Minicraft 1/48 XF5F-1 Skyrocket
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The aircraft flew for the first time on 1 April 1940. Engine cooling problems arose in the initial flights, resulting in modification to the oil cooling ducts. Further modifications were made to the prototype including reduction in the height of the cockpit canopy, revising the armament installation to four 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in place of the cannon, redesign of the engine nacelles, adding spinners to the propellers, and extending the fuselage forward of the wing. These changes were completed on 15 July 1941.
Testing by Grumman test pilot "Connie" Converse indicated "the flying qualities for the XF5F-1 were good overall. The counter-rotating props were a nice feature, virtually eliminating the torque effect on takeoff ... single-engine performance was good, rudder forces tended to be high in single engine configuration. Spin recovery was positive but elevator forces required for recovery were unusually high. All acrobatics were easily performed, and of course forward visibility was excellent."
In 1941, Navy pilots tested the XF5F-1 in a fly-off against the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Bell P-39 Airacobra, Bell XFL Airabonita, Vought XF4U Corsair, Grumman F4F Wildcat, and Brewster F2A Buffalo. LCDR Crommelin, in charge of the test, stated in a 1985 letter to George Skurla, Grumman president:
Additional changes were needed after further flight tests that were not completed until 15 January 1942. In the meantime, Grumman began work on a more advanced twin-engine shipboard fighter, the XF7F-1, and further testing with the XF5F-1 supported the development of the newer design. The prototype continued to be used in various tests, although plagued by various landing gear problems, until it was struck from the list of active aircraft after it made a belly landing on 11 December 1944.
Released in 1998, this, along with the later, longer nose version, was the first kit of this aircraft tooled in this scale. Produced in China, it consists of two nicely engraved grey sprues and one clear.
Unusually, constrution starts with building the wing upon which the cockpit pieces and guns are placed. Then the two engines are built up. Fuselage halves trap the tail gear and are attached to the fuselage. Then the tailplanes are built up and installed.
Engine nacelles are in left and right halves and trap the main landing gear legs. Once these and the upper nacelle pieces are glued to the wing, then the gear doors and the engine assemblies can be attached. Another interesting item is that the wing fillets (should you decide to use them) are separate. The last items are the separate windscreen and canopy, the gun bay door (which can be posed open) and the various steps, pitot and tail hook.
Markings are for the initial prototype, which is in aluminum with a yellow wing. Decals are by Scalemaster so will succumb to even weak setting solutions like Microset/sol.
This is a pretty neat kit, especially if you like prototypes. Those who have built this comment that getting the nose to fit the wing can be a bit tricky, especially if you do the armed version, so pay attention to this area. One thing for sure, you probably won't see a newer version of this one any time soon if at all.
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