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B-57B

Classic Airframes 1/48 B-57B Canberra Kit First Look

By Fotios Rouch

Date of Review December 2006 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Martin B-57B Canberra Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4130 Primary Media Styrene, Resin, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice detailing, especially with the resin castings Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

B-57B
B-57B
B-57B
B-57B
B-57B
B-57B
B-57B
B-57B

In 1952 the Air Research and Development Command and the Air Materiel Command recognized the deficiencies of the B-57A configuration. The problems and shortcomings of the early Canberra were presented to the Air Council as well as a list of the minimum changes required to make the B-57A into an effective combat aircraft. The new designation of the resulting aircraft was B-57B and production started on August 11, 1952. 202 B-57Bs were produced in total. The first true B-57B flew on June 18, 1954.

The most significant change introduced in the B-57B was the complete redesign of the cockpit area. The navigator/bombardier was moved behind the pilot, with both crew members seating in tandem underneath a bubble canopy. Escape from the aircraft became easier, visibility was improved and more space was provided for equipment. The B-57B also gained a gunsight and four underwing pylons for bombs or rockets. A unique feature of the B-57B was its 17-foot long, one-piece rotating bomb door adapted from the XB-51. The door would rotate 180 degrees and expose the bombs that were attached on the inward side of the door.

Another important change first seen in the B variant was the incorporation of speed brakes installed at the waist position of the fuselage and the deletion of the finger-like spoilers on the top and bottom of the outer wing panels.

The B-57Bs saw action in North Vietnam on March 2 1965 during the Rolling Thunder operations. The typical bomb load on these operations was nine 500-lb bombs carried in the main bomb bay and four 750-lb bombs on the underwing pylons.

In April of 1965, B-57Bs began night interdiction strikes against enemy supply lines along the Ho Chi Min Trail.

Specifications:

  • Powerplant: Two Wright J65-W-5 turbojets, 7220 lb. each
  • Performance:
    • Maximum speed 598 mph at 2500 feet
    • Combat ceiling 45,100 feet
    • Combat radius 948 miles with 5240 pounds of bombs
  • Weights: 36,689 pounds combat weight
  • Armament: Four 20-mm M-39 cannons in the wings. 4500 pounds of bombs internally and 2800 pounds underwing

Classic Airframes continues with the various incarnations of the Canberra. In this presentation we are offered the USAF variant of the Canberra.

I am sure that many modelers are wondering if this are just the same molds from the British variants with a few extra parts. Not so. This is a new kit with very few parts remaining the same just like it happened in real life when Martin redid the English Electric Canberra.

The main fuselage retains the shape of the British Canberra. However all the panel lines are basically different. The rescribed fuselage now also contains the side speed brakes of the B-57B.

The front fuselage plug is completely new of course and it captures the shape of the B-57 nose very well. The new cockpit is also very well done. It includes a very nice set of the ejection seats which were unique to the B-57. The Escapac IC-6 seats were introduced only in the later life of the B-57 and the RB-57. The resin for the cockpit parts is flawless and matches very well with the Dash1 flight manual drawings that the maker was provided with.

The wings retain the same outline as the British Canberra wings but have completely new panel lines on top and bottom and include the machine gun openings and the locators for the external ordnance. The bottom sides of the intakes now include the oil cooler scoops found on B-57s. The resin has been updated for the turbine blades and it now includes the more prominent bullet cones. The modeler can add some detail on the intakes and drill the starter cartridge holes just like for the British variants. The wingtip tanks are updated and they have the correct length matching the tech orders as well as the measured museum examples.

The landing gear, other than the wheels is a carryover from the British variants. The wheels are a good representation of the patterns found in the early B-57s. Later B-57s had a different wheel pattern as seen in the walk arounds available at Cybermodeler.

Before we continue on with the rest of the presentation I would like to point out that the panel lines on this kit do not match with the drawings found in the Warpaint publication. This is intentional. The Caruana drawings were taken to the museums and were compared panel line to panel line with the real B-57s. Most of the panel lines were erased and redrawn after careful measurements. I am happy to report that the fuselage and wing tops and bottoms panel lines are very nicely done and accurate too.

The clear parts are very cleanly molded and reasonably free of distortion. After cleaning them up and dipping them in Future they should look perfect.

There is a brand new sprue in the kit and it contains four 750lb finless napalms and four 750lb M-117s.

Decals for four B-57s are included. A black B-57B 498BS, a natural metal B-57B 501BG, a SEA camo B-57B 13 TBS and an ADC gray and dayglo EB-57E 117 DSES. The EB-57E will need a few small parts scratch built on the part of the modeler and a couple of mods to the fuselage but it will look pretty unique. A decal set including walkways in black and red is also provided as well as the instructions on laying them down on the main wings. Of note is that there is a number of stencils provided in the decal set which will certainly help in dressing up the model.

So now we finally have a B-57 in plastic. The kit looks very good in the box and it should be a fun project building it. Classic Airframes managed in one year to bring out most of the important versions of the Canberra. It is unknown if there will be Canberras to come from the UK any time soon or at all. For now this is the only game in town as far as B-57s are concerned. Very much recommended to modelers with some experience in limited run kits.

Sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for the review sample.

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