Hobby Craft 1/48th Bell YP-59 & P-59A Airacomet
Reviewed by Steve Jantscher
These parts trees are common to both kits
The events that led to the development of the Bell Airacomet aircraft is long, with much far thinking on both sides of the Atlantic. This airframe would become America's first jet powered aircraft, if only in the small production numbers of an "also ran". To say that this was a failure (it was outperformed in almost every comparison by both the P-47 and P-38 aircraft in nose to nose mock dogfights) would be to ignore the tremendous effort that created it. Greatly overshadowed by the development and operational deployment of the Me-262, the Allies were not as pressed as was the Luftwaffe to commit to combat an immature technology. A very good case can be made that the Me-262 never reached the status of a mature, reliable "weapon system". All told, there were 13 YP-59 and 19 P-59A-1 aircraft produced.
The fact that this aircraft did not enjoy a successful service career should not detract from it's attractiveness as a model. After all, how many Luftwaffe '46 designs are now in plastic? This kit has been waited upon for a while now, and those wanting an unusual ship to add to their shelf will not be disappointed. The work is typical of late model Hobby Craft. While I can't comment on the fit of kit, the presentation is very nice. Fine recessed panel lines and where appropriate, understated fabric effect will be appreciated. As you can tell by looking at the photos in this review, Hobby Craft made the choice to make the modeler join more surfaces in order to get two similar versions of the Airacomet out with a minimum of different molds.
The primary differences between the two kits (besides the markings) is in the tail, aileron, flap and wingtips. The YP version has a classic Kingcobra type tail, with fabric flying control surfaces, and rounded wingtips. As you might suppose, the follow-on aircraft (the P-59 A) had metal covered control surfaces and redesigned tail and wingtips. The 'A certainly had a more modern look to it, but I think I prefer the YP' myself..
These are the parts trees and decals / color schemes of the YP-59 kit
On the down side, Hobby Craft provides rubber tires for the kit, with all the attendant "melt down" possibilities. That wouldn't be all that bad if it they provided solid styrene wheels for those of us that prefer those, but they don't. The instructions are OK, but not great. I've had problems in the past that actually called for modeling skills (saints be praised!) in that the Hobby Craft kit at hand didn't explain how or where to mount the cockpit.
These are the parts trees and decal / color schemes of the P-59A kit
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