Panda 1/144 B-1B Lancer




($15.00 at NA Hobbies)


Two Aircraft


Scott Van Aken




Those of us who have been around for a while can remember the major fuss created by the B-1. It was designed in the late/post Vietnam war era and was to be the best in the world as a low level penetration bomber. It was designed to basically be a bigger and better FB-111A, able to travel at twice the speed of sound and carry its load of ALCMs (Air Launched Cruise Missiles) to a point near its target. After launching the missiles, it was to hurry back at break-neck speed to reload for the next mission. Naturally, the cruise missiles were armed with nuclear warheads, a fact not missed by one of the James Bond 007 movies of the time!

However, the aircraft got caught up in political turmoil. It wasn't needed; it was too expensive and so on. Four prototype B-1As were built and the administration at the time put the entire project on hold. Meanwhile the prototypes were thoroughly wrung out and modified to meet some of the upgraded demands. One of those was the elimination of the crew escape module of the prototypes and the redesign of the engine intakes to produce a simpler design that cut about 500 knots off the top speed of the plane. No longer was it double supersonic.

Eventually the planes were built, but production was limited to 100 examples. Near ten years was gone between the prototypes and the first production planes that entered service around 1984/5. These planes replaced a few B-52 wings, however, all was not rosy. The planes had problems with a number of different systems and so tenuous was their reliability that they did not participate in Desert Storm during 1991. Not a problem for the ever aging B-52, that continued to function well, proving that older does not mean less capable.

The plane finally got into action in the Balkan conflict near the turn of the century, however, the die had been cast. The plane continued to have problems and, thanks to the low number produced, was becoming even more expensive to operate. After less than 20 years of service, the first of the production B-1Bs (83-xxx serials) are being withdrawn to be used as gate guards at various bases. The ANG is no longer flying the type with those planes either going to the boneyard or being disseminated to other B-1B units. It won't be many more years before the plane is gone from our skies. I'd say they will all be gone in the next five years, so if you get your chance to see one at an air show, taken it!



As with most of you, I'd never heard of Panda until presented with this review example by  North American Hobbies . Scurrying home with it, I gleefully removed the shrink and took a long look at this latest new kit from the PRC. First of all, it is well molded, with no flash or sink holes that I could find. There are also no ejector pin marks that will be seen once the kit is built.

The wings are a single piece and are designed to be movable. The bomb bay is filled with a fuel tank in the front bay and a rotary ALCM launcher in the aft one. These details are molded in place, but one ALCM is provided for the lowest position to add some more depth to that area. Conversely, you could glue the bay doors shut, though that option is not shown in the instructions. There is a rudimentary cockpit which consists of a tub, seats and a decal for instruments. Also included is a crew entry hatch and ladder. Actually, more detail isn't needed; if you recall, this is 1/144 scale!

Because it is this scale, some of the detail work is simplified somewhat. That includes the afterburner cones and the landing gear which has some solid areas where it would normally be an open framework. The wheels are probably the weakest part of the kit, detail-wise. They are quite simple and offer no real wheel/tire transition area. Though not shown, you could probably build this wheels up with no problem, however, no stand is included so you are on your own in that regard.

The instructions are quite good and offer FS numbers for paints as well as what seems to be Gunze numbers. The construction sequence is logical and easy to follow. I have my doubts about the entire airframe being painted FS 36375 as I had thought these planes to be more of a FS 36118. I'll let those with the knowledge straighten that one out. Markings are for two aircraft. One from the 7th BW at Dyess AFB and the other with the 128 BS, Georgia ANG. Both planes have nose art on the decals. The decals are well printed for this scale, though how they will react when one tries to use them is unknown. If the build-up photos on the side of the box are to be believed, they should work quite well.


I must say that I'm pretty impressed with this kit. Little it really isn't as it should be about the size of a 1/48 Bf-109 when finished. I've got it next to be built so we'll see how it turns out.

Many thanks to North American Hobbies for the review sample. If you want one, you can't find a better place to order it from.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly by a site that has well over 150,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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