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YB-49 Flying Wing

DML 1/200 YB-49 Flying Wing Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2011 Manufacturer DML
Subject YB-49 Flying Wing Scale 1/200
Kit Number 2012 Primary Media Styrene
Pros First kit of this aircraft in this scale Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $26.00

First Look


The YB-49 was a follow-on development of the troubled XB/YB-35 Flying Wing program. The B-35 program was based upon Jack Northrop's flying wing research prior to World War Two scaled up into a viable bombing platform that didn't have the issues of drag that conventional aircraft faced. Instead, engines, crew compartment, bomb bays, etc., are all mounted inside one large wing. Like the Convair B-36, the Northrop B-35 was facing numerous teething problems, but unlike the B-36, the Air Force saw the potential of turning this aircraft into a pure jet bomber. This follow-on program was designated as YB-49.

Several B-35 airframes were converted to the B-49 configuration, replacing the four 3000 horsepower piston engines with eight 4000 lb/thrust J35 turbojet engines. First flown in 1947, the YB-49 set a new record for endurance above 40,000 feet at 6.5 hours. The following year, the second prototype was lost after the aircraft lost both outer wing panels following a high-G pull-out from a dive. Pilot Major Daniel Forbes, copilot Glen Edwards, and three other crew members were killed in the subsequent crash. Forbes and Edwards were both honored with Air Force Bases in their names, of which the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB still stands today.

While rumors of industrial sabotage and competing political influences troubled the program, the B-35 and B-49 programs built on the knowledge base started by Jack Northrop's early flights in small experimental flying wings prior to WWII. These technology gains would lead to another design that is the same wing span as the YB-35/49 and would become the current high-tech bomber for the USAF, the B-2 Spirit.

To be honest, this is the first DML 1/200 scale kit I've ever examined. We've reviewed numerous 1/144 scale kits from a number of manufacturers and one thing most of them have in common is simplicity. Simplicity is a dual edged description - on one hand it means that the kit will be a simple build, but on the other it means that there are no details to speak of. Many of the 1/144 scale kits feature at best a seat in a hollow space for a cockpit and that is where my expectations were on examining this kit. Time to reset my expectations!

The kit is simple, it is molded in silver styrene and presented on four parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. You can see in the images that two of the parts trees are simply the upper and lower wing halves. So why are there two more trees of parts?

Let's start with that cockpit: if you've seen AMT/ERTL's 1/72 YB-49 kit, you know that there is a large round flight deck that looks like something out of a starship and DML has replicated that detailed flight deck in 1/200th! Ditto on the rear observer/gunner's station.

Next are the three wheel wells - two mains and the nose wheel. These are built up into stand alone wells that plug into the underside of the wing.

While the leading edge engine intakes are recessed and then blanked out, there are eight engine exhaust nozzles that are installed on the trailing edge of the wing. Add the four small vertical stabilizers and the clear domes and the kit is complete.

Of course this aircraft was bare metal. I still remember the AMT/ERTL Flying Wing on display at the Alclad booth at the 1995 IPMS/USA Nationals in Albuquerque which provided a breathtaking canvas for the effects that different metal shades can have on a project like this. This kit is definitely begging for an Alclad II finish as well.

Cartograf decals are provided for the kit which provide generic national markings as well as walkway stripes.

I had no idea that you could get so much detail into such a small-scale kit. I'll never look at the 'simplistic' details of the 1/200 scale kits the same ever again as it is clear that DML has raised the bar quite significantly. This will make a really nice project that doesn't take lots of time or effort to complete.

My sincere thanks to DML for this review sample!