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Italeri 1/72 scale B-26K Counter Invader

Kit: No. 1249
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Italeri, from Testors, 815-962-6654,
Price: $30
Comments: Injection-molded, 120 parts, decals
Pros: Needed subject, good recessed panel lines, nice selection of ordnance
Cons: Poor fit, detail inaccuracies, engines and propellers have little detail, camouflage drawings inaccurate
Douglas' A-26 Invader holds the distinction of being the only U.S. combat aircraft to fight in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Builders of 1/72 scale aircraft models have had to struggle with the rivet-riddled Airfix kit of the 1970s, so this new kit was highly anticipated.

Examining the parts revealed that other versions of the Invader are to come. The hints? A bombardier station on the interior deck, cockpit details, and machine-gun barrels molded into the wings are all WWII/Korean-era characteristics. Separate Vietnam War-era items such as ordnance, pylons, wide-blade props, modified cowls, and turret covers are molded on separate sprues.

So, Italeri gets you most of the way to an accurate B-26K. Italeri missed the twopilot flight deck with full-across instrument panel, new KC-135-style wheels, and the wide-chord fin and rudder. Also, there are no tip-tank navigation lights or a fin-mounted anti-collision beacon.

The kit comes with a fully detailed bomb bay with a brace of WWII-style 500-pound bombs and more modern ordnance including napalm canisters, rocket pods, and 750-pound bombs. The interior has five bulkheads that divide the combat stations. Two of the bulkheads come with tabs for slots or pockets inside the fuselage, but these slots are molded only in the right fuselage half. Also, the bulkheads in the rear sections don't fully reach across to enclose the stations. The rear-most bulkhead is shown as a vertical member but fits in with a slight backward pitch. Several ejector-pin marks mar the molded-in structure detail.

I cut off the vestigial bombardier's station from the flight deck to make room for nose weight. The ventral and dorsal turret station covers don't fit well to the fuselage. The aft dorsal window fits poorly, being too tall at the rear, and the flight-deck canopy wasn't wide enough to fit smoothly.

The wing machine gun barrels are molded into the bottom wing halves and have to be cut off. The oversized square holes for the barrels in the top wing half have to be filled. The wings fit OK to the fuselage. You have to punch holes in the bottom surfaces for the external pylons.

The engines show only one row of pistons, and they are poorly detailed. The prop shafts aren't long enough, resulting in props that brush against the leading edge of the cowl. My sample's props had little detail in the hubs, and the rear faces of the blades are noticeably concave. The engine nacelles feature the "Congo cooler" intakes found on many (but not all) Vietnam-era Invaders, but the flattened ramps leading to them are missing from the cowls.

I painted the complex tactical camouflage with "soft masks" and Model Master enamels. The camouflage pattern given on the instructions shows the correct pattern but has some of the color areas reversed. My decals went on fine over a Future undercoat. I used black decal stripes for the de-icer boots on the wings and tailplanes. Italeri provides some of the antennas and aerial masts, but no wiring diagram is given.

I spent 35 hours on my Invader, some of that correcting the fit and painting the camouflage. If you're not a fanatic of detail, and if close is good enough, you'll be happy with Italeri's Invader. Others might wait for aftermarket corrections.

- Paul Boyer


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