1/72 scale RB-50G Superfortress is available online from Squadron.com
B-50 has been treated by aviation historians as an SAC trivia
question. Essentially a
Boeing B-29 with more powerful engines and built from stronger metals,
the B-50 represented the last of the propeller driven bombers operated
by SAC. Superior to the
underpowered B-29, the B-50 was completely overshadowed by the awesome
exclusively for nuclear delivery, B-50s were eventually deployed as
electronic surveillance platforms (read: Spy Planes), weather
reconnaissance aircraft, and most notably as tankers. Ironically the
B-50 served in Air Force service longer than its proposed replacement,
the Aluminum Overcast. Arguably, the B-50 has never received the
recognition it deserves for its contribution to strategic air power in
the early days of the Cold War.
1/72 Scale B-50D
The good news about the
Academy B-50 is that well, it is a B-50! It is also far
easier to work with than mating resin plugs to the Jurassic Airfix
B-29. The bad news is that it has a little too much commonality with
its stablemate, the B-29. As a result, some of those characteristics
unique to the B-50 leave a little bit to be desired. I’m sure this
is largely due to almost nonexistent
references available for the B-50.
Here is a list of the
deficient points in the kit:
A rather unsightly locator rib in the bombardier’s
R-3350 (9 cylinders per bank) engines carried over from the
B-29. R-4360s have 7 cylinders per bank.
Very crude propellers. Those in the new Boeing 377
Stratocruiser are a start in the right direction.
Main wheels carried over from the B-29. Okay for a B-50A, but
not a D. Cobra Company’s Boeing 377 wheels are a good match.
Horrific nosewheels. Way too narrow and have unsightly
ejector pin marks on front faces. Practically unusable.
A general lack of surface detail, particularly the wings and
nacelles. Fortunately, the remembered the air to air refuelling
doors. However, B-29 crews were totally unaware this capability
existed in their airplanes. Apparently, LeMay was a rather cagey
fellow. (Joke. Doors need to be filled in on the -29).
The cowlings seem to taper too much in profile and the cowl
flaps frill out too much. When closed, they are perfectly
streamlined with the nacelle. Exhaust stacks are not very well
Not really an error, but Academy chose to feature the
streamlined upper forward turret. This configuration caused a lot of
buffeting problems, and a round turret was often substituted on top
of the streamlined fairing. On an operational airplane, this lash-up
installation looks funny but interesting. By the way, you can use
this turret and the B-50 radome to build a late production B-29.
built this kit mostly out of the box, due to a lack of really good
references on the airplane. “City of El Paso’ was based at Biggs
Air Force Base, TX and was tragically lost in a takeoff accident when
the flaps were accidentally retracted instead of the landing gear.
Boeing has since increased funding for ergonomics research.
I used thin bodied super glue
almost exclusively for putting the parts together and filling the
seams. I like to mix together a 50-50 mix of thin and medium viscosity
glues to fill seams. It’s much easier to sand down than the thick
stuff used alone.
I added seat belts from
Masking Tape to the seats, and made little posts out of plastic tubing
to mount the pilots seats to the floor. Attachment to the armor plate
bulkhead is vague and puts the seat too far from the control column.
I’m not one to go overboard on interior detail. If you cannot see
it, it’s a waste of time, IMHO.
it or not, you cannot see too much detail through the clear parts,
despite their size. Those of you who are detail or penlight freaks may
prefer to use a Falcon Clear Vax canopy.
The fit of the kit is about
average. The separate trailing edge segments (B-29 lineage again) do
not fit particularly well and required much sanding to blend in. Same
goes for the nacelles. As separate assemblies they require a lot of
filling to blend smoothly into the wing, particularly at the wing
leading edge and the upper aft surfaces. This kit is an ideal
application for Mr Surfacer 500 and 1000, but I didn’t know about
the stuff in 1994. Speaking of the nacelles, location on the wings is
poorly defined so be sure to check for proper spacing. Also some work
will be needed to ensure that the thrust lines of all four nacelles
are the same. On mine the outer nacelles cant upward slightly. It’s
enough to notice.
You might be wondering about
nose weight. Using 5 - Minute epoxy, I mixed up a “Jam” of ball
bearings and epoxy and poured into the space above the lower forward
turret, and through the astrodome into the lower forward bomb bay.
This wasn’t a problem as the bomb bay needs a lot of work, and the
lines of the airplane look a lot better with the doors closed.
For painting I used a
combination of Scalecoat Aluminum (which makes a really dull, flat
aluminum similar to corrogard or silver dope) and Sn’J spray metal
for the polished areas. Handling the model with white cotton gloves
(after the tedium of priming, filling, wet sanding, polishing, etc.) I
masked one area off at a time with Scotch removable tape. After
spraying each panel I let it dry for about 10 minutes and then rubbed
the powder into the panel. After drying for about an hour I rinsed off
the excess with a wet kleenex to which I added a few drops of
dishwashing detergent. I was really afraid of tracking aluminum dust
all over the model, and this worked. It also made for a very clean
model! While time consuming, I do get a lot of variation in tones
between panels. I also used 3M plastic pin striping tape for masking
on compound curves. This is really great stuff and comes in handy for
scribing lines, too!
of the problems I ran into with the removable scotch tape was that
sometimes it didn’t quite remove; sometimes it left adhesive behind.
You would not notice this until you spayed over it with Sn’J. AARGH!
Regular scotch tape (touched to the surface to pick up the excess
adhesive) and careful wet sanding with 2000 grit
took care of most of the problem.
The red on the vertical fin
tip was done with Humbrol gloss red. I added gun barrels from
hypodermic needle tubing and dressed up the nose gear somewhat with a
“horsecollar” made from laminated sheet styrene and brass wire. I
also substituted true details wheels for the kit nose wheels. I sanded
down the bulges on the sides, which look too pronounced. In
retrospect, the wheels still look too narrow.
This is probably the most
ambitious project I have finished to date. I know a lot more about the
B-50 now and I plan to build another, “New and Improved” one in
the future. Now that I have Skylancer Decal’s B-50 sheet, I will
probably build Lucky Lady II. I’ve always liked the looks of the
B-50 and while this kit has its problems it’s still the best way to
go. Hopefully Cobra or somebody will do a resin update kit
specifically for the B-50 someday.
I hope you like it.
A Special Thanks to Scott
Murphy for the JPEGs and Laszlo Jakushovsky for the photographs.
Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2001 by
Page Created 29 May, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007
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