Minicraft 1/144 B-52D/F Stratofortress
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Probably the longest active duty military aircraft anywhere in the world is the B-52. In spite of the newest of the fleet being delivered in 1962, the type has been constantly modernized and thanks to the robustness of the airframe, is slated to stay in service for years to come.
The B-52 has seen action in all of America's major conflicts starting with Vietnam and continuing through to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its prodigious payload was especially useful during Vietnam where the majority of the fleet of B-52D aircraft were modified to carry 108 750 lb iron bombs. The F version also flew missions during that time but did not have the bomb bay modification given to the D and like the later G and H models that saw service there, were unable to carry the sort of payload of the D model. Once the war was over, the D and F planes were rapidly pulled out of service. This left the G and H variants with the G planes being removed after the first Gulf War.
Minicraft has earned a reputation for producing a wide variety of 1/144 kits. This is particularly useful when doing large planes like the B-52 as it keeps down cost and allows the builder to properly display these aircraft along with others on their shelves.
This is not a totally new kit using many sprues from the previous G/H kits. In fact, you may well be able to build a later model B-52 with all the parts that are provided. It also means you will have a lot of spare parts when done. This kit allows you to build either a B-52D or a B-52F. The major visual differences are that the F model had slightly different engine nacelles. Looking at the sprue layout diagram, the fuselage halves and the F sprue are new to this boxing.
The kit has a very basic cockpit piece, though little will be seen through the windscreen. Once that and a fuselage stiffener are installed. the fuselage halves can be cemented together. No nose weight is needed. Wings are in upper and lower halves with the control surfaces fully molded onto the upper sections. Tailplanes are also upper and lower halves. These are then attached with large, positive locators. The tail assembly includes the four 20mm cannon turret, which has separate barrels. The design of this is such that I'm sure we will eventually see even earlier B-52s produced.
You have the option for raised or lowered flaps, which is a nice touch. The engine pods for the two planes are different and that is clearly shown in the instructions. Once those and the wing fuel tanks are built up, they can be attached to the wing. You can pose this aircraft in flight if you so wish as Minicraft has provided a nice display stand to go along with the kit. A diagram is provided so that you can properly locate the center of gravity. This is where one drills a hole to attach the stand.
If a ground display is your choice, you are provided with sturdy main gear parts along with outrigger gear. In the latter case, the closed door piece will need to be cut. A long pylon that holds two multiple ejector bomb racks is provided for the D model. Now the box art and instructions would have you believe that the F model also carried these, but I don't think that is the case. It means you'll need to fill the attachment slots.
Instructions are well done and provide what little color information is needed during construction. As a note, though not used for these variants, the SRAM, Quail, and Hound dog missiles are included and there are display stands for all of these if you wish to build them as little models in their own right. No decals will be available, however. Markings for the B-52 include one SEA camouflaged D model and one for a black bottom F. The decals are nicely printed and include the wing walk areas for the F as well as cockpit decals if you wish to use those. Tail gun transparency decals are also provided. Note that there are aftermarket options out there (such as Wolfpak Decals) if you wish to do something different.
For those of you who like the big B-52 and want a nice kit that is manageable in size, this would be an excellent option. To my knowledge this is the first kit in this scale of the D/F variant.
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