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B-52

Monogram 1/72 B-52D Stratofortress Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2009 Manufacturer Monogram
Subject B-52D Stratofortress Scale 1/72
Kit Number 5709 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great detail, best B-52 in any scale Cons Raised panel lines, decals
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

 

 

First Look

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The B-52 Stratofortress is an eight-engined strategic bomber that was designed to replace the B-36 Peacemaker. Where the B-36 was a compound aircraft powered by six huge piston engines (and later with an additional four jet engines), the B-52 was a pure jet aircraft. Where the B-36 was not air refuelable, the B-52 can air refuel. Where the B-36 was designed as a long-range conventional bomber that was adapted to the nuclear deterrence mission, the B-52 was designed for the nuclear deterrence mission and was adapted to the conventional bombing mission.

Over Vietnam, the B-52 could carry up to 105 500lb and 750lb bombs and deliver them anywhere in the world. If you look in the dictionary under 'carpet bombing', you'll see a picture of the B-52.

Nicknamed the BUFF (for Big Ugly Fat 'Fellow'), the B-52 was first flown in 1952, with the last B-52 coming off the production line by 1962. The XB-70 that was to become the high-speed replacement for the B-52 was cancelled. The Mach 2 B-1A Lancer was also cancelled. The Mach 1+ B-1B Lancer did eventually enter production, but not in sufficient quantities to replace the B-52. The stealth B-2 Spiirit also entered production, but again in small quantities, leaving the B-52 to soldier on.

I happened to spot this kit on eBay and thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at this classic kit. I remember the 'Big, Bad & Beautiful' campaign from Monogram, but I was a little perplexed to realize from the Copyright date that this was from 1989 - twenty years ago! Ouch!! What's more, the kit was originally released in 1968, so you're looking at molds that are almost as old as the B-52.

Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on nine parts trees, plus separately provided fuselage halves and upper wing surfaces. In 1/72 scale, this kit is huge, but not as large as their 1/72 B-36. The kit is rounded out by a single tree of clear parts. As with Monogram kits of this vintage, the details are all raised, but they are finely molded.

You might be initially intimidated by the instructions as these pre-dated the universal graphics approach to assembly (though the assembly graphics are well done). You'll see lots of verbiage printed on the instructions, but on closer examination, you'll see that only 1/7 of the text applies to you, the instructions are provided in seven languages.

The cockpit is rather simple, though the completed flight deck doesn't look bad. The instrument panel is represented by decal as are the side consoles. Don't waste your time dressing up the flight deck as you really won't see much detail once the fuselage halves are assembled and the windscreen is installed. Crew figures are provided for the pilot and copilot as well as the rear tailgunner (the tail gunner was moved from the rear of the aircraft to the front compartment starting with the B-52G).

The kit comes with several movable features:

  • Bomb Bay Doors
  • Flaps
  • Tail Gun

The kit also had a number of options:

  • Positionable spoilers
  • Positionable landing gear
  • Optional exposed engine (number one)
  • Optional wing pylons with twin MERs on the beam
  • Optional crew boarding door/ladder

The kit does simplify some details such as the main landing gear wells and the simplified 'plate' representing a loaded bomb bay. Most modelers will be happy with those compromises, but the model does offer the AMS modeler with an opportunity to have some fun.

This isn't the only B-52 to be produced in this scale. Many will recall the AMT/ERTL 1/72 B-52G and B-52H, though both kits have a few accuracy and structural issues. Where the plastic in the Monogram kit is strong and the built model will hold together indefinitely, the plastic used in the AMT/ERTL kits is softer and many build models tended to sag under their own weight over time. I don't know if the plastic used in the Italeri reissues of the AMT/ERTL kits is any different.

Markings are provided for one aircraft:

  • B-52D, 55-0667, Sharkmouth

You'll want to discard or modify these markings for two reasons. First, the national markings are out of register, and second, the tail number is for a B-58 Hustler. I don't know which aircraft the decal artist was trying to replicate, but there have been some good decals out there for the camouflaged BUFF from Vietnam.

This 'Big, Bad and Beautiful' campaign was quite appropriate for this kit. I remember building this model way back when this campaign started, and doing another with the modified wing and X-15 cradled underneath. Both kits are out of production, though the standard B-52 kit (this one) has been reissued frequently enough that they can be found for very reasonable prices. As I said above, I bought mine on eBay.

It was a shame that Meteor Productions went out of business just after releasing the modifications and decals for this kit. They had determined that it would be easier to convert the Monogram kit into an accurate B-52G or B-52H than try to work with the AMT/ERTL kits.

This is still a great project for the average modeler and the camouflage carried by these Vietnam era bombers means that you won't have to mess with bare metal. Even without aftermarket decals, you can see from the kit decals how simple the markings were for the Vietnam era bombers which will make the search for suitable replacements easy to scavenge from other kits.

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