|KIT:||Airfix 1/72 B-26B Marauder|
|PRICE:||Latest release (2006) $14.95 MSRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The B-26 Marauder is one of the more interesting and controversial bombers of WWII. Designed to meet a specification for a high speed medium bomber, the B-26 was an especially clean design. Initial aircraft also has rather short wings and tails in order to keep the speeds high. However, this resulted in a bomber that had a rather high landing speed as well, making it less than optimal for a relatively inexperienced pilot. The high wing loading also meant that one had to treat the plane with respect during manoeuvres. A higher than usual crash rate caused concern within the USAAF and it considered cancelling the project. However, a redesign of the aircraft by extending the wings and vertical tail made for a safer aircraft and one that was less of a handful.
Initial Marauder ops were with the 'Silver Fleet' in New Guinea during early 1942 where it built up a fine record. However, the B-26 was destined to spend its war career in Europe, where it was the most numerous US medium bomber; the majority of B-25s were destined for the Pacific where its greater range was considered more important. Over 5000 B-26s were built and quickly disappeared from the inventory once the war was over.
Molded in a medium grey plastic, this is one of Airfix's better older kits. For one thing, the molding is totally devoid of any rivet detail. Only finely raised panel lines and quite a few engraved details, mostly fuel filler caps, hatches and the like. A surprisingly well detailed cockpit is given and this detailing goes into the bomb bay as well. There is room for nose weight under the cockpit as this one will need it. The transparencies are a bit on the thick side, so if one is going to detail the interior, aftermarket replacements would be a good idea.
As mentioned, a full bomb bay is given along with a full ordnance load. The bomb bay doors are designed to be displayed open so if you wish closed doors, you'll have to do some surgery. (Late note: Apparently the closed bomb bay is provided and I just missed it in the instructions). A ladder to be used as a tail prop is given as well. Typical of these older kits, I found sink areas on the fuselage opposite alignment pin areas and some are quite deep. The kit also has movable elevators, but oddly this feature does not extend to the ailerons or rudder as it usually does. Perhaps this was a transition kit. The gunner, however, is molded with a large circular mount in his 'hands' for the guns!
Instructions are old style with generic color information and well done construction sequences. Markings are provided for two aircraft. One is the box art plane in OD/Neutral Grey with the other in unpainted metal. Both schemes are carried over to the more recent release so little has really changed aside from the price in 30 years. The decals are fairly well done and on my example had not yellowed so are probably still quite usable.
While I'm sure that the upcoming Hasegawa kit will be better in nearly every way, this older Airfix kit is still quite nice. The only other 1/72 B-26 I can think of at this time is the Monogram Snap-Tite that shows up from time to time. It is the only very early B-26 with short wins that has so far been done. There is also the even older Revell kit which is festooned with rivets.
Y'all can thank me for getting this one for your perusal.
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