Tamiya 1/72 Bell X-1
KIT #: 60740
PRICE: 900 yen SRP
DECALS: Multiple options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1998 release


The first manned supersonic flight occurred on 14 October 1947, less than a month after the U.S. Air Force had been created as a separate service. Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager piloted USAF aircraft #46-062, nicknamed Glamorous Glennis for his wife. The airplane was drop launched from the bomb bay of a B-29 and reached Mach 1.06 (700 miles per hour (1,100 km/h; 610 kn)). Following burnout of the engine, the plane glided to a landing on the dry lake bed. This was XS-1 flight number 50.

The three main participants in the X-1 program won the National Aeronautics Association Collier Trophy in 1948 for their efforts. Honored at the White House by President Truman were Larry Bell for Bell Aircraft, Captain Yeager for piloting the flights, and John Stack for the contributions of the NACA.

The story of Yeager's 14 October flight was leaked to a reporter from the magazine Aviation Week, and The Los Angeles Times featured the story as headline news in their 22 December issue. The magazine story was released on 20 December. The Air Force threatened legal action against the journalists who  revealed the story, but none ever occurred. The news of a straight-wing supersonic aircraft surprised many American experts, who like their German counterparts during the war believed that a swept-wing design was necessary to break the sound barrier. On 10 June 1948, Air Force SecretaryStuart Symington announced that the sound barrier had been repeatedly broken by two experimental airplanes.

On 5 January 1949, Yeager used Aircraft #46-062 to perform the only conventional (runway) launch of the X-1 program, attaining 23,000 ft (7,000 m) in 90 seconds.


Tamiya's kit provides the option to have clear fuselage halves so that the various interior bits and pieces can be displayed. Many folks choosing this option will probably want to have the left side painted simply because that is where all the attachment points are located.

You are provided a fairly complete cockpit with a left side panel control wheel and instrument panel with wheels. Apparently the pilot simply sat on a pad that was on the floor. Behind him is the oxidizer tank and it is in here that the weight is placed. A large ball bearing is supplied for this. If putting the model on the included display stand, weight is not required.

Next back is a space for the test equipment and behind that is the water/alcohol tank. This finishes up with the four chamber XR11 rocket motor. For those who are not using the clear fuselage halves, much of this can be left out except for the cockpit and, if posing the model on the ground, the oxidizer tank, which holds the weight. The motor is also needed.

Landing gear is nicely done and though all the gear doors are shown open, I'm sure it wouldn't be much trouble to model these closed. A separate entry door is also provided. There are two different styles of cockpit canopy included along with two different tailplanes, one of which has prominent external elevator hinges. The wings are a single piece with the tip instrument probes molded in place where they can easily be knocked off during handling.

Instructions are well done with the usual Tamiya-only paint numbers. You can build pretty well any of the initial batch of X-1 aircraft. Three serials are provided and you can do the aircraft in either overall orange, with a white upper and lower fuselage strake and fin, and overall white. The painting and markings guide will provide the info you need for each variation. The decal sheet is a bit old school with off white whites and will need to have hot water to get them off the backing sheet in a reasonable amount of time.


This is a very nice looking kit that should build well with no real issues. The clear fuselage is a nice feature that will undoubtedly be used by some. Any collection of X-planes in this scale should have this one included.



August 2019

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