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Lockheed XF-90 Penetration Fighter 1949

February 28, 2014 in Aviation

The XF-90, a experimental aircraft, was an example of Kelly Johnson’s Skunk Works. Designed as a long range escort fighter that could accompany the B-36 intercontinental bomber, changing technology had the jet redesigned as an interceptor. Only two examples were built by 1951 and the Korean War had the Air Force devote much it’s budget to procuring/maintaining existing aircraft in general and the Sabre Jet in particular.
Historically, the XF-90 boasts several significant features: it was the first to employ an ejection seat; it had a fully adjustable tail, and was the first to use fowler flaps to improve air flow over the ailerons. It was also the first to use wing drop tanks on sweptback wings, and the first to employ an afterburner. It could achieve 660 mph but the Air Force felt it was too slow as an interceptor and thought it was underpowered like many jets of that era. Improvements in the already proven F-84 ended any furthur development of the XF-90.

The Model

One of the glue bombs I built as a kid, rediscovered in my folks attic, re-built by me six years ago. Offered by Aurora models in 1952, it had the usual detail of the early plastic planes: heavy gray plastic, raised rivets, national insignia outline, no landing gear or rockets. My 1:48 scale kit was the 1954 version, landing gear and rockets were included. I must have used an entire tube of Revell “S” glue, I had a tough time pulling it apart to re-assemble minus the gaps in the fuselage and crooked wings. It’s far from perfect, but looks good on a shelf and is an unusual model. A friend made the plexiglass display stand. If you recall the “Blackhawks” comic books of the 1950’s, the heroic freedom fighting Blackhawks flew the F-90.

9 additional images. Click to enlarge

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14 responses to Lockheed XF-90 Penetration Fighter 1949

  1. Fantastic-looking build, Mike….the finish is exemplary (as are the pics). Really nice job!

  2. Mike, what an accomplishment, to bring this model to such a fantastic appearance! And what a story. Your photography is what really does it for me. I bet you are making Kelly Johnson happy!

  3. Mike,for a pull apart and re-do you’ve made a brilliant job .I thought I knew my aircraft but I’ve never seen this one before -Cheers.

  4. Aye, its “new” to me too! Very nice model.

  5. I love it. I built the Hawk kit in the late ’50s. It is long gone. I have had to settle for the Wings72 vac kit for my collection. Well done, sir! Adios, Larry.

  6. Another save of a pioneer kit. I agree with the others, a well finished kit with great photos.
    Did you make your own backdrop?

  7. Mike, you’ve done a wonderful job. Mine, unfortunately, is still a “glue bomb”. still painted in it’s glossy Testors “Spitfire” colors. My wing tip tanks have long ago, found their way on to 1/32 F-1 cars, as side pods. It never had landing gear, and the stand was broken, and is MIA. It was my first plastic kit, and I still think it’s a beautiful aircraft. I love what you’ve done with it. That was a ton of work !

  8. A great build Mike.
    As neil said I have never seen one of these until now.
    Well done Mike.

  9. Mike,
    What can I add? Another of your very excellent builds. Outstanding.

  10. Great save and a superb model.

    As an aside, they didn’t know it at the time, but the horizontal stabilizer was in exactly the wrong position to provide the stability for the airplane to go supersonic. The Hunter had the same problem. Some airplanes, like the Super Mystere, were able to achieve supersonic speed with this tail layout, but they were still limited to being barely supersonic. What was the right position? Look at the F-100.

    Congratulations again on great work.

  11. Very cool looking model, and brilliant photography!

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