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Maintrack Models 1/72 scale Bell X-5

Kit: No. PX-041
Scale: 1/72BR>
Manufacturer: Maintrack Models, 79 Queens Rd., Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 1RL, England, phone 44-11-424-437428. Available from Precision Enterprises Unlimited, P.O. Box 97, Springfield, VT 05156, phone 802-885-3094.
Price: $37.50 plus $4 shipping.
Comments: Mixed media, 22 parts (6 resin, 15 cast metal, 1 vacuum-formed canopy), decals. Pros: Accurate shape, good fit, option of extended or swept wings. Cons: Overly deep and wide recessed panel lines, simplified interior, canopy frame lines not distinct.

In the closing days of World War II, German designers played with variable geometry wings; these could be swept back for high speed and extended for greater lift during low-speed takeoffs and landings. Messerschmitt's P.1101 prototype never got off the ground, but was shipped to the States. Bell engineers used it as the basis for the X-5's design.

Maintrack has issued a new X-5 in 1/72 scale. The fuselage and fin are molded in one solid piece of polyurethane resin. The tailplanes fit into a slot at the rear, and two sets of wings, extended and swept, fit against a flat area on each side of the fuselage. A cast-metal instrument panel, stick, and ejection seat are provided for the cockpit. Metal landing gear struts are molded with the wheels. The instrument boom, tail cone, and gear doors are all metal. Decals are provided for both X-5s. The single-sheet instructions show a three-view drawing and exploded assembly view, along with a brief history of the swing-wing project.

Building the kit is a snap. The most difficult aspect was carving the excess resin from the wing mounts. The flange at the wing root should be retained, but sand it paper-thin if you can. It's not clearly shown that the extended wings should be mounted all the way aft on the wing-root stubs; swept wings should be mounted all the way forward.

You'll have to carve away a lot of excess resin on the tailplane to get it to fit in the fuselage slot. I deepened the holes for all three landing gear struts and for the instrument boom on the nose before installing them.

The instrument panel is featureless, so I found a panel decal to fit. The ejection seat provided appears to be a Martin Baker unit, not accurate for this early jet. The canopy is clear and if carefully trimmed from the sheet, fits fine on the fuselage. The framing is indistinct, though, making it difficult to mask for painting. I airbrushed Testor Model Master gloss white overall, but left the landing gear struts and the insides of the gear doors unpainted.

The kit decals were poorly printed but went on well. I replaced the insignias with SuperScale items. Large "Bell X-5" logos are on the decal sheet, but not shown in the instructions. I finally found a picture in an F-111 book that showed the X-5 logos. My references included an old Aerophile magazine (Vol. 1 No. 1), and Famous Airplanes of the World, X-Planes (Bunrindo).

The finished model looks like a little X-5, but even after painting and overcoating, the panel lines are too deep and wide for the scale. Enthusiasts might want to fill and sand them; the X-5 was a clean machine and panel lines are not evident in photos.

This is a fine addition to my growing X-plane collection. It went together quickly; just 14 hours for me. There is nothing difficult about it, and it is ideal for a "first resin" project.

- Paul Boyer

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