SCALE MODEL AIRCRAFT

Independent thinking and cultural diversity in scale modelling

BELL XFM-1 AIRACUDA  

             Rareplanes – 1/72 – vacform                

By Peter Hobbins 

 

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The Bell XFM-1 Airacuda was an unusual concept - an aircraft that would intercept enemy bomber formations, sit out of range of their defensive machine-guns, and blast away a them with its 37 mm cannons. While the XFM stood for "experimental fighter, multiplace", it was not really a fighter, and in fact the cannon were controlled by the aircraft commander who sat behind the pilot and aimed with a periscope that retracted into the belly. The two crewmen who sat in the unusual engine nacelles were there mainly to reload the cannons and make any aiming adjustments, but getting aircrew to willingly sit in front of a pusher propeller was difficult, especially with the risk of injury when bailing out! Later versions removed the defensive `birdcage´ positions and had a tricycle undercarriage in an attempt to improve performance. This kit is from the Rareplanes vacform, which generally goes together pretty well. However, I sanded off all of the raised detail and rescribed the model according to the plans that came with the kit. The nacelles are moulded in clear plastic which - unlike some Rareplanes kits - had not yellowed with age. Some interior detail is provided, but I had a version without metal detail parts so the propellers and undercarriage came largely from the spares box. Work is also required to box in the wheel wells and radiators, and to detail the rear fuselage and nacelles. This is difficult as there are few references available, but requests to fellow modellers on the web produced some good interior shots. Decals were from the spares box; in any case the markings were minimal.