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B-57B Canberra Kit

Italeri 1/72 B-57B Canberra Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2017 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject B-57B Canberra Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1387 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details and options Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $29.99

First Look

B-57B Canberra Kit
B-57B Canberra Kit
B-57B 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. Some B-57s returned to Vietnam in the early 1970s as the B-57G night interdiction aircraft, but operational experience revealed that the AC-130 Spectre was far superior to that mission.

Italeri has reissued their 1/72 B-57B Canberra kit and this is my first look at this kit. First released in the mid-1980s, this kit is a simple build but features some nice details. The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on two parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Ejection seats have crew restraints molded in place ready for paint
  • Cockpit detail is basic but offers instrument panels and side consoles as decals
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable landing gear (gear doors are molded closed and are opened by cutting on molded line)
  • Choice of bomb bay door or open bay with bomb load
  • Weapons bay doors can be positioned open or closed
  • Optional underwing pylons with choice of bomb or rocket armament

The instructions are nicely illustrated and even provide ballast information for the nose. Unlike some of the previous releases, this kit features three USAFE and one Air National Guard examples as they appeared in the late 1950s. That means none of these subjects carry the Southeast Asia camouflage (which you can still do with the help of aftermarket decals) but two of these subjects are bare metal while the other two are gloss black.

Markings are provided for the four mentioned subjects on one large decal sheet:

  • B-57B, 52-1551, 165 TRS/123 TRG/KY ANG, 1958-65
  • B-57B, 52-1574, 71 BS/38 BW, Laon-Couvron AB, France, 1955-58
  • B-57B, 53-3882, 38 TBG, Laon-Couvron AB, France, 1955-58
  • B-57B, 53-3862, 38 BW, Laon-Couvron AB, France, 1955-58

The kit offers some interesting and colorful options and if you look at that nice decal sheet, you might want to use the kit decals. Nice! If you're looking for an inexpensive and distinctive subject for your shelf or next contest, have some fun with this one. There are many aftermarket options to please the AMS modeler including the Patricia Lynn.

My sincere thanks to Italeri USA for this review sample!