Kit: No. 1272
Manufacturer: Hobbycraft Canada, 140 Applewood Crescent, Concord, ON L4K 4E2, Canada
Comments: Injection-molded, 81 parts, decals
Pros: Good engraved detail, accurate shapes, excellent decals
Cons: Confusing instructions, imprecise fit along fuselage seams, grainy surface texture
At the end of World War II, the United States had the world's most powerful strategic air arm. The B-17s and B-24s that had performed sterling service were being replaced by the better-performing B-29. Waiting in the wings was an even more awesome weapon, Convair's mighty B-36. Known as the "Magnesium Overcast," the B-36 was a huge aircraft, with a wingspan of 230 feet. Many versions of the B-36 were produced, including some intriguing versions capable of carrying their own "parasite" fighter, and one carrying a nuclear reactor. The Peacemaker became one of the most famous combat aircraft never to have fired a shot in anger.
Hobbycraft has released three kits of the Peacemaker family: the B-36B, a late B-36 with parasite fighter (FICON for FIghter CONveyor), and this kit of the jet-assisted B-36D/RB-36H. My first impression of this kit was "why does a small-scale kit need such a large box?" Well, the B-36 was a big plane, and all that box was put to use.
This kit has separate sprues for the jet engine pods, and there are several parts molded for the earlier B-36B that go unused. The fuselage comes with a separate bomb bay area, made to accept an insert for the trapeze and FICON bay for that version of the kit. The modeler is instructed to fill the panel lines that don't apply to the B-36D.
Hobbycraft's instructions contain several errors. For example, the nose gear bay is shown as though it were molded to the flight deck; it's actually a separate part. You are never told when to open the holes and slots for the jet pods and braces, either. Watch for the propeller callouts - if you don't want the props to spin, one step of the instructions refers you to two other steps; neither has anything to do with the props! Study the instructions carefully, then proceed with caution.
The detail level is very good, with all panel lines nicely engraved and with adequate detail in the cockpit and on the small components. The kit goes together easily, with the wing-to-fuselage junction being particularly impressive. Just a little filler at the front and back of the joints was all that was needed. The stabilizers fit perfectly. I had to fill a few spots on the seams between the fuselage halves; the edges looked as though they were not fully formed. The surface finish of the plastic was grainy, requiring patient sanding to make it smooth enough for a natural-metal finish.
After assembling the main components, I built the prop assemblies - lots of them. Hobbycraft's props have squared-off tips, which were fitted to the late aircraft. They needed a little clean-up to improve their fit. The landing gear required nothing except some gentle scraping. The clear parts fit well.
When it comes to late B-36 paint schemes, you have a choice of natural metal or - natural metal. I sanded the kit overall with 600- and 1500-grit paper, then polished the plastic in preparation for an SnJ Spray Metal finish. I should have spent even more time sanding and polishing, as the grainy plastic really fought the sandpaper.
I chose a late-model scheme with gloss white anti-flash undersurfaces. The decals were a pleasant surprise. The white in the national insignia was slightly translucent, but the rest of the decals were very good. I had dreaded adding the extensive wing-walk stripes, but they went on like a charm. They didn't break, and only two pieces needed trimming. I was impressed - and relieved.
After decaling, I added all the gun turret hatches, props, and landing gear. The tail-warning/gun-laying radar blister beneath the rudder is the twin-dome style, incorrect for the B-36D (single dome), but OK for the later H models.
I appreciate having a good kit of the B-36 in this scale. With some patience, and a lot of elbow grease to polish the plastic, a fine replica of the Peacemaker can be accomplished. It's highly recommended to all who don't mind working with natural-metal finishes and aren't bothered by confusing instructions.