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Boeing B-52G Stratofortress (UA72202) 1:72


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Boeing B-52G Stratofortress (UA72202)

1:72 ModelCollect

 

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The original contract for this long-lived strategic bomber was issued only a year after WWII, and went through some fundamental changes due to the speed at which aviation technology was advancing, initially having a greenhouse type cockpit akin to the B-36 Peacemaker, but eventually ending up with a more traditional cockpit, swept wings and turbo-jet engines, much of which has stayed the same in name at least since the design settled down from a rather WWII era first draft with straight wings and a prop.  A B-52 prototype took to the sky in the early 50s, that would be just about recognisable as the B-52 we know now, but at this stage it still had the weird cockpit that was dropped just in time for series production.  The A variant was used as a test bed, and as such only three were made, skipping quickly to the B that was the first in-service airframe, after which constant revisions walked the type through the alphabet to the G, which was the most major redesign up to that point, giving it new flying surfaces, an integral "wet wing" for the major fuel stores, the rear gunner became remote and carried out his job from the cockpit, avionics and radar were upgraded, and some rather thirsty J75 engines were used, later to be swapped out in the H for more fuel economy.

 

The G was the most common variant with almost 200 made, and it went on to serve with the USAF until the last one was drawn down and dismantled in 2013.  It could carry conventional or nuclear weapons, and for a period was tasked with carrying stand-off nuclear missiles while the older aircraft were used in Vietnam.  After that conflict, the systems were updated to improve offensive and defensive capabilities, and many Gs were involved in Operation Desert Storm, flying from Saudi and RAF Fairford amongst others.  After a friendly-fire incident with a HARM missile damaging the tail of one B-52 after locking onto the fire-control radar, the aft turrets were deactivated and a crew-member removed from the roster.  The G left service in the 90s, and many were stored at the bone-yard before they were destroyed due to the needs of the START treaty.  Only its successor the B-52H remains in service today, and is scheduled to do so for a ridiculously long time yet, allowing several generations of fliers to crew the same basic airframe.

 

 

The Kit

The B-52 has been not so much overlooked in 1:72, as stuck in limbo with only one kit in the scale that originated a long time ago and has been found in the boxes of several manufacturers over the years.  ModelCollect have now broken that kit's stranglehold on the subject and scale, with this 100% new tool of this monster of a bomber.  We have been waiting a little while now since the announcement, but it is finally here, and it is heavy.  It arrives in a large box with an attractive painting on the top that appears to be from the angle of a refuelling tanker or similar, and inside there are, what can only be described as a huge number of sprues that have quite some weight to them.  Just the main parts weigh a ton, and with all the interior and engine parts filling up the rest of the box, it's going to give the postman a hernia if you order more than one at a time.  Our review sample took a beating during shipping from ModelCollect, but it has arrived in pretty good order, although the external carton has gone straight to recycling as it no-longer has and perpendicular sides.  I have seen the Buff (Big Ugly Fat Friend, where the word "Friend" isn't what they really mean) many times at airshows and it is a substantial aircraft, but I wasn't quite prepared to see wings that were about as long as my forearm and outstretched hand.  Some of the bags on my sample had split due to the rough handling this solitary model had received, but yours should fare better if it has been sent in the company of others on the slow container boat from China.

 

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This shot includes the parts knocked off the sprues in transit and the flight crew console (far left), which has been glued together.

 

The fuselage has been moulded in sections in order to squeeze other variants from these toolings, so the box is just a bit longer than the wings, rather than having to accommodate the length of the full thing.  It has a common centre section that includes the wing root, a nose section, tail section, and in this boxing, a separate tail gun, which changed throughout the development of the type, so makes sense for it to be separate.  The skin has been depicted without any "oil-canning" that is seen on the real thing, which would probably have increased development costs substantially, and doubtless resulted in complaints from people that thought their model was faulty or "done wrong".  If you want to portray the beast realistically, there are a number of tutorials out there that can be used to distress the metal, but check your references, as the patterns change when the aircraft is in the air, on the ground and probably also when it is loaded with fuel and weapons.  Speaking of weapons, there are a large quantity included, which makes up a fair portion of the kit's weight, but by no means the majority.

 

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The nose section of the fuselage should appear to the left and right of this sprue, but these parts were knocked off during transit and are shown in an earlier photo.

 

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There are six main sprues in a mid-grey styrene, plus six fuselage and wing parts (my nose parts had fallen off the sprue), eighteen smaller sprues relating to the weapons, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, one of which is black (anodised?), a pair of decal sheets, and an A4 instruction booklet with glossy cover.  It is clear that some sliding moulds have been used to obtain the detail on the fuselage parts, especially around the wing root and the sensor fairings under the nose.  You will need to prepare these areas by hiding the mould lines before painting, preferably sooner than later.

 

Once you've got past the sheer size of this model in 1:72, construction begins with the cockpit, which starts with a long floor with moulded-in aft bulkhead.  Four crew seats are added, and each one is an ejection seat, with a free-standing launch-rail attached to the back, and a seam running down the centre of the cushions, which could be hidden by picking up some crew figures, seatbelts or just by adding a thin layer of pewter foil to the front.  The front seats face in the direction of travel and have a control column each, and a large wrap-around console added later, while the rear seats of the Electronic Warfare officer and the gunner face backward, staring at the empty bulkhead that won't be seen anyway due to the letterbox canopy.  There is a low structure fitted on one side of the space between the seats, and a stowage area on the other, plus what appears to be a jump seat just aft of that.  The instrument console is built from a pair of parts split down the middle (see the fuselage picture for the parts glued together), and the black PE parts are fitted within to add the necessary instrument details to the front, and sides, with five parts in total.  The console fits via a butt-joint, so placing them into their recesses on the floor is a wise move to ensure they are straight and level when the glue cures.  The lower deck has a hatch in the floor from the upper, and a crew ladder allows access for the two crew there, who exit via hatches on the bottom on their compartment on their downward-firing seats that have remained unchanged through the years.  There is also a large bank of equipment and instruments surrounding the lower crew on three sides, providing navigation and radar navigation services to the flight crew.  This completed module glues directly to the underside of the upper floor.

 

The B-52 is fairly unusual in having a narrow track main gear arrangement that permits steering on all main wheels, allowing it to do some fancy zig-zagging on the ground for airshow visitors.  There are two bulkheads that hold the gear legs, with one pair attached to each side, which gives them a staggered appearance and four separate bay doors that can be seen straight through if you are at the correct angle.  Four gear legs and eight wheels are made up and attached to the framework bulkheads, with a scrap diagram showing how the retraction jacks fit to the framework.  The bomb bay also has to be made up, and this comes complete with a rotary ejector rack and eight Cruise Missiles (AGM-86) that populate it, crammed in tight to utilise all available space.  Each missile is built from two halves, a separate intake trunk high and to the aft, plus a set of folded wings and PE tail fins, all of which fit on the central axle of the launcher, with a pair of suspension frames at each end, allowing the rail to rotate freely.  It installs in the bay roof, and is joined by the end bulkheads, at which point the fuselage can be closed up.

 

The instructions show you building up the nose assembly with the cockpit inserted and glazed, and then mated to the central section.  This can result in tricky seams between the sections if you have been a bit sloppy with the fitting, so it's worthwhile at least considering building up each fuselage half completely before adding the interior parts, but taking care to get everything lined up as you go, as each method has its own pitfalls.  The centre section receives the bomb bay and landing gear, but additional equipment boxes and gear bay doors with hinges are installed first, along with the gear bay roofs, a long perforated section that parallels the edge of the bay on each side, and some partial bulkheads.  The landing gear bulkheads fit in substantial grooves in the interior for strength, and a set of bracing struts are added to the sides of the fuselage before it is closed up.  Much of this section will need to be painted in the interior colour before closing up, as the nature of the gear openings will ensure that any detail will be seen.  The bomb bay doors are secured to the fuselage by separate hinge parts that are best left off until later, after which the attention turns to the tail section, which has a solitary equipment box added to the front interior before it is closed up.  The rear "stinger" is then put together from two halves, with an additional part for the four-barrel gun mount slotted into the centre.

 

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The BUFF can carry additional weapons on two wing pylons carried between the fuselage and inner engine pod.  These are included, with six more AGM-86 Cruise Missiles and six Tomahawk Cruise Missiles (TLAM) for you to use as you see fit, with different hole diagrams for each type to fit them on the launcher.  The twin engine pods are split top and bottom, with intake part, internal fan and exhaust parts separate, and a two-part pylon for each one, differing depending on which station they are fitted to.  The small external fuel pylons are also included for fitting near the wingtips, and once you have glued the two wing halves together, these sub-assemblies can be attached to their mounting points, with just the fuel pylon needing the flashed-over holes drilling out.  The engine pylons are located via aligning them with the stub that stands proud from the leading edge, but if you anticipate handling the model after completion, it would be worthwhile adding some additional pins to the butt-joint to strengthen it.  The outrigger landing gear that stops the BUFF from toppling onto its wingtip is a simple gear leg with retraction jack that deploys from a shallow bay, the roof detail of which is moulded into the inner face of the upper wing, and comes with bay doors for each one, and a two-part wheel to finish it off.  The wings have a large mating surface, so should glue together well, and have been moulded with the correct anhedral, but an in-flight model would need to be jigged to reduce this, and you should take careful note of your references to obtain the right angles.   The tabs and ledges that hold the wings to the fuselage could put a strain on the top fuselage joint, which may eventually separate if left stock, so it would be as well to add some strength to this area before closing the fuselage and adding the wings.  However, some would be looking to make the wings removable for storage, as this is a huge model even at this scale, so whatever solution you use will have to leave those big wings loose.  The flaps are separate, and have nicely detailed bays, but there isn't any reference made to being able to pose them opened, possibly because the flap tracks were never tooled, so it was abandoned as a feature.  Who knows?

 

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At this stage all the assemblies are brought together, starting with the fuselage and ending with the wings, and finally the tail fin, all three parts of which fit to the aft fuselage with substantial tabs and slots that are each about the size of a 1:48 F-15 wing.

 

 

Markings

There is only one decal option in the box, but it's a colourful one, with a grey base and rust/sand camouflage over the upper surfaces.  Only the port side of the aircraft is provided as reference to demarcation lines however, and although information is widely available online, it would have been nice to have more than just the nose of the starboard side as reference.

 

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The decals are spread over two sheets, the larger of which consists of walkways and stencils, while the smaller sheet contains the airframe specific markings.  Both sheets are printed by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  Care will need to be taken with the walkways as a few are 15cm and longer, but if you decide to paint them instead, you can at least use the decals as a template.  The colour callouts are in Mig AMMO paints, but in this internet age it wouldn't be difficult to transpose those to your own preferred paint brand if you need to.

 

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If you plan on depicting another airframe with aftermarket decals, it is important to note the under-nose EVS pods and tailgun are particular to some airframes and periods, which may place some limits on which other aircraft it can be modelled as without needing some physical changes.

 

 

Conclusion

Overall it's a great looking kit with just a few things that can be shrugged off as options that would have been nice to have.  It's about time we had a new tooled B-52 though, and other marks are already in production, with an early and late H model and an earlier D, which should please a lot of people.

 

Very highly recommended.

Review sample courtesy of

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4 hours ago, Viking said:

Wow, that is going to build into one huge and impressive model Mike!

Yup... that's if I live long enough! :cwl::blink::crying:

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