Bell YFM-1 Airacuda
u m m a r y
||Valom kit No. 72015 Bell YFM-1
|Contents and Media:
||59 well moulded plastic parts on two
sprues, 13 clear injection moulded parts on one sprue, 14 resin parts on
four casting blocks, 34 PE parts on one fret, decals for only one
aircraft plus an A5 instruction booklet with history, parts plan, 9
build diagrams, 10 explanatory interior and armament drawings and two
pages of paint/decal diagrams.
USD$48.15 available online from Squadron
||Rare and fascinating subject; highly
detailed inside and out; engraved panel detail with very fine rivets;
injection moulded clear parts plus excellent resin; PE and decals.
||Some smaller parts like 37mm cannon;
7.62 MGs etc., are not very well detailed; no sidewall detail in nacelle
||Highly Recommended to modellers of
oddball subjects and prototypes
Reviewed by Glen Porter
Valom's 1/72 scale
Airacuda is available online from Squadron.com
In the mid to late 1930s, the USAAF issued specifications for what
they called a Fighter Cruiser. This consisted of a heavily armed multi
seat aircraft designed to combat bomber formations.
Bell responded with the XFM-1, a light bomber sized aircraft with
twin pusher engines and a crew of five. Two of the crew were in the
front of the engine nacelles with a 37mm cannon and a 7.62mm machine gun
The aircraft first took to the air on the 1st of September 1937 and
although the performance was poor, 13 more were ordered as the YFM-1.
These were fitted with a more powerful Alison engines but still the
performance did not improve and handling was also a problem. Although
several other changes were made including a tricycle undercarriage and
armament alternatives, the project was deemed unsuccessful and canceled
Every new Valom release seems to be better than the one before. In
this case, the surface detail on the major parts is the kit really
excels. All the panel detail is very finely recessed, but there is also
extremely delicate rivet detail, so fine that if you apply paint too
heavily you will hide it. There is only a small amount of flash, no sink
marks and only a few internal ejector pin marks. However, some of the
smaller plastic items are a bit lacking in moulded on detail. The first
sprue has the two fuselage halves, four engine nacelle halves, props,
37mm canons and many of the interior parts.
Click the thumbnails below
to view images full-sized:
The next has the four wing halves, tail planes, undercarriage legs,
machine guns, radiator intakes and assorted other small parts.
The clear sprue is well moulded with no noticeable flaws, very clear,
perhaps a little on the thick side but the framing looks to be too
Resin is a strong point although there isn't a lot of it. Two circular
wheel wells, two main undercarriage wheels and tail wheel, two crew
seats and instrument panel mount, two each of control wheels, cockpit
side panels and gear doors.
The PE fret consists mostly of instrument panels (2), harness for four
seats, one set of control pedals, undercarriage scissor links and
various cockpit levers.
Decals are well printed but have markings for only one aircraft, a YFM-1
at the New York World's Fair in June 1940. It is in over-all bare metal
with markings for the 27th Pursuit Squadron.
Someone with a bit more imagination may consider a wartime “What If”
in Olive Drab and Medium Grey and what ever marking they can come up
with. There are no limits to what you could do with a kit like this.
This is another fine effort from Valom of an aircraft that is unlikely
to be offered by anyone else. Whether you do it straight from the box or
in a “What If” scheme, you will have everyone at your local club
wondering what the hell it is!
Highly Recommended to anyone who likes the unusual.
Thanks to Valom for this review
Review and Images Copyright © 2007 by Glen Porter
Page Created 28 November, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007
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