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Martin B-57G - Enter the Dragon!***FINISHED***


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This will be my first of a number of entries hopefully.

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The Martin B-57 is not one of the best known planes, but it did managed to earn its place in history during the Vietnam war. As those of you who have seen any of my previous GB entries will know, I like to include a rant lecture bit of background material, which a few of you have said you like – to the rest my apologies as the development of this plane is a bit obscure to many so it will be longer than usual, and whilst we are waiting to commence bashing plastic I may as well start the narrative. All info from Osprey Combat Aircraft and Crowood books on the B-57. You will note that Italeri call it “Night Hawk” but I have not seen this mentioned anywhere else, and the reference to “Enter the Dragon” in the header is from the title of the chapter on the B-57G in the Osprey book – but more on that (much) later

 

The story starts back in 1949 when the first English Electric Canberra lifted off the runway at Warton on May 13th. In some respects it was a jet follow-on to the Mosquito, relying on speed rather than armament, and was in some ways rather old fashioned. Powered by 2 Rolls Royce Avon jets it had a straight wing of generous area, which not only made it capable of a ceiling of 49000ft, but also made it extremely manoeuvrable, though no doubt at the expense of speed. The internal bomb load was on the light side at 6000lb but it had a respectable range of around 2660 miles and was capable of 518mph at sea level rising to 570mph at 40000ft.

 

Just over a year after its first flight the Korean War started, and the Americans soon discovered the need for aircraft to “interdict” enemy supply lines, preferably at night. As their current jets were not really designed for that purpose they fell back on the WWII B-26 Invader, which served with distinction, but was somewhat obsolete, so a committee was set up immediately to find a replacement jet “light” bomber suitable for the role, stressing the need for one which could be available rapidly. The most obvious candidates were the North American B-45 Tornado which had entered service in 1945, and the new Martin XB-51, a big futuristic looking machine with two podded engines mounted with one on each side of the forward fuselage, and a third on top of the rear fuselage in front of the vertical tail. Neither of these fairly large machines were exactly light bombers with loads of 22000lb and 16000lb respectively and neither were they very manoeuvrable, which it would need to be in the intended intruder role. However, as luck would have it, American observers at the 1949 Farnborough Air Show had seen the Canberra and were sufficiently impressed by this and a later demonstration arranged in August 1950 that, against some opposition, EE were invited to send a plane to the fly-off on February 26th 1951.

 

According to the Crowood book on the subject, the Americans had arranged a flying test routine expected to take 10 minutes, and when the Canberra pilot Beamont asked if variations were allowed he was told no, and anyway he would not have time! Taking off last after the XB-51, Beamont used the Canberra's superior turning capability to remain inside the airfield throughout the test, unlike the XB-51 which could only make shallow turns, and he finished the “official” sequence in just 5 minutes and then proceeded to give a “proper” demonstration. This left no doubt which was the most suitable aircraft, even though he managed to burst all his tyres on landing – nobody having told him the runway had been sanded due to the risk of ice! There was of course considerable opposition to this “foreign” aircraft being bought by the USAF, but this was overcome by saying that it would only be an interim order pending the availability of a suitable “home grown” machine, and it was also decided that they would all be built by Martin under licence. The B-57 was born!

 

More next time.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Well obviously I like this one Pete, a great choice.

And don't forget that a B-57 was the first American jet bomber to drop bombs in anger, over Vietnam.

And beware of over excited Lanradors!

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Hi Craig,

 

In my case two 9lb cats!

 

Pete

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Excellent choice.  :thumbsup:  :popcorn:  

 

I have the B-57B version of this kit in The Stash.

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Posted (edited)

Hi,

 

I was going to leave this a day or two but as Enzo mentioned the Italerii B-57B kit I thought I might  inflict the next stage of the narrative on you lucky people! Italeri released their B-57B kit in 1985, and in 1989 they issued their B-57G, but continued producing the B model as well on and off. Now I am no expert on the moulding of kits but it seems to me there are 2 ways of going about making changes. Firstly you can do what I believe Airfix did, perhaps unfortunately, when they inherited the Heller Gloster Javelin T3 mould - run it for a while then permanently convert the mould to make the FAW 9. Secondly .you can do what Airfix currently do with their newer kits, and just add in a small extra sprue with the relevant bits for the change, as in the Wildcat, Whitley, Phantom, Mitchell and so on, so you can still produce any version you want in the future. Italeri did a version of the latter, but instead of just a small extra sprue, they actually changed one of the two main sprues as below.

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Still have not quite got my head round the graphics prog, but this is a standard B sprue except for the bit under the orange cross (could not draw a box) - that has the new nose and the 500lb Paveway 1 LGBs inserted instead of some other parts which are no longer needed. Pity they did not think to put cut marks on the fuselage to help replacing the ruddy nose I thought, but I have just realised they expect you to actually glue the new one over the existing one - I have a bad feeling about this! Anyway, this seems an appropriate time to continue the story of the development of the B-57.

 

The initial B-57A version of which 8 were built, followed by 67 RB-57A with cameras, was in effect a copy of the Canberra B2 built to US engineering standards and with US ancillary equipment. The B-57B was modified considerably for the intruder mission, the most obvious change being that the crew sat under long fighter type canopy instead of side by side. A fixed wing armament of either 8x50cal mg or 4x20mm cannon was mounted in the wings for strafing, and a new rotary bomb boor was introduced with the stores actually mounted on the door itself. Under wing pylons were also added for bombs or rockets. 202 were built, entering service in January 1955, by which time the Korean war had finished The Wright J65 engines were slightly more powerful and it was quite a bit faster than the Canberra B2, but also rather heavier. 38 virtually identical B-57C dual control trainers followed, retaining full operational capacity.

 

A major redesign followed resulting in the long span RB-57D – 106ft compared with 64ft - and the B-57E was a dedicated target tug. Just about all of the above airframes were subject to a variety of conversions, sometimes more than once, producing RB photo recce, EB electronic recce, and a variety of test versions, and the final conversions were the RB-57F with a massive 120ft span and the even bigger WB-57F which were technically “weather” machines but often used to sample for nuclear fallout. That would have been the end of the line but then the situation in Vietnam suddenly flared up and the US became involved in a shooting war. As Craig said, unlike the B-47 and the other bombers of that generation, the B-57 would see real action, including a final modified version, the B-57G.

 

I will give you a break now, and finish the enthralling saga of the B-57G once I actually start to work on the kit in just over a week

 

I am really looking forward to this GB - I have always liked fast and noisy jets in the SE Asia/Vietnam camo scheme starting with the Frog reboxing of the Hasegawa Super Sabre and Voodoo in the late 1960's when the war was still going on, sad individual that I am! I might even get to throw in a few USN jets as well - what's not to like about Light Gull Gray over white?

 

Cheers

 

Pete

 

 

Edited by PeterB
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welcome along Pete, with a great choice!

 

I know this model well, built one (then cut it up and used part of it for my B-51G "Tropic Moon III build), plus have another on in the stash (or did I use the parts from that for that build???).

 

I have a few books on the Martin B-57, including a couple of De-Classified documents I found on "Development & Employment of Fixed-Wing Gunships 1962-1972" & "The B-57G - Tropic Moon III 1967-1972).

 

She was an exceptional aircraft for the time and what she could do, the G model especially, though it took a bit of time to get it right. The B-57G was developed as part of the Tropic Moon program, a couple of these B-57G's were also fitted with the "Pave Gat" system. A 20mm rotary cannon in a turret slaved to the nose sensors! Unfortunately it never made it into operational use, the Airforce canned the project December 71. One did complete full testing and proved to be very successful!

 

..anyway, got off on a tangent then......

 

It's a nice model for its age and you should have fun building it, good luck.

 

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Posted (edited)

Earlier I mentioned that rather than cutting of the old nose and then gluing on the new parts for the B-57G, Italeri just say glue the new one over the old one. This is rather unusual and I must confess that I was a bit worried about it, so I decided to check the fit.

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I have not started the kit - honest! As you can see I have cut off the fuselage and nose bits from the sprue and taped them together for a dry run, and it looks like it will possibly work, with a bit of care and some filler, so all the bits are now back in the box waiting for the start of the GB. I suppose this might be a good time for the next instalment as @helios16v has recently mentioned the number of "support" aircraft showing up in the projected builds which I feel is symptomatic of the nature of the war, and one of the reasons the B-57G was created.

 

By the start of the 1960's, the B-57 was being replaced by the F-105 in the light bomber role, and the few remaining B-57B/C were sitting around bases in South East Asia, waiting to be transferred to the National Guard, or indeed already had been. Then the US Government decided the time had come to take an active role against the Viet Cong. Initially the US was reluctant to send jets into action openly, but from May 1963 onwards a number of modified B-57F planes took part in a highly secret operation known as “Patricia Lynn”. These had a new nose containing cameras, and more cameras were mounted in the bomb bay together with infrared sensors. The results were impressive and many hidden installations and trails through the jungle were located by these aircraft.

 

Then, on August 2nd 1964 North Vietnamese gunboats carried out an attack on the USS Maddox which was acting as a “spy ship” off the coast, and this gave LBJ the excuse to send in the jets. At first it was a bit like a Knight in Shining Armour on a big war horse attacking peasants armed only with a bow - on paper the peasants stood no chance but as history tells us bows can be deadly! In this case the knights were flying fast and shiny F-100 and F-105 jets and the peasants were the Viet Cong, with rifles, machine guns and AA cannon instead of bows, but the results were the same. The jets were not really designed for this type of work and losses were high. The B-57 began to be considered for intrusion work, which is of course exactly what they were originally designed for - they were slower than a Thud but not that much at low altitudes and had the advantage of 2 engines. Also they benefited from their older style construction with, for example, much more damage resistant mechanical control linkages, rather than modern hydraulic ones that could be knocked out by a single rifle bullet – the so called “Golden BB”. Incidentally, the type of jungle warfare in Vietnam also led to the development of specialised aircraft such as the Mohawk and Bronco, together with the conversion of transports to gunships.

 

Next time – the B-57B goes into action!

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

I guess it is time to make a start. This is what Italeri give you for the interior of the fuselage.

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There is a tub for the cockpit, together with a pair of seats with seperate sides, two instrument panels that you have to paint the dials on, and a control column with a seperate wheel. The colour call out is gloss black and gloss light gull gray, together with red brown for the seat cushions - I will give it all a coat of varnish to take the shine off a bit. The nose wheel bay is said to be "chromate green". They indicate that you need 20g of weight in the nose, but it is going to be cramped so I will have to put some under the tub. I normally use lead window strip and there is 26g of it at the bottom right of the pic. In this case the extra nose parts will no doubt help and I might even be able to get a little weight in there as well if needed.

 

So on with the story!

20 B-57B aircraft from the 8th and 14th BS were sent to Bien Hoa on August 4th 1964, two days after the North Vietnamese attack on the USS Maddox two being written off en route and one damaged. They were then left doing nothing but training for several months, and on the night of November 1st the VC launched a mortar attack on the airfield which destroyed 4 planes and damaged the rest. Replacements were sent out from ANG units and eventually on February 19th 1965 they were let loose, and from then on were in action more or less continuously, initially by day but from June they started night raids, which were tricky as they had little training, no radar and poor navigation equipment. The B-57 could carry pretty well anything in the US armory but the initial standard load was 9x500lb bombs internally with 4 x 750lb under the wings, together with the built in wing guns. Later the 750lb M35 or 1000lb M36 incendiary cluster bomb became the weapon of choice in the bomb bay – a very effective but nasty weapon filled with white phosphorus aka “Willie Pete”.

 

On night raids they usually used flares, dropped by C-130, though when the Hercs were banned from going over North Vietnam, the B-57 dropped  flares for each other. Another system was the so called “Sky Dump” where they either bombed on instructions from ground radar, which could not have been very accurate, or on instructions from an accompanying EB-66. The forward air controllers (FAC) were used to handling A1 Skyraiders and F-100 and so appreciated the heavier load and enhanced loiter time provided by the B-57. Losses were high, and not helped by the explosion of a bomb onboard one aircraft of a strike taking off on May 6th 1965 from Bien Hoa. This set off sympathetic explosions in other bombs and fuel and wrecked 10 planes. I believe something like 57 were lost to all causes including the one and only B-57G which was lost in a collision with an O-2 – about half were known to be due to enemy action. By the time the war ended there were not that many B-57 bombers left still serviceable in the US inventory though other countries such as Pakistan were still operating them!

 

So next time we come to the B-57G - “at long last”I hear you say!

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

Ok, cockpit painted and assembled and I have glued it in to one side of the fuselage together with the nose wheel bay, but I am having problems with Sir Isaac - Newton that is, also known as gravity!

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Normally cockpit tubs, floors etc are glued on top of a locating ridge or lugs, but in this case the tub goes under the ridge and Sir Isaac is pulling it down when I try to line it up with the other fuselage half. Ok I have turned it upside down to get round that but then the problem is transferred to the wheel bay - guess I should have fitted them one at a time! No worry, I will get there in the end and at least I can get at them to position them through the gap where the bomb bay door goes. No idea if the colours are correct but I see Airfix suggest Hu 64 and Hu 85 for their B-57 kits and it does not look too bad - bit of touching up to do of course. The wings look like they could be fun - no tab and slot just a butt fit into an indentation, but at least the fuselage is a good fit..

 

So, time for another thrilling instalment of the story - one more to go after this,

 

In June 1969 16 B-57B planes were sent to the Martin plant in Baltimore under a joint contract with Westinghouse for what was called the “Tropic Moon III” programme. They were fitted with a bulbous nose housing a forwards looking radar, together with chin fairings for a Low Light Level TV camera (LLLT), a forward looking infra-red camera (FLIR) and a laser guidance system for the first generation of Laser Guided Bombs – 500lb Paveway I. They lost their wing guns at the same time - not sure why. Could have been weight or space, or perhaps they were worried the vibration when firing them would have an adverse effect on the delicate electronics - valves (or "tubes" in the US) in those days, not solid state I believe. The bulges on the nose caused quite a bit of drag and slowed the planes, now designated B-57G, down a bit and rather spoiled their handling apparently, and the sensors required them to fly at 5000ft which was not good for fuel consumption – with no in flight refuelling capacity  according to Osprey (but Italeri seem to have included what is either a long pitot tube or an IFR probe on the nose - must look into that) they now had only 2 – 3 hours flying time including up to an hour loitering over the target. After the conversions were complete the planes moved to Mac Dill AFB for training, and then, as the 13th BS, “The Grim Reapers” they flew to Ubon Royal Thai Air Base in September 1970. The whole project was highly classified as the planes had state of the art equipment probably in advance of anything flying at the time (except perhaps the AC-130 Spectre). Incidentally some sources say that only 11 of the planes went to Vietnam with the others remaining at Mac Dill for testing and training - Rich did mention experiments with a rotating gun turret I believe.

 

I said at the start I would explain the name Dragon, well the crew had badges showing a three headed dragon, one head with green eyes, one white and one red to represent the three types of sensor fitted, and a small Westinghouse logo in the curl of the dragon's tail to signify the company's involvement with developing, installing and maintaining the equipment in the field. And here it is!

dragon-crop

 

So, maybe it was called the Night Hawk as Italieri say but none of my references mention that name. Anyway, I like "Dragon". This is a fairly simple kit as you would expect from its age, so assembly should not take too long - it will be the painting that takes time.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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G'day Peter, 

 

I may be wrong but I thought that the B-57Gs were fitted with ESCAPAC seats? it looks like you have used the seats for the B-57B or have I missed something?

 

cheers,

 

Pappy

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Posted (edited)

Hi Pappy,

 

You are probably right as I have no references on the seats. I used the kit ones which I presume are for the original B-57B kit. I see that Pavla do the correct seats now you have mentioned it - I will have to think about that. Unfortunately the fuselage is closed up now so I may not bother as I used CA to fix them!.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

The kit has gone together pretty well so far - just a little filler will be needed around the bomb door, speed brakes, tailplane and the inserts in the leading edges where Italeri seem to incorrectly show holes being drilled for the cannon that were not fitted to this model I gather.

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So this is what the B-57B would have looked like. It seems that neither Italeri nor I noticed that the ejector seats on the G were different to those on the B, but I guess I may just have to live with that - we will see.

 

And so we come to the final instalment of the story!

 

Considering the state of the technology everything worked pretty well except for the Moving Target Indicator, which was never quite fixed. LGB had come into use in around 1968, initially with the rather crude hand held target marking equipment used by the back seat crewman, but later with targeting pods hung on the aircraft. The one on the B-57G was I believe the first example of one actually built in to the aircraft (again not counting the Spectre) but it did have its problems. Unlike modern guidance systems, the head did not rotate, but was fixed covering a 90º arc forward from the horizontal to the vertical. Once dropped the bomb and target of course fell behind the plane so according to the Osprey book the pilot had to perform an unusual and rather risky manoeuvre to guide the bomb. The bomb had to be dropped at more than 250mph so the pilot would increase speed before release, then once the bomb was away he would chop the throttles and yank the nose up making the plane stall. It would then fall away into a slow dive allowing the laser to point back at the target! At least when F-4 or whatever used LGB, the target was marked by one plane and the bomb dropped from another – much easier and safer, but anyway it seemed to work. Maybe the B-57G crews did that too at times.

 

Another interesting trick was to use an AC-130A Spectre when available as a sort of FAC, but instead of dropping flares it used its own laser designator to guide the bombs from the B-57G, or it could use an ultra violet searchlight it carried to illuminate the target for the low light scope on the “G” when using unguided bombs. The crews flew the “G” with considerable success against truck convoys, tanks and various other targets for a 20 month period before they were withdrawn in April 1972. They went on to fly with the Kansas ANG for a further 2 years before being placed in storage and eventually scrapped – none survive AFAIK. They flew difficult and dangerous missions using technology that was later to become commonplace, but was almost like science fiction at the time – I am glad that Italeri decided to model a B-57G even though many modellers had probably never heard of it at the time!

 

Cheers

 

Pete

 

 

 

Edited by PeterB
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Yeah sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it may be useful for anyone else playing along at home. There were several variants of the ESCAPAC seat produced, but the version used in the B-57G had the two small overhead pull handles as opposed to the single large one used on A-4s for example, but otherwise were fairly similar.

 

I believe the F-4s used the Pave Knife pod in conjunction with goobers. The first successful use by F-4s was at a bridge somewhere in North Vietnam which had withstood several attempts  prior to the attempt with GBUs

 

cheers,

 

Pappy

 

 

Edited by Pappy
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Since I started using acrylic paint a couple of years ago I usually prime models with a rattle can, but the current lousy weather makes that difficult. As I am reverting to using enamels for the upper surfaces of the B-57, and did not normally put primer on in the past, I did a test shot yesterday and that seemed to work quite well. So I have made a start.

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Not bad for a first thin coat, but now I have to see how long it takes to dry - in the past Xtracolour were not the quickest of driers as I recall. As you can also see I have painted the glazing for the nose extension and glued it together, having painted the inside black - guess I will have to do the same with the kit nose that it fits over. At this rate I might have it painted by the weekend - who knows! Still working on some kits for another GB, but with luck I may be able to start on the F-100F before too long. I would have glued the wing tip tanks on but I noticed that fitting the tip light transparencies could be a bit tricky if I did.

 

So far I am very impressed by this kit, though there was one small problem with the instructions. Italeri provide two raised circular peices to fit over the moulded outlines above and below the fuselage - you can see the top one in the pic. The instructions for the B-57B kit I looked at show the bottom one being fitted, but the ones for this kit don't, and indeed they indicate not to use it. However profiles in the Osprey book show both fitted on the G. Not sure which is right but I have fitted it anyway, so that be another mistake just like the ejector seats! 

 

Cheers

 

Pete

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Looking good.

 

If you've seen a pic w/ the aforementioned bits fitted, sounds like it's good enough in my book.  I'd trust reference material over instructions more times than not.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Chris,

 

The only 2 photos I have are ambiguous but the Osprey "profiles" clearly show it - of course they may be wrong! At first I just though Italeri had missed it out, but I now see they have blanked it off in the sprue view so it does seem to suggest they thought it was not fitted. However, as none exist there is no way they could be certain I guess. I may end up taking it off again before I get to paint the underside. I have ordered some ejector seats but whether or not I use them remains to be seen - might not be able to get the kit ones out!

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

Thanks Craig,

 

I have got the seats out intact and it will be a at least 3 days before I need to know about the lower "bulge".

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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  • PeterB changed the title to Martin B-57G - Enter the Dragon!***FINISHED***

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