Kit Manufacturer




Out of Box (OOB) or Modified

Rating (1-10 10=best)

YB-49 Flying WIng





As Northrop developed the X/YB-35 Flying Wing for a specification issued by the US Army Air Forces, two things were happening. First, the specification became obsolete, as the fall of England to Germany didn't happen, and second, the jet age arrived. Where the XB-35 was created with four sets of contrarotating propellers, and the YB-35 went with four standard props, the YB-49 was created to explore the feasability of a jet powered flying wing bomber. Unfortunately, this led to a few problems due to the technology of the day. While the wing was fast and handled "like a fighter," the aircraft had a tendancy to yaw. The XB-35 didn't have this problem, as the housings for the propeller shafts helped stabilize the aircraft. Reluctantly, Jack Northrop added small fins to the wing, disrupting its "pure" flying wing form, but it didn't help stability (a problem that wouldn't be overcome until the B-2 Stealth Bomber took off.) Also, the jet engines of the day were large and inefficient, which reduced its payload and range. While air-to-air refuelling may have helped here, it hadn't quite been perfected yet. Finally, the bomb bays were not large enough to handle the then-new, large nuclear weapons in the Air Force inventory. So by government order, and with employees sadly looking on, the futuristic, sleek YB-49 Flying Wings were cut to scrap. None survive to this day, though they were the forebears of the B-2 Stealth Bomber (and were stealthy enough on their own in their day by virtue of their shape alone.)

The Kit

This is another of AMT/ERTL's now-out-of-production aircraft kits. While I refuse to buy their car kits due to their lousy customer service now (after Racing Champions bought them, they *have* no customer service, no parts replacement, NOTHING) I still buy some of their aircraft kits. They're the only manufacturer with a YB-35, YB-49, A-20/P-70, or F7F Tigercat family in injection molded plastic. They're inexpensive, but reasonably well done.

The flying wings have their own, "interesting" set of construction issues. They're not long, you don't have any wing-fuselage joins to worry about, but because they're WIDE, they're split up in thirds. There's a lot of alignment to get done on these kits - and you have to be careful because they're also finished in "natural" metal, so any scratches, blobs, or the like *will* show up. (Unless, of course, you do a theoretical camoflage scheme....) A good, steady hand and eye, and possibly cyanoacrylate (super glue) will come in very handy with these. As there weren't many YB-49s made, you don't really have a choice of markings. Still, careful construction will result in an impressive looking aircraft. If you have a set of shelves (and can find the now-long-out of production kits) you could get an entire family of these going - the Sword N9M (also 1/72 scale,) XB-35, YB-35, YB-49, and (if you can find it and deal with its problems) the Testors' B-2 Stealth Bomber.

As far as the kit itself, it's nicely molded and broken down as reasonably as it can be. It has recessed panel lines (not overdone,) good, clear transparancies, "weighted" tires (but not overdone, they're just slightly flattened, not FLAT) and nice detail. Outside of the care that must be taken to make sure everything lines up and in the natural metal finish, this is not an overwhelming kit to tackle.

I look forward to having the shelf space handy so I can build this up!