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Canberra Kit

Amodel 1/144 B-57B/C Canberra Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2009 Manufacturer Amodel
Subject B-57B/C Canberra Scale 1/144
Kit Number 1432 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice detailing Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $15.00

First Look

Canberra Kit
Canberra Kit
Canberra Kit
Canberra Kit
Canberra Kit

In the early 1950s, the B-26 Invader was the primary air interdiction aircraft for the USAF over Korea, but these aircraft were not available in sufficient quantity to meet the operational needs. The USAF decided to acquire an aircraft with sufficient range and payload to meet the combat needs of Korea and beyond. In order to get such an aircraft quickly, the USAF released the requirement with the stipulation that the aircraft would be based upon an existing design - there wasn't time for a whole new aircraft.

The Air Force considered and rejected the North American B-45 and AJ Savage as well as the Avro CF-100. The only close contenders were the Martin XB-51 and the English Electric Canberra. In a quick fly-off in early February 1951, the Canberra won, but English Electric was already producing the Canberra for the RAF and didn't have the production capacity to handle the USAF order. Martin was granted a license to produce the Canberra for the USAF.

The B-57A was a slightly modified Canberra used for training and evaluation. It was the B-57B that would begin the distinctive USAF Canberra series with a new tandem cockpit, rotary bomb bay (from the XB-51), wing tip tanks, up-rated J65 engine, relocation of the speed brakes from the wings to the fuselage, underwing hard points, cartridge (bang) start capability, and other additions. While the B-57 arrived too late to fly interdiction missions over Korea, the B-57B was pressed into combat over Vietnam, but the aircraft suffered a string of freak accidents and Viet Cong mortar attacks that resulted in the loss of over 19 aircraft (with another 15 damaged) that overshadowed any operational successes.

Amodel has released a number of 1/144 scale variants of the English Electric Canberra. Here we have the first of several variants of the Martin-built B-57 Canberra. This release represents the B-57B and B-57C variants.

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on five parts trees plus one additional set of clear parts. With 56 parts for a 1/144 scale project, I listed this kit at a basic skill level though there will some parts clean-up and dry-fitting required to get a clean build. While there doesn't appear to be any significant design problems, there are loads of small parts that will require care and experience to assemble without undue frustration.

Assembly of the kit begins in the cockpit. The pilot and WSO cockpits consist of simple ejection seats positioned in the top of the nose half as you won't be seeing any details inside the fuselage with the fighter canopy.

The instructions show that you'll need 10 grams of ballast to install into the nose before assembly to keep the aircraft from being a tail-sitter.

The kit has options for closed or open weapons bay, and if you do open the weapons bay, there six bombs to load up. Four external tanks under the wings (or napalm tanks) provide additional external stores options. Wingtip fuel tanks and options for gear down or gear up round out this nice little kit.

Markings are provided for two versions:

  • B-57C, 53-3840, 117 DSES, USAF, 1975
  • B-57B, 52-1551, 165 TRS, KY ANG

In addition to the distinctive aircraft markings and national insignia, the decals also provide a selection of aircraft maintenance stenciling as well.

This is a nice little kit that will build into a unique subject with a little patience and skill.

My sincere thanks to HobbyTerra for this review sample!