Academy 1/72 B-29 Superfortress 'Enola Gay/Bockscar' Kit First Look
|Date of Review||December 2015||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Subject||B-29 Superfortress 'Enola Gay/Bockscar'||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||12528||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy construction, nice detailing||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$46.00|
Most folks remember the 'Manhattan Project' which was the super-secret program to develop the first atomic bomb. Germany was working on their own atomic weapon which led to some famous bombing raids to delay their program. Even as the Manhattan Project moved forward, a parallel program was launched to find a bomber which could deliver an atomic bomb should the folks at Los Alamos succeed. Dubbed 'Silverplate', the search was on for a suitable aircraft. Early requirements estimated a weapon that would be 17 feet long and weigh over 10,000 pounds. The B-24 appeared to be a candidate but the Navy had failed to convert the aircraft to accomodate a torpedo in the bomb bay, so an atomic bomb wasn't going to work any better. The B-29 was also unsuitable as it had two 12 foot bomb bays divided by the wing main spar box. It was looking like the Avro Lancaster would become America's atomic delivery aircraft until the Chief of the USAAF, Hap Arnold, heard of this and dictated that the B-29 would be the weapon carrier.
During the B-29's wartime production run, a number of aircraft were diverted to Boeing/Wichita for conversion into Silverplate aircraft. As the bombs were developed and the bomb length was reduced to rougly 10 feet for both the fission and fusion bombs, flight testing of the Silverplate aircraft and dropping of 'shapes' required further developments that would result in a fleet of special aircraft that would not only deliver the two weapons to Japan, but would continue after the war as the first dedicated fleet of atomic bombers as part of the 509th Composite Group. For more about the Silverplate program and the flight tests leading up to their attacks that ended the war, read George Culley's article that first appeared in the IPMS/USA 1995 National Convention Journal.
Academy periodically reissues their 1/72 scale B-29 Superfortress kits between their conventional bomber and this special edition of the Enola Gay and Bockscar from the 509th. This release depicts the Silverplate B-29 which operated without gun turrets, so parts are included to close off the turret openings.
Among the features and options in each kit:
- Nicely detailed flight deck and bombardier's station
- Nicely detailed rear compartment (though you can't really see this after assembly)
- Nice bomb bays with interconnecting crew pressure tunnel
- Positionable landing flaps
- Positionable bomb bay doors
- Positionable landing gear
- Choice of cuffed or uncuffed propellers (the two subjects in this kit used cuffed propellers)
- Choice of Little Boy (Enola Gay/Hiroshima) or Fat Man (Bockscar/Nagasaki) weapons
The kit provides markings for the following five aircraft:
- B-29-45-MO, 44-86292, 509 OG, Tinian AB, 1945, 'Enola Gay'
- B-29-35-MO, 44-27297, 509 OG, Tinian AB, 1945, 'Bockscar'
The Academy B-29 is regarded as the best B-29 produced in 1/72 scale and it is also a straightforward build. Since both aircraft were bare metal and did not carry turrets, modelers will need some good sanding and filling skills to blend the turret blanks into the fuselage holes and prepare the airframe for bare metal paints. What is nice is that there are a variety of acrylic alternatives to lacquer-based metalizers should you want that option. What you will get is an eye-catching piece of history for your scale flightline.
Have some fun and give one a try!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this sample!