Vultee V-1A


Vultee V-1A by Special Hobby
Kit No. SH72130
1/72 scale

Cost: $28.00
Decals: Three versions -- two for American Airlines, one for the Crusader Oil Company of Rahway, New Jersey
Comments: Engraved panel lines; detailed cockpit; resin detail parts for the cockpit and engine; includes passenger cabin

History
The Vultee V-1A was an American single-engined airliner of the 1930's built by the Airplane Development Corporation and designed by Gerard Vultee.  It was to be the last of the high performance single engine aircraft used for commercial passenger service, and may have been the fastest.  The prototype V-1 was an all-metal low-wing cantilever monoplane with a retractable tailwheel landing gear.  It had accommodation for a pilot and six passengers and first flew on February 19, 1933 -- making it a contemporary of the Boeing 247.  The production aircraft were designated V-1A and had a slightly larger and longer fuselage for two pilots and eight passengers.  Production ended in 1936 after 24 aircraft had been built. 


The Vultee V-1A was primarily an eight-passenger transport, but was also acquired for military use.  The reverse-teardrop shaped fairing toward the bottom left of the sprue above was a modification facilitating the installation of a rearward firing machine gun, and this version of the V-1A was employed by both sides in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.  Note also the two-bladed propeller, still in wide use among commercial aircraft in the mid-1930's.


American Airlines bought eight V-1As and the V-1 prototype (after it had been modified for two-pilot operation) and they entered service in 1934, flying the route between St. Louis and Chicago.  By 1936, they were replaced with twin-engined aircraft such as the DC-2 for commercial passenger service.  The V-1A did not remain in airline service very long; many became military aircraft and were flown by the U.S. Army or exported to Brazil, China, Turkey and the Soviet Union, where they were built under license.



This view shows off the V-1A's finely engraved panel lines, delineating the door to the cabin.  The two halves of the plane's single cowling are at top right.

A number of aircraft were operated by private companies or individuals.  On January 14, 1935, Jimmy Doolittle flew NC 13770 non-stop across the United States in 11 hours and 59 minutes.  On September 2, 1936, Harry Richmond, and Dick Merrill, flew V1-A NC 16099, with a 1000hp Wright Cyclone engine and modified with long range tanks, from New York to Llandila, Wales, in 18 hours, 36 minutes.   One V-1A was fitted with twin floats, designated V-1A-S, and sold to the Soviet Union.  One aircraft was used in an attempt to make the first New York-London-New York return flight.  It was later used by Nationalist forces in Spain.  Seven former American Airlines aircraft were used by the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, with machine-guns and under-fuselage bomb racks fitted.  Four of the aircraft were captured by the Nationalists.



Specifications

Wingspan: 50 ft.
Length: 37 ft.
Height: 10 ft. 2 in.
Empty weight: 5307 pounds; Payload: 3193 pounds; Gross weight: 8500 pounds
Powerplant: Wright Cyclone R1820- G2 nine-cylinder radial engine of 850 horsepower
Fuel capacity: 206 gallons; Oil capacity: 15 gallons
Maximum speed: 225 miles per hour
Cruising speed: 211 miles per hour
Landing speed: 63 miles per hour
Service ceiling: 20,000 feet
Rate of climb: 1000 feet per minute
Cruising range: 1000 miles



The kit's few resin parts include exhaust pipes for the engine and two control yokes for the cockpit.  Cleaning up the small amount of flash will require care and a bit of patience.

The Kit
Special Hobby's Vultee V-1A comes in a side-opening box and consists of three sprues (including one small sprue for the clear windows), a small block for the resin detail parts and a vacuform windscreen - all in a single clear plastic bag.  The kit is molded in grey and consists of 61 plastic parts, 7 resin detail parts, and the aforementioned windscreen.  The cockpit is fairly well detailed, with individual seats, two-piece resin control yokes for the pilot and co-pilot, and a rear bulkhead.  Directly behind it is a passenger cabin with eight individual seats.  There is a detailed radial engine, which looks quite good but is the only part containing a visible amount of flash.  The cowling consists of two halves and will require skill at hiding seams, and there are two resin parts for the engine exhaust pipes.  The airframe itself looks like it will build up trouble-free and consists of 7 parts, two fuselage halves, a three-piece wing (the underside of which has partially boxed in wheel wells), and the two elevators.  There is engraved detail throughout the exterior.  The kit has a two-bladed propeller that will require a little clean-up with a sanding stick or X-acto blade.  The landing gear are not especially detailed, and call for cementing the wheels directly onto the interior of the wheel well doors.


While the instructions do not reference them, there are sufficient parts to built the bomber version of the V-1A flown by both sides in the Spanish Civil War, although no corresponding markings are provided.  These parts consist of a bulbous open fairing above and behind the cockpit, through which can be mounted a machine gun, also provided (Note: The Spanish Civil War version is manufactured by Azur in 1/72 scale, and includes Republican (anti-fascist) markings).


Spanish Civil War version
Decals
The decals are by Aviprint and appear to be of high quality.  Markings are provided for three versions, one an American Airlines craft, serial number ND-13768; the second a more renowned American Airlines craft, serial number ND-13770, piloted by Jimmy Doolitle in 1935 to set a speed record for a non-stop flight across the United States - this version also bears the emblem of the Shell Oil Company, which sponsored the flight;  and the third set of markings provided are not referenced in the directions, but are for an aircraft called "Lady Peace," a private aircraft, serial number NC-14255, belonging to the Crusader Oil Company.



Conclusion
An interesting kit of a lesser known airliner from the 1930's, providing unusual historical interest in that it links Jimmy Doolittle, at least two American oil companies, and both major combatants in the Spanish Civil War.  Highly recommended.



References

  • Kit instructions
  • History of Airplanes - http://acepilots.com
  • Virginia Aviation Museum - www.eaa231.org
  • wikipedia.org

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