|KIT:||Anigrand 1/72 XB-51|
|PRICE:||$73.00 from Nostalgic Plastic. Includes US s&h.|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Resin kit with vac canopy|
The XB-51 was developed in response for a replacement for the A-26 medium bomber that was currently in service with the USAAF. With the advent of turbo-jets, it was felt that the replacement should be jet powered. The proposal that won the initial competition was originally designated XA-45, in fitting with the attack category. It would be inevitable that the USAAF would modify the requirements and with those revisions, two prototypes of what was now the XB-51 were made. Initial flight testing started in September of 1949, three years after the original proposal was made. At the time of its flight, it was the fastest aircraft of its type in the world.
The outbreak of war in Korea during 1950 saw a need to develop a night intruder and so the XB-51 was pitted against the British Canberra bomber. Here, speed wasn't paramount and the three-engine XB-51 was at a disadvantage to the twin-turbojet Canberra. After a fly-off in 1951, the Canberra was chosen, much to the dismay of Martin, even though Martin eventually produced the Canberra for the USAF. With the loss of the fly-off, the XB-51 project was cancelled in 1952, though the aircraft itself continued to fly test missions at Edwards AFB and starred as the 'Gilbert XF-120' in a William Holden movie on test pilots called 'Beyond the Unknown', probably one of the top ten aviation movies ever made (lots of lovely prototypes and X craft!).
It is an Anigrand kit. That means that you get well molded resin parts and the requirement to use some modeling skills to be able to successfully complete this short run resin kit. The kit has engraved panel lines and because this one is so large, the fuselage comes in four sections. Initial test fitting showed that some parts clean-up was needed to get a good fit (a requirement for kits of this type). There is an interlocking tab between the front and rear fuselage parts that will help make a positive connection. Anigrand does their kits in rather thick resin so there is room to do some extra sanding or carving if needed.
The interior includes a tub, two seats, a control wheel and an instrument panel. There is no detail on the side consoles and the instrument panel has five large raised bits that I guess are supposed to be instruments. I highly recommend to Anigrand that they include panel and console instruments as a decal as that would add quite a bit to the cockpit of their kits.
Because the kit has bicycle landing gear (like a B-52), I doubt if any nose weight is needed as the wheel wells are well separated. There is detail in the wells, but there are also air bubbles in this detailing to fill. Wheels are also nicely detailed and also have a few bubbles to fill. The landing gear looks to be sturdy enough to hold up a kit of this type. I'm not sure just how the outriggers will handle things and it looks from the photo included that the plane rested on one side or the other when on the ground. There are separate flap hinges for the underside of the wing. The engine pods look like they'll fit well and there are compressor faces and tail pipes where needed. A nice touch is that there are keyways for the wings, tail and engine pods. This will help to keep things aligned. As usual, only one canopy is included and its framework is somewhat indistinct, making masking difficult.
Instructions are pretty standard for Anigrand with a short history, photo and exploded diagram on one side of a sheet of paper. On the other is a three view painting and decaling diagram. Only serials, nose name and insignia are provided. All the wing and fuselage walkway areas as well as the red warning stripes around the engines will have to come from somewhere else. The decals are well printed, a bit think and experience has shown that they work fairly well. My sample was crunched into the end of the box so I'm not sure how well they will work as they are creased. The style of the numbering is a bit unusual with square interiors to the numbers. I also found a lot of parts broken free from the bags and floating around loose in the box. This and the usual banging around of smaller bits means that there were quite a few broken small parts. All can be fixed, but I have to suggest that Anigrand start using thicker plastic bags if it continues with these larger kits as the weight (and somewhat sharp edges) of the parts break through the bags. Stuffing something like a bit of newspaper into the box to keep the parts from sliding around would help as well.
Those of us who like prototypes will jump on this one right away. My previous experiences with Anigrand kits has shown that they build into very nice models, though they do take a bit more work than the norm. Are they worth it? Most certainly. Many of us build according to subject and this one will eventually take the place of the wooden one I had carved in the Philippines during the 1970s.
Many thanks to Nostalgic Plastic for providing the review kit. Get yours direct from the hyperlink and it is post-free in the US.
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