18 January 2015

XF5U-1 – Hasegawa Model Kit Review

1. Introduction
Aircraft: Vought XF5U-1
Model kit manufacturer / country: Hasegawa / Japan
Scale: 1:72
Catalogue number: 51563 / SP63
Release time: 1992

Basic information on the XF5U is available in Wikipedia (link) and will not be repeated here. For more detailed information on the aircraft see book [1] listed below in the "Reference Data" section.

2. Kit
2.1. Box
The box is a typical Hasegawa top-opener, 29 x 19 x 4 cm in size. Boxart by Koike Shigeo is wonderful. One minor grudge, though: the XF5U-1 with pre-1947 national insignia and a deckload of operational Cougars do not correlate well.


2.2. Instruction
Instruction is also typical for Hasegawa kits: everything is well explained and clearly marked in their trademark black and blue colors. Painting guide uses Gunze Sangyo color numbers.

2.3. Plastic Parts
The kit contains two frames of light grey plastic parts. The quality of molding is very good. Surfaces are smooth and panel lines are very finely engraved – the very best that we've come to expect from Hasegawa. There are however a couple molding glitches – slight depressions of the fuselage surface around the horizontal stabilizer attachment points. These depressions are noticeable and will have to be filled and sanded.


Basing on existing historical photographs I would assess the accuracy of the kit as excellent. I see no shortcomings in its geometry. Also, considering the age of the kit, it provides surprisingly good out-of-the box detail – namely, cockpit interior and landing gear.

There are some issues, none of them major:
 - Both main wheel wells and tail wheel well are too shallow: wheels do not fit inside.
 - Landing gear doors lack interior detail.
 - There are no clear parts to imitate navigation lights located on horizontal stabilizer tips.
 - Some filling and sanding efforts will be required to achieve seamless fit between engine intake and fuselage parts and between fuselage and horizontal stabilizer parts (I am writing this after separating all parts from their frames and dry-fitting them).

2.4. Clear Items
Clear items include one-piece canopy and "pseudo-radome" nose cover. As this is injection molding, the thickness of plastic is of course perceptible.

3. Decal
Markings on the actual XF5U-1 are very simple, and so is the kit's decal. National insignia, BuNo and model numbers look fine on the decal. Since no color photographs of the actual XF5U-1 are available, we cannot be 100% sure as to whether the decal's "Bugs Bunny" logo colors are accurate or not. Similarly, there are no photographs of the cockpit interior, so we can only guess what the dashboard looked like and cannot assess the accuracy of the dashboard's representation on the decal.


4. Alternatives & Aftermarket
None as of January 2015.

5. Conclusion
Pro:
 - Excellent accuracy; no visible shortcomings in geometry.
 - Good overall quality of molding; smooth surface, very fine panel lines.
 - Good out-of-the box detail, considering the age of the kit.
 - Moderate price ($33 in 2009 at Hannants), when compared to other (e.g. Czech made) model kits of exotic subjects.
Contra:
 - Some minor molding glitches.
 - A couple of fit issues (engine intakes; horizontal stabilizers) that would call for filling and sanding.

This is the only XF5U kit available in the 1:72 scale, and I believe that it is definitely worth having.

6. Reference Data
[1] Chance-Vought V-173 and XF5U-1 Flying Pancakes | Naval Fighters Series # 21 | Ginter Books, 1992