Cyber-hobby 1/200 XB-35 Flying Wing
There's a great scene in the original "War of the Worlds" movie
(1953) where the Earthlings, desperate to defeat the invading Martians,
try to nuke their way out of trouble. To fly over the Martian position
and bomb them back to the stone age, they
rely on the most advanced bomber they have: The Flying Wing.
Well, in the film, they used archival footage of the YB-49, the
jet powered variant of Northrop's remarkable aircraft. But for my money,
it's the XB-35 that's somehow the most futuristic looking. With its
massive contra-rotating propellers, it seems like just the ticket for an
atomic bombing run over a horde of nasty space aliens.
In reality though, this plane had a lot of problems. Mostly, it
was the engines and contra-rotating props that just wouldn't work
reliably. Eventually they ditched the contra-rotating props, but with
regular propellers the plane's performance suffered considerably.
Imagine how cool this thing would have been if it had had decent
engines, perhaps turbo props with contra-rotating propellers like the
Soviet Tu-95. The jet version, YB-49, could manage 450 knots; a Tu-95
could do 510. So it's plausible that a XB-35 with decent engines could
have managed at least the same speed as the YB-49 if not better.
Something for a "what-if" build, perhaps.
Back to the real world again, the combination of disappointing
performance, technical challenges, and the apocryphal
"politics of Northrop", led the XB-35 to wind up as an interesting
footnote in the development of the B-2. None survive, nor do any YB-49s.
But it's a damn cool looking aeroplane.
Our Editor ably previewed this kit right here on MM: XB-35
and its sister kit the
In a nutshell, this is a lovely kit. Beautifully moulded, clean
parts, crystal clear transparencies and a very detailed cabin area that
beats a lot of 1/144 kits.
It's a fine choice for anyone who wants one
of these that's easy to build and easy to display. Anigrand do a resin
one in 1/144; AMT (and later reboxed by Italeri) had a monster-sized
version in 1/72.
I started building the cockpit area, which looks more like the bridge of
a starship. It has several parts, and tiny seats, and a little table for
the engineer or navigator station. According to someone's build of the
1/72 kit, all this interior was in aluminium, so that's what I went with
(I wasn't able to find a colour interior shot of the real thing). The
other guy made his seats red but I went for a khaki kind of colour.
There is a small cabin to build at the rear of the plane, too. All this
goes together very nicely and really looks pretty cool.
Which is a shame, because once the top and bottom halves are
joined together, there is practically nothing to see. Before I sealed
them up, I put some blue tack inside, everywhere forward of the main
wheels. I was pretty sure this would tail sit, even though it's not very
long. There's not much distance between front and rear wheels, so you
need to be a little creative. I put on the engine nacelles now. They
hang out backwards a long way.
My model does stand on its gear, but it is a very close run
thing. It will tail sit on anything other than a perfectly flat surface.
On my display shelf, it stands at some angles, and tail-sits at others.
I recommend you put some lead weight in amongst the bluetack, just to
remove all doubt.
Once this is done, it's almost finished. Don't forget to add the
vents on top of the engine nacelles, and the little vents on the
underside which go into the holes at the leading edge in the little
exhaust fairings. These aren't mentioned on the instructions, but you
will find the parts on the sprue that holds the props. The should -
apparently - face backwards. Thanks to another builder for reviewing his
build on a forum somewhere, otherwise I wouldn't have known what those
holes were for. The parts are so small I hardly even noticed them on the
The undercarriage is sturdy and fairly straightforward. The main
wheel bays slot in, complete with doors, or there's an alternative part
to use for a gear-up build. No stand, though.
At this point, I did a tiny amount of puttying here and there, just a
very little on the underside seams and one a few of the engine nacelles
where they join the wing. The way the kit is designed, all the actual
major seams are underneath.
I sprayed the whole thing with Tamiya TS-17 gloss aluminium and
then masked off most of the plane, leaving the control surfaces, and a
few panels and access hatches free to receive a blast of Tamiya TS-83
Once that was done, all I needed to do was apply the decals.
I stuffed these up a little bit. For the topside US national
insignia, I went in too hard with Mr Mark Softer and there's a bit of a
blemish. I then managed to wreck one of the serial numbers on the side
of the outboard nacelle. Oh well. Its absence is not too noticeable.
Instead of trying my luck with the black strips of decal
provided to do the lines right round the outline of the wing, I just
used a very fine marker pen and ran it up the relevant panel lines. To
my eye, this looks ok.
I added the awesome-looking contra-rotating propellers and the
clear parts, and freehanded the canopy frames with a fine brush and some
Tamiya XF-16 aluminium paint. Last of all I put the tiny air data probe
onto the wingtip. Now, where are those pesky Martians? Ready for
A great kit which I really enjoyed building. If I didn't have
too many other kits in my stash and clogging up my bench, I'd be keen to
go and get the YB-49 kit. Maybe I still will...
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