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Classic Airframes 1/48 scale English Electric Canberra B.2

Kit: No. 4126
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Classic Airframes, 773-883-8888,
Price: $60
Comments: Mixed media, 74 parts (54 injection-molded, 20 resin), decals
Pros: Needed subject, accurate shapes
Cons: Translucent decals
Conceived in the UK as a replacement for the legendary de Havilland Mosquito, the English Electric Canberra became one of the few aircraft to successfully "jump the pond" when Martin Aircraft license built a series of derivatives under the B-57 designation.

Classic's rendition of the Canberra is the basic bomber version, the B.2. The injection-molded components exhibit fine recessed panel lines. Unlike the resin-only cockpits in many of its recent kits, Classic mixes injection-molded parts with finely detailed resin to portray the cockpit. Resin is also used for the gear bays, wheels, and engine details.

I began the build by carefully trimming and fitting each nose half to its mating fuselage half. This allowed a filler-free fit around the circumference of the fuselage, but assembly revealed a slight gap along the top fuselage seam. I easily filled this with sheet styrene. The crew entry door is molded separately but requires trimming to come close to fitting right. I decided to glue it open after I was done - this proved a good choice later in the build, when I needed a way to add more nose weights. Per Classic's direction, I held the fuselage halves together and sanded back the nose until the clear bombardier's nose cone fit. The bug-eyed cockpit canopy fit well without any trimming.

After the fuselage halves were prepared, I cleaned up the resin parts and assembled the cockpit. The interior is well detailed, including a throttle quadrant with levers molded in place. Assembly and alignment is tricky. I started by assembling the rear bulkhead and nose gear bay, working forward from there. The forward bulkhead and the bombardier's floor are too wide and must be trimmed. I decided to leave the nice resin seat out of the navigator's position. You can't see it, and you never know when you might need an extra ejection seat. As it turns out, this also was a lucky decision, as the extra nose weight I added through the crew entry door now resides where the seat would have been. I originally placed a four-ounce sinker behind the rear cockpit bulkhead; a further two ounces was required to solidly balance the Canberra on its nose gear.

Classic provides two plastic spars to help support the substantial wing. These worked fine, and the entire wing assembly fit well. After initial trimming, the resin gear bays fit in the wing without further work. The tip tanks do not have any means of positive location - judgment and good references are required.

The engine intake assemblies required some trimming and a little filler. Be careful trimming the casting blocks from the exhausts - what looks like a casting base is actually the base of the engine.

Once the wings are attached, the only major assembly left was the stabilizers. They required careful trimming to establish a good fit. Classic provides a helpful diagram showing the correct dihedral. Landing-gear components were also cleaned up and attached at this time.

If assembly went faster than I thought, then masking the complicated gray, green, and PRU blue camouflage with black and white stripes RAF 10 Squadron scheme made up the difference. In addition, markings are included for an overall silver RAF jet and a gray-over-black "production pattern aircraft" used by the USAF to develop the B-57A. I masked the small circular window in the main canopy with low-tack tape and used Parafilm-M for the rest of the canopy masking. I painted with Testor's PRU blue, light sea gray, and SAC bomber green, which my references indicated was the closest equivalent to the light slate gray called out in the instructions.

My only disappointment with this kit became apparent - or should I say transparent - when I began to apply the decals. The alternate "USAF" lettering looked streaky, almost as if the printer had missed a pass or two. I should have taken this as a warning, because the white in the RAF roundels was woefully transparent. I felt compelled to carefully mask and paint white into the center of the roundels. If your decals also are defective, the best way to correct them is to mask off white circles on the model when painting the stripes. I have since seen another decal sheet, and the printing on that one seems just fine.

When it came time to add the wheels, two things became apparent - the jet would not sit on its nose gear, and its nose-high attitude looks quite un- Canberra-like. The first was solved by inserting extra weight through the crew door. The second could be solved by trimming the nose-gear strut shorter until the characteristic nose-low, hot-rod look appeared.

Except for the problems with my sheet of decals, this is a fine kit that makes into a surprisingly large jet. Modelers with some experience dealing with multimedia kits will have no problem making Classic's Canberra into a worthy addition to their collections. I spent about 20 hours on mine, and a lot of that was spent masking and painting.

- Chuck Davis


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