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TELLING IT LIKE IT IS:
Ratings:

5 Knives: Best model on the market in all aspects

4 Knives: Very good model, but some items could be made better

3 Knives: Average model, not the best, not the worst

2 Knives: Mediocre model, not the best choice to buy, but could do worse

          1 Knife: Terrible model, stay away from these

 

Commercial:

Airbus Industrie

Airbus A321 (1:144th) - Revell

Revell of Germany has once again made a new airline kits, and it is fabulous. Not available in stores in the United States until mid-summer, the Airbus A321 will be much sought after. Beautifully detailed exterior, gear, and engines, make this is a great kit. Assembly of the plane is easy and any paint scheme will work.

The kit comes with decals for a Lufthansa A321, but since I already have a Lufthansa B707, I wanted to make it into another airliner. I had considered JetBlue, the new start-up carrier out of New York – JFK, but I’m not sure if they will have A321’s, so I decided on another airline. British Midland has some A321’s in their fleet, and while I’m not sure if you can purchase these decals, I decided to be creative and make my own.

The colors for British Midland are pretty simple. The top is a dark blue and the bottom is a dark gray. The lettering I used as Book Antiqua and the tail logo is "BM" so that was easy enough. The tail logo is a little more complicated than juts two letters, but after some time on Microsoft paint, I got the logo to look pretty close to the one on the real plane.

The greatest part of this model has to be the ease of putting it together. The fuselage fits perfectly together and the engines are a dream to work with, fitting together easy and highly detailed. Perhaps the most unique part of the model is the wings. They come in one piece so you don’t have to glue each wing onto the plane separately.

I have enjoyed this model so much, I have ordered another one. This time I think I will use the Lufthansa decals that came with the kit, so it should be interesting to see what comes of it.

Overall this model deserves 5 knives. It is well constructed and is a nice plane for any fleet. The detail is amazing and the decals that come with it are nice if you want to use them. If not, order some other decals or make your own.

Airbus A330-300 (1:144th) - Revell

In recent years, one of the newest airplanes in Airbus’ family has come to the forefront. The Airbus Industrie A330-300 is one of the most advanced twin-engine wide-bodies available on the market today. It is comparable to the Boeing B777-200, but the Airbus airplane is fly-by-wire and has similar flight decks to the rest of the planes in the Airbus family.

Revell has once again done a superb job on the kit. You can get this plane in the house colors of Airbus or LTU. I have gotten both kits, but instead of using the LTU decals, I special ordered Northwest Airlines DC-10 decals for my first A330. Originally, Northwest had options to buy this remarkable airplane, but opted for more A320’s instead. The current A330 will be in house colors of Airbus Industrie.

The plane is unique in many ways including a detailed flight deck, gear, and gear wells. One item that might confuse some people is that in this kit, there is an extra center wheel, but the A330 doesn’t have this wheel. The reason Revell has included this wheel is because the A340 kit of theirs has the center wheel, and it is more economical to use the same mold instead of designing a separate one for the A340. I would suggest to save the wheel in case you need it for another model.

It is interesting what Revell has done with the A330 and A340 kits. They are basically the exact same kit except that the A340 comes with four engines while the A330 comes with two. This is a very economical procedure for the company to make. For those of you who are interested, the A340 comes in Air Canada and Lufthansa liveries, but other schemes can be ordered.

I would suggest to paint the entire plane white if you are painting it up with the house colors. While many wings on jetliners are grayish, the hose colors of Airbus have their wings white, so it is as easy to paint the plane this one color. Normally I say paint the plane, then assemble it, but in this case I would suggest to put strategic areas together first. The wings and fairings; stabilizers; and the fuselage. The fuselage is the main part to put together before painting it since you might want to sand it. Also, you seem to get a better finish this way. The only other color you really need is black for the tires.

After the initial painting, put the wings on the plane and give it one final spray. Let this dry and then finally put on the gear. I would suggest to keep the stabilizers off until the decals are in place since the Airbus tail logo conflicts with the stabs. Once the decals have dried, put on the stabilizers and you have a finished product.

One hint I might add is the main gear. If you plan on having this plane suspended from the ceiling, the main gear cants at an angle (such as this: / ). This is a design feature that many airliners have. It will look more realistic if it is cut and glued in this way. It is a significant change to the gear, but it is as simple as cutting and gluing.

This kit gets four knives. It took me about a week to complete. It isn’t the toughest kit, but it is a nice challenge and fun to put together. It also looks menacing after completion especially with Airbus emblazoned on the tail.

Boeing

Boeing B727-200 (1:72nd) - KMC

Though I keep saying that there are many anticipated models coming out, there is one that has recently been released that has been the most anticipated perhaps in the entire history of commercial modeling. KMC has brought out a Boeing B727-200 kit in 1:72nd scale, in American Airlines livery. The model is about 2-feet long when completed, with the wingspan being the same. It is a beautiful and challenging kit. And best of all, it is a collector’s edition, with only a certain number being made.

Detail on the plane is amazing, especially when you look at the engines. The blades and nozzle are made from resin, which make detail unbelievable. The blades fit in place securely and are a joy to look at while the nozzles even have some screens in them. The one problem that I came across with the nozzles is that they are a bit too large at their base to mate with the engine cowlings, therefore you must sand them to fit. Just remember it is a challenging model, so don’t get discouraged, it might take sanding and fitting, and some more sanding. However, once the engines are done, you’ll be happy with the work it took, since they look fabulous.

The gear too is resin, which was a good idea since the plane is heavy after it is finished. Resin seems to be very strong and I would see no problems in the future. The gear should stand the test of time. In addition, the gear is detailed so it is another nice bonus. Just a suggestion with the gear is to use super glue and then a glue accelerator so that the gear will hold in place with some extra strength.

Other than those two features and stress, the rest of the plane goes together nicely. I did put about 20 pennies in the nose of the plane for weight and balance purposes, and it seems to be enough. Once the two fuselage sections were mated, I sat down and began painting it. I used Model Master Stainless Steel spray for the plane. It looks close to American’s paint scheme, though there is no way that I have been able to figure out how to make it glossy, but the main color is present, steel. On the nose and at the wing joints, the plane is painted a light gray. Just look at pictures and the instructions to see where and how this should be painted.

I painted the wings with a gunship gray and then sprayed the leading edges with the stainless steel again. After all was painted, I put the decals go on, which are very nice. The decals fit perfectly on the windows and other parts of the plane. The nose was a little tricky where the two sides meet, but I decided to use Model Master Metalizer Seal to make the decals adhere to the plastic more. I have used this technique on other models, and it works great, especially since the decals won’t even come off to the touch. Try it, it’s a neat little trick, just make sure not to touch the decal after it is sprayed, a chemical reaction takes place that I can’t explain, but it works.

After all decals are on I finally put the wings and gear on. Once this was completed, the engines went on and it was completed. It looks beautiful in the American Airlines colors. The plane took about a two weeks to complete, but it was challenging and a joy to work with. It is the largest airliner you can buy with some of the best detail. The list price is about $70, but for a collector’s item, it is well worth the money and time. If you need to order this plane, check out Airline Hobby Supplies in Canada.

This model receives the coveted 5 knives. It has great detail, decals, and is a masterpiece in general. I never thought anyone would ever make a B727 in this scale, but it is impressive. I can only hope that KMC will perhaps work on other 1:72nd scale commercial models in the future, such as the B757 and DC-9. Those kits would be sought after just like this one. Though for a tribute to the planes livery would need to be United (757) and Northwest (DC-9). This is just a thought, but the truth is that the B727 is a great model.

Boeing B737-300 (1:144th) - Minicraft

Minicraft is a pretty good hobby company, and recently they came out with perhaps one of the most popular planes, a Boeing B737-300. Used throughout the world, the B737-300 has made a name for itself and continues to be produced by the Boeing Company. Minicraft has come out with other aircraft in 1/144th scale including a DC-3 and B-1B bomber, and while these other planes seem to have been constructed kind of poorly, Minicraft has redeemed itself with the B737-300, kind of.

The model is crafted with good detail and comes with some great decals for an American Airlines plane, but herein lies a problem. Unfortunately, American doesn’t have any B737-300’s in service past, present, or future, so unfortunately if you paint it in the American Airlines scheme, the plane is wrong. I think Minicraft has confused the -300 with the -800. However, the plane does go together easily, and while it doesn’t take long to put it together, it is a great plane to add to any collection. I didn’t paint it as an American plane since I already have an American Fokker F-100, and since it isn’t in American’s fleet. I ordered US Air decals for this model.

The decals I received were for the B737-200, but since US Air does have B737-300’s in the silver paint scheme, I put the -200 decals on. The only problem was that the stripes wouldn’t reach the length of the fuselage, but luckily Testors makes a great red paint that fits the scheme. The only other problem is the dark blue stripe above the red, but mixing in Testors’ blue with a hint of black, the stripe was completed.

The B737-300 by Minicraft turned out to be a great plane and was a lot of fun to work on. It took about 6 hours to build, paint, and place decals, but it was well worth it. The gear down and locked, US Air banks in the sky, perhaps turning for final approach.

As for those of you who are enthusiasts about airline models, Minicraft has announced that they will be releasing the Boeing B757-200 later this year (also in American Airlines livery), a model that has been long overdue in making its debut. We should thank Minicraft for their enthusiasm about this subject.

This kit gets three knives. It wasn’t really a challenging kit, but when finished, it looks nice. The decals that came with it are nice but they don’t exist in real life. American has ordered B737-800’s, but no -300’s. It’s too bad Minicraft didn’t put in decals for any other airline, since pretty much everyone else has these planes. It is still worthwhile to buy, but to make it look authentic, different decals are a necessity.

Boeing B747-200 (1:144th) - Airfix

A B747 added to my collection is nothing new since I already have a B747-200 and -400. However, there are some decals that don’t come along very often and when they are found, you want to get them. One item of business that I like to work with when it comes to American commercial carriers is to get a different airline for each plane.

Of course there are many airlines missing, but mainly I try to get commercial airlines of American carriers. I do have most of them, but I miss a few of the majors. I recently found decals for an old America West Airlines B747-200. Amazingly these are the only decals for that airline, and more amazing is that there are no Southwest Airlines decals on the market. This baffles me since both America West and Southwest are major airlines, but there are no decals to be found. Since there are 747 decals for America West, I decided to buy them so I could have this airline added to my collection.

The only data on the America West B747-200 is that it hasn’t flown since the company filed bankruptcy and came out of it. One of the planes currently sits off to the side at Las Vegas’ airport.

As I have already built this airplane before in the way of a KLM plane, it isn’t that difficult to build, but when working with airlines, their livery is a difficult step. The decals cover the majority of the paint scheme, and where the decals are included, there is a detailed drawing of colors. The majority of the plane is white, with the bottom silver forward and aft of the wing roots. The roots themselves are gray. Everything else is covered by a decal.

The model itself is a nice piece of work. Airfix has done a great job with this B747. It goes together nicely and stands out no matter what scheme it is painted. The engines are the older version, but this goes with the model of the plane. Gear is detailed fairly good and the clear cockpit windscreen fits in perfectly. The plane is a bit tail heavy, but BB’s in the nose will correct for this problem.

Overall this is a great kit and is easy to find at any hobby store. The kit is worthy of four knives since a B747 is a true masterpiece and Airfix did a great job in the way of detail.

Boeing 757-200 (1:144th) - Minicraft

Perhaps the most anticipated scale model of this century has finally become available to the public. Minicraft has released it’s 1:144th scale, injection molded, Boeing B757-200. Approximately 13-inches long and 4-inches tall, this plane is a masterpiece for any enthusiast. Once completed, either hung from the ceiling or placed on a shelf, it stands out from all the other aircraft in your collection.

The model comes molded in gray and with American Airlines decals. The decals are high quality, but if you aren’t a huge fan of American, you can order other decals for the B757. Some of the special order decals come in the liveries of United Airlines and Canada 3000, but if you are a huge fan of American you can order special decals for that airline as well. As I do like American, I ordered the special "retro" colors, such as the paint scheme seen on the older B707’s and in the May 1999 issue of Airways.

When you first see the kit, there is one main problem that presents itself, and that is the windscreen. As with all Minicraft models (B737-300, -400) the windscreen comes with a large forward portion of the fuselage molded to it. The only nice thing about this is that you can easily add nose weight once into the project, but the joining of the windscreen and the rest of the plane makes for a pain and if not done correctly, you will be able to see it on the finished product.

Another problem with the plane is that the windows are not molded into the plastic. This does present a difficulty if you use decals other than the American decals that came with it, but then again, you can always order window decals separately. Also, the other bonus of this style of design means that you can make freighter versions of the B757 easier.

Other than these slight design flaws if you will, the plane is marvelous. Detail on the gear, engines, and wings is nice with recessed panel lines. The fuselage has the doors recessed into the plastic so it is easier to place the decals too.

To assemble, simply follow the directions, paint it, and place the decals. The only other item to do if you want to is the cut the gear and hinge it if you plan on hanging it from the ceiling. The gear on the "real" plane is hinged when in the air. To see a good example of this, look at a picture of the plane at http://www.airliners.net/.

Other than this, if you really wanted to you could put the flaps down, but if you do that the slats should come down too, and that entails more headache. Basically you can just leave it as is since it looks fine without any adjustments. It all depends on how creative you want to get.

This model gets three knives. Of course it has been a highly anticipated kit, but the windscreen does mean more work for the builder. The decals are nice, but in some ways it is too bad that they aren’t United Airlines livery, since it would be a tribute to an airline that has so many in its fleet.

Boeing B777-200 (1:144th) - Doyusha

One very interesting kit is the Doyusha 1/144th scale Boeing B777-200. It measures approximately 18-inches long, and is constructed fairly good. The detail shows the doors, bin doors, and recessed panel lines. There is no flight deck for this model, ands while flight decks are nice, in this scale it is hard to see when the product is finished.

The only major drawback to this model is that it isn’t that involved. There aren’t that many pieces and it does assemble easily. It is basically a big version of the 1/200th scale B777’s out on the market, but at the same time it is fun to build. Perhaps the only other drawback is the price, but since it is made by a Japanese company, the price will be higher. Of course for the price you are getting a great plane.

Doyusha’s plane comes with decals for an All Nippon Airlines (ANA) airliner, but I chose to special order United Airlines decals for this one. The main reason is that I try to build American Carriers to hang from the ceiling, and the other reason is that I have an ANA B777-200 and -300 in 1/200th scale, so I wanted a different airline for my collection. The decals that came with it of the ANA livery are very nice to use if you wish to use them. They too are detailed and of a high quality, just as one would expect from Doyusha.

The United decals on my B777-200 were specially designed for this particular kit so they fit great. The only major job on the plane is to paint it for the scheme. The decals are for the tail and the red, blue, and orange stripe on the plane. Doors are also included, but in order to get the paint scheme right, I masked off the plane and sprayed it blue on the underside and gray on the top, then put the decals on.

The final product is a United B777 with gear extended, and looking like it’s coming in for landing.

This kit receives five knives. The time to complete this plane was about a week with me putting in an hour a day. It was very challenging and the specially ordered decals make the plane. The gear is highly detailed and swivels. The other interesting aspect were the selection in the engines. You had your choice of Pratt & Whitney, or Rolls Royce.

Bombardier

De Haviland Canada DHC-8 "America West Express" (1:144th) - Sasquatch

I have always built injection molded plastic kits, and I have never considered expanding my horizon. However, there are some aircraft that you cannot get in this form, so I decided to try something new and get a resin kit. The kit I so desired was a DHC-8. The dash-8 is a great plane and is flown by many commuters including Mesa and Horizon. Being a high wing makes it unusual since most commercial aircraft employ the low wing. However, this high wing has made it very popular.

The DHC-8 resin kit is different in that the parts aren’t thin, but rather bulky. Also, there are no fastening points, so you have to match up the pieces by eye and feel. The plastic is heavy too. There are approximately 18 pieces in the kit, with the body molded in tan and the rest in white. Decals that come with it are for America West. When America West first started out, they flew some DHC-8's until they began their commuter service under Mesa, America West Express.

Building the model is fairly simple once the main parts are glued together. The only problem with resin is that the detail isn’t found, but the decals of course help solve this problem. As for the gear, I decided to substitute the original gear with a 1:144th scale B737-200 gear. They are almost the same size, and the B737 gear is more detailed. Once the plane is assembled, place the decals on and you are finished. It took me about six hours in the process.

The only other problem is that the plane is very tail heavy, and there is no room for weight in the nose, so you might want to hang it from the ceiling. If not this, be prepared to have it on a stand or have some kind of support for the tail. While I am happy to find that resins aren’t as much as a pain as I’ve heard, the injection molded models are still by far my favorite. However, I see more resin kits in my future.

This kit received three knives. The detail wasn’t there in the gear, but luckily I had extra gear from a B737. The rest of the plane was nice, but if you plan to have it on the ground, think again. It seems no matter how much weight you put in the front, it is just too tail heavy. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

McDonnell Douglas/Douglas Commercial

Continental Airlines DC-10-30 (1:144th) - Revell

Perhaps my most favorite airplane of all time is the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. There is no reason why it is my favorite really. I suppose it is the third engine on the tail of the airplane makes it look menacing. Nevertheless, it is a plane that is popular with many airlines.

I have many DC-10s in scale models so far. Two are Air Force KC-10’s in 1:144th scale and two DC-10’s in 1:125th scale, British Airways and Federal Express. Even though I have so many, I still needed one in 1:144th scale of an airliner. There were many choices in the way of decals to buy for the model, but I decided to get Continental since they have a fairly large fleet of DC-10s and more importantly, since I don’t have a Continental Airlines model airplane so far.

The only problem that I ran into in this quest is that there are no DC-10s on the market except for the KC-10 model. I decided to buy this model and do some conversion work to it. The main item of business is that I had to cut off the refueling probe housing. This was easy enough to do, but then there was a good sized hole where the housing had been. To cover this, I took a sheet of plastic and cut it in a square about an inch and a half. Before I glued the two fuselage halves together, I glued the square in one of the halves and let it dry. Also, I put about ten pennies in the front of the plane for weight, and this is a perfect weight for the plane.

After this I glued the two halves together and after they dried, I placed putty in the hole. It took about three applications of putty and then some sanding, but after about 6 hours of letting it stand and sand, it was completed. I worked on the rest of the model like all the other KC-10s I have done. The wings were painted gray, the leading edges were painted silver. The top of the plane was painted white and the tail blue. The only item of interest that I would like to mention is the underside of the Continental DC-10. The color I used was Testors spray paint number 1226. The color is named Dark Aircraft Gray. This is the closest paint on the market that matches Continental’s color scheme.

The gear was placed exactly how it came since the gear on real planes don’t swivel like some of the Boeing and Airbus products. The only other thing is that the DC-10-30 has a middle gear, like the KC-10. This is in the down position like the actual plane would have. I special ordered the decals and they came with the name, gold stripe, doors, and golden globe. After the globe was placed on the plane, I used a professional brush and painted the white highlights on the tail.

The only other problem I ran into were the windows. There are 14-17-26 windows on the plane, starting between the first and second door, then the second and third, and finally the third and the fourth doors respectively. Luckily I have windows from other planes sitting around, which is a good reason of why to keep all decals that are not used. After the decal windows were place on, the plane was completed. Once again fishing line holds the plane on the ceiling.

This plane gets four knives. It was easy to assemble and the extra work made it into a plane which once again there is no model out on the market for. The decals went on smooth. Overall, it was an easy model to build and paint, but challenging enough to convert from a tanker into a passenger plane. Revell has done it again with this plane.

Lockheed

Delta Airlines Lockheed L-1011 (1:144th) - Modelcraft Canada

One of the most successful airplanes in the world might have been the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar. Only 250 were built, but most of them are still flying in one form or another. Delta airlines and ATA are two of the biggest users, so when I found out that Modelcraft of Canada was releasing the former Revell kit in new packaging, I had to get one. Luckily Airliner Hobby Supplies in Ontario, Canada was able to acquire some and sold one to me.

The kit is very nice. Just like other Revell models, this kit has nice detail and is a good plane to buy since its size is impressive. The model comes with PSA or Court decals, but since I am striving to have the main air carriers in my "fleet," I special ordered Delta decals. The only problem I ran into was that there are no decals for Delta in the L-1011 scheme. Therefore, I ordered B767 decals for Delta, and they fit perfectly on the L-1011.

I didn’t have to do any type of modification on this kit, so I was very pleased with that. The toughest thing was that the bottom side is silver plate and the top is whit. I masked these two areas off and painted the plane. The wings are gray with silver leading edges as are the horizontal stabilizers. You do need to add some weight to the front of the plane to balance it out, and about seven pennies should do the trick.

The only other problem I had with the plane other than the weight and balance was the nose paint scheme. It is black, white, and silver. I painted the black first, then place a white stripe on it. Finally under the white I painted the silver. It took a couple tries to get it right, but the finished product is nice. Also, on other item of interest is that the panel on the windscreen are silver, so make sure you use a good brush for that.

This plane is a masterpiece when completed I is worth of four knives. It is worth buying and fits together easily. It took me about a week to get the plane how I wanted it. The only problem are the decals. PSA and Court are two airlines that aren’t in business anymore, and actually I hadn’t heard of them until I got this kit, and since this was a repackaged model, it’s too bad Modelcraft couldn’t get decals made in ATA or other livery. Other than that, it is worth buying and building.

 

Military:

Revell Rockwell B-1B Lancer (1:48th) - Revell

Every once in a while, a modeling company puts out a new model on the market that cannot seem to be described by words. It usually is a plane or vessel that looks unbelievable and has no match to it. This past month, Revell has done just this.

It seems that since the Rockwell B-1B Lancer dropped bombs in the Persian Gulf as its initial wartime experience, and the mission went off without a hitch, the Lancer has become a very popular plane. It is not to say that it hasn’t been popular in the past since there have been 1/144th and 1/72nd scale models on the market for some time, but since this deployment and success, the B-1B is now modeled in 1/48th scale.

Revell has done what few could think possible. A plane of this size in such a large scale is amazing. With over 238 pieces, rubber tires; movable nose wheel, ladder, wings, and horizontal stabilizer, and many more unique features, this aircraft model might be the best one on the market. Enthusiasts are always looking for a challenge, and with the B-1B being a skill level 3, it meets that challenge.

For a moment, there are three different skill levels to be explained. Number I is usually snap together, which of course is the easiest. Number II is glue together, which is more challenging and the mainstream in the world of modeling. Number III is the most challenging, with movable parts, extreme detail, and many pieces.

From the initial glance at just the box, the B-1B looks larger than life, but when opened up and seen for the first time, it takes your breath away. Comparing it to the largest fighters of today, such as the F-14, -15, and Su-27/35 it is incredible how large it is. The main fuselage is molded for convenience, then the front section and tail section are molded to be fused together later on in the production of this beast. The detail is astronomical, with the gear, flight deck, and basically the entire plane. There is the option to have the side of the cockpit open to see the detail within, as well as the radar in the nose. The model measures 36-inches long, and has a wingspan of almost the same length.

Armament includes 16 SRAMs with rotating pylons. For addition comparison, I would suggest to display 1/48th scale ground crew and support vehicles with the plane. The crews can be bought separately. If there are any major problems with this model, they will come to bear.

Before I begin the plane, I would like to point out one shortcoming, and that is the decals that come with the plane. Not that decals are my favorite part of modeling, but the decals enclosed with the kit seem to be too few for such a large plane. Also, the "art seems to be mediocre." However, fear not, for decals can be bought separately. I bought a set with the art of the "Spectre" which adds some great finishing touches. This is not a requirement, but other decals will make it stand out a bit more, though the 3-foot model itself will stand out plenty by itself.

As I have done for a few of my models, I will once again log the time it takes to build, and throughout the construction, I will update this report with key features and hints as to how to make a great model even better. So sit back, and enjoy the B-1B Lancer.

It has taken approximately 10 hours so far to build the nose of the plane. About one hour was some research on the plane. As always whenever I get a new plane, I get on the Internet and download pictures of the aircraft to go by. I found some nice sites which are as follows:

The other nine hours have come from painting the behemoth and actually assembling it. Interestingly enough, the pilots I was going to place in the ejection seats don’t work since the seats have some arm rests which don’t go with the modeled pilots, however, this is fine since I plan to display the Lancer with the gear down and access ladder open.

Before I painted the plane, I had to make a decision on the color of it. Some are black and some are camouflaged in a gray and green, but I wanted it to stand out so I decided to try a different color. I was considering black at first, but then saw a concoction of blue and black. The name of the paint is Dark Sea Blue. It looks very dark as advertised, and it looks especially good on the B-1B "Lancer" Bomber. As I have stated before, a model can be painted however you want it to be, and for this model, I used this odd color to make it stand out, especially since it will hopefully be the prize of my collection. That is unless Revell ever considers putting a KC-10 Extender in 1:48th scale out on the market.

The nose was fairly easy to put together if you follow the directions. The model has the interesting feature of a movable access ladder. When I first read about this, I though, yeah, right, but now that it is in place, it is a great design feature that Revell has added. Once the nose section is complete, the access ladder can be open or closed, and you can actually do this. Open it, then close it, and when it is closed, it lines up perfectly in the plane. In other words, you’d never notice it closed if you wanted it in the air, but if you wanted it on the ground some time, then you simply pop it open. A great challenge and feature.

The first 10 hours have been a lot of fun. The nose section itself measures about 9-inches long and 2.5-inches high (without the gear attached) so you can get an idea of what the final product will be like.

One more item of interest is that Hasegawa makes a kit of grown accessories for 1:48th and 1:72nd scale kits. I decided to buy the set "A" to spice up the scene of the finished B-1B Lancer. It came with two support vehicles and about 12 figures. Also included are chocks and a fire cart. It might be a good investment for those of you who want some added detail and comparison.

After another six hours of the plane, I have completed the missile bays and the main gear bay. I also have completed the nose section landing gear. The nose gear is of course interesting since it turns. A fairly simple process and outcome if constructed correctly. Also impressive is the fact that the missile spindles actually move as well once completed. There are 16 SRAMs in the kit and fit onto the spindles.

The next part of assembly will be the fuel tank and then the wings. As always the most time takes when painting the plane. The missiles and all interior bays were white. The bays had a hint of silver in them too. It won’t bee too long until the two middle halves of the fuselage are merged. Once this happens, the plane will take on a new shape in size.

On a side note one very important thing to do with a new kit is to inspect it to make sure all the parts are there. In my old age I became too complacent and didn’t inspect it. My lesson has been learned since my kit came with no tires. However, Revell has an 800 number on the kits, so if you do not have the parts, you simply call and talk to an operator there. I must say they were very helpful with the service. The tires should be here in 10-14 working days, and by then I hope to have most of the plane together, so tires will be all that is left.

Four hours later, the two halves of the fuselage have been mated. But before we go into this, you must first place the fuel tank in the rear weapons bay and then put the wings together and paint them. The only thing I didn’t do as instructed was painting the fuel tank the correct color. It is supposed to be a chromate-green, but since I didn’t want to by a can of this one-time color, I sprayed the tank with a silver paint then lightly sprayed normal green on it. This gives it a metallic-green look, which looks just as good as the chromate, and you’ve saved money.

The wings are of course painted the same color as the rest of the plane, and they are easy enough to put together. Just make sure that you put the correct wing on the correct side and before gluing the fuselage halves together, go on a dry run to see how they will mate.

The mating process (of the fuselage) always seem to be the most difficult phase of any large model since if you neglect to take time and patience, then you will misalign the fuselage. The mating of the top and bottom half went pretty good. I would suggest to use the accelerator to help this process go faster and smoother. Just make sure everything is lined up before spraying the accelerator. Also, make sure that you don’t inadvertently glue the variable-geometry wings, since they are meant to move. If all goes well with this main process, you’ll have a part of the model that measures 18.5-inches long and 3-inches high. Of course the other important dimension now is the 34-inch wingspan (with wings extended forward). Very impressive.

However, since the nose section of the plane is completed, I decided to merge this on with the fuselage. After this was completed, the total measurement of the fuselage (minus the tail section) is 27-inches long. The wings (swept) go further back than that, but after the tail is completed and mated, then the real size will take shape. Already it is unbelievable to see.

It’s now been another five hours of painting and gluing. When last I wrote, the nose and main fuselage had been mated together. By now I have been able to put on the engines, main landing gear, gear doors, and bomb bay doors. I have also began the tail section.

The engines are an interesting part of this model since you not only have the outer shells, but also the inner ducts, blades, and nozzles. To make the plane look realistic, I would have to say take some stainless steel spray paint and add this to the inside of the ducts, spray the blades this color too. It is good to do this, however once assembled, it is basically impossible to see inside the ducts, especially back to the blades. The only real way to see this is to take a flashlight and look into the engines. Still, the added work will pay off if you ever want to show the detail to friends.

Instead of following the directions to a "T," I opted to bypass the step of putting the top engine cowling on and waiting to assemble the entire cowling (cover) before placing it on. This worked out very good.

The main landing gear is a treat to work with. It is highly detailed and at first as I looked at it, I thought there was no way it would support the weight of the finished product, but amazingly it does. However, for added support, I used the ever present glue accelerator. The chemical reaction it creates actually strengthens the glue and almost makes it into a type of plastic itself. This of course ensures the gear is very durable and won’t break. The gear doors were simple enough to put on, as long as you follow directions.

There are three weapon bays, so there are six bay doors. The directions of course say that to glue the doors in place, but I’d suggest not to do this since someday you might want to reposition them. They do stay open quite well without glue, so take it from me, it works great this way. Also, when gluing you risk gluing the rotating pylon the missiles are on, so this is another reason not to glue the doors.

After this, I decided to give the beast one more coat of paint. I covered off the windows and open bays, and sprayed. The final coat is a good idea since there are always touch-up areas as well as fingerprints. Thought the plane still isn’t finished, it is good to spray now in my opinion. The tail has been started with the two halves glues together. Next will come the merging of the tail on the fuselage.

On a side note, while other parts were either drying from glue or paint, I worked on the ground crew set that I bought for support. The equipment wasn’t that difficult, and neither are the support crew, however it is a pain staking task to paint each figure is. The figures were painted and they turned out very nice, however one problem is that they don’t stand up that good. The solution to this is to take a sheet of clear (overhead projection) plastic and cut out small rectangles. Simply put glue on the feet of the figures, attach them to the clear plastic, and they stand great. Also, you don’t even see the plastic at a glance, so it looks more realistic.

The final seven hours have come and gone. The paint has dried from the final coat, the tail is merged, and the plane looks great. The weight in the nose is probably sufficient, but I like to play it safe so I put pennies in the nose section before placing the radar dish on. This give added total weight so I won’t have to worry about tail strikes. The radar dish went on perfectly as did the glass windscreen.

I would suggest to not glue the nose on the plane since it comes on an off easily with the design. Therefore you can have the nose on and you can still take it off to show the detail inside. I also would suggest not to glue the escape hatch for the back-seaters. This will stay on without glue, and can once again be removes to see the interior.

The final part of the project was putting on the decals. I do like this step since it adds color and detail, but it is also a time-consuming process, but it needs to be done. The decals went on fairly easy and they look great on the B-1B Lancer. Displayed on my entertainment center with the supporting ground crew, the plane dwarfs any other model I have ever assembled, including the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in 1:350th scale.

Conclusion:

By far this model deserves five knives, and in all honesty, it deserves six. Revell has gone beyond the call of duty for this beast. The Revell B-1B Lancer is an exceptionally detailed model. It has many great features as rotating spindles, sweeping wings, and especially size. It is great to see this bird of prey in 1:48th scale. The plane is a centerpiece for any enthusiast who has the time and desire to make the dream come alive. I did some things differently than some would do, such as use a dark sea blue instead of gray or black, but it turned out nice, and is something I will come to treasure and show off in years to come.

If you happen to see this monster at a hobby store near you, get it, it is worth it.

 


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