Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

With regards to "Uncle Jules"...
Kitbashing a
1/48 scale B-57G

by "Bondo" Phil Brandt



HyperScale is proudly sponsored by Squadron



Ever since 1971 when Boy WSO Bondo’s RF-4C squadron at Shaw had two “Compass Site” B-57E realtime data relay birds attached, he’s never forgotten their distinctive Hoover vacuum sound during ground operations. One of these two airframes remains, now on display at Pima County Air & Space Museum; good guys Bob Penny and Jerry Hughes bought the farm in the other one while practicing simulated single engine approaches in ‘71. But I digress.....

In a 1969 project called “Tropic Moon III” sixteen B-57Bs were withdrawn from Phan Rang AB in RVN and sent to Martin in Baltimore for modification to an unusual configuration to be known as the B-57G. Eleven of the newly modified B-57Gs deployed, as the 13th bomb Squadron, to Ubon, Thailand in 1970, remaining there until withdrawn in 1972, when they were transferred to the Kansas Air Guard in Topeka. In 1974 they were ferried to Davis Monthan AFB for eventual destruction. It’s interesting to note that, of the five Gs that remained in the US for aircrew training, one was lost (fatal) during single engine testing, just as in the loss described above at Shaw AFB.

The ungainly appearance of the B-57G was more than offset by its accurate bombing ability, courtesy of new IR, LLTV and laser systems housed within the platypus-like nose fairing. It was the first aircraft that accomplished its own laser designating for its own weapons; the G carried two Mk 82 LGBs under each wing and four Mk 35/36 “Funny Bombs” in the bomb bay.

The Plan...

Anyhow, there this curmudgeon was, with slightly less than $200 invested in the typically clunky, idiosyncratic Collect-Aire B-57B/B-57G all-resin kit. I had originally considered modifying the not-bad Falcon vac kit, of which I had two, into a G, but in the end figured there was more to be gained in doing the labor-intensive Collect-Aire kit.

Then, “Uncle” Jules Bringuier struck, beating Airfix by a year in releasing a quality 1/48 injected Canberra kit with nice resin details. Now here was an exciting new possibility for kitbashing a G. Since Jules’ Canberra offered details and engineering much superior to the limitations of the Collect-Aire release, I decided that I would simply graft the forward fuselage of the Collect-Aire kit onto the Canberra. I picked up the razor saw and crossed the Rubicon...





Joining the forward and aft fuselage sections was a relative no-brainer, but first the large, two-seat G cockpit and canopy structure had to be essentially scratchbuilt.



Since the Collect-Aire cockpit was much too simplistic for such a large canopy area exposed to view, I cloned the more accurate Falcon vac tub in resin, creating a master by adding Black Box console panels and sidewalls from an F-14 set. BTW, industrial strength Dremelling of the Collect-Aire sidewalls was necessary to fit the new tub; have I ever mentioned that the Dremel is by far the most valuable tool in resin kit construction? :) My friend and consummate modeler, Fotios Rouch, kindly created accurate masters for both instrument panels, as the Collect-Aire parts for same were useless. Escapac seats are from True Details, with upper ejection handles created from copper wire. The Collect-Aire vac canopy was used, but the resin canopy frame, air conditioning ducts and canopy raising structure were all scratchbuilt.

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


A significant amount of lead shot around the nosegear bay was necessary to balance the very tail heavy airframe, even with the weighty resin forward fuselage. I even had to drill out the G radar nosecone to add more lead. On top of this, the Classic Airframes nosegear strut (used with the Classic Airframes resin nosegear bay) was at least 3/16" too long, giving a weird looking, nose-high look to the model, whereas most pix of B-57s show a distinctive nose low attitude. The strut was shortened appropriately, using a brass pin for strength.

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The Canberra engine intake diameters are too small for the later, more powerful B-57 engines, so the larger resin intakes from the Collect-Aire kit were grafted to the Classic nacelles. The compressor faces were cut out from the Collect-Aire intakes, and separate resin ones from the Falcon vac kit were adapted.

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:



Distinctive “rams horn” air intakes flanking the radar nosecone were scratchbuilt as were two small air ducts on each side of the aft fuselage and the long, offset pitot boom. The G, as in other later B-57 models, uses larger oil cooler fairings under the forward portion of the engine nacelles. I scratchbuilt mine and cast ‘em in resin.

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Resin underwing weapons pylons were adapted from the Collect-Aire B-57, but the way oversize tip tanks were not; the Classic Airframes ones are correct. Mk 82 LGBs are from one of the Hasegawa weaons sets.


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Another big difference between Canberras and B-57s is the installation, in the B-57, of speedbrakes. Accordingly, the Bondo Industries Weirdness Works Division cut out and adapted those of the Collect-Aire kit to the Classic Airframes injected empennage.

Circular “bumps” on the empennage top and bottom were also cannibalized from the Collect-Aire kit. Upper and lower rotating beacons were scratchbuilt, as were all the various new antenna blades.


Painting and Markings

Extensive sanding eliminated many panel lines; they were rescribed. And, yeah, yeah, Bondo knows that panel lines differ between the Canberra and B-57s.

The three-tone SEA cammo, plus black undersurfaces, render this discrepancy rather moot IMO; as we used to say in USAF, “close enough for government work”!


Many iterations of the ol’ Blue Acryl...wet sand...lacquer primer routine were accomplished until the airframe surface took on a dull shine. The laborious SEA camo scheme was done in Polly Scale acrylic. After initial basic patterns were airbrushed, each color area had to be remasked and the edges of the tape slightly raised to gain the properly delicate overspray pattern in a 1/48 model.



Squadron codes and national insignia decals are from various Aeromaster sheets and represent the aircraft in the beautiful two-page artist’s rendition of an inflight G in the Bob Mikesh (Schiffer) B-57 book. A light coat of greatly thinned Testor’s acrylic clear flat was dusted on to blend in everything. I may do a panel line wash later, but was in a rush to ready the model for the Kansas City Nats.




As so often happens when Bondo Industries does a major kitbash, an injected version of said project appears as if by magic!



I welcome Jules’ B-57 kit announcement and hope that he eventually releases a G.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2006 by Phil Brandt
Page Created 11 September, 2006
Last Updated 21 February, 2007

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to HyperScale Main Page