Revell 1/81 B-57B Canberra

KIT #: 00025
PRICE: AU$10-00 (at a Swap n' Sell)
DECALS: Two options
NOTES: 1956 tooling reissued in 2008


The Korean War/Police Action saw widespread use of jet-propelled combat aircraft. This in turn, spelt the end of the dominance of aircraft with propeller-turning engines, so the USAF began a search for replacements for their existing fleet of aircraft. The replacement for the late-WWII propeller-driven Douglas A.26 Invader ground-attack aircraft, was the English Electric Canberra, because it was a proven design with all-weather capability. But the British production capability was at maximum capability, so the Martin Avation Company got a licence to build them as the B.57.

The modified Americanised version, the B.57B Intruder, moved the second crewmember from the bowels of the fuselage, up into the light behind the pilot, so the offset hemispherical British canopy got replaced by a long greenhouse one. Additionally, it received 4 x 20mm cannons outboard of the engines, and the British bomb doors were replaced by a rotating sleeve. Unfortunately for the USAF aircrews, resistance to foreign technology prevented the B.57B from being deployed to Korea. Instead, it became the first USAF jet-bomber to drop bombs in combat, when it was deployed to Vietnam as tactical aircraft. The B.57B could carry the ordnance of four F4 Phantoms, and for a greater range (without the need to ait-to-air refuel). Initially dressed in SEA cam, they eventually received an overall glossy night black scheme for its night intruder role. Chuck Yeager flew them (and lots of other aircraft) in Vietnam, and found them very pleasant to fly, and eminently up to their task.

There were two other versions - the EB.57B Night Intruder electronic warfare version , and the RB.57 stratospheric reconnaissance aircraft with greatly-elongated wings. But the B.57B had only a short life with the USAF - 1953-57. They ended their life as transitional trainers and target-tugs.


This kit hales from1956. I bought this Revell Classic re-release, because I had never heard of a B.57, and because it was cheap (I seem to say that a lot). At 1/81-scale, it is a box-scale model. In other words, the kit parts were made to fit into Revell's standard-issue shallow lid-&-tray kit-box. The box held four sprues holding 45 parts (+ one clear part). The parts had little detail of the raised type (with the usual grooves to differentiate the built-in control surfaces). The one-piece cockpit, consisting of the two crew on their seats, is the only internal piece. The external stores consist of tip-tanks, four pairs of rockets (for moulded-on pylons) and four optional napalm tanks - optional, because there are no firm locations for them.

The instructions are on two double-sided folded A4-sheets of cheap paper. Of the eight 1/2-sides, three contain information, and the other five show the parts lay-out map, 21 (very-brief) assembly steps and two nearly-identical decal-placement guides for all-black aircraft. The instructions direct that the model needs 5-grams of nose weight. I started building this kit because it qualified as an entry into a competition to build a model that is more than 25-years old. I had a lot in my stash to choose from.


(MAJOR) Trimming of the flash from the cockpit piece, then painting it, was the first order of business. This wasn't an easy task because it was a single piece, but painting the deeper parts first, worked well. The white bone-domes were painted last. I like the contrast. It was essential to dry-fit the cockpit and the canopy to ensure that they don't interfere with each other (because they will). The rest of the assembly was very straight-forward because it is a basic kit. I stuck a lead fishing sinker in the nose without weighing it first - whatever fit. Small amounts of filler was needed everywhere - more-so around where the single-piece the tail-planes slid into the aft-end of the fuselage. The wheel-wells weren't boxed-in or roofed, but the model sits so low that it probably won't be noticeable.

I built the whole model, less the undercarriage legs, external stores and engine tail cans, so I could paint it all in one hit.


Painting was easy. The rudder was sprayed with a bright red, then after it had dried and was masked, the whole model, including the tip and napalm tanks, were sprayed with Tamiya F-1 gloss black as per the boxart and photos on the Internet - especially the famous one with a (several-times modified) UFO(?) in the background. The wheel wells and inside of the doors, were brush-painted with a Citadel Miniatures (CM) dark green instead of aluminium. The rocket pairs were brush-painted with a CM grey, with green warheads and silver tips. Leading edges were mask, then brush-painted with CM boltgun metal - a dark metallic colour. And while I was at it, the engine tail cans were painted, too.

There were a heck of a lot of decals - mainly stencilling and red lines, and about a dozen standard markings. I hate lots of stencils, but I used them because they contrasted with the black paint. On the other hand, I love the red lines because they greatly enhance the model. They all went down nicely onto the gloss-black surface, then I sealed them in with a gloss coat.


The pylons, moulded as part of the napalm tanks, were masked, then the tanks were sprayed with a chrome silver. Next, the undercarriage legs and wheel hubs were painted a CM silver, then the tyres were painted CM black and the oleos were brush-painted with a chrome paint.

I filed a small flat area on the main wheels to help the model sit on its nose wheel, then I assembled and glued-on the undercarriage legs. External stores were glued-on, including the napalm tanks which were positioned according to measurements provided in the instructions as there were no locating guide marks on the model. This completed the build.


The unique thing about this build is that the model balances on the flat areas of the wheels, with the tail and the nose-wheel clear of the surface the model sits-on. Several really-terrific modellers have complimented me on my precise balance calculations. (Just pure dumb luck!!) The initial competition drew a LOT of complaints from modellers who objected to having to build so ancient a model. So the subject window was reduced to 10 years - spoil-sports!!

This was a quick build, and the end-product looks like a Canberra. It should be an easy build for even a junior modeller, so I'm happy to recommend to all modellers. A really-good modeller might want to scratch-build a bomb bay - or to buy a better kit.

George Oh

12 July 2022

Copyright All rights reserved. No reproduction in part or in whole without express permission.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page

Back to the Previews Index Page