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B-1B Lancer Bomber Platinum Edition (04963) 1:48

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B-1B "Lancer" Bomber Platinum Edition (04963)

1:48 Revell




After the cancellation of the Mach 3 B-70 Valkyrie due to the vast improvements in Soviet anti-aircraft missiles that resulted in the infamous downing of Gary Powers' U-2 spy plane, the nuclear bomber's days were numbered, and in order to maintain their usefulness the profile was switched to low-level in order to avoid detection for as long as possible and allow them to drop or launch their payload on the enemy targets with a good chance of success.  The B-1 bomber was put forward with the capability of reaching Mach 2 at height and being able to maintain a high Mach number at low-level thanks to variable geometry wings, all while carrying a heavy bomb load and enough fuel to get there and back again.  The new look-down/shoot-down radar that was to be incorporated into the Mig-31 Foxhound gave the administration pause for thought that led to the eventual cancellation of the project after the original prototypes had been built and flown, as the thinking was that the B-52 was just as likely to get through at a substantially lower cost.


That wasn't the end of the Lancer though, as the expected entry into service of the stealthy B-2 Spirit was pushed back and an interim gap needed filling, a fact that was used by the political parties to beat each other with during the 1980 election.  The incoming Reagan administration decided to reawaken the stalled project with substantial changes to meet the new requirements that led to the B-1B with a lower top speed at altitude, a higher top speed at low level, and a substantial increase in bomb load.  Accompanying these changes were a similar improvement in avionics and electronic self-defence systems due to the time elapsed between cancellation and reactivation.  There was still plenty of opposition and political wrangling over the type until and since the delivery of the last of 100 airframes, centring around its cost and initial short service expectation.  The type's role has transitioned to conventional bombing, and it has undergone much improvement and adaptation over the years to keep up with the march of munitions technology, which includes the cockpit instrumentation moving over to glass Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) and electronic integration with other assets to improve overall situational awareness.  The remaining fleet is currently expected to stay in service until the 2030s, but knowing politicians and their motivations, this could change any day.  At present it is intended to be replaced by a remote-piloted bomber with a similar planform to the B-2, called the B-21 Raider.


The Kit

The origins of this kit date back to the 80s as can be seen from the raised stamp on the underside of the fuselage, but it is still an impressive model and not just because of its size.  For a while it was touted as the largest injection moulded part for a model kit, but with the recent influx of heavy bombers in 1:32 it may no longer hold that crown, although that probably depends on how you measure "biggest".  It has been re-released a few times over the years and is still an impressive tooling, although as years have gone by and the original aircraft has evolved, some work is required to make your model up-to-date.  There are a few issues "baked-in" around the shape of the engines, which need some work to be totally accurate and Cutting Edge once had a set to do just that.  With them out of the picture for some time however, other companies such as Metallic Details have taken up the challenge.


The box is gigantic and will take up quite a lot of space in your stash, so be prepared to make room, and if you're planning on sneaking it past your other half, it's safe to say that's not likely as the box is 75cm x 46cm x 11cm! With it being the Platinum Edition, you get some additions that weren't included in the original in the form of two Photo-Etch (PE) detail sets and a set of masks that are Revell branded editions of previously released Eduard sets for the exterior and importantly for the cockpit, including detailed instrument panels and a set of kabuki-tape masks.  It totals five frets of differing sizes, and two of the internal sheets are nickel-plated and pre-painted for your ease.  The sprues of the B-One (hence the nickname Bone) have always been a little prone to losing their parts due to their size and relatively small sprue gates, but some of the sprues have been separated to fit within the bags, so in my sample more than a few parts had come loose and they rained out of the bags as I unpacked them.  The main fuselage parts are massive and have deep engraved panel lines that could do with reducing a little bit before painting.  The same detail extends to the wings and other external parts, and where the wings pivot there is a slight unevenness to the surface due to slight shrinkage of the thicker areas whilst cooling.  This is pretty easy to fix due to the deep panel lines and is best done with your favourite sanding sticks and putty (if needed) before you begin construction.  It is an ageing kit, but it's still a good one that should be improved further with the additional PE parts, plus a little care in preparing the exterior surface.  If you want to go for ultimate detail and improve the engine nacelles that's down to you and your wallet, or you could build it as is and enjoy it anyway.


Inside the gargantuan box are technically four sprues in dark grey styrene, two in black, one in a smoked clear styrene and of course the five PE sheets within a separate card box that is intended to protect them from damage due to shifting contents.  The instruction booklet has the decal sheet sandwiched between its pages, and the painting and decaling instructions can be found on the back pages in colour as it the new normal from Revell.  I say "technically" as there are a number of cuts to the sprues as mentioned earlier to get them in the bags, possibly due to the addition of the box that contains the PE.  To avoid confusing the issue by interleaving the PE instructions into the build, I'll detail those parts and their use after the main review.
























Construction begins with a choice of whether to pose the model with wheels up or down, in which case you don't need the crew entry ladder.  If you're using the ladder it's more of a ramp, with rungs down the centre and guide rails at the sides.  It gets put to one side while the nose gear bay is built up from panels and bulkheads then it too is put to the side while the cockpit is made up on its tub.  The instrument panel and coaming are added along with the twin control columns then the two pilot seats and the identical back-seats are made up and the pilot's are added to the front with the rear-seaters behind a bulkhead and facing forward, to be seen through a doorway between the compartments and the escape hatch until it is closed up.  Both assemblies are brought together on top of the nose gear bay once painting has completed, and the two nose parts are decked out with their smoked side glazing parts in anticipation of joining them around the cockpit/gearbay assembly.  There is no detail inside the nose parts and you are advised to put 70g of weight into the nose to avoid having the largest tail-sitter you'll ever see, and as you join the halves together, you add the crew ladder if you are using it, allowing it to pivot open or closed.  The nose is a separate cone that fits over a small radar assembly attached to a bulkhead, which you can leave unglued so you can see it later.










Before the main fuselage and wing roots can be made, a number of areas must be detailed first.  The huge bottom moulding has main gear bay and all three bomb bay apertures cut out for later, and the upper halves of the engine pods are attached at this point, but I suspect they'd be more useful to be left off until later for painting and ease of handling.  The gear bays are first and these are made up with a base part decorated with bulkheads, a pair of central dividers and right and left side panels.  This is set aside for a while until all the assemblies are ready, and the bomb bays are next.  Here Revell have got the front two bays set up as two separate entities when they are in fact a single bay with a divider suspended around half way and the outer skin panel attached to the bottom of that and the sides.  If you have a look in the excellent Daco book on the B-1 you'll be able to see that very clearly, but for the sake of ease of moulding (I suspect) they have been made separate.  The rotary launchers that allow the B-1 to carry so much weaponry are provided in a simplified format with a set of 16 AGM-69 SRAM nuclear missiles, which won't be appropriate if you're building a modern Bone, as they gave up the nuclear role a long time ago.  The missiles are three parts each, and the launcher is two parts with splined plates that slide over the conical sections and butt up against the flanges on the cylindrical section.  Eight missiles are clustered round each launcher and they are installed into the arched bay, which has detail inserts added along the sides and bulkheads fore and aft that hold the launcher in place.  The finished assemblies are added inside the lower fuselage along with the main gear bay, and the third bay that is usually used to hold additional fuel is added at the rear with another arched shell around the cylindrical fuel cell.  The interior is now complete, but the two massive variable-geometry outer wing panels need to be made up from their two parts, then slipped into their circular recesses inside the fuselage so that they can be left to pivot later on.  The fuselage top is then glued in place thus trapping the wings, and you should ensure that the two halves are well glued together to avoid cracking later.  The size of the parts is such that pressure at the wingtip could result in damage to your careful work closing up and minimising the seams, so do take care.




The engines reside in pods under the wing roots and Revell's instructions have you adding the upper portion of these to the fuselage early on in the build, but that would make sorting the seams a bit difficult, so I'd leave them loose for now.  The lower portions of the engine pods have intake trunking within, which are Y-shaped and have two engine faces inserted inside at the aft end.  The trunking is then glued into the lower cowling located on pins and once dry the upper and lower halves are joined together.  These are topped and tailed by the sloped intake lips, which we've already mentioned are not quite the right shape, and the exhaust cans, which have the rear faces of the engines inserted.  These two aren't quite accurate, but if you choose to investigate the correction sets they will add to the total cost of your model.






With the fuselage together the cockpit section can be added and again take care to glue it well, considering adding some reinforcement to the joint to avoid issues down the line.  At this stage your Bone is without a tail of any sort but this is soon to be rectified, starting with the elevators, which are linked by a pin that travels through the aft fuselage once the two surfaces of each one are glued together.  The aft fuselage is a simple two-part shell that has a tail-cone added, and this may need updating as there were changes in this area over time.  The fin peg passes through the fairing near the root of the tail and is glued to its partner and not to the tail itself unless you'd like to fix it in position.  This is also glued to the main fuselage assembly with a small lip improving the mating surface.  Again, you might want to looking into additional strengthening measures here.


If you are modelling your B-1 on the ground the landing gear will need to be addressed, starting with the wheels, which have been moulded in black and are each made from two parts.  The hubs are also two parts and half the rear hub parts have the axle moulded into the back to join the pairs of wheels.  The gear legs are quite complex and with the addition of brake hoses and a little extra detail can be made to look very realistic as a quick Google of any of the excellent builds over the years will confirm.  Our own @Alan P built a beautiful model that was sadly crushed during shipping some years ago.  The nose gear leg can be built up with the ability to steer the bottom portion by leaving the glue off the joint between the upper and lower portions, and it has three clear landing lights and retraction jacks added before the wheels are slipped through and it is fitted to the nose gear bay.  Two bay doors are fitted to the front of the bay, and another triangular door captive to the back of the gear leg.


The main gear both have four wheels each on a short bogie in side-by-side pairs.  The main leg has the bogies moulded in and is made from three parts.  The retraction jacks pull the legs sideways and are made up from four parts each with a few additional parts adorning the bogie area prior to the wheels being inserted through the holes to join up with their opposite number, and if you are careful with the glue they should rotate once they are complete.  This is repeated for the other leg and a number of scrap diagrams are used to better show how the parts go together.  They are inserted into their bays with another jack added along the way, and the bay doors are fitted around the edges.




If you are building your Bone wheels-up, the process if somewhat simpler, with the same bay door parts being used to cover the bays and requiring just two small parts to be removed from the nose gear bay edge.  The bomb bays can also be posed closed by using the two outer bay parts only, or if you are showing the contents of the bays, there are four extra hinge parts to glue to the inner edges of the doors, providing the mating surface to attach them to them to the edges of the bays.  The wheels down pose will also need a retraction jack added to the boarding ladder, and then the cockpit is glazed over by adding the smoked canopy and the rear crew escape hatch over their seats.  The Bone wouldn't be the same without its small canards under the cockpit window, and then it's just a case of adding all the delicate aerials and antennae around the place which also may have changed over the years, so check your references, then the two strakes that install over the wing-glove area.


Platinum Edition Parts

As mentioned earlier, there are some Revell branded Eduard PE sets included in a card box in this edition, with separate instructions from the main kit.  Where these parts can be used are denoted with the icon "PE" in the main instructions, so you can cross-refer between the two as you progress.  They are as follows:


Interior (049639035)

Comprising three frets, two of which are nickel-plated and pre-printed, while the last is bare brass. The main focus is on improving on the kit instrument panels, which take up a lot of the cockpit, replacing the main panel, side consoles and centre console and aft panel with new pre-painted parts, as well as a nicely detailed throttle box. Additional parts are included for the rear bulkhead; the four crew seats, all of which get belts and seat details, and the cockpit sidewalls.




The only issue with the set is the slightly bluish grey of the instrument panel surround, but if that bothers you it is a simple matter to overpaint the background to blend it in with your cockpit paint and although that sounds tricky it isn't too difficult, as I've done it myself a few times.


Exterior (049639036)

This set consists of two bare brass frets with a substantial part count. The nose gear bay is detailed first with additional panels and rib detail, plus bay door actuators, and a substantial upgrade of the nearby crew ladder, which receives a totally new set of steps, leaving just the side rails from the kit parts. The crew access door is also detailed internally before the ladder is attached. The main gear bay is next, and is detailed with additional panels to improve on what is already there. The large gear legs are also given additional parts, some of which are designed to be slotted into grooves in the curved top of a leg section, so have your razor saw handy. The huge weapons bays are upgraded with detail on the bulkheads fore and aft, including the big baffles that drop down to disrupt the airflow that allows the bombs to successfully leave the bay at speed. The separating bulkheads are also detailed with extra parts, which should help to reduce their dated appearance.




The outer skin of the Lancer is next decked-out with a large number of aerials, static-discharge wicks, and two-part vortex generators under the tail. A few small probes and vents are also added around the nose, with additional detail installed between the twin engines on each side, with some fan detail parts inside.



While there aren't many windows on the Bone, they are large and rounded, the radiuses for which can be difficult to cut manually. The yellow kabuki tape is pre-cut for just such purposes, and you get the main canopy halves, side windows and portholes, most of which are of the strip type to hug the frames and avoid the compound curves that could cause wrinkles. Fill the centres of the masks with liquid mask or scrap tape before you spray for best results.







For the majority of its career the Bone has been dressed in a dark grey scheme which suits it well.  There are two decal options included in this boxing and both are grey as you'd expect.  The majority of the decals are stencils and walkway striping, with just a few markings on the tail and near the crew compartment to tell the airframes apart.  From the box you can build one of the following:


  • 9 Bomb Squadron, 7 Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB, Texas, October 1995
  • 116 Bomb Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, Robins AFB, Georgia, July 2000







Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt/gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.





It's not a perfect kit, but it's still an impressive one even after a few decades.  If you're going to build it to the best of your ability and with the utmost accuracy, taking advantage of the aftermarket out there it will get quite expensive, but if you don't want to push out that particular boat, there's enough in the box to give you a well-detailed model thanks to the PE sets.  Either way, at 92cm long it's going to astonish a lot of people when you display it.  If you set the wings up for slow flight, it's also 86cm wide, so you better have a big table.


Highly recommended.




Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit

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It's great that they've re-released the Bone. Shame they didn't retool to update the engine intakes and cans to an actual "B" model instead of an "A". But It is a fun build if you have the room to display.I got the 2nd re-release years ago. still had the vinyl tyres but not the B-1A's test decals. Thanks for the heads up and review Mike!

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Looks good, but I will just have to put up with my newish Academy 1/144 kit of their B-1B #12620.

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40 minutes ago, Alan P said:

Great write-up, and probably a good opportunity for a rebuild!

I'd watch that happily ^_^

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IIRC from the days when I had one, a couple of wing spars and a reinforced internal "carry through" between the pivots are pretty much mandatory. There was a very good article in the IPMS USA magazine on building and detailing (and reinforcing) the kit but that went when I sold it and the Cutting Edge Burner cans set in my big stash clearout four years or so ago: the Bone was by far the biggest of the "grey jets" that I wasn't going to build...






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3 minutes ago, cmatthewbacon said:

the Bone was by far the biggest of the "grey jets" that I wasn't going to build...

You should have kept it as a back-up place to live, just in case :)

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