|KIT:||Ben Brown 1/144 B-52D Conversion|
I’ve often wondered why no company has released a tall-tail B-52 in 1/144 “airliner” scale. It’s been released in just about every other scale, from a little 1/200 kit from Dragon, Revell’s ancient box scale kit, the larger 1/100 D or F from Tamiya, Monogram’s classic 1/72 monster, and finally ID Models’ 1/48 vacuform kit, for modelers who live in a hangar. Cutting Edge teased us with a very nice 1/144 conversion for a NASA NB-52A, but then never followed up with a far more marketable combat version.
When I decided it might be fun to add a B-52D to my shelves, I thought about trying to modify Cutting Edge’s excellent NB-52A conversion to fit the $10 Revell B-52H, rather than buy the expensive Crown/Minicraft B-52H. The Crown/Minicraft kit is less-detailed, has major problems with the wings, and costs twice as much as the Revell kit. Unfortunately, the fuselages of the two kits are too different for the CE set to work on the Revell kit, so I tried Plan B, which was to take a chance and order Golden Dragon’s conversion. (Cue: flash of lightning, crash of thunder, blood-curdling scream)
I’ll start out by saying that I went into this little adventure with open eyes. I had seen comments, none of them good, about Golden Dragon’s products on the various forums, so I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. “How bad could it really be? I can use Milliput, and a file. Besides, I’m lazy and don’t want to build the wing tanks from scratch!” So, I took a deep breath, placed my order with Great Models, and four days later I received a shock. As I looked through the set, all I could do was laugh and repeat the Wild Weasels’ slogan: “You’ve Gotta Be S****ing Me!” Contained in three plastic bags were seventeen resin parts, including engines, nose parts, tail, cockpit, wing tanks, and tail gunner’s position. All of the parts had an oily feel to them and were poorly cast, with pinholes, dents, gouges, blobs of resin, sanding marks, soft spots and swirls; basically a museum of everything that could possibly go wrong with resin casting all piled into one convenient little package. A tiny instruction sheet, slightly larger than a business card, shows an exploded view of the conversion, which started giving me ideas involving large amounts of fireworks.
The clear (and I use the term very loosely here) resin in the cockpit part was sticky to the touch, as if it hadn’t fully cured. Handling the part actually left fingerprints in the resin! The part bore little resemblance to the cockpit area of a B-52D, it was just sort of a blob of translucent resin. There was also some sort of debris imbedded in the middle of where one of the windows would be, if there had been any flat panels on the part, making the generally useless part even more so.
The two halves of the nose were badly-done copies of the Revell kit nose and were supposed to be assembled, then cut up so a new lower radome section could be added. I couldn’t find any difference between the kit nose and the resin ones. The nose pieces were badly marred by dents, flash, a couple of deep wounds possibly caused by a failed mold, and a line of holes that looked like the part had been bitten by a small lizard. The radome part suffered from flat spots, gashes, file marks, and basically just poor overall workmanship on the master. It gave the impression that the master part had its general shape “roughed in” with a coarse file, but still needed to be sanded smooth and finished.
The engines had a lot of what can best be described as brush marks on them, as if the masters had been slathered with a lot of Mr. Surfacer that was left to dry and never sanded smooth. There were several panel lines, left over from whatever kit the engines were modified from, that just disappeared into the uneven surface of the “Mr. Surfacer-painted” areas. As with the lower nose part, it was as if the person who made the masters got tired of working on them part-way through the process and decided to cast them as-is. The engine fronts were provided separately, and looked okay from a distance, except for blobs of resin scattered here and there around the compressor faces. There were also a lot of pinholes and flash on all of the engine parts.
The tail gunners position consisted of a new part with some ECM bits molded on, and a four-gun turret. No clear part was provided, but given the dismal quality of the cockpit “clear” part, this was no great loss. A fairing that should run straight aft from the gunner’s canopy had a nice curve to it, a flaw in the master faithfully reproduced by the mold. A little test-fitting showed that the turret was quite a bit smaller than the hole it was supposed to fit in, leaving gaps everywhere. These might still be somewhat useable.
My dearly-departed grandmother always said a person should try to find some good in everything, so here goes: The wing tanks had a fairly good shape about them. The noses were dented slightly, but they can be easily fixed with some putty. Perhaps Golden Dragon should try marketing them as an update for Cutting Edge’s conversion.
The tail didn’t look too bad, either. The panel lines were straight, and there were only a couple of dozen pinholes and dents in the surface.
I hate to sound so harsh, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen a resin set of worse overall quality than this one, even back in the early days of resin aftermarket parts. It started out with poorly-made masters and molds, then was made worse by sloppy casting and non-existent quality control. While I applaud Golden Dragon for trying to bring us a tall-tail B-52D, I can’t understand why they would let something of this embarrassingly low level of quality out of their shop. I don’t expect a one-person operation to approach the quality of Cutting Edge or Black Box, but Golden Dragon’s product just isn’t even in the same universe as some of the gems coming from other one-man operations such as Paragon, Scale Aircraft Conversions, AMS, or Fox 3 Studios. This conversion is little more than an $18 pair of average-looking B-52D wing tanks. Needless to say, my 1/144 B-52D project has been shelved for a while.
If you want to build a B-52D in 1/144 scale, steer well clear of Golden Dragon. Use the Cutting Edge B-52A/Minicraft conversion as a starting point, graft on Revell’s much-better wings, horizontal stabilizers and landing gear, and just build the wing tip tanks and rear gun turret from scratch. It will cost you a bunch of money, but you will save a lot of time and heartache. Even doing the entire conversion from scratch, you’d have to work pretty hard to make a bigger mess of it than Golden Dragon did.
Conversion courtesy of my long-suffering bank account.
Great Models Web store http://www.greatmodels.com/
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