Everything Old Is New Again
A 1/32 Scale Pond Racer
by Frank Mitchell
X-S Models' 1/32 scale Pond Racer
Tamiya's 1/32 scale Spitfire IXc is available online from Squadron
Several years ago, I scratch built a model of the Belyayev DB-LK, a prototype of a Russian light bomber.
Spanning nearly 71 feet, the aircraft was designed for tactical support duties in the late 1930’s. It was termed a “semi-tailless layout” with a marked forward sweep on the outer wings with a backward sweep at the tips. The aircraft was actually rather successful, but could not be developed due to the outbreak of World War II.
Flash forward about 50 years, and into the world of 1988 air racing came a new design named the Pond Racer which was considered very radical but did not achieve great success before it crashed, killing the pilot. However, what was fascinating to me is the fact that the wing planforms of these two aircraft were nearly identical. The forward sweep is within a degree or two the Belyayev, and the tip shape and trailing edge sweep is also nearly exact. I have no idea what airfoils were used in either one, but everything else is certainly close. I have included a couple of photos that show this better than I can describe it.
However, the resemblance is remarkable, and was in fact, the major reason I decided to build the model. I should also emphasize that both models are 1/32 scale. It would seem that not everyone could even get into the Pond.
I should also note here that I am not really into air racers; I have nothing against them, and they are pretty, but they just have never been an interest of mine. Thus, those who are deeply into the subject may find some mistakes in both my descriptions and my statements.
This 1/32 scale resin kit was released by XS-Models, which is a German company but the kit is available through Red Pegasus in the U.S. http://www.redpegasusdecals.com/
I think there may have been one kit of the Pond out before that, but I have never seen it. In any case, the XS is a rather nice kit, but, like most resin kits, there are a few problems. The resin is reasonably well-molded with few bubbles and there are some photo-etch and white metal parts supplied. The resin parts will take a fair amount of sanding, grinding and filling to get a good fit; I recommend epoxy putty. The metal landing gear is well done, In other words it is, for the most part, a pretty well-done example of a modern resin kit.
The “for the most part” refers to the fact that while the wingspan appears to be accurate, the length of both the engine booms and the central nacelle appeared to be significantly short, and turned out to be so when compared to a set of drawings done by Taichiro Yamashita, whom I have been told is a very accurate artist. In fact, even to my un-trained race-plane eye, the whole thing looked a bit truncated So, based on those drawings, the booms were lengthened about ¼” in two places: One at the rear of the booms just ahead of the winglets and the other forward of the wing, but not including the exhaust area (again, see the photos). The central nacelle was also lengthened ¼” at a point about halfway between the rear edge of the cockpit and the vertical tail. In addition, there is some “hollowing out” that will greatly enhance the appearance of the finished model, the best/worse example being the radiator outlets on the top of the booms.
Thanks to the fact that this was a very small airplane, these changes did not really take that long, and the model seems to take on more of the look of the real aircraft (However, for all I know, maybe the airplane was modified somewhere along the way--).
My main recommendation/warning is that if you do not like to build and use jigs, forget this kit. It really is a very complex aircraft, and even in 32nd scale, it is tiny. There are a lot of parts (each engine boom has three pieces: the forward ones sandwich the wing between them, while the rear half is a single casting). The pictures show that my jig looked like a porcupine, but, when all the parts were in place, it worked very well.
Although it appears that there are a number of photos of this airplane, pictures showing any sort of detail were not easy to find. I did find enough to cobble up a cockpit because everything is visible in this little airplane, but that was about all. Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place.
In summary, this model was really built to satisfy my own curiosity about the very similar design ideas that were executed some 50 years apart, so I certainly could have done some things better, but the kit itself is rather well done, and the decals were very well done. Anyone into air racers of all types should check out the site.
Model and Text Copyright ©
2011 by Frank Mitchell
Page Created 4 July, 2011
4 July, 2011
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