1/72 Valom Lockheed XFV-1 Salmon

by Gabriel Stern



Among the outlandish prototypes that populate the aviation saga, the Lockheed Salmon deserves a place of honor. Nick-named after its test pilot, the Salmon makes justice also to the attitude of the plane, jumping vertically against the stream -or gravity, in this case-. Created to explore the delights of vertical takeoff and landing, coupled with the speed benefits of horizontal flight, it gave many hours of head-scratching to designers and for sure its pilot. Sister ship of the non less strange Convair Pogo, they proved how easy is to go up, and how difficult can some times be go down. They never went into production, until kit manufacturers seized the opportunity, although in a smaller scale.
  Valom deserves credit for venturing in the vast field of attractive, less seen wonders. Being a short-run kit, it will ask from you certain degree of dedication, but nothing supernatural. No tabs or pins to help with alignment, but some features in the mold will hopefully give you a clue about it.
The recessed panel lines are not the best quality I've seen. In parts they are a bit ragged and hiccup a little.

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First thing is to sand on a flat surface -I used a "T" sanding bar- The main parts contact areas in order to help with their fit. Fuselage sides, wing and tail surfaces and their fillets on the fuselage were tackled. The wingtip tanks require a little effort, since their halves have a a recess toward the fin. All the parts were removed from the sprues and cleaned-up, since their number is small and their location predictable.
  The propeller assembly is a little complex and deserves certain care. The instructions are good, but the part -the bigger disc- that goes into the fuselage aperture is slightly oversize. I sanded the fuselage opening to allow for a comfortable fit, and the piece will eventually rest on the cockpit parts, which reach to the area from inside, together with the front console. A notch was cut in the front of the cockpit floor to allow for the prop shaft retainer to get in comfortably.   While waiting for some putty to dry, I made a die from brass tube, sharpening one end, to create a tool to cut tiny circles from a silver-painted decal strip. These circles (you would need six) go where the prop blades attach to the spinners, to account for the variable pitch mechanism. That meant that I would have to change the spinner assembly sequence, gluing the back plates and cutting the blades shafts short, once painted, from the sprue. Since the back plates are keyed, that isnn't a problem. Then the blades can be added later, after painting/decaling is done.

  The painting scheme departs from the instructions, but a liked the option of modeling the plane that way, since the models I've seen so far have the Salmon -of course- sitting on the tail.
The landing gear locations is very, very vague on the instructions. The contact areas of the struts that are glued to the fuselage were filed, since their fit was anything but good. The front legs have notches as connecting points. The rear legs have to be shortened a tad to get things there. There are a couple of wires to add too.
  A tip tank was cut open and some resemblance of the internal structure was made with plastic card and stretched sprue. This matches a photo I found on the Internet upon which I based my model, sitting comfortably and unstressed on its provisional landing gear.

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  The vac canopy (two provided) was cut and sanded a bit, and since it sits flat no problems here, although the frames are vaguely depicted.
  A coat of black paint was given to the airframe and several shades of metal hues were sprayed, from the Testors, Humbrol, Alclad II and Model Master Metalizers ranges -the whole menu-. I misplaced a tad the dark metal/reddish shade on the wingtip tanks, misguided by the panel lines.

  Decals are very good for a change and easy to work with, although very thin. Handle them with great care. A red line that runs on the wings is not provided, and I let to posterity the completion of that detail on my model.
  I enjoyed a lot building my little Salmon. Its unusual shape and history is a refreshing sight on the shelf.
  It may like the company of the KP 1/72 Convair Pogo, but that's another story.


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Photos and text by Gabriel Stern