Airfix 1/48 B-57B Canberra
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||I know this one will please many.|
On February 21, 1951, a British Canberra B.2 (flown by Roland Beamont) became the first-ever jet to make a non-stop un-refuelled flight across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in the United States for USAF evaluation. The Canberra emerged a clear winner of February 26 fly-off against the XB-51. Since English Electric was unable to produce enough aircraft for both the RAF and the USAF, on April 3, 1951 Martin was granted the license to build Canberras, designated B-57 (Martin Model 272) in the US. To expedite production, the first B-57As were largely identical to the Canberra B.2s with the exception of more powerful Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire engines of 7,200 lbf (32 kN) of thrust, also license-built in the US as Wright J65s. In addition, canopy and fuselage windows were slightly revised, the crew was reduced from three to two, wingtip fuel tanks were added, engine nacelles were modified with additional cooling scoops, and the conventional "clamshell" bomb-bay doors were replaced with a low-drag rotating door originally designed for the XB-51.
The first production aircraft flew on July 20, 1953, and was accepted by USAF on August 20. During the production run from 1953 to 1957, a total of 403 B-57s were built.
A few years ago, the thought of having a proper B-57 in 1/48 was up there in dreams. Sure, there was one released by Classic Airframes a few years back, but by all accounts, the efforts required to produce a proper looking model were considerable. Even die-hard Canberra fans had great difficulty with it, though a nice model could result.
Last year, Airfix brought out their first in a series of different Canberras in 1/48 and we knew it was only time before a B-57 would be ours. Well, that wait is over and the kit is here. Not surprisingly, it shares quite a few parts with the British versions that have so far been released. However Airfix realizes that there is considerable difference from the wings forward and has been good enough to provide a proper fuselage without resorting to plugs and separate noses. In fact, there is not a hint that a plug was added to the sprue and that this may well be a whole new fuselage mold. As Airfix does not provide parts layouts, I have chosen to show the two sprues and clear bits that are most relevant to the B-57.
Now Airfix did not just want to do the B-57B so there are parts in here to do the 'Patricia Lynn' RB-57E as well as the butt-ugly B-57G version. All of these additional noses are included and one simply glues in the one needed. Of course, some of the other differences are accounted for. The kit provides two different engine intake types as well as external pylons as both iron bombs and LGBs for use where needed. There are also separate speed brakes as frequently these were seen open on the ground. There is a full bomb bay in which one can also place bombs. Thanks to the B-57s rotary bomb bay, no pesky bay doors to worry about. I'm not 100% on the bombs in this one. I'd have thought that M117s would be the norm, but these look more like British bombs than the somewhat tubby M117s or even the later, sleeker M82s. May want to hit a detail set for replacements. I know that most won't care, but thought I'd toss that out anyway. I should mention the detailing. It is actually quite good and while some may prefer more petite panel lines, I find that it works quite well. Once under paint, much of that will be subdued.
Other features are a full cockpit, which looks nicely detailed as well as crew figures. In fact one gets two different seat styles as the B-57G had a different seat. This is covered with a two piece windscreen/canopy section that can be displayed open. Flight control surfaces are separate and a full batch of flaps are given. Airfix has their now usual instruction booklet with its usual Humbrol paint number callouts and (also usual) no clue as to what the color actually is. My main beef with Airfix and others as not everyone has access to their paints. The giant decal sheet covers three planes and there is an equally giant fold out full color painting and markings guide. One is an all black B-57B from the 822 BS/34 BG based in France in 1966. Here is another beef as the tank markings for this plane have been printed in orange. If you want to do this yellow ruddered plane, you'll have to leave off the tank markings or incorrectly paint the rudder in orange. Of course, one could consider that perhaps the actual color is orange and the markings guide is wrong, but I doubt it. Second is a rather boring unpainted metal RB-57E as based in South Vietnam in 1963. The third is the box art plane from the 13th BS/8th TFW in Thailand during 1971. This is in standard SEA night bomber scheme and is the aircraft that would carry the LGBs. The sheet (aside from the color glitch) is very nicely printed. I'm sure that aftermarket is on the way as I'd really like to build a plane operated by one of the several DSES units in their ADC Grey and International Orange.
You know you want one. Yes, it will be a big model when done, but that shouldn't deter many of you. I have heard that this will be the sole production run of the B-57. Well, perhaps, but it would be a real shame if that were so. As you probably know, Airfix is not into the mass of 'Limited Reissues' that you see from Hasegawa and a few others, so grab it while you can. It retails for the same as the old CA kit and is several times the improvement.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-57_Canberra June 2009 Thanks to that kind soul who provided me with the birthday money bailout to help buy this one. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Back to the Main Page Back to the Previews Index Page
Thanks to that kind soul who provided me with the birthday money bailout to help buy this one.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page