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B-36

Monogram 1/72 RB-36H Peacemaker Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2009 Manufacturer Monogram
Subject Convair RB-36H Peacemaker Scale 1/72
Kit Number 5712 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best B-36 kit in any scale Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $36.95

 

 

First Look

B-36
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B-36

Before the entry of the United States into World War II, military planners knew that the US would soon be drawn into the conflict and also realized that there would be no easy way to conduct strategic bombing should Great Britain fall to Germany. Development of a long-range intercontinental bomber was started that would eventually lead to the B-36, though in the early 1940s, the technology wasn't ready for such a huge set of requirements, so intermediate steps were put forth.

The company that would undertake this monumental task was Consolidated Aircraft. Consolidated was the result of a merger between Gaulladet Airraft and the famous Dayton-Wright Companies. In 1943, Consolidated merged with Vultee to become Convair.

The first prototype B-36 flew in mid-1946 and was the largest aircraft ever flown. Powered by six R4360 Wasp Major engines rated at roughly 3000 horsepower apiece. Later versions were rated at 3800 horsepower. Designed as a conventional strategic bomber, the B-36 could carry 86,000 pounds of bombs (the B-52 can carry roughly 70,000 pounds of bombs). The early prototypes struggled with the best way to move the aircraft on the ground without collapsing the existing runway/taxiway structures. The XB-36 had single-wheel main landing gears, but the tires were enormous. Experiments were undertaken with tracked landing gear to improve the ground footprint of the huge bomber, but ultimately a four-wheel main gear was adopted to provide the ideal footprint and a measure of safety should one of the tires go flat during take-off or landing.

Production B-36s entered service with the new Strategic Air Command, a branch of the new USAF charged with strategic bombing and delivery of nuclear weapons anywhere on the globe should the US be attacked. The B-36 would be the mainstay of the Strategic Aiir Command until two Boeing bombers, the B-47 and B-52 would come online and maintain the deterrence of aggression with the ability to fly non-stop anywhere in the world at higher airspeeds and with the help of air refuelling, both capabilities beyond the reach of the behemoth B-36. The B-36 was phased out of the USAF by 1959.

While the B-36 continued its service, incremental improvements were made to the aircraft with more powerful R4360 engines, plus the addition of four J47 turbojet engines outboard of the six piston engines. In addition to its bombing mission, the B-36 was also an ideal platform for long range reconnaissance missions as the RB-36. The concept of providing integral fighter escort and quick-penetration damage assessment came in the form of a special trapeze mounted into the bomb bay of an experimental GRB-36 to carry the F-84. While experiments were conducted with straight-wing Thunderjets, it was the RF-84K that was designed as the parasite-capable reconnaissance fighter that would deploy from under the B-36.

Jimmy Stewart is well-known for his movies and timeless characters, but he was also an experienced combat commander who was in line for his own bomb wing before the end of World War II. After the war, Stewart returned to Hollywood, but he retained his commission in the US Air Force. When he took the role of 'Dutch' Holland, a former World War II bomber pilot reactivated into the new Strategic Air Command, Stewart delivered one of the best insights into the early cold war operations of the still-new United States Air Force. The movie is one of the few remaining resources to see and hear the B-36 (and the B-47) in operation. Every time I watch the film, of course I get the urge to build one of Monogram's scale masterpieces, their 1/72 scale B-36 Peacemaker!

Monogram's B-36 kit is one of the stable of timeless kits that remain unrivaled to date. These kits were large, detailed, yet simple to build and relatively inexpensive. Even today, try to find a kit this size (and this nice) for an MSRP of under $37 USD! Other members of this stable include their 1/72 B-52D, and their 1/48 scale bomber series that include the B-17G, B-24D, B-24J, B-25H, B-25J, B-26, B-29, and B-58.

Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on six parts trees, plus the two fuselage halves, and one three of clear parts. The kit is absolutely impressive with all of its detailing. Even by today's standards, this kit features very nice interior and exterior details but it does feature raised panel lines as all Revell-Monogram kits of that era did. Despite the age of the molds, there is very little flash on any of the parts and the molded details are as crisp as ever.

Whether you are building a B-36 or RB-36, the kit has a few accuracy issues that will need to be addressed. The kit provides one central weapons bay, but depending on the version being built, the B-36 had three or four bays covered by two sets of doors. This kit only has one set of doors. The easiest thing to do is build the model with the bay doors closed, and if you choose, seal off the door openings and scribe in accurate outlines.

If you want to build the B-36 with the bomb bay doors open, you'll have some scratch-building to do. If you have seen the movie 'Strategic Air Command' you'll remember the long tunnel that runs through the unpressurized bomb bays to connect the forward and rear compartments. That is also one significant detail missing in this kit. These details can be overcome with a few good references and some styrene stock. For a good reference on how to accurize the Monogram kit, read Wayne Wachsmuth's excellent coverage in the 'B-36 Peacemaker in Detail and Scale.'

The kit is billed as an RB-36H, but the various sensor antenna fairings are separately molded, so you can easily build the bomber version out of this box. In fact, the instructions distinguish some of the parts differences between bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • RB-36H, 28 SRW, Ellsworth AFB, SD
  • B-36H, 7 BW, Carswell AFB, TX

Until Trumpeter came along, this was the largest styrene kit ever produced. It will still occupy a significant amount of shelf space, but it will also look great hanging up on your ceiling.

While some might be intimidated with the huge styrene surfaces that will be bare metal, this kit is actually an ideal bare metal project. Regardless of your preferred approach to bare metal, or perhaps wanting to experiment with several to obtain one, the modularity of this model makes for an ideal palette. The wings can be painted and metalized before final assembly. The horizontal stabs can also be installed after painting. The large fuselage can be painted in sections and the mainspar that provide a secure mounting for the wings will double as a safe handhold while working on the model.

Whether you build the model straight out of the box, or choose to tackle the superdetail opportunities, here is a subject that has been pushed into memory because it has been available from Monogram for nearly 29 years. Nevertheless, in the right hands, it will build into a masterpiece that will rival anything being produced today.

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