Anigrand Craftswork 1/144 YB-49 Flying Wing Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||April 2008||Manufacturer||Anigrand Craftswork|
|Subject||Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing||Scale||1/144|
|Kit Number||4009||Primary Media||Resin|
|Pros||There are four models in this release!||Cons|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$96.00|
Jack Northrop was ahead of his time. His flying wings, starting withe the single-seat N1M that flew before World War II, brought together an aerodynamically cleaner way to fly. The YB-35 was the first practical application of the concept to create a long-range bomber. Unfortunately, development problems, the end of the war, and the dawn of jet engine propulsion led to the cancellation of the project.
The US Air Force, still intrigued by Northrop's vision, authorized the conversion of two YB-35s into jet-powered YB-49s. The resulting aircraft had impressive performance, but suffered from a few realities of the time. First, the resulting bomber would be expected to carry nuclear weapons, but that early generation of weapons were too large to fit in the B-49 (they had enough trouble getting them into the specially modified Silverplate B-29s!). Second, the early jet engines were very unreliable. Finally, the technology for stability control didn't yet exist. With the crash of one of the B-49s and the success of Boeing's B-47 and B-52 developments, the program was eventually cancelled. It is fitting that at a point in time when all of the negatives were gone: much smaller nuclear weapons, much better engines, fly-by-wire flight control, and with the designs inherent low radar-cross-section, the Northrop B-2A Spirit stealth bomber would be rolled out of secrecy for Jack Northrop to see decades later.
Once again, Anigrand Craftswork has actually bundled four kits into one release. These include:
- Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing
- Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster
- McDonnell FH-1 Phantom
- Bell XP-83
these first two images illustrate the usual fine job of packaging of each kit and clear parts to get you a complete and undamaged model. Each bag contains one kit, and each bag is heat-sealed into separate compartments to keep parts from shifting around during shipment and potentially damaging one another.
The headliner in this release is the YB-49 Flying Wing and this kit is a beauty. Upper and lower mid-sections and outer wing panels. My example fits nicely together. The nice part of this subject is that the real aircraft had beefy landing gear which translates nicely into sturdy resin gear for this project.
The cockpit is nicely detailed in this scale with a nicely appointed flight deck and rear gunner's positions. A clear resin cap covers the flight deck with the signature bubble canopy and a separate bubble for the rear gunner.
This is the first Anigrand kit I can recall that arrived with tiny bubbles in the resin. This isn't unusual for a resin kit, but I've been impressed with the lack of bubbles in most of Anigrand's releases. Even so, these are very minor and any experienced resin modeler can deal with these in a few minutes.
The only word of caution I'd offer with this one is weight and balance. There appears to be just enough mass behind the main gear struts that may cause the model to not rest on its nosegear. Do some experimentation (I certainly will) and add a little ballast to either side of the cockpit, as needed.
The XB-43 was a pleasant surprise. This is a really unique-looking early jet bomber with twin canopies side-by-side. Like the YB-49, the XB-43 was plagued by the same early jet engines as well as stability issues.
As you can see in the image at the bottom, the fuselage is cast in hollow halves and you simply plug the wings and tail surfaces into place. Add landing gear and canopies and you're done.
Next is the Bell XP-83 escort fighter. It was larger than the P-59 Airacomet but otherwise retained the same general layout. This project was cancelled in 1947 suffering from similar scaled-up performance (or lack thereof) issues. In the kit, the fuselage is rendered as a single piece with engine pods that mount to either side of the lower fuselage. Plug in the wings and horizontal stabs, and you're just about finished!
Last, but certainly not least, is McDonnell's FH-1 Phantom. This aircraft was a successful, if not short-lived, design that would lead to the F2H Banshee. This model is also cast with a ine-piece fuselage and simply plug in the wings and horizontal stabs.
The kit provides two sheets of decals to provide sufficient national markings, stars and bars with red overlays to depict both pre- and post-1947 aircraft.
I am still in awe over the quality of the resin work that Anigrand Craftswork puts into these models. If you are a collector of early prototype aircraft, here is another great installment in a petite scale.
My sincere thanks to the US importer, Nostalgic Plastic for this review sample!