Sword 1/48 N1M Flying Wing




$ 29.98      ($26.96 at Squadron)


one aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Short run with vac canopy and resin bits.


Jack Northrop always had an affinity (actually an obsession) with all wing aircraft. He was constantly experimenting with the type as he thought (rightly so) that doing away with the fuselage and empennage would result in less drag and a cleaner design. So convinced was he that he managed to wangle a contract for a long range bomber based on his all wing designs.

However, this was new territory for both Northrop and the US Army so rather than just diving into the project, Northrop decided to build several smaller technology demonstrators to be sure the design was sound and to provide data for the larger aircraft. The first of these was the N1M. Though not strictly an all wing design (the prop shaft housings provided some lateral stability), it did prove that flying wings were not only possible but an advantageous design.

The N1M was not the huge initial success as was hoped. It was woefully underpowered and initially could not be flown any higher than 5 feet from the ground! A design change in the aft portion of the  wings was made and it entered the test program in 1940. The N1M was unique in that the  wing sections could be altered in terms of dihedral and sweep. The outer wing sections could be changed in terms of droop. The aircraft was finally retired from the test program in 1945 and donated to the Army. The Army placed it in storage at Freeman Field, Indiana. A few years later it was given to the Smithsonian and in 1983 completely restored. It is now part of the air and space museum's collection.


As short run kits go, this one is pretty basic. The majority of the kit is the upper and lower wing/fuselage sections. The cockpit is in the now expected resin, though this time it is molded in grey rather than the usual buff color. Resin parts are the cockpit floor, side walls, seat and some internal controls. Also in resin are the wheels and  engine intakes. The intakes have very fragile grille-work and one of mine was broken. There are two vac canopies for those of us who are not good with these things.

The overall detailing of the parts is very typical of the Sword kits. Panel lines are finely engraved and have good detail work. There are some ejector pin stubs to remove from the wing itself, but nothing really major. Thankfully, the props are in one piece so no worries about getting the alignment proper. Though no mention is made of the need for nose weight, it will be required, and lots of it. For those who don't put in enough, it won't be terrible as this aircraft also has a small tail wheel that should keep the props from hitting the ground. The wings are molded in the straight and level mode, one that was not really the norm as most photos I've seen of the N1M show the wing tips drooped down. You may want to do some cutting to emulate that position on your kit.

The instructions are basically a single folded sheet of paper. There is color information given throughout the short construction sequences. Colors given are generic but more than adequate. The decal sheet is very well printed and nice and thin. The lone example is painted in yellow so it will be interesting to see how opaque the decals really are.



Overall, this looks like a very good kit. I don't anticipate any major fit problems, though judging from the way Czech model companies do the integration of resin and plastic parts, (there isn't any) there will probably be a need to 'fine tune' the assembly of these bits! A very nice choice of subjects and one that should add interest to your model shelf.

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