A model I’d like to see- making the case for a 1/48 Vultee P-66 Vanguard

Every modeler has their list of kits they’d like to see produced. Some are mainstream, kits that we’ve seen many times before. I’m OK with that. As someone who builds mostly Spitfires, I say bring them on. The more the merrier.

However, the kit I’d most like to see produced is a bit more obscure. Very much a footnote in World War II history.

The Vultee P-66 Vanguard was designed to be part of a system of aircraft, from a basic trainer right up through the P-66 fighter itself. The concept wasn’t bad… build the aircraft with similar components to achieve manufacturing efficiencies.

But as with so many projects like that, the P-66 never really worked out. Originally intended for Sweden, that deal was nixed by the US government, so they were supposed to head to Britain. But the RAF decided to “defer”, and the US didn’t really want them for much either, and like so many of the “second shelf” US aircraft of World War II, they headed a country desperate for anything- China.

Upon their arrival in China, they had a very un-notable combat record, and by 1943 had been replaced by P-40s.

So if anyone decides to produce a 1/48 kit of the P-66, it won’t be because of its stellar war record.

Still, I think it could get some traction. Classic Airframes sold quite a few (relatively) 1/48 P-43 Lancers. (Although judging by how many are sold on Ebay it would seem not too many folks built them.) It was in much the same boat. Less than stellar performance, only a few produced, and most went to China.

Trumpeter has sold more than a few Westland Whirlwinds, and there were fewer of those built than the Vanguard. Another of Trumpeter’s kits, the Spiteful and Seafang, were never even fully operational aircraft.

Certainly kitting the P-66 would answer the call for “something other than Spitfires, Mustangs and 109s” pretty well.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet more than a few folks would have to Google P-66 just to figure out what it was. It’s certainly an “other than” kind of airplane.

And while the markings options would be rather basic- standard US OD/NG, the RAF Sky/Dark Green Dark Earth, and of course Chinese markings, it would still present enough variety to generate some interest, I think. And of course the “what if” angle is almost limitless. For instance, the P-66s sent to China had been originally planned for the 3rd American Volunteer Group. Of course, after Pearl Harbor, this unit never materialized, and the P-66s were used by the Chinese. But imagine an AVG P-66! It could be quite cool. And I think it just screams for an “alternate universe” Corsair scheme, as it looks very much like one in profile.

Air Collections 1/48 P-66- a hard kit to find
Air Collections 1/48 P-66- a hard kit to find

The kit has been released in 72nd scale by both Sword and AZ Model, though I’m pretty sure the AZ Model kit was simply a reboxing of the Sword offering. (I built the Sword kit a few years ago.)And a company called Air Collections did release a short run kit in 48th scale. (It is rare as hen’s teeth, and if you have one and want to sell it- email me!) S Model produces a vacform kit in 48th scale that doesn’t look to bad. I have one in the stash, but because it’s a vacform kit, I haven’t made the plunge. Perhaps if I start it that will prompt someone to produce a new kit….

Seriously though- I want a mainstream P-66. With a nice but simple cockpit. No need for anything fancy. No fiddly engine detail. Keeping it simple is fine. I’ll probably buy quite a few, just to make sure I have a good supply.

So if you’re a manufacturer, or know one, please consider my request. I’m sure you can find it in your heart to get one together.

I’d really appreciate it. 🙂

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