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Martin B-57B

by Fotios Rouch


Martin B-57B


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The Martin B-57B became operational in 1955. The B-57B Night Intruder was practically out of operational service with the USAF by 1960 and most aircraft were transferred to Air National Guard units. The escalating conflict in Southeast Asia gave the B-57B a second chance. B-57Bs operated from air bases at Da Nang and Bien Hoa until they were finally withdrawn from combat in 1968. There were about 200 B-57Bs produced.

The B-57 and its progenitor, the English Electric Canberra, have been strangely ignored by the manufacturers of model kits and no 1/48 scale injected kit has been produced to date. The only available kits to my knowledge are the vac and metal Falcon kit, the Aeroclub offering, presently covering the early British variants and the Resin/Vac/Metal kit from Collect-Aire.



Collect-Aire's 1/48 Scale B-57B


The Collect-Aire kit arrived in its usual big yellow sturdy box. The kit advertises that the B and G variants can be produced from the kit contents. The contents of my kit were undamaged with little warpage on the fuselage and some warpage on the wings.



All the parts were prepared by washing them in warm water, a toothbrush and 409 (a household cleaner). When I was sure that the mold release agent and other impurities were gone I towel dried all the pieces.

I prepared a pot with boiling water and dipped each wing until it was pliable. This Collect-Aire maker chose to mold the wings as two big solid castings. They are heavy and they will not respond to warm water treatments. Careful with the hot water! It was fairly uncomfortable but the wing would not respond to lower temperatures. This is a guessing game because you do not want to over soften the part. After I dialed the correct shape I immediately dipped it in cold water. All the parts needed careful filling with 3M Acryl Blue due to the numerous pinholes. When I thought that I had filled all the holes, scratches and blemishes I primed the parts with thinned automotive primer. It helps me discover the rest of the blemishes which I filled with Acryl Blue or Squadron White putty. The whole part then was sanded down and washed and put aside until assembly time.



The wings took a lot of time to get ready for two reasons. One was that they were cast as one big piece each. This caused uneven shrinking of the huge resin mass. There were sunken areas on the engine nacelles that had to be filled and feathered carefully. The other reason for the slowdown was my need to have the plane with its flaps down. Being it a solid wing it meant that I had to cut the wing up and rebuild it with styrene sheet so I could have the flap cavity created.

Here are pictures of the wings with the styrene in place and also pictures of the wings before and after the Acryl Blue applications.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The flaps were also created by using styrene sheet and a Waldron punch and die set. I used as a guide a blown up photocopy of the Edward photo-etch set made for the 72nd scale kit. Here is a picture of the flaps painted in their yellow primer.



The unpainted area in white is the flap portion lip that matches with the trailing edge of the wing when the flap is retracted and therefore it will be painted black.

The fuselage features a cutout for the rotating bomb bay. If you pose it open you are almost ok. If you want it closed up then you are in for trouble. Look at the picture to see how much filler is required and how much styrene had to be inserted for filler. Then the whole thing needs to be smoothed out and rescribed.



The nose cone on my example seemed to have shrunk a bit so it did not match well at all with the fuselage creating a big valley to be filled and smoothed out. The process obliterated all the surface scribing and it had to be redone using Dymo tape and a Verlinden scribing template.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

A big problem with the kit was that the wings have a different angle of incidence when comparing the left and the right side. If you were to look at the plane from the back you will see that the left wing has something like a 2-3 degrees difference in incidence from the right wing. The problem is with the joining points that are placed by the maker on the fuselage halves to aid with the wing alignment. I had to reshape the joint points by carving out portions of them. After the wings were attached I smoothed things out with Squadron Green putty and later with Acryl Blue.


Another big problem is that the speed brake cavities are not aligned from left to right. One is oriented pointing up and one is pointing down. You can see that if you look at the model directly from behind. There was no way I was going to cut them out and rebuild them so I left them alone and compensated by posing the speed brakes at the correct angles to each other and not respectively to their cavities. I cannot believe that the maker who made the wonderful Demon for Collect-Aire made such obvious mistakes on the B-57. The bad thing is that the same is true for the WB-57F since the masters for the fuselage are common to both. Remember to repair these areas as the wb-57F wings are mighty long and it is going to show very badly!

One more problem I had to deal with is the lack of an interior representing the B-57B. The earlier B-57s did not have the Escapac ejection seats provided in the kit. It was scratchbuilding time again. Fortunately I have enough references from the Pima Air and Space museum and a lot of styrene. Obviously Black Box and Cutting Edge have nothing to fear from me but I think the end product is acceptable. While we are at the subject of scratchbuilding, I also decided to give the plane a better interior. I used styrene sheet again and Reheat photoetch parts.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Here is the aircraft after a final coat of primer and some minor corrections. This was the point were I elected to fix all the scribing discrepancies I cared to attend to. There are some panel lines missing, some that do not mirror well, some fictitious ones and some that appear on one wing and not the other.


The little exhaust ports for the engine startup cartridges on the jet intakes are missing. I drilled a hole on the side of the intake, inserted a hollow tube and then covered the area with a half round piece of styrene that I cut out with the Waldron punch. While we are talking engines, you might want to drill out the exhaust fan blades attached to the exhaust ring. The engine ends before the wing trailing edge level and not at the nacelle tip!



Painting and Markings


For painting I decided to do the all black B-57B 53-3956, one of the last B models built that also had the four 20mm M39 cannon configuration. I used the kit decals of the 499th Bombing Squadron "Bats Outa' Hell". I like that on the tail it carries the crest of its parent 345th Bomb Wing, the Air Apaches. The kit decals are of a very matte finish. My first set that came with the kit started falling apart after a few minutes in the water. These are the old MPD decals done in the old fashion way. Their new decals as seen on the YF-23 for example are entirely different in quality and much improved.

Collect-Aire promptly sent me a new set of decals. This is something I absolutely like with their service. The new decal set was okay. I kept the old set and sprayed a coat of microscale liquid decal film. This saved the decals. I needed to save them because they are very translucent and the black paint clearly shows through the yellow and red decals. Doubling them up improved the situation quite a bit. The only problem I had was silvering due to their rough texture. I repeatedly used the microscale setting solution and I even sliced them at places with a new x-acto blade but to no avail. Mind you the surface underneath was glass smooth! After the decals had dried up I coated them with Future and left them alone for a few days. The only solution was to mask the decals and overspray with the black color all the silvered areas. A very laborious process. I had decided to paint the red walkway stripes on the wings and not use the translucent decals. So before the black paint was applied I painted the general areas red and after the paint dried I used fine pin-striping tape. The tape was lifted later in the project right before the final semi-gloss coat of varnish was applied.

After the semi-gloss coat was dry I used silver prismacolor pencil and pastels to accentuate the panel lines.


Here are the results of a few months of labor.





Was it worth it? Well, I love the B-57, so it was worth it to me. Aeroclub puts out one variant every year and I am not sure that they will ever make a B-57.

So Collect-Aire's B-57 is still the only game in town. I have to say that it looks mighty impressive in my display case!

Fotios Rouch

P.S. I dedicate this build to my good friend Phil "Bondo" Brandt and wish him a speedy recovery!


Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright 2003 by Fotios Rouch
Page Created 13 January, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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