Anigrand 1/72 Consolidated B-32 Dominator
|NOTES:||Resin short run kit with resin clear bits|
The B-32 is one of those aircraft that rates little more than a footnote in the
history of the U.S.
Army Air Force (USAAF). Its service life was less than one year, and the type saw little action in the war it was built to fight, though it did have the distinction of participating in the last air battle of World War II.
In January 1940 the USAAF issued a set of formal requirements for a "superbomber" to replace the B-17s and B-24s in service. The new bomber was to be superior to the existing designs in speed, armament, and payload. Four manufacturers--Boeing, Consolidated, Douglas, and Lockheed--submitted designs for the new superbomber. Of the four designs the USAAF favored the Boeing B-29, but ordered prototypes of Consolidated's design, designated the B-32, as insurance in case the B-29 program failed.
Like the Boeing B-29, the B-32 was to have been a pressurized-fuselage bomber with remotely controlled turrets. Consolidated, however, ran into considerable problems with both the cabin pressurization and gun turrets, to the point where the prototype, already six months behind schedule, eventually flew as an unarmed, unpressurized aircraft for the first time on September 7, 1942. Development problems continued, and the second prototype did not fly until May 10, 1943. By the end of 1943, the USAAF had ordered so many changes to the prototypes that the fuselages were nearly totally redesigned. Pressurization and remotely-controlled turrets were dropped, and five manned turrets were installed. After initially flying with twin B-24-type vertical fins, the design was changed to a single fin, similar to the type being installed on the Navy's PB4Y-2 aircraft.
By December 1944 only five production-standard aircraft had been delivered. Cancellation of the program was recommended, but service testing continued using both production standard B-32s and unarmed TB-32 aircraft. Numerous deficiencies were reported, including a poorly laid out flight deck, poor bombardier visibility, landing gear failures, and cooling problems with the engines. On the other hand, the aircraft handled well, was a stable bombing platform, and was was relatively easy to maintain.
The B-32 program might have ended there but for Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, commander of the Far East Air Forces. He had wanted to replace B-24s with B-29s, but B-29 production was entirely committed to 20th Air Force. Gen. Kenney then requested the B-32.
A detachment of three B-32s were dispatched to the Philippines for combat testing. The first combat mission was flown by two B-32s on May 29, 1945. Over the next two months the B-32s flew missions over the Philippines, Formosa, and the Gulf of Tonkin. The type was deemed acceptable for combat, and the 386th BG began converting to the B-32.
Before the conversion was complete, the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. Combat operations by the 386th BG began in August. Their missions over Japan were photo-reconnaissance missions to determine Japan's compliance with the August 15 cease-fire. The aircraft retained full defensive armament, and the B-32s were attacked on August 17 and 18 by fighters of the Kido Butai; one of the attacking pilots was Saburo Sakai. The August 18 attack was the last air battle of World War II.
The last mission flown by the B-32 was August 28th, but two aircraft were lost. One crashed on takeoff, killing all 13 aboard, and the other lost power in two of four engines. Two men were killed in the bail out. Two days later, the 386th stood down, and all flyable B-32s were ordered back to the United States. In September 1945 the B-32 program was cancelled. All aircraft that could be flown to storage were moved, and incomplete airframes were scrapped. No B-32s exist today--one example had been earmarked for the Air Force Museum, and was preserved when all other B-32s were scrapped in 1947, but in 1949 it was declared surplus and it, too, was scrapped.
Editor's note. There is a wing from one in south San Diego as a memorial. It has been rather badly vandalized with many, many dents and some bullet holes in it, but it was still pretty much intact when I last saw it in 1992.
model is presented in a sturdy cardboard box with the fuselage halves loose, but
all other parts bagged in separate chambers--one for the tailpanes, one for the
wings, one for the nacelles, and one for the small parts. The clear parts, cast
in resin, are packaged in a small bag.
Casting quality is generally good. There were some air bubble faults on my sample, mostly in places easy to fix. One big fault on my sample is the left fuselage, which is about 2mm shorter than the right fuselage--it is possible that on my model it was pulled from the mold before being fully cured, and shrunk. Fortunately the constant-diameter fuselage should be easy to fix to get the lengths right. Wings are sharply cast with no warps, but trailing edges are a bit thick.
Interior detail is minimal, comprising seats, control yokes, and an instrument panel for the flight deck. No detail is provided for the bombardier's area, and turret detail is limited to guns only.
As per usual Anigrand practice, the flight deck floor and wheel wells are cast into each fuselage half, which will leave seams to fix.
Landing gear is good, and very sturdy. Thankfully the struts are all trunion-mounted, which is a good thing since a lot of nose weight will be needed for this model. Wheels seem rather wide but the hubs are well cast.
Engine fronts appear to be copies of the inaccurate C-97/KC-97 engine fronts from the Academy kits! On the plus side, the Curtiss Electric propellers are done well. Blades are separate from the hubs, but the hubs have mounting holes for the blades. Replace the inaccurate engines and you should be all set.
Clear parts look good, but would benefit from a dip in Future.
Aside from the fuselage fault, dry fitting of major parts showed no real problems. The six-word rule of building limited-run kits still applies, however: trial fit, adjust, trial fit again!
A small sheet is provided with insignia and two serial numbers incorrect for the B-32. Two errata decals are included with correct serials for one example, 2108471.
Anigrand continues to improve, and this kit is clearly better than the last kit I saw from this company. I would not recommend this kit to a novice all-resin kit builder, but someone with a few all-resin kits under their belt should do fine. With some extra work, you'll have a model to be proud of once you're done. It is certainly the cure for the common Messerschmitt!
Consolidated B-32 Dominator:
National Museum of the US Air Force Fact Sheet: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2535
Saburo Sakai's Last Battle: http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/stories/b32.html
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
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