Sword's 1/72 Fairchild 91
By Chris Banyai-Riepl
The Fairchild 91 was a single-engined flying boat that was originally designed for Pan Am's South American routes. Pan
Am took delivery of the first two planes and promptly turned them over to Panair do Brasil, where they flew the river
routes and quickly earned the name "Jungle Clipper". These weren't the only Fairchild 91s, though. A total of
seven were built, all of which led some very interesting lives. There was one that was put on a boat and sent to Spain to
fly for the Republican forces, but this boat was captured by the Nationalist forces and all the equipment on board,
including the Fairchild 91, was interned and used by the Nationalists. Other military operators include Japan, who
purchased two Fairchild 91s and labeled them as LXF-1 Type Fs. One was damaged almost immediately, but the second saw
service in Nanking in 1939. Gar Wood purchased a Fairchild 91 and eventually donated it to the RAF who flew it out of
Alexandria, Egypt on SAR duties. The final example didn't see military service, but had an interesting history as well.
Dr. Richard Archbold bought the second-built Fairchild 91, but due to his superstitious nature requested that it be
serialed as 9407. The civil registration was NR 777 and was nicknamed "Kono" (duck in Papuan). He then flew this
to New Guinea to partake in an expedition, but despite all the "lucky 7" charms it was damaged in a storm soon
after arrival and was totalled during the recovery process.
For such a small production
run the Fairchild 91 saw some very interesting service all around the world.
When I heard that Sword was coming out with a Fairchild 91 I had to turn to the reference library to figure out just
what this was. The fascinating history of just about all the Fairchild 91s built caught a hold of me and I was really
looking forward to this kit. Now that it's here I don't know what way to turn. I can't quite decide which one to do!
The kit comes in a dark gray injection plastic that is crisp for the most part (although there are a couple of spots
that will need some cleanup). The windscreen is vacuformed (two provided) while the cabin windows along the fuselage sides
are provided in injection plastic. The interior is a combination of plastic and resin, with the resin pieces making up the
seats. These resin seats are very nicely done and after looking at these I wish that MPM had included something similar in
their DC-2 kit. There's a total of three bulkheads for the interior, with a fourth providing the attachment point for the
tailwheel. This should help keep the fuselage halves in alignment, although you might need to work the pieces a bit to get
a perfect fit.
The wing is split into a one-piece upper wing and separate left and right lower sections. In fact, the
lower wing sections are split into inner and outer pieces, for what reason I'm not sure. The engine nacelle is nicely
done, with the fabric rear section particularly well molded. The engine is just the front-half molded onto a disc and
while it will likely look just fine, replacement with an aftermarket resin engine will greatly improve the look in this
The landing gear is somewhat complex and you'll likely need to do some cleanup on the struts. They should be sturdy
enough to support the finished model, though. Alternatively you can display this model on a water base for something
The decals are printed by Techmod and look to be very nice. You get two choices on this
sheet, one being the Japanese LXF-1 Type F and the other being the Spanish Civil War Fairchild 91 as seen on the boxtop.
The Japanese example is silver overall, with a black hull and hinomarus in the usual places. A red band is on the nose.
The Spanish example is also silver overall with a black hull bottom, but has a red design around the engine nacelle and
the standard Nationalist markings. It also has the name "Virgen de Chamorro" on the rear fuselage and a Popeye
character on the nose.
This will definitely be an interesting model to build and while there aren't many marking choices out there, the ones
that are there are interesting ones. I'm torn between building this one up as the Spanish one or creating decals for one
of the Panair Brasil planes. Then again, "Kono" also looks interesting. Heck, there were only seven built, so I
might as well get six more and build them all!