Valom 1/72 B-45A Tornado
|PRICE:||~$55.00 by the time it got to my door|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool short run kit with resin and photo etch parts.|
The B-45 began development in 1944, when the U.S. War Department, alarmed by German jet bombers like the Arado Ar 234, called for a new family of jet bombers grossing between 80,000 lb (36,287 kg) and 200,000 lb (90,718 kg). The proposal from North American Aviation (NA-130) won, and on September 8, 1944, the company began production of three prototypes based on the NA-130.
The end of World War II resulted in the cancellation of many projects and delayed many others. In 1946, rising tensions with the Soviet Union caused the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) to assign higher priorities to jet bomber development and production. By mid-1946, the XB-45 and Convair XB-46 neared completion, but the Boeing XB-47 and Martin XB-48 were still two years away. The USAAF chose to evaluate the first two designs to determine which would be superior operationally. The B-45 proved a superior design, and on January 2, 1947, a contract for immediate production of B-45As was signed. It had been planned to equip five light bomb groups and three light reconnaissance groups with B-45As, but as the B-47's development and flight-testing made future production all but certain, the future of the B-45 became increasingly uncertain, and in mid-1948 the U.S. Air Staff began to question its value. Soon afterwards, President Truman's budget restraints reduced Air Force expenditure and B-45 production was reduced to a total of 142 airframes. Further budget cuts in 1950 forced the Aircraft and Weapons Board to cancel 51 of the 190 aircraft on order. The cancellation of the 51 was announced 7 January 1949. The B-45 was later replaced by the supersonic Convair B-58 Hustler.
This is not the first injected kit of this aircraft available to 1/72 modelers. The French short run company Mach 2 produced one, but it was a kit that required a great deal of work to bring up to even average specs. This kit from Valom promises to be much nicer. I should also mention that Frog did a kit to 1/159 scale.
Molded in the usual tan plastic, there are three large sprues with one sprue in clear, a small bag of resin and a photo etch fret with acetate for instrument faces. Normally Valom kits provide all the bits to do all the variants, but that is not the case with this one. There is no additional nose for the RB-45C or B-45C.
The cockpit is fairly well appointed with much of the photo etch fret being used here for things like control wheels, belts, instrument panel faces, and teensy little levers that most of us will never use. There is an acetate sheet with instrument faces and this, after painting the backs white, will be sandwiched between the p.e. face and plastic backs. While this is effective, the lazy modeler in me wishes for decal panels. The rest of the p.e. is for oleo scissors, fins on the wing tip tanks and a few other bits. While I'm at it, I should mention that the engine intakes and exhaust are in resin, an excellent choice.
A considerable amount of time will be spent building up the forward interior of the kit. There are three crew positions to deal with, each with their various panels and multiple bulkheads will need to be assembled. I'm not sure how much of this will actually be seen through the clear bits, though the clear parts are nicely molded. Valom provides two excellent and large drawings of the fore and aft cockpit. 20 grams of nose weight is required and it looks like there is enough room for much of it under the bombardier's position. Other space is available in the forward engine nacelles if need be. I find it interesting that Valom uses Pb to indicate the need for lead weight. Lead is something that is becoming more difficult to find in the US due to its health hazard. For instance, tire weights are now made of iron so that easy source is now gone.
Closing the fuselage halves requires the installation of previously built up subassemblies and some clear bits as well as a large wing spar piece. Before assembling the wings the small main gear wells need installed along with the intake and exhaust sections. Some of the p.e. is used for visible aileron/flap hinges. Pretty much the last things to do is to install the main gear, wingtip lights and few other pieces. A small triangle of nose gear door will need to be made from card; a template is provided for this. While there are tip tanks in the kit, apparently the bomber version did not use them as I've found very few images with these installed on anything other than the RB-45C.
Instructions are nicely done and typical of what Valom currently offers. Color information is in generic terms and the paint numbers of five paint companies. Two markings options are provided, both in unpainted metal. One is the box art plane though the instructions do not show the nose anti-glare panel. On this one the engine anti-glare is listed as dark grey. I think it should be black. This plane is shown as being with the China Lake Weapons Center, though it is not and is with the 84th BS/47th BG. The markings ID info is crossed with the second option. This first option has white flight surface tips. The other, with yellow tips is with China Lake. Decals are nicely printed, but the large tail numbers have a font that is too thin. That can easily be seen by comparing the decals with the box art. The insignia are also of questionable size. Photos show them to be about the same size while the sheet has huge wing markings and too small fuselage ones. Fortunately Caracal Models has released a sheet of B-45As with the proper sizes.
Now you don't have to struggle with the rather questionable Mach 2 kit, which is sure to be a major hassle building. Valom kits are getting better as time goes on and judging from how this one looks in the box, it should be something that anyone with intermediate skills should be able to handle without any issues.
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