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Northrop XP-56
Black Bullet

by Alex Bernardo


Northrop XP-56
Black Bullet


MPM's 1/72 scale XP-56 Black Bullet is available online from Squadron.com




The first XP-56 made its maiden flight on September 6, 1943, and flew at an altitude of four feet at a speed of 140 mph.

The second XP-56 first flew from Roach Lake on March 23, 1944, reaching 2500 feet. It flew a total of 10 flights, during which stability and control problems were experienced.

Given the problems with the design, and the advent of the jet age, even Jack Northrop agreed that, "I think it was a bust.".

Its powerplant was the huge Pratt&Whitney R-2800-29 Double Wasp driving two three-blade, contra-rotating “pusher” propellers. The aircraft had a wide-track tricycle undercarriage and was to be heavily armed for its size – carrying two 20mm cannon and four .50cal guns in the nose. Lateral and directional control was by means of pairs of spoilers hinged flush on the upper and lower surfaces of the drooped wingtips. Pitch was controlled by means of the elevators, mounted intobard of the drooped wingtips.

Top speed was 467mph!





This is the 1/72 scale MPM kit of the Black Bullet.

A piece of plastic for the instrument panel and over sized control stick and seat were all that was supplied for the cockpit..

The kit did include a resin center console.



I made the following additions and modifications:

  • Built a new main instrument panel from sheet styrene.

  • Used Reheat brass instrument bezels to provide detail.

  • Made left side console from sheet styrene.

  • Used electronic wire for adjustment wheel.

  • Highlighted all black surfaces with a silver pencil.

  • Replaced control stick with a P-40 control stick. Used carved styrene for control stick shroud.

  • Filed down both sides of the seat to give a more scaled look.

  • Used painted tape for seat belts.



  • Cut a piece of styrene for main instrument panel shroud.

  • Used “Heat n Smash” technique to create canopy.

  • Used drilled out styrene rods for exhaust ports.

  • Gear doors were too thick. Reduced thickness by 1/3 by filing them down.

  • Added oleo scissors and door support brackets on all landing gear.


Painting and Markings


The model was painted with the following acrylic paints:


  • Clear gloss

  • Clear red

  • Clear green

  • Olive drab (Dark)

Polly Scale

  • Olive drab

  • Neutral gray F505086

  • Neutral gray F505384

  • Clear flat

The model was painted with two shades of Olive Drab and Neutral Gray. The darker shade paints were applied on the panel line areas. This was followed by the lighter shade paints for overall coverage.

The entire model was over coated with Tamiya clear acrylic paint. Clear flat coat was applied after the decals finished setting.

The kit decals went on the model nicely.

The Northrop logo was not included. I cut a triangle from a piece of orange decal then cut tiny strips of black decal for the bird logo.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Alex Bernardo
Page Created 11 May, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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