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Revell 1/48 scale Ryan "Spirit of St. Louis"

Kit: No. 85-5244
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Revell-Monogram, 847-770-6100,
Price: $12.75
Comments: Injection-molded, 53 parts, decals
Pros: Important subject, full cockpit, nice decals
Cons: Ejector-pin marks mar cockpit walls, some tricky-to-fill seams
Despite its status as one of aviation's most historic aircraft, kits of Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" have been few and far between. Revell's all-new 1/48 scale kit will fill an important gap in a lot of model collections.

Nicely illustrated instructions guide the modeler through the kit. The painting instructions are a little sparse, but thankfully the aircraft is well-documented, and plenty of color photos are available on the Internet.

The cockpit is fully detailed with separate control levers and a sharply printed instrument-panel decal. Unfortunately, the cockpit walls in my kit had large, difficult-to- fill ejector-pin marks, so I glued the separate cockpit door closed. The side windows and skylight are crystal clear, thin, and fit perfectly.

Everything forward of the wing can be built as a subassembly, independent of the fuselage. Revell provides decals to simulate the plane's distinctive "engine-turned" aluminum nose and spinner. The decals are thin, beautifully printed, and fit nicely. I've had notoriously bad relations with decals, but these held up to my ham-fisted handling and tightened down nicely with just a little Microscale Micro Sol.

The kit's Wright J-5C engine is a gem, with separate pushrods and delicately molded exhausts. Careful painting and a little dry-brushing will really make it pop.

The large wing has a full-span seam on its lower surface, just forward of the trailing edge. It'll be tricky to fill without damaging the wing's fine, raised wing-rib detail. The three upper-wing tank vents are tiny and delicate; after I broke them off (almost immediately) I installed sturdier music-wire replacements.

I was pleasantly surprised by the kit's wing and landing-gear struts. Despite their complexity, all of them dropped into place and fit perfectly.

The kit includes two pilot figures, one seated and one standing. Oddly, the two bodies share a single, separately molded head!

Despite a few quirks here and there, Revell's kit turns into a fine replica of an important aircraft. I spent a week of evenings on mine, and intermediate modelers with a little decaling experience should have a great time with it.

- Matthew Usher


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