|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was the prototype version of the proposed B-70 nuclear-armed deep-penetration strategic bomber for the United States Air Force's (USAF) Strategic Air Command. Designed by North American Aviation in the late 1950s, the Valkyrie was a large six-engined aircraft able to fly Mach 3+ at an altitude of 70,000 feet (21,000 m), which would have allowed it to avoid interceptors, the only effective anti-bomber weapon at the time.
The introduction of effective high-altitude surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), the program's high development costs, and changes in the technological environment with the introduction of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs) led to the cancellation of the B-70 program in 1961. Although the proposed fleet of operational B-70 bombers was canceled, two prototype aircraft were built as the XB-70A and used in supersonic test flights from 1964 to 1969. One prototype crashed following a midair collision in 1966; the other is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio.
There have been other injected XB-70 kits in various scales by Lindberg and by AMT. This one from Cyber-Hobby is a brand new tool and thanks to the scale chosen, it will be a better fit on most display shelves. Thanks to the development of slide mold technology, the kit has been engineered with a relatively few number of parts. The forward fuselage is a single casting as is the majority of the main wing and the lower engine housing section. The kit can be built with the gear up, but the builder will have to come up with a stand as none is provided.
To go along with the gear up option, the kit has optional wing tips for at supersonic cruise, these would be drooped down for additional stability. Also in the cruise mode, the nose would ramp up to smooth out the airflow. Cyber-Hobby has taken care of this by making the upper nose section out of clear plastic and offering two different inserts. One is for low speed/ground and the other for high speed operation. There is a cockpit section that slides into the forward fuselage on a rail molded on the inside. It includes an instrument panel and seats with a decal being used for the panel.
It is obvious from the sprues that there will be another kit produced as unused are sections of the decal sheet for the second plane that was destroyed when it collided with an F-104 photo plane. No interior color information is provided, but dark gull grey seems logical. You can build the aircraft either as the initial flight and early test aircraft or a later version when NASA was operating the aircraft. Other than a few decals, both markings are the same.
First step was to decide on wheels up or wheels down. I wanted to go with an in-flight model as I wanted to show the wing tips drooped down. So the first step was to assemble the part of the 'snake' that extends from the 'box'. The mold joins and sprue stubs were cleaned off and the part literally snaps into place. For the underside engine piece, I cemented in the main gear doors and the backing plate for the exhaust. Then the nose gear fairing had the door glued on and that fairing was cemented onto the underside section. I will wait until after painting to glue that piece under the wing assembly.
Turning to the cockpit, the two ejection seats were glued in place. I painted the cockpit dark gull grey and the instrument panel black. Once dry, the instrument decal was attached. Then this assembly was slid into the nose section. Meanwhile, the canards and the exhaust vent were glued onto the nose piece. The canards want to dry with a dihedral in them so be careful when attaching these pieces to make sure they stay flat. Back at the wing, the fins were glued in place. Looking over the sprues, I realized that I had made an error regarding the wing tip options. There are actually three of them. One flat, one slightly drooped and one drooped to the maximum deflection.
The transparency was cleaned up, and after painting the area under it matte black. It was installed. Getting this piece to fit in place will test the patience of saints as the plastic is thick and does not want to flex enough to get into the opening. Using most of the spells and enchanted words in my vocabulary, it finally fit into place. I then masked the windscreen. There are no frames for the side windows, so you will have to guesstimate their location from the box art and other images and then mask accordingly. This front piece was then glued onto the rest of the 'neck' and after a bit of filler and sanding of the join, I headed for the first painting session.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
In order to make masking of the hot section easier, I painted the upper and lower sections separately. The base coat of all this was white and I used Pactra RC white lacquer for this. I put on several applications as I tend to thin this paint a bit more than enamels. I was unsure as to which of the drooped wing tips I was going to use so painted both sets. For the exhaust and hot section I used several different shades of Alclad II to add some interest. The wing hinge areas and nose anti-glare panel were painted black using Tamiya X-18. I also painted the back of the intakes using this shade.
With all the exhaust bits painted, I glued on the burner nozzles and then glued the underside to the rest of the airframe. Test fitting the various wing options showed that in reality, the only accurate presentation of the wing tips is in the neutral position. This is because there is no way to disguise the tabs on the drooped tips. They stick out no matter what one does. This is especially egregious with the heavily drooped option. Even cutting off the tabs and butt joining them will not take care of the issue as you will have the slots visible. I chose to grin and bear it with the lightly drooped option as even the 'straight' option is not totally correct for the tip have slight dihedral in this position. I did, however, paint the tabs black to help them blend in.
The kit did not come with a display stand, but I have several from other kits and chose to adapt one from a Tamiya 1/72 Mustang as it would be the easiest. I simply reduced the length of the tab on the top until it fit into the slot in the bottom of the fuselage. I then applied the decals. There are two options. The first flight ones are rather minimalist while the NASA ones add all sorts of warning stripes and photo alignment markings. The decals are nicely printed though I think that the blue insignia surrounds are too thin. They also have rather short working time. I found it odd that the wing USAF markings were separate letters.
As with probably most who will eventually build this kit, I went with the NASA markings for the additional color provided by the tail stripes and warning stripes. I know that whiffers will probably do one in SEA camo, but I wanted to do this one pretty much as it came from the box. Once all the markings were on (and I used Microsol to help them out), the last thing to do was to remove the masking and install the pitot tube. I then glued it to the display stand.
This is a nice addition to any aircraft collection, especially for those who are into prototypes or NASA planes. The fit is very good that those who are not glacial builders can probably do this one in a weekend. I would have wished for a proper display stand to be included, but as many of us probably have one or two laying about, it is not really all that big an omission.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XB-70_Valkyrie March 2012
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local hobby shop.
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