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RB-57D

Italeri 1/72 Martin RB-57D Conversion Build Review

By Chuck Holte

Date of Review July 2014 Manufacturer Italeri (see text)
Subject RB-57D Conversion Scale 1/72
Kit Number 0144 Primary Media Styrene, resin, white metal, photo-etch
Pros Well engineered, accurate, good fit Cons None
Skill Level Some experience with vacuform, resin, white metal and PE MSRP (USD) OOP

Build Review

Twenty Martin RB-57D aircraft were delivered to the USAF in the mid-'50s, assigned to the 4025th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (L), 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (L), Turner AFB (Albany), Georgia.  The 4080th moved to Laughlin AFB (Del Rio), TX in 1957.  Notably, three 4025th RB-57D aircraft conducted daylight high-altitude photo reconnaissance of Vladivostok, USSR during an overflight on 11 Dec 1956.  Due to wing spar failures, USAF stopped flying operational RB-57D missions in the mid '60s. Four "D" models were later converted to even longer-wing RB-57F.  The last USAF operated "F" was finally retired in the early '70s.  NASA continues to fly three ex-USAF "F" models. The RB-57D modeled is 53-3977, one of six single-seat, non-air refuelable photo aircraft and subsequently served as a WB-57D and an EB-57D until it was retired to the Arizona boneyard on 30Jul70 as BM038.  

RB-57DA

I first started this kit in 1991.  I removed the outer wing panels from the Italeri B-57B kit and replaced them with the DB vacuform extended wings.  Then I removed the front of the Italeri engines and replaced them with the DB resin J-57 extended engines and fared everything in with putty.  It then sat in a box gathering dust until I had the urge to pick it up again about ten years later. After a good bath in soapy water and letting it air dry for a few days, I gave it a coat of gloss black enamel and an overcoat of some new stuff called Alclad II aluminum.  It looked OK with the bare metal finish but it didn't really seem to stand out as a Canberra with steroid wings.  So, into the display case with all the other plain Jane aluminum finish jets.

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A year or so ago, I noticed one of the Italeri main landing gear struts had failed.  The "D" went into Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM), formerly called IRAN (Inspect and Repair As Necessary), in my basement workshop.  I found a link to Scale Aircraft Conversions (SAC) and ordered up a set of white metal replacement B-57 landing gear. So with the Cranberry on the bench for gear replacement, I decided a new paint job was also in order.  I stripped off the old decals with Scotch tape and touched up a few rough spots from the previous Alclad II finish. After masking the cockpit, camera windows and gear bays, a coat of Tamiya rattle can primer exposed a few more issues, which were dealt with promptly.

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After another bath, the top coat of Tamiya rattle-can Pure White went on, followed by a day of drying.  Masks for the scalloped edges were cut from Tamiya tape with a craft scissors and applied using the photo of the actual aircraft as a guide.  After another day of drying, I removed the masking tape and applied appropriate decals from my spares box and Xtradecal sheet  X72103, Canberra Part 2.  The new white metal gear was installed, the long-suffering pilot figure and his eternal seat were returned to the cockpit and the canopy re-installed.

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I enjoy building the Italeri B-57 kits and modifying them to the many alternate versions and schemes available.  Many aftermarket products are available to bring new life to older builds and try out new paints and decals.  The basic Italeri B-57 kit is highly recommended and provides an opportunity to try out new materials and techniques.

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