Monogram 1/48 B-29 Superfortress Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||June 2004||Manufacturer||Monogram|
|Subject||Boeing B-29 Superfortress||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||5711||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Great detail, new cuffless propellers||Cons||Raised panel lines|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$43.50|
Boeing approached the Army Air Corp to propose an improved version of their capable B-17 Flying Fortress. At the time, the AAC was still getting acquainted with the B-17 and didn't have a requirement for an aircraft with the capabilities outlined by Boeing. The year was 1938. By 1940 however, the storm clouds of war were gathering on the horizon and Boeing was contracted for three prototype aircraft (Consolidated also received a contract for three prototypes of their B-32 Dominator).
Designed to fly above and faster than the threats of the day, the first B-29 flew in September, 1942. By the time the B-29 did get into full production, the decision had been made to focus the aircraft's capabilities in the Pacific where bomb load and range were critical. B-29s operated out of China as well as operating from island runways as the allied forces pushed their way toward Japan.
Most people associate the B-29 with the atomic bombs, and indeed the B-29 was the only US bomber with the capacity to loft the early bombs (the British Lancaster had also been considered), though this capability was limited to the aircraft of the 509th Bomb Group. The B-29 also served in Korea as the fledgling USAF's principal heavy bomber.
During its career, some B-29s were modified into the USAF's first operational air refueling aircraft, the KB-29. Confiscated B-29s were reverse engineered by the Soviets and produced as the Tupolev Tu-4 Bull. Even the Chinese operated the aircraft, producing the Tu-4 themselves.
Whenever I see this kit, I am always dumbstruck with the sheer size of the model! The fuselage measures out over 25 inches long and is the cornerstone of Revell-Monogram's hayday where big was beautiful. This 1/48 B-29 was one of several huge aircraft models produced by Revell-Monogram, which also includes the 1/48 B-17F, 1/48 B-17G, 1/48 Visible B-17G, 1/72 B-36 and 1/72 B-52D.
Molded in light gray styrene (as opposed to the silver styrene in earlier releases), the kit is absolutely impressive with all of its detailing. Even by today's standards, this kit features very nice interior and exterior details. The kit 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.
There is one significant change in this kit - new propellers! The original cuffed propellers are still in the kit should the example you're modeling be so-equipped. However, many modelers over the years had complained that the B-29s that they wanted to model used the cuff-less props, creating a void that had previously been filled with replacement props from the cottage industries. Today, the kit comes with both types.
You'll note that unlike some of the earlier re-releases of this kit, this issue has the parts trees for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, should you want to build 'Enola Gay' or 'Bocks Car' from some of the aftermarket decals.
Another aspect of this kit that also impresses me is the instructions. In the back of my mind, I have an equation that states that the larger the kit, the more intense the instructions. Yet despite its size and the number of parts, these well-illustrated instructions have the model assembled in five steps (with a number of sub-assemblies in each step, of course). Each complete step takes only one page in the instruction booklet, meaning that this remains a simple build. Painting this model is another matter that makes me think about buying stock in Alclad!
Markings are provided for two aircraft:
- B-29-5-BW, 26299, 770 BS/462 BG, 'Humpin Honey', Chengtu, China, July 1944
- B-29A, 461657, 30 BS/19 BG, 'Cream of the Crop', Kadena AB, Japan, 1951
I am pleased that this kit is still available as it is likely to be the only 1/48 scale B-29 kit I'll see in my lifetime. This kit is recommended to builders of skill levels with the exception of small children.
My sincere thanks to Revell for this review sample!