Rareplane 1/72 XP-67 'Moonbat'








Scott Van Aken


basic vacuform


In the early 1940's, the newly formed McDonnell Aircraft Corporation (which then bought Douglas and became McDonnell/Douglas, and has since been purchased by Boeing) produced a design for a twin-engined heavy fighter. This fighter was to have six 37mm cannon, but no armament was ever installed. It was also to use the new Continental I-1430 turbo supercharged V-12 engines, driving four bladed propellers. The airframe itself was to provide a great deal of lift and was of the blended fuselage design that is so prevalent in today's fighters.

The first of two prototypes was completed in December 1943 and taxi tests were conducted at Lambert Field in St. Louis. The aircraft was then trucked to nearby Scott Field for flight testing. First flight was on 6 January 1944 and lasted six minutes due to engine problems. The next two flights were accomplished without difficulty. During the fourth flight, however, the engines were oversped and the bearings burned out. 

Upon return to the factory the cooling ducts were reworked and the tailplanes raised a foot. Then followed more flight tests before AAF pilots finally got to fly the plane on 11 May of 1944. During the following flights, several problems were cured, but engine related ones never were satisfactorily corrected. The biggest problem was engine overheating which led to a fire in the right nacelle on 6 September 1944. The ensuing fire caused major damage and on 13 Sept, McDonnell and the USAAF agreed to terminate the contract. The second airframe was never completed. 


Rareplanes offers just a basic vacuform kit. No metal bits, no decals, just two vacuformed sheets and one vac canopy. It didn't even come in a box, just a bag. Besides the vac sheets, a three view of the aircraft with color guide, and a blow up diagram showing where all the parts fit were the only instructions.


The first step is to cut out the vac parts. That is done by scoring around the parts and simply snapping them off the sheet. At this time, any openings that need to be made are done. 

If I recall, this kit had a floor and two bulkheads for the cockpit. It also had a vac seat. This seat was replaced by an Aeroclub metal version and the control stick robbed from the spares box. The interior was painted black to lessen the impact of lack of detail. I need to mention that this kit was built about 15 years ago, so there really wasn't much available in aftermarket stuff for it. It was old-time modeling where a full spares box was your primary resource.

The fuselage came in an upper and lower section, mostly because of the design of the aircraft. If you look at it, doing a left and right half would have been difficult. The fuselage went out to just beyond the engine nacelles. Small tabs were glued in one half to help stabilize the kit and the upper and lower sections were glued together/ Be sure to add nose weight because even a vacuform can be a tailsitter. Once that was done, the seams were cleaned up and made presentable. Next the outer wing halves were glued together. I used a piece of scrap plastic sheet to make a tab for the inner portions of the wing and cut slots in the fuselage to accept them. After the outer wings were cleaned up, they were glued to the fuselage section. The tabs really helped make a good, strong joint.

Next, the tailplane and fin halves were glued  and cleaned up. The fin was glued in place, again using a tab and slot arrangement. The tailplanes were just butt joined, but fit well. Don't forget the dihedral that needs to be put into the tailplanes or it will look very odd. 

Once the airframe is basically together, then one can start on the landing gear. Mine were made with a combination of telescoping tubing and paper clips. If you wish, you can use the forms given, but I have never had any luck with them. The wheels were used, however, and don't look too bad. Then the canopy was cut out and glued in place. Naturally I cut mine too small and with no spare, I had to make the best of it. It was then masked and the aircraft taken to the paint shop.


Back in this time period, I was pretty heavily into Gunze acrylic paints. I still like them, but like the Aeromaster ones better. Anyway, this one was a pretty simple color scheme of OD over Neutral Grey. First the underside colors were done and when dry masked off. Then the upper surface OD was painted on. Next the edges of the wings and tailplanes were painted in a foliage green color. The aircraft was then sprayed with gloss clear to be ready for the decals.

Decals were scrounged from several sources and the spares box. Making the serial number was most tedious, but there really isn't any alternative. The white camera marks are just white decal stripes.


Next was the problem with propellers. I could have filled the kit ones with putty and shaped them, but I'm lazy. I robbed the props from an old Airfix P-61 and stuck them in the spinner. The spinner was then filled with super glue to make it hard. Tubing was inserted for a prop shaft before the superglue dried all the way. They were then painted and glued to the engine nacelles. The only other bits to put on were the gear doors. These had been painted with the rest of the aircraft. The wheel wells were painted in chromate green as were the inside of the gear doors. A bit of touchup, the masking was removed from the canopy and I had a Moonbat!


This kit was one of the first complete vacuform kits I had ever built. Frankly, I wasn't a difficult  job and the kit is still one of my favourites. I know that modelers nowadays don't build many vacs and those that are on the market are more of a multimedia kit than anything else. However, there are still some subjects not done in any other venue. They are really no more difficult to do than any limited run kit. 


McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920: vol 2, by Rene Francillon, 1990

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet! 

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