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Valon 1/72 Boeing XF8B-1

Kit: No. 720004
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Valom, available from Squadron Mail Order, 972-242-8663,
Price: $39.95
Comments: Injection molded, 43 parts (3 resin, 8 photoetched, 2 vacuumformed), decals
Pros: Excellent decals, recessed panel lines, detailed cockpit and gear wells
Cons: Panel lines fade, missing parts
Boeing described the XF8B-1 to the U.S. Navy as a five-in-one aircraft. It could perform as a fighter, interceptor, dive-bomber, torpedo bomber, or horizontal bomber. Three prototypes were built and tested, but the advent of the jet doomed any prospect of the XF8B-1 joining the fleet.

Valom's injection-molded parts are soft and the recessed panel-line details are crisp, but they fade on the upper wing roots. The resin cowl suffered from small bubbles on its lip. The clear vacuum formed canopies have well-defined frames though they are too wide on the canopy's sliding portion.

The instrument-panel coaming and a pitot tube were not included in the kit, and the propeller-shaft-retaining ring (part 15) was missing from the box. Valom provides a basic R-4360 engine and simplified landing gear that is strong enough to support the model. The maingear struts should receive photoetched torque links, but the instructions show one installed on the tail wheel and none on the main gear, where they belong.

I started with the cockpit by adding photoetched belts to the seat. The instrument panel is a printed film-and-photoetched- metal sandwich. Without the glare shield, it sits too far forward in the cockpit. The cockpit floor is too narrow for the fuselage interior, so I was careful to keep the seat and stick on the centerline when I installed it.

The fuselage and wing didn't line up. I removed material from the fuselage underside so the wing's leading and trailing edges would meet it correctly, and filled large gaps at the wing roots. I used .010" sheet styrene to cover the seam on the intake. The cowl fit tightly enough that I could press it on after painting.

I painted the model with Testor Model Master dark sea blue (FS 15042) and picked out details with Gunze Sangyo acrylics and Testor Model Master Metalizer paints. The kit decals were applied over a coat of Future floor polish. They were opaque, thin, and reacted well to Micro Sol. I added wing walks from white decal film and applied another coat of Future to the model, except for the prop blades and tires.

Although not perfect, Valom has captured the shape of this big Boeing fighter. The model is about 3/16" short in span, but right on in length according to the instructions. I enjoyed the 12 hours I spent building this kit and would recommend it to U.S. Navy aircraft fans with some experience building limited-run kits.

- Joe Hegedus


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