Testors/Italieri 1/72 B-66B Destroyer
|$10.00, in the mid-1980s|
Though initially designed as a USAF version of the A3DSkywarrior to replace the B-26 Invader, the resulting aircraft turned intosomething quite different. Though of a similar look to the A3D, the B-66 hasonly about 5% commonality in parts. This is due to the different requirementsthat the USAF had in their aircraft. For one thing, the B-66 has ejection seatsthat the A3D does not have. It also uses different engines; J-71s vice the J-57sof the Skywarrior. The wing also has a different planform, especially betweenthe engines and fuselage. All naval arresting gear and folding wings/tails wereremoved as well. The end result was a cousin to the Skywarrior.
Though developed asa medium bomber, like the A-3, the B-66 saw much of its actual use as an ECMplatform. A very versatile aircraft, like the A-3, the B-66 was also used as aphoto reconnaissance aircraft, though it never saw modification to a tankeraircraft. Unlike the A-3, the B-66 was quickly withdrawn from service after theVietnam war. The major reason for this was due to high maintenance and airframefatigue problems. When you make an aircraft for the Navy, it has to be strong tobe able to handle the stresses of carrier landings and takeoffs. The USAFdoesn't require this kind of toughness so their aircraft generally have ashorter life span. This is what happened to the B-66 None of them lasted longenough after Vietnam to make it into ANG or Reserve units. Though the A-3 isstill flying today, the B-66 has long been seen only in museums.
This kit is a Testors boxing of the Italeri kit. The majordifference between the two other than the box and instruction sheet is the decalsheet. Unlike the rather matte decals that come with Italeri kits, the Testorsboxing has Scalemaster sheets of higher quality. The plastic in both kits isexactly the same. There are no optional parts as the B-66B is a relativelyclean aircraft. Detailing is engraved panel lines, which are very well done.Most of the various antennas are molded into the fuselage, so there is no needto fuss with gluing those in place. Frankly, I have always been amazed that thiskit has not done better. There are no aftermarket sheets that I know of, and noresin cockpit upgrades; only a couple of conversion sets to various RB/EB-66variants.
Constructionbegins, naturally enough with the cockpit. This area is pretty complete and usesdecals for the instruments. Overall color is an interior green with ODseat cushions and black instrument panels. While all the various gluing andpainting of the interior was done, the inside of the fuselage was paintedinterior green in the cockpit area. Engine half interiors and the compressorfaces were painted aluminum. Actually, any other bits that need aluminum paintwere also done at this time (which is most of the kit). The aluminum makes iteasier to see mold seams and such so that clean-up of these parts is morecomplete.
The wings, tailplanes and engine nacelles were then gluedtogether and the mating surfaces cleaned up. Filler was used on some of theseams to smooth things out. Back at the fuselage, the interior was glued in aswas a rather hefty nose weight. I like to use fishing sinkers or you can go to alocal tire store and rob the weight trash bucket for the tape on types of tireweight. The folks there will usually be glad to allow you to grab what you need.A ten minute stopover will often glean enough lead weight to last you foryears!!
Once that wasdry, the small windows were glued in and the fuselage was glued together. Thenow completed engine nacelles were then painted overall aluminum and then areasnear the exhaust were given other metallic shades. For all of these metallics, Iused Testors Metallizers. The fuselage required some filler in several areas asI had thought it would. When dry, and smoothed out, the wings were attached. Ihad made sure that the pylons fit well prior to this as getting to any seams onthe inside next to the fuselage will be very difficult if not impossible. Thefit of the wings was good, though I did have seams that needed filling. This kithas the wings attach to the side rather than as a full span assembly. Makes iteasier to mold, but requires some care on the builder's part to make sure thatthe anhedral is the same for both of them.
Once the wings wereon, the tailplanes were attached. These are also separate assemblies and care isalso needed to assure the proper dihedral. When that was done the cockpitcanopy was glued in place. This fit very well indeed. The clear bits were nowmasked. At the time I was using nothing but Scotch Low Tack Tape. There are lotsof flat panels which makes using this kind of tape easy. The landing gear werethen glued in place and the kit was off to the paint shop.
PAINT & DECALS
Painting the B-66is really quite easy. Aluminum everywhere! I can easily say that I went throughalmost a bottle of Aluminum Metallizer on this one! Once the paint wasdry, I masked off the lower radome and the antenna panels on the tail. Thesewere painted flat black. The anti-glare panel was painted olive drab once thesurrounding area was also masked to prevent overspray problems. The nose and fuselage antennas were hand painted with flat black.
Nowthat most of the kit was painted, it was time for the decals. Brilliantlypainted is not a term one would use for any B-66 unit. However, they were notwithout color. The kit decals are quite nice and superior (in my opinion) towhat you'd get in the Italeri boxing. There are markings for two USAFE RB-66s.The first is an RB-66B of the 42 TRS/10 TRW based at RAF Chelvston in 1960. Ithas a nice 'comet' design on the tail and a large red stripe on the engines. Theboxtop kit. Naturally, that is the one I wanted to do. I put on all the commonmarkings first. These went on well using Microsol. The last parts of the sheet Iused were the colorful unit markings. I put on the tail markings first and usedsome Solvaset to help them conform to the fin tip. Well, one of them slipped andI was too late in trying to move it. I destroyed the decal.
Inow had three choices. One: buy another kit for the decal sheet. Two: write toTestors and wait a month for the new sheet to arrive. Three: use the othermarkings in the box. I chose the third option and used the blue engine markingsfor the 19 TRS/66 TRW RB-66B based at Spangdalem, Germany in 1959. Thesemarkings went on quite well and though I used a touch of Solvaset, no disasters.The only glitch is that the tail serial and buzz number are not correct for the66TRW bird, but no big deal.
Last bits needed to be attached at this point. These included the wheels, geardoors, tail guns and refueling probe. Somewhere in the process of construction,the refueling probe had disappeared. I'd blame cats, but since I didn't have anyat the time, I can only assume that the parts imps had snuck into the box andmade off with this bit. The last step was the removal of the masking from theclear bits. To my delight, I didn't mess up any of the panels! (happy, happy,joy, joy!)
This really is a superb kit. I'm sure that the ECM version is equally fun tobuild. There were no real problems, the parts fit well and the resulting kitlooks very nice on the shelf. If you have any interest in the type, I can highlyrecommend this one to you.
Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!
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