Anigrand Craftswork 1/72 XFV-12A
Model, Text and Photos by: Bill Faulkner
Since 2002 Arnold Chiu and his group of model masters at Anigrand Craftswork, located in Hong Kong, have produced over 28 different 1/72-scale resin aircraft kits. The subjects are without exception interesting and for the most part not to be found anywhere else. A few subjects exist in the form of ancient, basic and out of production vac kits. And though some have been modeled in styrene, not many in 1/72 scale.
The XFV-12A could be called a study in engineering wishful thinking. Rockwell was not exactly a new kid on the block having merged with North American Aviation who had produced the P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre and the Apollo spacecraft. So when the Navy asked for proposals for a V/STOL aircraft with supersonic speed capabilities to replace the Harrier AV-8A, the XFV-12A with it's "thrust-augmented wing" was Rockwell's response. Ah the 70's. Such a time of technological optimism. America could do most anything it's sights on with technology. Computers, transistors, Lasers, Apollo, the 747, the '72 Chevelle, American know how had led the way in so many fields with so many successes there seemed to be no reason Rockwell's craft couldn't live up to the hype. While there are some who questioned the esthetics of the XFV-12A, I believe that it really looked like it was a design from the future. It looked fast; the wings were in back and the tail up front. It had no old fashion dihedral, oh no it's wings actually were bent downward and it could take-off and land vertically! Or could it? Turns out it couldn't. The prototype XFV-12A, literally undercover, was secretly brought to a test rig to evaluate its vertical flight capabilities. It proved unable to lift itself vertically and so in the bold light of day it was wheeled out for the world to see and sent on it's way. It took another three years but in 1980 the project was finally cancelled.
On to the kit
Anigrand has the kit made up of 31 parts cast in cream-colored resin with fine recessed, though sparse, panel lines. The directions are of the "exploded view" varieity but clear in what needs to go where. The decals are for one scheme, screen printed and a bit on the thick side. Very little clean up is necessary. I really like the way Anigrand kits have no pour blocks to saw off and the fuselage are hollow cast. While cutting off blocks or hollowing out parts to lessen the load on resin landing gears is not challenging it can be a might time consuming. Before starting, the first thing I do is to set in the background of my mind that I'm working on resin, not styrene. This means more than switching to Super Glue to stick parts together. If you've never worked with resin here's couple of things to remember. If you usually don't wash your plastic, make sure you wash resin parts to remove the mold-release. Resin is far more brittle than styrene. While this means you should handle the parts with more care it also means that sanding, cutting and scribing will all go far faster. Think pine instead of oak, brass instead of steel.
comes into play as soon as you start because the XFV-12A kit has one major choice
for you to make. If you decide to build the XFV-12A poised for vertical flight
the number of parts climbs to 38. This is because the canard and wing need to
have the thrust augmentation flaps rotate 90-degrees and to do this 4 parts
of the wing and 2 parts from each canard need to be separated from the main
cast parts. There is also a choice of two different VTOL intake vents set atop
the fuselage. One is closed and the other has the intake covers at roughly a
45º angle for VTOL operations.
Starting at the cockpit you are reminded that this is a limited run resin model. The ejection seat is fairly well done, as is the control stick. But that's as far as it goes. There are blank "steps" molded into the cockpit sides to represent consoles, no sidewall detail and no instrument panel. First thing I did was grind away some of the cockpit side walls above the consoles to give some depth and add some strips and bits to the sides for detail. I used an Eduard AV-8B instrument panel and side consoles photoetch parts to add more detail. Is this accurate? No. But given that I haven't seen an image of the XFV-12A cockpit and there aren't a lot of VTOL jet fighters from the late '70s to choose from, the AV-8B seemed like a good place to start and it's what I had on hand. The PE consoles sit on the steps while the instrument panel slid into place up front like it was meant to be there all a long. Bits added to the sidewalls and paint applied, the fuselage halves went together with little problem.
don't know what other folks are using to apply Super Glue to parts, but a couple
of years ago I read a tip that had you take a piece of fine wire and wrap it
around a toothpick to create a loop. Bend the loop at a 45º to make application
easier and dip into a pool of Super Glue. Touch the loop to the area where you
need to apply the glue and it flows right out. No muss, no fuss and if the applicator
gets clogged (or stuck to the table) make a new one. I've added different shapes
to my loop collection. A loop with a pointed end works great for adding Super
Glue to fill seams or add just a small amount for small parts.
From the first I saw this kit I knew that I'd build it in VTOL mode so the Thrust Flaps get separated from the main components. I used a panel scraper to cut through the resin; the back of an Xacto #11 would do the job as well. Go slow; try doing both sides to lessen the chance of separating the parts at the wrong place. I then attached the vertical stabilizers to the wing. Next the wing assembly and canards get glued to the fuselage. There is a scribed outline of the canards on the fuselage that makes positioning them simple and accurate. All seams get filled and sanded smooth. Then I sprayed Gunze Sangyo "Mr. Surfacer 1000" over everything. This stuff is great! Covers well, lays down smooth, fills scratches and is sandable. Then I pre-shaded areas with Tamiya Neutral Grey. With a fine tip airbrush Tamiya White for the bottom and Gunze #325 Gull Grey on top are gradually added for the final colors. The flaps are added one at a time, fortunately Super Glue dries fast and the flaps, landing gears, tires and all the rest quickly were set into place. Future is sprayed over the assembled kit and decals are placed. A final coat of future is sprayed. To add some depth to the panel lines I used an enamel wash made of flat black with a small amount of brown added in. This is run into the panel lines and the excess cleaned up with thinner.
Trouble areas were the rear landing gear doors. The doors stick out too far and the flaps had to be sanded down to clear them. One final yet important task remains. The Canopy. Here's a tip to cutting out vac-u-form canopies. Use Blue Tack. It's that blue gooey stuff that sticks to most anything without leaving much residue. Stuff a wad of it into the canopy. It offers support, makes it easier to hang on to and actually helps you see where you should be cutting. Once it's cut out I sanded it to sit flat. Masking and painting as you would any other canopy, then glued it in place with white glue.
With little in the way of reference material available on the XFV-12A it's difficult to say with authority whether or not the Anigrand example is dimensionally accurate. The most important thing is that there's no doubt that Arnold Chiu has captured the overall look of the XFV-12A. From the rear wing, canard to the complex thrust-flap arrangement the XFV-12A is sure to be one of the most unusual aircraft in your collection.
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