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Old 12-18-2020, 06:55 AM   #1
ET2SN
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Icon7 Another new model kit, coming soon.

After submarines, my favorite airplane kit is the B-52.

I started seeing vids about Great Wall Hobby's new 1/144th scale Buff last week, I found a nice kit review and initial build:







It looks good so far and I hope to get one or two on order by next month (?).

This kit builds a modern B-52H, namely an aircraft modified to "Phase VI" standards (the updated, lengthened tail section with phased array antennas and final version of the EVS turrets under the nose), the addition of a "sniper pod" on the STBD wing and a "Bobbited tail"*. The B-52 can best be thought of as the airplane the USAF can't get rid of, no matter how hard they try.
There are already "3rd Generation Crews" flying the same aircraft their grandfathers flew and the B-52 will easily last in front line service until the 2040's. The Pentagon has already ordered new, more efficient engines and there are plans for the B-52 to become an electronics jammer/ECM aircraft. To put it in better perspective, consider that the B-52 has outlasted the planes that were supposed to replace it. The B-58 Hustler, the B-70 Valkyrie, the B-1 (A and B) Lancer/BONE and the B-2 Spirit were or will be retired before the B-52.

From what I've seen, Great Wall did a CAD re-scale of their 1/72nd scale B-52 kits from last year. This could be good or bad, Great Wall wound up getting thrashed with their initial releases of these kits and had to offer updated nose parts and still got the tail and horizontal stabs wrong.
The good news was that they offered multiple versions of the B-52G and B-52H in 1/72nd scale, so we should expect a couple more kits in 1/144th scale.

While Academy released a 1/144th scale (modern) B-52H several years ago, it has massive problems in how the fuselage and EVS turrets were modelled. The only other alternative in this scale came from Revell, who offered "modern" B-52G and H models back in the early 1990's via Revell USA and Revell Germany. I built a couple of these kits in the barracks at Pearl when we weren't at sea and managed to snag one more on EBay a couple of years ago that I work on from time to time. Buffs in 1/144th scale are mostly the perfect size, large enough to show off detail work and painting but not so big that they don't fit on the display shelf. Paint is really easy, B-52's have been painted over-all in Gunship Gray (FS 36118) since the mid 1990's. Make sure to weather and fade the paint on the upper wings and fuselage, B-52's don't spend much time in a hanger. If the instructions tell you to apply "stars and bars" to the wings, don't. The B-52 has such a unique outline that , since the mid 1990's, national markings are only applied to the sides of the fuselage. Decals are provided for half of the six current squadrons (plus nose art) and hopefully there will be some aftermarket decals available.

To sum it up, I'm looking forward to ordering a couple of these kits and hopefully there will also be a B-52G in the pipeline. There are two things that still concern me, the first is that Great Wall never really got their 1/72nd scale kits "right" although they did the right thing by remolding the nose and fwd fuselage (on this kit, the one internal item you will be able to see, the head rests for the pilot and co-pilot, are missing and will need to be carved then painted red). The second is price, for a 1/144th scale kit expect to pay somewhere in the 30-40 US Dollar range once it becomes available.

For that kind of money, you do get a decent amount of plastic and its nice to see the selection of weapons and the sniper pod. The CSRL (combined stores rotary launcher) is a nice detail for the bomb bay but might be better saved for a side display/diorama.





*- By the early 1990's, the USAF decided to retire the B-52G's and remove the M61 Vulcan 20mm rotary cannon from the tail of the surviving B-52H's plus the enlisted gunner from the crew. The loss of weight in the tail was compensated for by adding slabs of high tech concrete and this "less manly" mod was named in honor of John Wayne Bobbitt who's angry wife cut off his *ahem* late one night while he was passed out.
In theory, the USAF has kept the M61's in storage in case they are ever needed again, but this would be a long term refit, much like Mr. Bobbitt's reconstructive surgery.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:06 PM   #2
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So, after a bunch of pacing back and forth on whether or not to buy this kit- it showed up in today's mail.

The over-all point of this review is whether this kit is worth the price, so I'll say right up front that I shelled out $73 USD on Amazon (via Sprue Bros. out of Liberty, MO) with free shipping. There were other options on EBay that fell into the $50 USD range ($30 for the kit plus "when ever the boat gets there" shipping) but Sprue Bros. is relatively close to me and I wanted to try a first order with them.

Let that sink in for a minute.

This kit is freaking expensive for what it is. What it is, is very nice but can you justify the dent it puts in your wallet?

The kit contains no photo-etch, just a couple of shades of gray plastic plus the clear glass. A small sheet of photo etch would have been welcome for two antenna masts that are shaped like a T (actually more like an F with a mirror image F next to it) plus some doo-dads for the flight deck and a better cover for where the rotary cannon used to reside in the tail.

The plate you get to plug that hole is OK but if you're really into detail you'll need to drill a bunch of 0135/80 sized holes in the plastic part, something I'm not looking forward to.

It seems like EVERY B-52 kit that has ever existed has had its issues in terms of basic shapes and dimensions, so we may as well get this part out of the way.

Yes, there are some minor accuracy issues with this kit, mostly with the way the horizontal stabilizers are depicted. On this kit, they are nicely faired into the sides of the fuselage, just like a 737 or an Airbus main wing. This is totally wrong, the horizontal stabs of the B-52 pivot to control trim. There should be a "hard' break between them and the fuse. Call up some side-view images of the Buff and you'll notice a bare-metal panel on the fuse from the half-way point of the stabs to just in front of their leading edges. It isn't painted for a reason, its a tight fit but the stabs have to be able to move. To be fair, this is one of the more confusing features of the real aircraft. The parts that look like trim tabs are actually the elevators while the entire surface of the stabs are the actual trim tabs.
There should be six flare ejectors on the bottom of each stab. I'm not sure why this was omitted, the chaff ejectors are nicely molded into the bottoms of the main wings.

One topic people always seem to obsess over are the vortex generators on the main wings and stab, so let's look into that. The vortex generators on the REAL plane are small and there are a lot of them. There, happy now?
To be fair, Revell did a better job on their B-52 G and H 1/144th scale kits back in the 1990's and they were over-sized. GWH includes them but you'll need to set your airbrush to "wisp" and cross your fingers, otherwise they will sink into the paint.

OK, on to the main wing(s). They look right. You'll need to drill some small holes and add the nav lights, but that's minor. The one issue with the wings is that you HAVE to model the plane as landed with the wheels firmly on the ground. The wings are molded with a slight downward sag which is accurate for the real article if its full of fuel and travelling slower than 50 knots. There is no way its accurate for a plane in the air. If you want to build this thing "wheels up", drink several cans of beer before you start to bend them slightly up. Its a $60 kit and you won't feel so bad when you hear the loud CRACK.

I also don't see this covered in the instructions but the insides of the flap wells and the doors for the tip gear should be painted Zinc Chromate Green (which tends to fade into almost a Chrome Yellow). These green areas tend to get filthy, so weather them accordingly.

Some other obvious things to high-light- GWH modelled the COMPLETE flight deck, both levels. Why? Well, why not, I guess? The seats are there for all seven crew members (a jump seat is included for an Instructor Pilot on the top deck) but you'll need to add the triangular head rests for the two seats you'll be able to see and paint them red.
The main wheels and tires are nice. The tires don't have "weight-on-wheels" bulges but the tires on the real article have something like 38 plies to them so they aren't going to bulge a lot.
There are supposed to be two red, rotating beacon lights on top of the fuse, about 3/4ths of way back from the nose. These lights are unique to the B-52 and are considered a design characteristic. Its not a big deal to add them by drilling out the holes and "over filling" them in with clear red paint, but they should have been included.

"Cheek dimples"- The B-52 G and H have a very complex shape to the nose and forward fuse, even before the FLIR and LLTV turrets were added below the cockpit. This resulted in a very slight crease or dimple between the nose cover and the lower part of the fuse. On the old Revell kit, the dimples were were fairly deep. GWH has toned this dimple down a little more and it looks "right". The cockpit area should also have wrinkled skin due to the cockpit being pressurized, but this effect is very slight especially at this scale. You can create this effect using a thick primer/surfacer or some mottled highlights, just don't go overboard.

Engines- Basically the same as the pods found in the old Revell B-52H, only different. Both designs are valid and accurate, IMO. Revell got the complex shape of the inlets closer to reality but GWH includes the "blow in" bypass doors which are open at slower speeds and higher power settings.
Really, this is a "push" between both kits. Just be sure to paint the nose cones of the actual engines NATO Black then weather/chip the snot out of them. Revell didn't mold the bypass doors, GWH did but they're almost "too prominent" and you'll need to do a little bit of filling and sanding to tone them down slightly. The bypass doors should be one of those "Oh, of course" items if you know what to look for.

Decals- To be really honest, "meh". The GWH decals look fine but my first impression was, "I can't wait to see what the aftermarket decal companies come up with". One thing that's glaringly off is walkway stripes for the main wings and fuse. There aren't any which would rate a "Harumph" even if the kit was sold for $20 or less. Either wait for the aftermarket to come to the rescue, buy the Minicraft late-model B-52H for the decals and junk the plastic, or get ready to lay down masks for pin striping. Really, GWH. I don't mind paying top dollar and the plastic is fantastic, just humor me a bit and go the extra mile. I shouldn't have to be looking for decals and photo etch at this price point.

Don't get me wrong, I gripe because I can. The parts just click together after clean up (the way the parts fit together on this kit is just sick, everyone needs to experience a kit like this at least once) and everything tends to look right. If this is your first B-52 kit, you could do worse. Much, much worse...
One quick note on cleaning up the parts, GWH uses what I call "flush" sprue connections. Not quite the same as a standard plastic model, the sprue connects to the part at the seam of the part. This results in much cleaner molding but you need to be careful when removing the part from the sprue. Cut the part loose leaving a bigger chunk of sprue on the part than normal then carefully file/sand the sprue away until you get a smooth, flush seam.
If you've never built a kit like this, take your time and work slowly at first. You'll see the advantage to molding a kit like this but it usually happens after you screw up one of the parts.

What else? Detail tends to go over-board a bit, but at least its there. You get a full crew compartment even though you'll only be able to see the front seats. You get a full bomb bay even though you can only pose the model on the ground, with the bomb bay doors open and almost touching the pavement. You get the rotary launcher and its support members which, again, you won't be able to see. There are multiple pylons for the different weapon types (basically nuke and conventional) so you might want to try adding some magnets to hold the pylons in place. The only true gripe I have with this kit are the blade antennas, and there are a LOT of them. For some reason, they are not as sharp as the antennas on the older Revell Buff. Which is a shame. Again, we're back to having the aftermarket save the day which will still be tough. Photo etch would be too thin and cast resin would be way too fragile. That leaves scratch building with plastic sheet stock for a 1/144th scale $60 kit. As far as nit-picking, there is an error where the bomb bay doors joint the fuse. There are actually four doors on each side and the upper doors are the same length as the lower doors. Not a big deal, some quick scribing will fix this.

So, do I recommend this kit? For North America, this is a lot tougher than it should be. The engineering is top-notch (mostly) and there are some very minor flaws. There's also the price tag which makes this kit tough to recommend to new builders. I'd like to see some photo etch hit the market plus some better decals. An optional tail gun would have been great for a pre-2000 build (the gun part is easy, the fairing that goes around the barrels is a lot tougher) as well as an option for "in-flight" or "parked" wings.
Am I hoping to see GWH do it again as a B-52G? Well, heck yeah! Figure out an option for the wing roots so its either a "straklet" cruise missile carrier or a "777" conventional bomber. Add an option to pose the FLIR/LLTV turrets open or closed (for once) and figure out those blade antennas and these kits will become highly recommended, even at the current price.

Last edited by ET2SN; 01-25-2021 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 01-27-2021, 07:41 AM   #3
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Thanks for the update. Pictures?
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Old 01-27-2021, 11:19 AM   #4
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Since it's some years back been popular to famous bomberplane in scale 1:32-I made a search to see if B52 was in such a scale.

It would be huge-that for sure.

As Neal I also hope to see the progress of your building adventure

Edit
The cockpit of the B-52H is available in scale 1:32.
End edit

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Old 01-27-2021, 02:06 PM   #5
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I don't "do" pictures. Cameras tend to break if my face gets in them.
Besides, IMO this is a hands-on hobby. You really need to do this stuff live and in person. Pics tend to make people lazy and I'd rather see you try it rather than me showing off what I've done. I'll tell you what I use on my builds and how I do it, however.

Actually, I was goofing around with this kit last night and I think I nailed how to paint the engine fans. Its really easy, I used Tamiya Gunmetal (X-10), Tamiya NATO Black (XF-69), Tamiya Black Panel Liner, and a small brush.

Paint the fan blades Gunmetal and let them dry. Again, I did this using a brush.
Then paint the engine cone Nato Black. Once dry, add a touch of Panel Liner to the fan blades. That's it. I checked the colors using a color photo of a TF-33 engine from my copy of Squadron's Walk Around #6, B-52 and it looks about right. Remember these engine fans go a little deep into the pods. You don't want the fan blades super bright but you do want them to "poke out" a bit. If you want to weather/distress the engine cones, try dry brushing them slightly using Tamiya Titanium Silver (X-32) or a dark shade of Aluminum. These aren't big parts, so just a little of an effect goes a long way.

The engine exhausts are basically black. You could try using a darker jet engine exhaust paint or just go straight to flat black.

A couple of other build notes:

This kit includes the six air probes that glue to the side of the fwd fuse. They are SMALL and you'll need some good tweezers and a liquid-type glue. I also recommend gluing them in place early in the build, way before you do any painting. Just paint them in the final steps of your build using a color like Titanium Gold (X-32) or a darker shade of Stainless Steel or even a dark-ish brown metallic (these probes are heated in flight and tend to get some heat staining but are also really small).

The flight deck and interior parts of this kit are overkill. With that being said, paint the flight deck walls and floor(s) using a lighter gray (something like Gull Gray). The Inst Panel shroud should be painted Nato Black and this where it pays off to know someone who smokes Marlboros. Ask them to save the foiled pull-out tab the next time they open a new pack. This foiled paper is a very quick and dirty way to replicate the flash curtains that cover the cockpit windows. The bomb bay is mostly white. Don't go too crazy with weathering unless its the sides of the bomb bay. Pipes can be a darker silver for contrast and hoses are "gas station red/orange". The rotary launcher is mostly white, however, the framing that holds it in place should be painted black.

The landing gear bays are tricky. The normal way to build landing gear is to weather them up heavily and add streaks and stains. On the B-52, the main gear parts are painted gloss white and are inspected and cleaned prior to and just after flight. In other words, don't go overboard like its a Mig.

The Cruise Missiles in the kit are AGM-129s. These are the more modern, stealthy versions of the good 'ole AGM-86 ALCM (or later CALCM). I need to dig into this a little more, but I don't think the -129 was retro-fitted with a conventional warhead. Aside from the kit's painting guide, I don't think they are painted Olive Drab like the conventional bombs. In all the photos I've seen, they are painted a "stealthy black" or maybe a charcoal gray. You could try just painting them Nato Black or maybe toning it up slightly with just a hint of Gunship Gray (maybe one drop of gray to ten drops of black).

The walkway lines on the main wing are still bugging me. I'm 99% sure they SHOULD be there, I want to dig into this to prove myself wrong. The modern photos I have show Gunship Gray with a slightly darker gray walkway line and stenciling, but this may have changed recently.


Otherwise, take your time cutting the parts off the sprues and filing/sanding them. Dry fit the parts to make sure they fit (this kit basically "clicks" together so make certain there is no paint between parts that join together, like the bomb bay, flight deck, and fuse). After that, assembly goes quickly.
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Old 02-09-2021, 11:13 AM   #6
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So, I've gotten some work done on the basic build.

I'm still in the middle of planning what this thing is going to look like while staring at the box that contains my other B-52H and wondering if that kit is going to get built or donate some parts to this kit. The other kit is a 1990 era Revell B-52H with a full load of AGM-86 ALCMs under the wings and the distinctive Sea Eagle/Sea Hawk tail art from the 92nd BW at Fairchild AFB. The plan was to build the old kit basically box-stock with the Fairchild tail art and the older "Euro two" camo pattern of gunship gray with patches of "NATO green" on the upper surfaces and sides with lighter gray "tiger stripes" under the wings and fuse. I've been keeping an eye out for another version of this Revell kit from the same time period. A "modern" (1990's) B-52G that included a full load of Harpoon missiles under the wings. While all or at least most of the B-52 crews practiced shooting Harpoons at ships, only a handful of bomb wings actually got the missiles to load on the plane. The 92nd BW inherited this mission from the 93rd BW at Castle AFB in the late 1980's, so its possible to load them onto a B-52H.

Anyway, the one problem of having BOTH the Revell and GWH kits happens when you hold one fuse next to the other. They ain't the same. I always thought Revell got the shape right, or at least the most right but the GWH kit is just better. Where the GWH kit stumbles a bit is the external antennas, wing vortex generators, and some fuselage stiffeners that were added to the outside of the fuse. The stiffeners are easy to create using strips of thin styrene sheet and some sanding once they are glued in place. The antennas and vortex generators are not so easy and its very tempting to start cutting parts out of the old Revell kit.

But, I'm resisting that temptation. I still want to complete the Revell model as a "retro build" from 1990 in period-correct colors, lettering, and load-out with some resin wheels and underwing pylons. The GWH kit has some more possibilities and I'm still hoping to start seeing resin and photo etch become available. As far as decals, at the moment it ain't so good. I'm very sure at this point I will build the GWH kit as a modern B-52H from Minot AFB, 23rd BS*. The kit decals include a "boss bird" from Minot's 69th BS (yellow tail stripe) but "boss birds" are boring to me. So, I ordered the one decal set available in north America from Caracal decals to get the red and gold "Bomber Barons" tail stripe and the BW and BS logos. It should be noted that Caracal has a new B-52 decal set "in the pipeline" and that Cartograph does their printing in Italy. I'm hoping the new set includes wing and fuse walkways in dark gray instead of black.

At this point I should also point out that I'm really into Flight Sim (FS2002 and FS2004 to be precise) and I've racked up a lot of time in the old Alphasim B-52 G and H models. If you dig around at Flightsim.com, you'll find some B-52 repaints that I posted which includes a B-52H named "Minot Betty" from the 23rd BS. The "Betty" nose art is fictional, its basically Betty Boop in a short red dress with some fancy script work that I came up with when it felt like the Air Force was naming anything with at least two tires "The Memphis Belle". The other nose art I was playing with for that plane came from a WWII B-17G named "American Beauty" which featured a (tasteful) naked blonde laying in a bed of roses. Ironically, I borrowed the artwork from Caracal's web site which was why "Betty" showed up on the version I uploaded. So, I knew Caracal did the "American Beauty" nose art in 1/48th scale, what about 1/144th scale- could I get that lucky?

Well yes, yes I could. Kits World did print the decal sheet in 1/144th scale. A while ago.. In the UK...

After a couple of days of beating up the WWW, I tracked down a sheet on EBay in the UK and its on its way to Iowa. Whether I can get the nose art from a B-17 to fit on a B-52 and "look right" is one of those bridges I'll cross when its time.


Meanwhile, there's more than planning going on with the GWH kit. I mentioned that I'll toss out some hints on building and painting at this scale and I also mentioned this kit doesn't include lights. So, here's how you add stuff like landing and nav lights:

All you need is a pin vice, clear paint, clear red, clear green, and clear blue (preferably Tamiya's acrylics) and some "clear parts" PVA glue. You'll also need a bright shade of silver paint or a Molotow chrome silver pen (the smaller the tip the better).

In the case of the GWH kit, you'll need to find the locations of the lights and mark them in pencil. Then, drill a small hole into the plastic. Not too deep, just deep enough so it looks right. For older nav lights that look like a teardrop, start the hole like normal then rotate the bit 45 degrees towards the front of the wing so the hole looks more like an oval. Clean up the inside of the hole using glue or even surfacing primer, what's important is getting the hole just deep enough so it looks like it belongs there while still having a definite rim. Next, paint the inside in either chrome or a very bright silver and allow to dry fully.
Depending on how much you want the light "lens" to poke out of the fuse, use the PVA/clear parts glue to build up the face of the "lens". Allow some room for the clear paint. This isn't anything like painting, just drop or blot the clear into place and let it set. You want the surface to form almost a bubble shape. Finish with the clear paint. I like to use Tamiya's clears because they dry so hard, I also don't thin these paints like I would with normal Tamiya acrylics, you want them thick so they can be applied with a toothpick or even a pin. This is usually a lengthy process, expect the glue and clear paints to shrink as they cure. If the colored paints start to look too dark, switch to adding layers of just the clear. This little trick works nicely once you're comfortable doing it. You can do the drilling during the early parts of the build and save the painting for when the kit is almost finished or an assembly is complete.

I mentioned a while ago that the B-52 has two red beacon lights on its back. You can add them easily using this technique. On the GWH model, locate the "mushroom/saucer" shaped antenna on the rear top of the fuse. Its about 1.5 cm from the leading edge of the vert tail. Staying square to the fuse, measure down the side .5 cm and mark the spot. Do the same for the other side of the fuse. When you're done you should have two marks 1 cm apart when looking directly down at the fuse halves with the "mushroom" antenna in the middle. Drill the holes ( I use a "65" / .035 drill bit ) square to the curve of the fuse. These holes are small, but they will "pop" just enough when the kit is complete and painted. Paint the hole with bright silver and allow to fully dry, then start filling in with clear red. Build up the "lens" so its defiantly sticking out of the fuse, on the real plane these lights are round and about three inches tall so you want a small but definite "blob" on the fuse.

You can also use a variation of this trick on the Sniper Pod. GWH says to paint the window blue, but I want to do some research and create a more 3D solution.

Otherwise, I have some paint on order. The GWH kit includes a bunch of AGM-129 cruise missiles and, well, Google it. The -129 is painted an odd color. It defiantly NOT Olive Drab and it isn't black but its darker than Gunship Gray.
I wound up ordering some Tamiya "German Gray" which is fairly dark but also has some hints of blue in it. We'll see what arrives..





*- Bonus material: I mention the 23rd and 69th BS's at Minot and they have an odd history. The 23rd BS dates back to 1917 and its unit shield shows five bombs dropping into a volcano, which really happened in Hawai'i back in the 1920's. The idea was to divert a lava flow that threatened a town. After that, the 23rd BS went on to become a B-17 and B-24 squadron in the Pacific during WWII and eventually wound up at Travis AFB flying the B-36 and later the B-52D.
The 23rd transferred to Minot AFB in 1968 to fly the B-52G and has stayed there ever since. Then, 2008 happened..

The 23rd BS, or The Barons or The Bomber Barons sent one of their B-52H's down to Barksdale AFB with a full load of cruise missile "shapes" loaded on the pylons under the wings. The shapes are used to train ground crews in handling cruise missiles and the flight crews in getting used to the additional weight and drag without having to haul nukes around the country. They are identical to real cruise missiles but are completely inert and un-armed. There was just one problem, what was bolted to the pylons of the plane that landed at Barksdale weren't dummies but instead were the Real McCoy. Not armed but ready to launch with a nuke payload.

This was about as bad it gets for losing control of 100 Kiloton warheads. In the complicated chain of control and delivery, NO one spotted an error until the plane had flown from North Dakota to Louisiana.

The Air Force immediately put the 5th BW (which also includes a lot of missile silos in North Dakota) "on ice", grounding the bombers while installing "watchdogs" for the missile crews. This is standard Air Force business when chains of nuclear custody fail and heads are about to roll, except this was also Minot which carried more than its fair share of the US Nuclear Triad.
While the Navy had its Trident bases and Ohio class boomers, the Air Force has the missile wings and the B-52s. By 2008, the B-52s were based at either Barksdale or Minot. Barksdale is located just down the road from Bossier City, La. There are restaurants and bars and movie theaters and the weather is nice. Barksdale by this time had also become the prime B-52 base in the Air Force where some of the squadrons became specialized at dropping conventional bombs on military targets. Which became very important for an officer who wanted to get promoted up the ladder. The nuclear mission was as important as it always was (Well, mostly. The Triad was mostly running in Idle, Putin was fairly quiet and China had other things going on.) and it was the only mission at Minot, but it was also becoming a dead end to a career. Minot also had, well, not much really. There were two seasons (Winter and July), a lot of wind all the time, and no where to go unless you craved to travel from the prairie to the Canadian prairie, which looked pretty much the same.

After a couple of weeks of harrumphing, the Air Force still had a problem. The 23rd BS had been grounded pending a grueling inquiry and re-certification process but the 23rd BS was a key part of the 5th BW's mission.
The answer was to re-install the old 69th BS (which had formerly been located near my old stomping grounds at Loring AFB in Maine) using the same aircraft and crews (who survived the inquiry part) plus some planes that were transferred from Barksdale and paint the tops of the tails yellow and black.
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Old 02-16-2021, 02:44 PM   #7
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A quick post on painting ALCMs.

Air Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCMs) have been carried by the B-52, B-1*, and B-2 for many years. Getting the paint figured out depends on what era you are modeling.

B-77/GAM-77/AGM-28 Hound Dog:

The Hound Dog was carried by B-52G and H model bombers. For most of their service life, the Hound Dogs wore over-all gloss white (anti-flash) paint with black USAF lettering and blue and red roundels. Before being removed from service in the early 1980's, the same "3 green" camo paint was applied to the tops of the missiles and their jet engine as the B-52 wore. The shade of white was always gloss, but over time it could fade out to look more like a semi-gloss to an almost matte finish. (while SAC B-52s of this era looked like they wore two shades of green camo plus a brown/earth shade that brown is actually classified as a shade of green ) BTW, these are NOT the same colors that were applied to B-52Ds serving in Asia, aka ARCLIGHT.

AGM-69 SRAM:
THE AGM-69 was the smallest "cruise missile" carried by the B-52 and FB-111. It was a follow-on program to the Air Force's Genie missile that was loaded on interceptor fighters and was painted over-all gloss white. The SRAM had a very limited "waypoint" capability and was mostly a "fire-and-forget" weapon.

AGM-86 A, B, and C models ALCM/CALCM:
The ALCM was the Air Force's "swiss army knife" with a nuke warhead. B-52 G and H models could carry a full load-out of 20 ALCMs or a mixed load-out of twelve ALCMs under the wings with one to four free fall warheads in the bomb bay. ALCMs started out in the traditional over-all gloss white during the early to mid 1980's that changed to shades of USAF "ghost gray" as the decade wore on. The B model was a slightly longer version of the A.
The AGM-86 started out as the replacement for the ADM-20 Quail decoy missile but the program showed so much promise the Air Force gave up on the decoy mission and replaced the reflectors with a live warhead.
It should be noted, if you want to build an "as flown" B-52 model, the ALCMs on the wing pylons have to be dummies, or "shapes". B-52s did NOT carry live warheads on deterrence/training flights since 1968. Well, they did carry live warheads once by mistake (see above post). From a practical standpoint, you can go crazy with an ALCM load-out. Paint some in white with USAF lettering or over-all ghost light gray or over-all ghost dark gray or any combo you can imagine. "Shapes" tended to stay at the same base, unless they were needed elsewhere. A shape will ALWAYS have a bright yellow stencil label painted on near the nose.
The later CALCM (conventional warhead) variant is identical to the ALCM but could be painted anything from dark gray (Tamiya German Gray XF-63) to a dark brown or one of the ghost grays.

AGM-129 "Stealth ALCM"
The AGM-129 is the updated version of the ALCM with longer range and more low-observable capabilities. It features wings that fold out so it looks like a Su "Berkut" or an X-29 with backward-tapered wings. They are carried by the B-52H and B-2.
The AGM-129 (from the photos I've seen) wears an over-all dark gray "stealth" paint:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...cropped%29.jpg

which looks an awful lot like Tamiya XF-63 German Gray.

As far as I can tell, the AGM-129 has not been converted to the CALCM (conventional) mission.



*- There were plans for the B-1 to carry ALCMs (I once built a Monogram B-1 with ALCMs loaded under the fuselage), however the B-1 was limited by a couple of treaties to only carry conventional weps. Which could be thought of as a bit of a blessing, B-1Bs were a maintenance nightmare for most of their service life.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:58 AM   #8
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My favorite B-1 is the one they equipped to carry mines out of Corpus Christi, TX

Wouldn't that just ruin your whole day to have that thing flying low over your harbor to drop mines
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:26 PM   #9
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The Air Force had a habit of elbowing its way into Navy missions.

Before the B-1, the B-52s also trained with and carried Gator and Captor mines.

During the development of the ALCM, its competitor would later be known as the Tomahawk or TLAM. The ALCM had slightly longer range but its nav system relied on changes in ground elevation. The TLAM could navigate over water, a feature the Navy really liked, which was why both missiles went into service.

The most unique missile carried by the B-52 was the D-21 drone. The D-21 looked like a miniature single-engined SR-71 Blackbird without a nose and used a smaller version of the SR's ram jet engine. They were carried by B-52Hs based out of Beale AFB and were actually launched three times to over-fly the Chinese A-bomb tests at Lop Nor, probably launched somewhere near Thailand. Two of the launches resulted in early aborts while the third actually over-flew its target and took pictures but the capsule that carried the film and cameras was lost before it could be recovered. After that, LBJ decided to pull the plug on the program.
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Old 03-27-2021, 03:31 AM   #10
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Meanwhile, oh snap!



In plastic models, when it rains it pours. The price point for this kit should be less than the GWH kit above.* Maybe in a couple of months we'll also see the re-issue of the Revell kits if not a complete re-tooling? *

Andy didn't mention it, but Academy has re-tooled their old Buff from the same scale. The old kit had a LOT of issues in terms of accuracy, although it DID get the seat backs/head rests right, which they have now blown off. The only reason I harp on the head rests is that they are the one detail you'll be able to see through the canopy. Speaking of the canopy, Academy seems to have borrowed some ideas from the old Revell kit. The clear part is a very close copy of how Revell molded the windows, likewise it looks like they opted to "lean" the forward windows back a little too far. This is something you'll have to live with and at the end of the day and it isn't that much of a deal breaker. How that canopy fits to the fuse will be the crux of the biscuit. *
Maybe its the way Andy shot the video, but panel lines on this kit look wider and deeper than on the GWH Buff although this works better with those nasty vortex generators on the wings. It also features a two-piece fuse and vert tail. A bold move assuming they fit (you'll want to spend some time dry fitting these parts just to make sure). *

The FLIR turrets look like Andy didn't realize how important they are to this kit, they can make or break it if they aren't done right. Likewise, same deal on the tail and its Bobbit Plug. Drilling a couple hundred holes in a small part is a chore to say the least and could we PLEASE have the option of adding the old rotary cannon? Building a 1980's-90's era Buff adds a lot more variations in terms of paint and squadron markings. You know, you can sell more kits this way. *

At the end of the day, this kit will pair nicely with Academy's re-tooled B-1 and it should sell for maybe half the price of the GWH Buff. So, open up the options and people will want to build more than one. *












*- I'm guessing and I have my fingers crossed.





UPDATE!!!!!!!!




Look below the nose, under the cockpit.
Yep, those are the FLIR and EVS turrets and the sensors are in the DEPLOYED position.
I just ordered this kit from EBay, $47.45 total (inc. shipping from Seoul) and it should arrive sometime in April.

Last edited by ET2SN; 03-31-2021 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 04-20-2021, 06:11 AM   #11
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And, just like that, after travelling almost as much as I did in the Navy, the Academy Buff arrived yesterday.
To be fair, the discreet black shrink wrapped box spent the weekend cooling its heels at the town Post Office as I was supposed to get it last Friday. But, fair enough and what-ever, let's crack this box open.

The big question will be "Is this kit worth it?". Well, sure and let me explain.

There are four distinct models of the modern B-52H in 1/144th scale. From back in the early 90's there were a series of modern B-52G and H kits from Revell. For starters, they were all that was available in this scale (there was also the 1/200th scale Buff from Tamiya but its as rare as chicken teeth). The Revell kits had some issues in terms of accuracy and basic fit but from most angles they "looked right". Minicraft started to offer a series of B-52s by- let's say 2010. The box is sturdy and the (Cartograph) decals are really nice. The plastic is mostly unbuildable except for the Hound Dog cruise missiles and the Quail decoy/drone but there are some "spare parts" possibilities- otherwise display the model in a very dark room. No kidding, if you see this kit and its cheap- BUY it. You really want those decals and some of the parts can be used for repairs or mods. I didn't include the original Academy kit because its mostly the same moldings and parts as the Minicraft kit.

Flash forward to today, you can still buy the Minicraft kit online and the Revell kits show up from time-to-time on Amazon and EBay. We also have the two new kits from GWH and Academy. The GWH kit is still the "boss" but the Academy kit gives it a good run for its money and the Academy kit is also cheaper (both in terms of MSRP and shipping).
Its tough to say how the hobby industry will embrace these two kits. If I had to guess, for the Continental US and Canada, the Academy kit will be easier to find online or on the shelves. Academy kits tend to stay "in stock" longer than GWH kits, which will make them easier to find and purchase in a couple of years.

With all of the preamble done, let's dive deep into Academy kit #12622.
I'll start off with the price, as purchased from EBay with no bidding. I spent about $45 in total including "around the world" shipping (about $20 less than its GWH brother). The box is nice but slightly flimsy and prone to shipping damage. Mine showed up slightly squashed but the contents were fine.

You get a snot-load of plastic from Academy. Most 1/48th scale kits don't weigh this much. We're talking about 50% more plastic (by weight) than the GWH kit. There are a lot of redundant parts and trees. There are a LOT of redundant parts and trees.

Molded parts look good but the panel lines are slightly thicker than the GWH kit. If you prime or use surfacer prior to painting, this won't be an issue. Academy seems to be following GWH in terms of antennas and their locations. This might be based on recent modifications to the actual aircraft, or they both got it wrong. A little research might be needed. Otherwise, I like the Academy antenna blades better and Vortex Generator fans can rejoice! I think Academy did a better job, overall, of making these parts more visible.

Some down notes- the instructions need work. An experienced builder will have trouble following everything that's going on, figuring out what those Options REALLY are and why they are Options in the first place. I'm pretty sure some parts are missing. Go up a couple of posts and I yammered a bit about those two red ID lights just in front of the tail. There are (large) holes in the kit in the proper locations, there just aren't any parts (that I've found yet) that fit in those holes. *
In terms of weight, this kit is going to be a pig. The four engine pods look great but each engine pod requires five large parts (not including the pylon) and each pod winds up as almost a solid chunk of plastic. At a minimum, I'm already planning to drill out the wheels and tires for some metal axles which means the gear legs might need some attention.
Where GWH used slide molding, Academy made it look like they used slide molding but really kept the machine work simple. This results in thicker parts. Just be aware that you'll probably be dealing with weight issues once the kit is assembled.

To wrap up the down stuff, the kit is heavy, the instructions can be confusing (this kit really needed a write-up on what was new and why) and this may not be the final form of of this re-tool.

Decals- Pretty much the same as it's GWH brother. *Meh*. The detail is mostly crisp, I guess. I get the scale vs printing resolution stuff but other brands are pulling it off, if not the aftermarket. Marking options are for 3 (4?) aircraft- "Memphs Belle the XXXIVth" with a red Barksdale tail stripe, "LOKO" (the old "El Lobo" nose art from the Secret Squirrel mission?) with its own red Barksdale tail stripe , and a "no name" Buff from the 69th BS at Minot with a yellow "Knighthawks" tail stripe or just a black-outline "Knighthawks" stripe with no explanation given.
BE CAREFUL hacking into that decal sheet, there are some stealthy white "Barksdale" scripts hiding on the sheet.

Bombs and pylons- You get full loads (and then some) of what look like 500# "slicks" (I want to say MK-84s but that might be wrong), 2,000# JDAMs, and what sure look like cluster bomb units. A very nice conventional load out. The pylon options both use the smaller stub-type pylon fitted with an HSAB and TERs (if you can follow that, I owe you a beer). The RTSL in the bomb bay of the GWH kit is ditched in favor of the old "clips" which date back to the B-52Ds with the "Big Belly" mod from Operation Arclight. These "clip ins" are a really nice addition and have been missing from B-52 models for a long time. A Lighting pod and a Sniper pod plus their pylons are included but not used, according to the instructions. The only downside to the load-out is that building the pylons themselves will be "fiddly" and there are some fairly small parts that will need to be accurately glued. Otherwise, I'm giving the load-out an 11 out of 10.

Wings and tail- So far, so good. The seams look really good after a rough clean-up and dry fit. The tail planes include the flare ejectors where they should be located plus the really small button antennas and formation lights are just barely there, but at least they are there. My biggest gripe with this kit (besides the engine pod construction) is with the rotary cannon, or least where it used to be. Either include the cannon or include the damned plate, in this case neither happened. I get the feeling this part of the kit's design happened 5 minutes from quitting time and everyone just walked away and called it done. Plan on a lot of drilling and some scribing or keep your fingers crossed for some photo etch. You could also snag the plate from your "donor" Minicraft kit and its decals.

Nose, cockpit, and forward fuselage- with the exception of the upper radar dome. The G and H models don't have one. Academy kinda thought that they do and used it for another option. By the 1980's the radome of the B-52 looked like an old prize fighter with a broken nose. The ALT-28 ECM antenna is located on the top of the radome, just forward of the cockpit windshield. Or, at least it used to be? No explanation is given but you can model the nose either with or without the ALT-28.
BTW, in the build photos the seam between the upper and lower radomes is weathered and enhanced like a panel line. In reality, its a one piece monster of a dome made from fiberglass, plastic, and metal and whole thig hinges upward to access the main radar dish. Fill and smooth that horizontal seam so it looks like one piece, with which ever option you choose to build.
Cockpit glass is first-rate and will remind you of that old Revell kit, only Academy got it right. There are even inspection windows in the doors for the refueling receptacle, which I'm not sure if the H has them, but again, they're there if you want them (and its easy to get rid of them). Academy stays on its current form and supplies a die cut sheet of masks for the windows, a nice touch.
The cockpit interior is lot more sparse than its GWH brother, but the GWH kit goes way overboard on this part. The only error is the headrests on the seats. Academy gives you seats from an F-14. The real seats feature a spade-or-triangle-shaped headrest that's painted red. Its an easy fix with some sanding and filing.
OK, time for the parts that got me excited. You have some options on how to pose the "FLIR" turrets under the nose. FINALLY! I'm pretty sure this is the first time (aside from the 1/48th scale and 1/32nd scale monster kits) you can build a B-52 with the "FLIR" turrets open. What you get are four different turret assemblies and fairings. Two are stowed, two are deployed. Pick your options and build accordingly.
BTW, I use the term "FLIR" turrets because only one of them is actually a FLIR and its the turret below the co-pilot's seat. The lens to that turret is square shaped and covers a gallium arsenide photo sensor. That sensor should be painted a fairly dark clear orange over a dark gold background. The turret under the pilot's seat houses a normal TV camera that's connected to a starlight scope. One turret sees IR, the other sees everything else. The pilot's turret looks like the top lens of an old school periscope and is oval shaped with a white outer surround. There is no "right" way to pose the turrets in the air or on the ground. Its normal to have none, one, or both deployed depending on what's going on. And, what's going on can get really silly. On a parked bomber with some airmen working on normal maintenance, the TV can be used to spot any senior enlisted or officers who might be on the prowl. Even the FLIR can be used to play "The FLIR Game", a game almost as old as the IR photosensor. The game is to spot who might have whizzed in their pants a bit. I know, the game is REALLY stupid but even your's truly wasn't above playing it. The points still counted.

The main wing joints look to be pretty tight. This could be important if you opt to store the kit with the wings off and display it with the wings on. The overall weight of the kit may be a concern and you'll probably want to pay attention to securing the landing gear and wheels.

So, would I recommend this kit? Oh heck yeah for the experienced modeler. This will probably become the "go to" Buff in the north American market and there's plenty to enjoy. If you've built 1/72nd scale and 1/48th scale aircraft before, I'd still take the plunge and try it. While the GWH kit has slightly better fit and engineering, the GWH kit also has its share of inaccuracies and a higher price tag and possible/probable availability issues. This kit may go through a final re-re-tooling before it starts to show up in hobby shops, my example is probably an early release, and we REALLY need that new decal set, Caracal. Some aftermarket resin/PE support would also be nice but its not a deal breaker.


*- I took a break during this post to grab something to eat and re-read the instructions for the fourth time. The ID lights are included on sprue A (parts 5 and 6) and are some of the smallest parts in the kit. You still might want to drill out the lenses/domes and use the clear red over dull aluminum trick.
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Old 04-21-2021, 10:27 AM   #12
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It's nice to see someone so excited about a model project.

It's been a few years for me and they are so expensive to just sit in the original boxes they came in and never put them together, which I did, but then I made the mistake of putting them in a storage unit when I moved.

If you don't pay the storage fee after a few months the contents belongs to them.

Thank you for your input and your excitement to detail.

Perhaps you should make a YouTube video too
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Old 05-06-2021, 02:28 AM   #13
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Whoa, coming up on a thousand views for the thread.

I found a nice walk-around for a B-52G on display in Darwin. Keeping in mind that this is a G model and the tail art traces it back to Andersen AFB on Guam, its fairly accurate as a painting guide. I like the guy's enthusiasm, but the B-52 didn't drop the X-1. I think he meant "X-15".




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