Monogram 1/48 B-58 Hustler
|$35.98 when last issued|
|This is a big-un!|
The delta-wing Hustler was the first USAF supersonic operational bomber. The B-58 made its initial flight on Nov. 11, 1956 and flew supersonically on Dec. 30, 1956. Distinctive B-58 features included its sophisticated inertial guidance navigation and bombing system, slender "wasp-waist" fuselage, and extensive use of heat-resistant honeycomb sandwich skin panels in the wings and fuselage. The thin fuselage prevented internal carriage of bombs so an external droppable two-component pod beneath the fuselage contained extra fuel and a nuclear weapon, reconnaissance equipment, or other specialized gear. The B-58 crew consisted of a pilot, navigator-bombardier, and defense systems operator.
The USAF ordered 86 Hustlers which were operational in the Strategic Air Command between 1960 and 1970. B-58s set 19 world speed and altitude records and won five different aviation trophies. Note:There were a total of 116 B-58s built: 30 test and pre-production aircraft and 86 for inventory. They were operational with but two wings; the 43rd BW at Carswell AFB, TX then Little Rock AFB, AR and the 305th BW at Bunker Hill AFB, IN (now Grissom ARB.) The final squadron was disbanded in January 1970 due to the expense of maintaining the aircraft.
The B-58A on display at the USAF Museum flew from Los Angeles to New York and returned on March 5, 1962,setting three separate speed records and earning the crew the Bendix and Mackay Trophies for 1962. It was flown to the USAF Museum in Dec. 1969.
Thanks to the USAF Museum for help with the brief historical background.
What we have here is a very large kit in silver plastic. Typical of Monogram kits of the time, it is of the raised panel line variety and has superb detailing, especially for a kit from the 80s. This is the 1999 release of the kit and the molds have shown no signs of wear. There is almost no flash, only a few sink marks and the usual ejector pin marks on some of the smaller parts and inside gear doors.
As for options, there are not that many. You basically have a choice of three different bomb pods and can display the pilot's hatch open or closed. The pilots seat is a pretty good representation of the unique B-58 escape capsule. There is no detail at all for the other two crew members. Not a real problem as you can see darn little through the small windows provided. There is no suggested weight for the nose of the model. Though the landing gear is not as close coupled as with other kits, I'd put a bit in there just to make sure. A very nice design consideration is a single piece upper and lower wing. In this way, there is no problem getting the wing nice a level. A possible concern is that the tail section is, perforce, a separate part so care needs to be taken getting it to mate properly with the wing and fuselage halves. This is a different way of doing things from the Italeri 1/72 kit which I built quite a number of years ago.
Instructions are typical of Monogram in that they are superb. All the parts are labeled and there are painting instructions provided throughout the construction procedure. Markings are provided for only one aircraft, the Bendix Trophy winner that is now fully restored and in the Air Force Museum. Aside from the mysterious, but unphotographed SEA painted B-58s, all of them were in natural metal, and many shades of it, I might add. The kit decals are well printed and quite glossy. I should also point out that the color of the SAC 'Milky Way' is way too light and should be much darker. Monogram decals of this time were notorious for difficulty in use, fortunately, Mike Grant has produced a couple of excellent ALPS sheets for this particular kit and they are highly recommended.
You want a 1/48 B-58, well, this is your only option. Because of the shrinking hobby market and the cost of producing a kit of this size and complexity, I seriously doubt if you'll ever see another.
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