Academy 1/72 B.377 Stratocruiser






2 aircraft ; one PAA and the other the prototype


Scott Van Aken




Forseeing a real need for a long-range airliner, Boeing company was quick to develop one of it's heavy bombers, the B-29 into a transport/airliner. The transport was the C-97 of which nearly 900 were built. After the war, Boeing was again able to concentrate on civil airliners and it was natural for them to further develop the C-97 into an airliner. Many of the components of the airliner were taken from the improved B-29 the B-50; including the larger vertical stabilizer and the larger engines.

First flight of the model 377 occurred in July 1947 and less than two years Pan American was flying the plane on its Honolulu to San Francisco run. Considered very plush for its day, this double decker was fully pressurized and was able to accommodate 50-60 passengers in a level of luxury not available in its Douglas and Lockheed counterparts. A real passenger friendly feature of the 377 was the lounge and bar located in the lower deck! Due to engine overheating problems and propeller glitches that Boeing was never able to completely eliminate, the B.377 wasn't the commercial success of the DC-6/7 and Constellation and less than 100 were built. 



The first thing that strikes you is the size of the box. This is one huge kit! Since it is made in China, the box is quite sturdy and difficult to open. Once opened you are confronted with a sea of grey plastic. The sprues are packaged well with no more than two to a bag. Looking closer, you see several interesting things you wouldn't expect in an airliner. Gun turrets, for instance. It is obvious that, like Boeing, Academy has developed this kit from its B-50 release so the wings, engines and tailplanes are the same.

In fact, aside from one sprue and the clear bits, the rest of this kit is the same as the B-50. That is not bad news as the B-50 kit is a very good one indeed. So lets take a peek at some of the new bits. Due to size limitations, I'll only show a portion of the new sprue just to give you an idea of what to expect. As you can see, the entire cabin section is missing and this is made of clear plastic. This not only makes it easier to fair into the fuselage, but also you don't have to worry about gluing in all those cockpit panes. You do have to worry about gluing in all the cabin windows as they come as separate pieces and it will be time consuming to get them all in.

There is no interior past the cockpit as frankly, there would be very little to see through those small windows. There is a large cutout in the aft fuselage for either cargo doors or the flying boom so you know that several versions of the C/KC-97 are planned.

The decal sheet is very large, so much so that again, I can only show you a part of it. It is beautifully done and appears to be completely in register. There are decals for the instrument panels, doors and cooling vents as well. The decals are complete and no additional painting of stripes or other colors is needed to do a replica of either aircraft shown. Both are overall natural metal, which was common for the time.

The instruction sheet is very well done and shows all 15 construction steps in very clear drawings. There is a good part location diagram as well as a good painting diagram. All colors are given generic names and not matched to any FS or paint company standard.

Overall, it looks like a really superb kit and one that will be eagerly snapped up by large plane and airline enthusiasts alike! I suggest buying lots of these as it will help Academy produce more of the models that modelers want.

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet! If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has over 800 visits a day, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.