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Wright Flyer
“First Powered Flight”

Revell (Monogram), 1/39 scale

S u m m a r y :

Description and Item No.:

Revell (Monogram) 1/39 scale Kit No. 85-5243; Wright Flyer “First Powered Flight”

Contents and Media:

62 parts (52 in tan styrene, 6 in cream styrene, 3 clear, 1 length of string).

Price:

$15.95 (see text for reason)

Scale:

1/48US

Review Type:

First Look

Advantages:

It's the only kit of this aircraft in this scale; includes basic diorama accessories and both of the Wright Brothers.

Disadvantages:

“Child of the 1950s” with some simplification seen in the rigging diagrams.

Recommendation:

Recommneded for any fan of aviation or those into nostalgia.

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

 

Introduction

 

One of the greatest moments in history took place on the morning of 17 December 1903 near the tiny hamlet of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (population 60). Two brothers from Ohio, Orville and Wilbur Wright, became the first men in history to fly a heavier-than-air machine with the day’s record being 862 feet over 59 seconds. From that point on man was no longer tethered to the ground.

Starting in the 1920s the area became a local and then national monument and park, finally developing into a museum, the monument to the Wrights, a small airstrip, and a large open area.

While the original machine is now part of the Smithsonian Institution collection, a replica is on display at the museum and a sculpture made of metal is near the monument, depicting the moment the machine left the ground with figures of the brothers and their friends also so honored.

In 1958, at the beginning of the first “golden age” of modeling, Monogram created a “box scale” (as in whatever scale fits in the box) kit of the Wright Flyer and also provided figures of the brothers, a section of the launching rail it used, and some small details to make it into a diorama. This kit was popular with many people and many kids like myself got one as either a gift or as a new model to build. In my case I got one for Christmas that year and as I was ten built it but did not paint or rig it.

Over the years it has been in and out of the Monogram catalogue, and after the Revell-Monogram merger it appeared as a Revell kit. While the moldings now claim 1988 (it is stamped under one of the engine halves) this particular one was listed as a 2011 product. It was sold at the gift shop at Kitty Hawk for $15.95, but most places this class of kits is more around $12.

 

 

FirstLook

 

To their credit Revell has tried to keep it as original as possible with the flying surfaces molded in cream colored styrene to represent linen and the rest in a tan plastic; the original kit had those parts in a chestnut brown, but at least they did not crank it out in the usual soft grey plastic used for most kits these days.

While the original kit came in a standard Monogram “PA” box of that time frame, this one comes in the current flimsy type used by Revell; due to the somewhat fragile parts of the model, the box does come with a sturdy cardboard brace inside the lid. The model comes fairly complete with figures of Orville at the controls and Wilbur running alongside and cheering while waving his hat. A small work table with tools is included as well as about 40 scale feet of the launch rail; the “guillotine” style catapult used for launching the machine is not provided. This used a heavy weight hauled up to the top and connected by a rope to the front of the rollers used to support the machine on the rail and when dropped yanked it forward at a good clip.

As noted this is a “child of the 1950s” and as such simplifies some of the details. To their credit Monogram included thread for rigging the machine but do make a few compromises. The rigging is not bad but it works by having notches built into the struts where the thread passes through the strut rather than turnbuckles or holes in the struts. Holes are provided in the lower wing and the control surfaces to get the right cable to the right fitting.

Also part of the compromise are large shoes to fit the various struts in place, and the struts need to be carefully selected to ensure the right one with the right notches get into the right places.

 Only minor painting is needed to finish the model unless you want to really paint and weather the linen coverings, and the most work needs to be on the brothers.

A Shep Paine style diorama flyer is included in the kit and will be a good inspiration for those who want to put the model on a base. The small three-piece stand will permit it to sit just off the ground for those who do not want to go the diorama route.


 

Sprue Layout:

6              Wings, rudders, elevators (cream)

3              “Flying” stand (clear)

12           Wing struts, landing skid, launch rail (tan)

 22           Wright Brothers, struts, landing skid, propellers, engine (tan)

18           Braces, chain drive, propeller mounts, bench, accessories (tan)

1              Grey nylon string

 

 

Conclusion

 

In summary, this is a nice kit even after all these years and Revell have tried to ensure that they are true to the original concept that Monogram had 63 years ago. `


Review Text and Images Copyright 2020 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 30 March, 2021
Last updated 30 March, 2021

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