XS-Models | Hughes H-1 Short-wing Racer

Reviewed by Kevin Futter

XS-Models' 1/32 Hughes H-1 Short Wing Racer kit is a high-quality multi-media affair, with the main components cast in resin, supported by a range of vacuform and white metal detail parts. Only one Hughes H-1 was ever built, but was fitted with 2 different sets of wings - one of short span, and one of longer span. This kit (03212H1SHQ) depicts the initial short-span incarnation.

For a more extensive overview of the aircraft itself, I'll simply direct you to the relevant Wikipedia entry (to which I will refer later).

The kit itself comes packaged in a sturdy cardboard box, adorned with some computer-generated artwork. The contents fit neatly inside:

The main components are moulded in resin. Oddly, my example featured two different colours: the standard light beige and a dark grey. Each group of components comes sealed in its own separate bag:

The rest of the kit is comprised of a vacuforum canopy, white metal undercarriage and detail parts, a photo-etched fret in what looks like stainless steel, a printed acetate sheet for the cockpit instruments, and two small decal sheets:

The white metal parts look like they'll need some cleaning up, so it remains to be seen how good they really are.

Two double-sided sheets, printed in colour, form the instructions. The text is in both English and German, with CAD-derived exploded diagrams to show where everything goes:

The interior detailing is a little soft, but should be more than adequate once combined with the provided detail parts and some careful painting:

Some parts are accompanied by a little flash, but it should be a simple operation to remove it. The resin parts carry a heavy coating of mould release agent, so will need some careful washing and preparation before use. One challenge for the modeller will be to determine the correct cockpit colours, but one hopes this requires no more than a thorough Google search.

Surface detail is by way of finely recessed lines, and while not up to the very best injection-moulding standards, is certainly neatly done given the nature of the medium:

Considering the highly-polished nature of the original, purists may still wish to fill the panel lines on the fuselage, as they are barely evident in photos of the original (now on display at the National Air and Space Museum). The aircraft was, after all, designed as a high-speed racer.

A Note About Markings

The original version of this review had the following to say about the H-1's markings:

An interesting fact came to light while I was reading the aforementioned Wikipedia article on the H-1. All extant depictions of the wing colour on the H-1 have been blue, and so it is with this kit from XS-Models. The Wikipedia article, however, asserts that the colour of the wings on the short-wing version was in fact red; the wings became blue only with the change of wings to the long-span articles. While documentary evidence for this is quoted only as "an article from TIME magazine, September 23, 1935", it is nonetheless food for thought. The modeller will have to make up his or her own mind!

Andreas of XS-Models has since contacted me with the following information:

One of our members [of the Record & Racing planes SIG in IPMS] is very close connected to the Smithsonian. So he had the opportunity to take a photo from the stored original short wing with the original scratches and dirt on the underside. IT WAS AND IS DEFINATELY BLUE!

Andreas goes on to say that the Wikipedia article has since been amended to reflect this information. Sounds definitive to me!

The Hughes H-1 is tiny, especially in this short-wing configuration, and the finished model will be barely larger than a 1/48 P-47! In the box this looks to be an excellent kit, and should provide only the challenges inherent in the medium. I look forward to tackling it myself in the near future.

The XS-Models H-1 Short Wing Racer is currently available from XS-Models. Thanks to XS-Models for the review sample.

© Kevin Futter 2010

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016