Cold War what if – Hughes XF-11
The XF-11 was a long range reconnaissance aircraft designed by Howard Hughes and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Power was supplied by a pair of Pratt and Whitney 4360 radial engines. Although orders were received for 100 aircraft for the USAAF, only two prototypes were built. The first, equipped with Hamilton Standard counter rotating propellers, was destroyed in a crash while on a test flight with Howard Hughes at the controls. The cause was one of the right propellers going into reverse inflight due to a fluid leak. Hughes, who was not supposed to be flying the aircraft at all, received serious injuries, and this is thought to be the beginning of his drug dependency. The second prototype was equipped with conventional props and made numerous successful flights before being sent to Texas as an instructional airframe, where it was later scrapped.
This is the Anigrand 1/72 scale resin kit, which came to me in a box given to me by my good friend Jack while I was visiting in Florida. It was partially built and missing quite a few parts, and rested pretty much forgotten in my closet until I went searching for a new project. I knocked the box off the shelf, ejecting this thing onto the floor, which broke both the vertical tails off. So I figured, what the heck, let's give it a go!
Missing parts included the props, all the wheels and nose gear strut and the canopy. Several emails to Anigrand resulted in a whole lot of chirping crickets, so I began raiding my junk box for parts. Oddly, almost everything came from 1/48 scale Mustangs in one form or another. This is a big airplane in full scale, just two feet shorter in wingspan than a B-17. I put my 1/72 Ki-61 in one of the pics to give you an idea of the XF-11's size. This was my first attempt at a resin model, and while I did learn a lot, there were quite a few times I wanted to heave this thing out the window. All the gory details are in the build log:
The paint scheme was decided mainly by the fact I didn't want to do a bare metal finish due to the rough texture of the resin. A lot of sanding and polishing was not in my future, so I based this scheme on what I thought it would like like had it gone into service in the late 40s and early 50s. Overall color is ADC gray. The squadron markings are based on the colorful schemes seen on many USAF fighter units of the period. The green wasn't my first choice, but it seems to work well on this airplane. Decals are all from the dungeon. I figured the airplane would have been well maintained, apart from the oil that big radials always throw, especially the R4360, which is not especially clean, so weathering was kept light except around the engines. Had this thing gone into service, it would have been designated R-11.
I don't recommend this kit to the faint of heart, because frankly, it was awful. Some of this was probably self induced, having never done resin before. But if you want a really interesting weird airplane, this is the only game in town. And you get to chuckle at everyone who thinks it's a P-38...