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Hobbycraft Canada 1/144 scale B-58A "1st SAC Supersonic"

Kit: No. HC1260
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Hobbycraft Canada, 140 Applewood Crescent, Concord, ON L4K 4E2, Canada, phone 905-738-6556
Price: $14.98
Comments: Comments: Injection molded 80 parts, decals.
Pros: Recessed panel lines, good detail for this small scale, well-printed decals, good fit
Cons: Overly thick gear doors, SAC band decals too light

Convair's B-58 Hustler lived up to its name - it was the first strategic bomber capable of reaching Mach 2. And even though it was slim and beautiful, it was potent, with a nuclear payload hung in a pod beneath the fuselage. Only 116 Hustlers were produced, as a change from high- to low-altitude penetration tactics made the Hustler obsolete. B-58s served from 1960 to 1970.

Hobbycraft's little Hustler features fine recessed panel lines, detailed landing gear and gear bays, and ejection seats and side-wall detail in the cockpits. Curiously, no instrument panel is provided for the pilot, but it would be nearly impossible to see. The hatches for the bombardier-navigator and radar systems officer are molded in clear plastic to show off the interior, but these are metal on the actual aircraft. Only two pairs of tiny windows were provided for the "guys in back." The pilot's hatch and windscreen are molded separately and fit well together. Fortunately, the sprue attachment points on these small clear parts are molded to a mating-surface edge, not on a frame. This makes cleaning up the attachment points easy. Optional small and large payload pods are provided, as are a pair of tail cones, with and without the Vulcan cannon.

Decals are given for a test aircraft and for an aircraft of the 43rd Bomb Wing stationed at Little Rock AFB in Arkansas.

The most interesting part in the kit is the wing. Both top and bottom surfaces, including the wheel wells, are molded in one piece - no sandwiching detail between the halves, and no leading- and trailing-edge seams to worry about!

Fit of the main components is good. The slender fuselage mates perfectly with the delta wing. The only filler needed was at the lower front joint between the wing and the fuselage. The weapons-pod pylon needed trimming to improve the fit to the fuselage.

As you build the engines, notice the delicate fan blade detail molded deep in the intakes. The engine pods fit well to the wing, so I finished them separately, then attached them after the decals were applied.

After all major components were assembled, I sanded seams and polished the model with Blue Magic polish, then airbrushed SnJ Spray Metal. The instructions show different shades of the natural metal skin, but the tones used in the drawings are too close in contrast and makes them hard to decipher. A cybertrip to the "B-58 page" (http://www. yielded several great color shots. The best book on the Hustler is Jay Miller's Convair B-58 Hustler, The World's First Supersonic Bomber (Aerofax).

Hobbycraft's decals are beautifully printed and went on well, but the blue in the SAC bands is too light. Take your time placing the wing walkway decals, as they are delicate. Stencil decals "G" and "H" are reversed in the instructions; check the position of the rescue markings.

Final assembly consisted of attaching the engine and weapon pods and the nicely detailed landing gear. The retraction struts for the nose gear are incorrectly labeled part No. 12 in the instructions; they should be labeled No. 8. Hobbycraft molded the eight-wheel main-gear trucks separate from the struts so the gear trucks will rest flat. The gear doors are too thick for the scale.

My finished Hustler scales perfectly to published dimensions. After about 25 hours, you can add this beauty to your collection. At 8" long, it's not too big, but not too small, and it has detail that you sometimes don't find in larger scales. Beginners can build it without problems. To produce a stunning natural-metal finish, you'll need experience with metalizing paints or foil.

- Chuck Davis


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