Italeri 1/72 B-58 Hustler
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Convair B-58 Hustler is the first operational jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight. The aircraft was designed by Convair and developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) for service in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the 1960s. It used a delta wing, which was also employed by Convair fighters such as the F-102, with four General Electric J79 engines in underwing pods. It carried five nuclear weapons; four on pylons under the wings, and one nuclear weapon and fuel in a combination bomb/fuel pod under the fuselage, rather than in an internal bomb bay.
Replacing the Boeing B-47 Stratojet medium bomber, it was originally intended to fly at high altitudes and supersonic speeds to avoid Soviet fighters. The B-58 was notorious for its sonic boom, which was often heard by the public as it passed overhead in supersonic flight.
The introduction of highly-accurate Soviet surface-to-air missiles forced the B-58 into a low-level-penetration role that severely limited its range and strategic value, and it was never employed to deliver conventional bombs. This resulted in only a brief operational career between 1960 and 1970 when the B-58 was succeeded by the smaller, swing-wing FB-111A.
Considering that only 100 planes were built and these only were enough for two bomb wings, it is not surprising that kits have been pretty scarce. Fortunately the Italeri offering, though a bit long in the tooth, is a pretty good kit. The kit provides three interiors, each with the unique ejection capsule carried by the Hustler. You won't see that much of the inside unless you have the cabin hatches open so what little detail is provided is sufficient for the scale.
These interiors are trapped in the rather long uselage and the kit provides a separate nose cone in case the recommended 5 grams of nose weight isn't enough. The Hustler did have optional wing racks and those are included though you need to open the holes in the lower wing halves for them.
Probably the most complex part of the build is the landing gear, especially considering all the various struts and wheels that are involved. Gear doors are butt fit. The landing gear assembly/attachment steps are before attaching the engines so you may wish to modify the sequence on these. Engines are split in left and right halves so there will be an intake seam to deal with. I should mention that Italeri wants to have you paint the gear wells white. Not sure if that is accurate, but there it is. A couple of nice photos of the main and nose gear are provided to help out.
When it comes to ordnance, you have several options. One is the aforementioned bomb racks with four small nukes. The others are for a very large bomb/fuel tank and a smaller one for the centerline. I'm not sure how many missions would have had both the centerline and racks filled, but you have that option if you wish to model it.
Instructions are fairly nicely done and provide generic paint references. All B-58s were in unpainted metal (despite the stories, there has never been any concrete proof of an SEA painted plane) so this gives you a chance to whip out the various metallics. I built this kit back 30 or so years ago during the Metallizer time period and it turned out just great. Decals are well done, but since I have a fairly old kit that I bought in the 1980s, it is unknown how well the kit sheet would perform without a nice coat of decal film. None of the units are mentioned, though one plane is named 'Ginger'. This plane has a black chevron on the fin. Another has a red and the third has none, which is pretty well the way most of them were.
As of this writing, this kit has been generally unavilable for several years and even the 'usual sources' don't seem to have one around. Undoubtedly Italeri will reissue it as I doubt if anyone else will do a new tool version, nice though that would be.
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