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McDonnel XF-85 Goblin


Catalogue No.: 72042
Scale: 1/72
Media: Injected Styrene, brass and vacform
Review Type: First Look
Rating: Recommended

Reviewed by Phil Brandt IPMS 14901

S u m m a r y

19 Styrene Parts, 1 photo etched fret, vac-form canopy, decals
Price: US$18.98
Advantages: Good detail, clear instructions, esoteric subject
Disadvantages: Get out your magnifying glass for assembly of small photo-etched components; no harness
Recommendation: Recommended for 1/72 scale modelers wanting to build something a bit different.


F i r s t   L o o k


Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny... The MPM 1/72 McDonnel XF-85 Goblin

Planned as an escort fighter for SAC's gigantic B-36 Cold War mainstay, the petite McDonnell XF-85 Goblin was on the drawing boards as early as 1942.

Only two were built, but the egg-shaped bird occupies a distinct place in the world's aviation history as the only aircraft ever designed to operate entirely from within a "mother" aircraft. Although the Goblin's flight characteristics were satisfactory--it was highly maneuverable--the turbulence around the trapeze extended from the test carrier B-29 made hookups extremely hazardous and the program came to an end in 1949 after little more than two flight test hours. Fortunately, both XF-85 test articles survived and are on display at the USAF and SAC museums.

The MPM Kit consists of a single parts' tree (only 19 molded aircraft components), clear vacuformed canopy, an Eduard Photoetch fret with instrument panel film and a small--with a two-inch fuselage (you don't need many) Propagteam decal sheet with stencils and tail numbers for both test articles.

Molding is not bad at all and is very finely engraved, but with the slight flash, large sprues and relatively soft, rounded details characteristic typical of limited run, Eastern European production. And the landing gear? Hey, we don't need no steenkin' landing gear 'cause the Goblin had a landing skid and transport trailer ala Me-163 Komet.

Of all the airplane kits to have a competitor one certainly wouldn't have picked the Goblin, but Bondo's had the U.S.-made "12 Squared" Kit No. 2-14 up on the shelf for years. The kit components have more than a little similarity (wonder if the much earlier 12 Squared release served as a "development model" for the MPM effort), but the 12 Squared molding is slightly "rougher", and some MPM components such as the transport trailer frame differ markedly. Also, the 12 Squared canopy is molded (read thicker) and would need moderate polishing.

The MPM kit really moves into its own via the Eduard PE details which add a more scale look in components such as the easily-viewed engine compressor blade disk, hook enclosure--the hook can be stowed or deployed--wing fences and optional winglets. Using the tiny PE parts (warning: you're probably gonna need a magnifier) the cockpit can be nicely detailed, especially with the side consoles--12 Squared offers none--and typical Eduard instrument panel treatment. In comparison, 12 Squared gives you a choice of a plain injected instrument panel with a mostly black Scalemaster instrument decal or a panel with some raised detail. Strangely, no seat belts are included in the Eduard PE.

MPM includes aircraft history and assembly layouts on one two-sided sheet. The instructions are in no-text style, but are very well drawn, with clear assembly blowups and numbered parts tree layouts for plastic and PE. Enclosed literature is where the 12 Squared release is plainly superior. Eight pages (!) of assembly tips, history, scale trapeze diagrams, fifteen pix and even B-29 carrier aircraft markings can really spoil a modeler.

MPM and 12 Squared should both be congratulated for taking on such an esoteric subject on a limited run level and carrying it off with a decent amount of detail.

Just as at the USAF Museum, this tiny fighter will look great parked on its trailer beside a re-released Monogram B-36 ...but then, wouldn't it be a diorama?

Review Copyright 1999 by Phil Brandt
Page Created 24 February, 1999
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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