Al Superczynski's

Old Kit Corner

Twenty-one years in the military and I still haven't learned not to volunteer! Hi, my name is Tom Solinski, and I met Al and some of the other good folks on Internet Modeler through the WWI modeling list. Several months ago I was fortunate to acquire an Aurora X-18 off of eBay and I asked your usual columnist if he'd like some pictures for an article. He in turn asked me to try a full article, and as I started off with I still haven't learned to stop volunteering.

The Hiller tilt-wing project gained the NACA/NASA designation of X-18 in 1955, and along with the X-13, X-14, X-19, X-22A and XC-124 was part of the team designed to explore the various methods of achieving vertical flight in a fixed wing aircraft. The X-18 program was specifically aimed at developing VTOL for a transport size aircraft with the fuselage remaining in a level attitude. It is also an example of an early shoestring budget program, saving costs by starting with an existing nose and tail section from a C-123, and the Allison T-40A-14 vertical engines and propellers from the Lockheed XVF-1. First flight in conventional mode was made November 24, 1959 at Edwards AFB. The aircraft flew over 20 times in 1960 and 61, but never fully made the transition from horizontal to vertical and back to horizontal flight. The program was abruptly terminated in 1961. My references did not give the disposition of the airframe.

The aircraft was 63 feet long. It had a 48 foot wingspan, and was powered by two Allison T-40A-14s rated at 5,580 shp and a single Westinghouse J34 was used for pitch and yaw trim. Empty with was 27,000 lbs., max gross weight was 33,000 lbs. It was equipped to carry only two crewmembers on its test flights.

My kit is a later issue of a Parent's Magazine Young Modelers Club kit. It comes in an over-sized, standardized cardboard box with the front panel of the standard kit box pasted to the front. The kit consists of 34 surprisingly well-molded parts with a moderate amount of believable surface detail. It is molded in the nifty fifties silver-gray plastic to provide a little accurate color to the finished model. It works out to being slightly larger than 1/72 scale. Two interesting features are that this early kit is made to have the tilt wing and counter rotating props work in a realistic manner, and it included a nicely molded stand, imitating the high quality stand that might have come with a contractor's desk model.

My kits' decals are luckily not yellowed, and are in very good register.

The instructions are typical Aurora drawn pictorials with detailed step by step instructions in English. These instructions were done in blue ink similar to old-fashioned blueprints. Construction is covered in 6 steps with painting suggestions on each step.

Final aircraft finish is natural unpolished aluminum with day-glow test panels on the nose wingtips and tail feathers.

For you kit collectors out there THIS ONE'S GETTING Built!!! HA!!

As Al says build it the way you like, and forget the contests.

pragolog-sm.jpg (5410 bytes)

< Table of Contents

Table of Contents >