Trumpeter 1/72 Be-6 Madge Kit First Look
by Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||May 2015||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Kit Number||1646||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice details, very distinctive subject||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$119.95|
Any student of Soviet aviation recognizes the flying boat pedigree of the Beriev Experimental Design Bureau (OKB). The Be-6 (NATO Codename Madge) was a multi-role flying boat that was built between 1949 and 1957 with 123 examples that remained in Soviet service through the end of the 1960s. The aircraft was developed and/or modified into a variety of configurations which included maritime reconnaissance, anti-surface/anti-submarine warfare, mine layer, and cargo airlifter. The aircraft was replaced by a similar but amphibious airframe powered by two turboprop engines (Be-12 Mail). The Chinese Army Naval Air Force also operated the Be-6 and elected to re-engine the aircraft with the Wopen WJ-6 turboprop engines.
Trumpeter first announced the Be-6 a number of years ago and this release shows that they're working through that list. This is the first new-tool kit of the subject in any scale with the first kit being the VEB Plastikart 1/72 Be-6 released in the late 1970s. If you search online, you'll find some nice builds of that kit out there with some extensive notes on the errors and corrections required to make the aircraft look right.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees plus three trees of clear parts. There are approximately 240 parts in this build. Looking at the parts trees and instructions, this kit does not suffer from much over-engineering (details in areas where you won't see them). The one exception is the full-length main deck which replicates various crew stations from the nose gunner to the tail gunner and the stations in between. While you'll see into the flight deck and into the rear turret, the windows into the nose turret and interior stations are tiny so you won't really see any details in there (but you and God will know they are there).
This release doesn't make use of photo-etched parts so the while I have this kit rated at an experienced skill level, this is for the number of small parts used in the build rather than the use of multimedia materials.
Among the features and options of this kit:
- Nicely detailed flight deck
- Detailed crew stations (though you may not see them after assembly)
- Positionable ailerons
- Positionable elevators
- Positionable rudders
- Positionable flaps
- Optional beaching gear provided
The kit provides a nice selection of underwing stores including torpedoes, depth charges and mines.
Markings are provided for three examples:
- Be-6, Bort 43, Soviet Navy, museum display example in Ukraine
- Be-6, Bort 04, Soviet Navy
- Be-6, Bort 9053, PLANAF
The kit represents an earlier airframe. Later Be-6s replaced the tail gun with a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) stinger.
For the AMS modeler, you might wish to display your model with the cowling(s) removed. While there are no engines provided in this kit, the Be-6 was powered by the same power egg (engine, cowling, mounts) as the Tu-4 Bull, which in turn is a copy of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. The ASh-73 engines in the Be-6/Tu-4 are essentially copies of the Wright R3350 Duplex Cyclones. If you don't have one or more of the old 'Engines n Things' R3350 resin engines handy, Olimp produces the ASh-73 engines for the Tu-4 (which can also be used as R3350s). Isn't interoperability handy?
It is nice to finally see this kit available after sitting for so long on the 'future release' list. The wait was worth it as the kit looks like they addressed the shortcomings found in the old VEB kit. The only puzzling aspect of this release is the price - over $100 USD for a 1/72 kit without any multi-media parts.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!