Kit #AA2112. 1/72 scale. This is a highly-detailed
resin kit of the Fairchild XC-120
Packplane, an experimental offshoot of the company’s successful C-119 Flying Boxcar. It comes complete with decals.
First flown in 1950, the Fairchild XC-120 was a solution looking for a problem, or perhaps
an aircraft a generation ahead of its time.
The idea behind this unusual aircraft pre-dated by decades the
now-common multi-modal use of standard-sized cargo containers that can be
transported by ship, truck or rail car with equal ease. Designers hoped there was a market for the
quick transport of pre-loaded cargo modules, or – more likely – pre-loaded
command-and-control centers that could be flown, fully-equipped, to the
airfield nearest a fast-moving battle.
Fairchild, having created the C-82
Packet and the C-119 Flying Boxcar,
as well as the remarkably useful C-123
Provider, had proven to be an innovator in tactical and theater cargo
transport aircraft, and this failed design was yet another example of their
The XC-120 was created by cutting the
fuselage of C-119B 48-330, c/n 20312
at a point just below the flight deck. The wings between the fuselage and the
engine nacelles were angled downward, raising the fuselage by several feet and
giving the cut-up plane a distinctive inverted gull wing appearance, like an
overgrown Stuka or Corsair. The landing
gear was heavily modified – with no place to mount nose wheels, extensions of
the main gear served that function. The
landing gear could also be raised or lowered in a scissor-like movement. This lowered
the fuselage, facilitating the mating or unmating of a cargo compartment.
The unusual-looking transport was extensively
tested – despite potential problems such as landing gear failure, the plane
seemed to work as planned. However,
there was no military need for such an aircraft – though the concept was reborn
when modules began being slung below heavy-lift helicopters and transported to
the field of battle, ready to go to work.