Northrop XP-56 Black Bullet

MPM XP-56 model in 1/72 scale : kit review & modelling report
The nice little MPM kit of the XP-56 is a welcome addition to any collection of various prototypes

The first prototype flew in 1943 to investigate the concept of a tailless aircraft with pusher props. Material used is structure with magnesium, using a new welding technique. 
Finally, handling quality was poor and the aircraft was not a pilot's friend...

   the parts and box
The MPM kit has fine parts, with fine recessed panellines. There is some detail in the cockpit, the intake grills and some tiny parts are casted in resin.
The kit, no. 72098, is for the first XP-56 version, with the small vertical tail. Strangely enough for the later version of the "Bullet", kit instructions show the larger tail with other tips in the parts layout, but these have been "cut out" from the sprues. I expect another kit will have these for the larger tail and other wingtips.This is not very nice: why not give us the choice here?

The kit's fit is good, a large improvement over older MPM kits.

The kit larger than you would expect from a very small plane; however this is caused by most images being from a side angle, hiding the concept of a flying wing/tailless aircraft with counter rotating pusher props, the wing being about 17 cm in 1/72 scale span..

The kit's propeller assembly with the two props is very complex; you will need to make a pattern yourself to help you to assemble the blades at the correction angles etc.


 the small fuselage with some putty added

The kit can be improved in the following areas:
- the plastic was thinned further with a scalpel at the engine exhaust
- the cooling covers at the engine exhaust at the rear were cut in to reflect the small gaps.
- the flying surfaces gaps were cut in with a razorblades
- the supplied resin intakes are not deep enough; I will make a new set with card;
- various intakes and holes in the fuselage need to be drilled out; same applies for some other details; check pictures.
- inner u.c. doors are incorrect but normally remain closed; re-scribe using the drawing in the kit's instructions as a guide
- add detail in undercarriage bays.
- add some more detail in the cockpit

   the first coat of plain aluminum applied.


side view, note short fuselage, large wing!

ready for take -off!!

 note the intake vanes added and the wire antenna

- Northrop Flying wings, Schiffer, ISBN 0-88740-597-5 . 

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Created this page September 30, 2001