classic 1/40 scale
by Steve Eggers
Bell X-5, Ship #1
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X-5 was tested from 1951 until 1955 at the NACA High-Speed Research
Station. Built by Bell Aircraft Company, the X-5's maiden flight was
June 20, 1951. The X-5 was the first aircraft capable of sweeping its
wings in flight and helped our understanding of wing-sweep angles of 20,
45, and 60 degrees at subsonic and transonic speeds.
The X-5 was tested from 1951 until 1955 at the NACA High-Speed Flight
Research Station. Built and initially flight tested by Bell Aircraft
Corporation, the first X-5 flight was on June 20, 1951. The X-5 was the
first aircraft capable of variably sweeping its wings in flight and
helped our understanding of wing-sweep angles of 20, 45, and 60 degrees
at subsonic and transonic speeds. The X-5 Ship #1 (50-1838) was flown by
NACA from 1952 to late 1955. The X-5 Ship #2 (50-1839) was operated only
by Bell and the Air Force and was lost in a spin accident in 1953.
The X-5 was a single-place aircraft powered by an Allison J-45-A jet
engine, and measuring 36 feet in length with a wingspan of 19 feet (with
the wings swept back 60 degrees). The X-5 weighed 10,000 pounds when
Results of the research program demonstrated that the
variable-wing-sweep principle worked. With the wings fully extended the
low-speed performance was improved for take-off and landing and when
swept back the high speed performance was improved and drag reduced. The
pilots found they could use the variable wing sweep as a tactical
control to out-perform the accompanying escort aircraft during research
X-5 flight tests provided some of the design background for the F-111
and the Navy F-14 tactical aircraft.
What's in the Box
Revell’s X-5 kit was originally released in 1950s; with subsequent
releases in the 1980’s History Makers series and the Yeager’s
The kit represents Bell Aircraft X-5, Ship #1, serial number 50-1838.
The kit is an odd, “fit-the-box”, 1/40th scale. The kit contains 55
parts molded in white and clear plastic, and contains a pilot figure.
Notably, this kit has finely engraved panel lines.
This kit recalls the days when model kits were more perceived as toys
rather than what we consider model kits as today. This kit has
retractable landing gear, working gear doors, a sliding canopy and
movable swing wings (although they are independent of each other, unlike
today’s F-14 or F-111 kits).
As with all early scale model kits from that era, the plastic is thick,
the parts don’t line up quite right, and some filling and sanding is
required. There were some sink along the spine on both sides of the
fuselage, but nothing that filling and sanding can’t fix.
I built this model out of the box. The only thing that I added was a
glare shield in the cockpit as it did not have one. I used some
Evergreen sheet styrene to accomplish this. I don’t know what thickness,
it was whatever was sitting on top in the scrap box at the time I
reached over and grabbed.
I decided to pose this aircraft in flight. I went to the local Hobby
Lobby and purchased a wooden base for 99 cents and a bag of dowel rods
fro $1.49. I went home, estimated the “proper” angle and drilled a hole
in the base and - BINGO, instant display stand!
Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:
After using some minor wood working skills, I painted the base Gloss
Black found some dry transfer letters to place on the base to give it
that “professional” look. I clear coated the base to seal the dry
of the X-5’s were painted overall gloss white. I painted the entire
model with several coats of Testor's flat white.
After the paint had thoroughly dried, I sanded the entire model with
2000 grit wet/dry. This smoothed out the paint and gave a semi-gloss
The kit decals were in pretty sad shape. So I drew heavily on the
spares box. The only thing I used from the kit sheet was the “Bell
Aircraft” and Bell X-5”.
I also looked for “appropriate” stencils to place in various
locations on the aircraft.
I got this model as an addition to my Revell D.558-II. This was a fun
model to build. I like taking an old kit, especially these old Revell
kits and taking the time to make them into something really presentable.
I have had older modelers look at these kits and say, “Look, an X-5,
I remember building that as a kid.”
Next project - Revell’s X-3 and X-15 kit to complete the collection.
Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005
by Steve Eggers
Page Created 27 April, 2005
27 April, 2005
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