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B-1B Lancer

Pictures available soon.

Kit

Kit Manufacturer

Scale

Price

Options

Out of Box (OOB) or Modified

Rating (1-10 10=best)

Rockwell B-1B

Revell-Monogram or Revell Germany

1:48

$30

TBA

The B-1B is the latest of the USAF's "conventional" bombers (the B-2 Spirit or Stealth Bomber is newer, but is more specialized.) It's had a long, interesting history from beginning development, through cancellation by the Carter administration, through redesign and reinstatement in the Reagan years and service through the Gulf war. It is a swing-wing bomber, smaller than the aging B-52 both physically and on radar, but able to carry a comparable payload faster and lower (to escape detection.)

The B-1 was initially designed as a higher altitude supersonic penetration bomber, with swing wings to help with takeoff and low speed flight, swinging well aft for a high speed "Dash" to and from the target. The A model had a promenant spine which housed electronics, and housed the crew in an escape capsule (later found to be impractical, leaving the F-111 the only operational aircraft with this feature.) It was cancelled for political reasons by the Carter administration after three prototypes were built, leaving the old B-52 as our only heavy bombing aircraft. President Reagan reinstated the program, redesigned with a reduced radar signature through redesigned inlets and a removal of the promenant spine as well as simplified inlets and other features to deal with its new mission - low level penetration. It's amazing to think of this big "bird" zipping just a few hundred feet off the ground at high speed - but that's what it does, and it does it well. Internally, it features three bomb bays, which can (or could, prior to treaty agreements) be reconfigured via a sliding bulkhead to accomodate various size launchers and munitions, or fuel tanks.

The kit - in box review

Kit pieces

The kit comes in several, very large pieces. The white stick you see is slightly over 1 US foot long - and that's only part of the fuselage dwarfing it. The fuselage is sectioned into three main portions - the front cockpit, the main body and swing wing housing, and the tail. Having seen some of these built up (last at the 1999 US IPMS Nationals,) these sections can lead to problems with gaps and with sturdiness - be prepared to reinforce them. Also be prepared to reinforce the wings somehow, as they've been known to sag a bit much (I may build mine permanently swept back, but this precludes options such as dropping slats and flaps.)

The parts themselves are well molded, with finely represented detail. There is one problem with this, though - the details aren't exactly up to date. Revell-Monogram updated their old B-1A mold (which I remember seeing years ago in Target department stores! molded in white) to represent the B-1B, but they left out numerous small details, such as the updated pitot cluster and vortex generators, as well as the proper engine exhausts. Eduard makes photoetch replacements for many of these details, but the exhausts are harder to find (I don't recall who makes them at the moment.) I have also seen complaints about the engine pods - they seem to not want to go together well. We'll see when we finally get around to building this monster! Finally, there are external stores (cruise missiles) shown - this is not accurate for an operational B-1B at this time due to agreements in the old START treaty, which led to this capability being removed. The rotary launcher and fuel tanks are shown mounted in the aircraft as well - those who want other stores and configurations will have to scratchbuild them.

Build problems aside (which are easy enough to deal with,) the biggest problem with this kit is simply, "Where will I put this when it's done?" It is a HUGE kit, and quite long when finished. It will take up a shelf by itself - and it had better be a deep shelf. Few other kits rate this much space (the only ones that come to mind right offhand are the AMT/ERTL 1/72 B-52, and the Testors SR-71/YF-12 in 1/48.) I've heard of modellers building coffeetables around them for display. Still, it is an IMPRESSIVE model when finished.

This kit has been issued by Revell-Monogram and Revell-Germany. The only difference between the two is price - the R/G version is imported, and typically costs between $70-$80 in the US, while the Revell-Monogram version can be had for between $30-$45. The situationis reversed in other countries. Just get the cheaper one depending on where you are. You're not missing out on any plastic.

Finally, the kit comes with decals for a "European" camoflage scheme. Anyone wanting to do the current grey scheme will have to search for aftermarket sheets. Also, a replacement resin cockpit interior is available - great if you want to open up the crew hatches. If you don't, don't bother - the tinted (!) windscreen will hide much of the finely detailed cockpit.

More as this gets built.