Unsuccessful United States Aircraft
North American XB-70 – Bell XP-77 – Convair XFY

Today’s excursion is into the galley of United States aircraft. There are a lot of really famous aircraft in here but I thought that it would be fun to look instead at some promising ideas that didn’t work out.

Surely the biggest and whitest idea that didin’t work out in aeronautical history was the North American XB-70 strategic bomber. The idea behind it was to make a bomber that flew so high so fast to attack Russia with atomic bombs that Soviet defences would not be able to touch it. However, by the time it made its first flight it had been supersceded by intercontinentasl ballistic missiles and Soviet defences had developed to the stage that they could shoot down aircraft flying at mach 3 at 70,000 feet. They made two and one survives in a museum in the United States.

This kit is one of the range of Anigrand 1/144 ‘Huge Bird’ kits which includes three smaller aeroplanes along with the XB-70. One of them is a 1/144 kit of the XF-108 which is also worth having in this scale. It is not a difficult kit to assemble though you have to be used to working with resin and struggling with parts which do not fit perfectly to put this one together. A lack of fear when it comes to achieving a perfect white finish is also desirable.

Moving from the tremendous to the tiny, we find the Bell XP-77 which was one of many attempts to successfully make a light weight fighter. The idea was to conserve the strategic materials used in most aircraft by using materials like wood instead. Development of this aircraft began in late 1941 but there were numerous delays so the prototype did not fly until April 1944. Only two were manufactured before the project was terminated at the end of 1944.

This kit is an early Special Hobby kit with all the difficulties presented by early short run kits. It is also a very small kit to make a small model so you need to get your magnifying lenses out to make this one reasonably well. But if you have some experience with limited-run kits this one presents no special challenges.

There are quite a few candidates for the third position this week but who can go past the Convair XFY (Pogo), sitting there on its tail with its huge propeller pointing towards the sky. The idea behind this one was to make an aircraft that could take off and land vertically from ships so that the navy would not be dependant on aircraft carriers. During testing this aircraft was found to have design and control problems and the pilot had great difficult in landing backwards while peering over his shoulder. As a result only one was made and the project was cancelled in 1955.

This kit was made by the Czech company KP in the mid 1990s and has been reissued several times including a recent offering under the Kovozavody Prostejov brand, one with fictional Japanese markings. This is a relatively simple and easy kit to build and I certainly enjoyed making mine.