Academy 1/72 KC-97G 






See review


Scott Van Aken




To say that Boeing has been in the business of building large,multi-engined aircraft, would be stating the obvious. Starting with the XB-15 ofthe mid 1930's and continuing today with the latest variant of the 747, Boeinghas managed to do well with both the civilian as well as the military market.Probably this is because, in their early years, so many of their militaryaircraft were used as the basis for successful civil airliners and viceversa. 

With the C-97, it was the Model 377 civil versionthat came second with the C-97 being based on the B-29. The later 377 was based on the B-50, whichwas based on the B-29. Anyway, the USAF decided that it needed a long rangetransport aircraft and had Boeing build a number of cargo/passenger C-97s. Italso saw the need for a dedicated tanker aircraft to replace the KB-29s thatwere in service and so had Boeing design a tanker/cargo version, which becamethe KC-97A. 

Both the C-97A and KC-97A were relatively shortproduction run aircraft. Improvements in systems and additional designrequirements to allow the KC-97 to carry more fuel resulted in several variantsof the KC-97. Those most built, were the KC-97G version with 592 examples builtin the early 1950s.  These were placed into service with SAC for use inrefueling their long range B-50s and escort fighter wings, which were mostlyF-84Fs. 

However, a problem arose when the fast jet bomberssuch as the B-47 and B-52s came on line. These aircraft were unable to fly slowenough to properly refuel from the KC-97G. Two things helped improve thesituation. First, they started refueling 'downhill', so that the KC-97G couldfly faster. Secondly, most were modified to KC-97L variants with additional jetengines under the wings to speed up the lumbering KC-97s. Even all these 'fixes'were not enough and required an all-jet tanker. This eventually led to theKC-135, an aircraft that is still in service after 45 years and looks like it isgood for another 30 or so!


Academy is nothing if not frugal with its sprues. Many of thesprues are from the B-50 kit, and why not as the KC-97 is based on the B-50.There are also a number of like sprues that are the same as with the 377Stratocruiser and C-97A kit. What is unique to this kit are the flying boombits, the wing fuel tanks and (different from the 377) the fuselage. This alsoincludes the fuselage windows as there are fewer of them on the C-97 versions.An interesting adaptation is that the refueling blister is part of thesurrounding lower fuselage insert that replaces the cargo door of the C-97. Thispart is molded entirely in clear plastic.

All of the parts arecrisply molded, including the B-50 bits. There is no flash and I couldn't seeany sink marks and other mold release pin marks. Those may become evident as thekit is built, but a cursory look at some of the areas where they are most likely(landing gear and alignment pins), showed no evidence of these flaws.

Theinstruction sheet is written in the usual multiple languages with the standardpictorial construction steps and international signs. There is a color chartthat gives just generic colors and not FS colors. There is also a parts diagramthat is numbered to help one find all the parts.

The decal sheet is quite large andvery colorful. It gives markings for two aircraft. The main difference betweenthe two being the markings on the wing tanks and one has a white cabin roof.Both are natural metal with red 'arctic' markings on the wings and tail.Actually, I think that KC-97s were painted an overall aluminum instead of theirbeing natural metal. As with the 377 kit, a lot of vents and intakes are decalsrather than these items being molded into the plastic. Guess it works ok, butsince I haven't actually built any of these kits, I'm not sure how it well itworks. Separate from the instructions is the decal and painting guide for theaircraft. The only thing I can see is that the blue for the SAC banner may be abit too light, but it looks just fine to me. Academy decals are supposed to bepretty good, but again, I have not built a recent Academy kit to be able totell.

Bottom line is that it looks like a great kit. A big onetoo! With the release of this and the C-97, that only leaves the KC-97L, most ofwhich were used by the ANG. I guess that one will come out here in a few monthsafter everyone has had a chance to pick over this kit!

I'd liketo thank a friend in Korea for sending me this kit so that I didn't have to paya fortune for it. Believe it or not, this kit sells for about $20.00 in Korea!

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet! 

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by asite that has over 900 visits a day, please contactme or see other details in the Note toContributors.