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Bell YFM-1 Airacuda
U.S. Experimental “Fighter Cruiser”


Valom 1/72

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Valom kit No. 72015 Bell YFM-1 Airacuda
Scale: 1/72
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.
Price: USD$48.15 available online from Squadron
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: 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.
Disadvantages: Some smaller parts like 37mm cannon; 7.62 MGs etc., are not very well detailed; no sidewall detail in nacelle gun positions.
Recommendation: 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 each.

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 in 1941.





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 heavy.

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 sample.

Review and Images Copyright © 2007 by Glen Porter
Page Created 28 November, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007

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