tail-less research aircraft was not designed togo higher, or farther or faster. Its main reason for being was to explore lowspeed handling and specifically the handling of aircraft without a horizontalstabilizer. 

Who better to design such an aircraft as Mr. Flying Winghimself, Jack Northrop. Two aircraft were built and the first one took to theskies in late 1948. After 30 flights the two planes were turned over to the AirForce. The first one was permanently grounded to provide spares for the secondplane. NACA then began flying test flights with the #2 plane in late 1950. Afterseveral years of test flying, most of it in the transonic arena of .8-.9 mach,the program was terminated in 1954 after unsolvable fuel leaks grounded the #2plane after 82 flights.


For those used to MPM kits, there are really no surprises. Thekits seem to be getting better and better with each release. This one has superbdetailing and relatively thin sprue attachment points. There is no photoetchedparts (hooray), and resin is only used for the wing fences, pitot tubes andrudder mass balances. A real improvement is that the canopy is injected plastic.It is thick and distorted, but so much easier to work with than a vacuformed one(at least it is for me).

The interior is quite basic with but a seat, stick, instrumentpanel floor and bulkhead. No sidewall detail. Though not mentioned, you willprobably need some nose weight to keep the kit from tailsitting. The wheel wellsare not boxed in so if that is important to you, break out the plastic card.

The X-4 flew in acouple of different guises and though the modifications are small, they areprovided. Basically it is a choice of large or small wing fences and theinstallation of external mass balances for the rudder.  The instructionsheet is quite good and more than adequate to complete the kit. Three differentschemes are provided. One for the first plane in overall light grey. The secondplane can be done either as the NACA bird on the box art in white, or as theUSAF test plane in light grey with large areas of red. Any of the schemes shouldbe quite pleasing. Decals are by Propagteam so you know of the quality.

Overall, it looks like a very nice kit and one that should buildrelatively quickly. 

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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