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Dragon 1/144 scale B-1B Lancer

Kit: No. 4587
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Dragon, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322,
Price: $22.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 76 parts (4 resin), decals
Pros: Great subject; reasonable detail for scale
Cons: Poor fit of canopy and tail fin; misshapen nose; odd gap between weapon bays
Fondly and phonetically known as the Bone, Rockwell's B-1 has been reborn a number of times as a result of politics and changes in its role. Dragon has mimicked real life by updating the former Panda kit from a sleek strategic bomber to a powerful conventional bomber armed with the latest precision weapons. As a bonus, Dragon has included a nice decal sheet and a gorgeous set of resin exhausts to adorn your bird.

The cruise missiles of the Panda kit have been replaced with a new sprue containing two weapons bays full of JDAM precision bombs, along with new multi-panel bomb bay doors to replace the incorrect single-panel doors still on the main sprues.

While it is a nice attempt at adding current detail, this sprue actually causes one of the issues with the kit. The center-molded JDAM includes separate fins, but they're too big and cause the bomb to nose down at a severe angle. A wall separates the individual bays, but the wall is recessed from the bottom of the fuselage, causing a gap where the separate bay doors meet if you try to close them. Unless you modify the kit, you have to leave the bays open - and this exposes the poor detail and incorrect angle of the JDAMs. I left mine open, assuming not many people will be looking underneath.

Fit of the kit is generally good, although the fin assembly needs trimming and filling. The wing assembly swings on a well-designed, robust pivot. Test-fitting the fuselage, I needed to trim a little off the sides of the new bomb bay insert as well as scrape away the former bulkhead alignment slots.

After these minor adjustments, assembly is quick. The fit of the canopy is OK except at the top by the eyebrow windows. I filled a rather large gap with Elmer's School Glue Gel.

After assembly of the fuselage, the kit's biggest letdown becomes apparent - the shape of the nose approximates a beak instead of the correct conical shape. The B-1 looks good in profile, but the closer you get to a head-on view, the more it looks like this bird needs a nose job. I left mine as is, since correcting it would require major surgery.

I anticipated problems with the engine pods, but I was surprised to find they fit well - including the internal radar baffles. I left off the beautiful resin exhaust nozzles until after the kit was finished. Because the main gear is mounted so closely to the engine pods, I left it off until after painting to make masking easier. The gear itself is nice, considering the scale. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the wheels - the hubs are nearly nonexistent. I simulated them with paint.

Speaking of paint, Dragon lists the overall color as FS36375 light gray. This is incorrect - you can have your Bone in any color you want, as long as it's FS36118 gunship gray. I used Gunze on mine - you may want to lightly sand the surface of the model, as it has a slightly pebbled texture.

Dragon supplies markings for two B-1s, both carrying nose art. The decals are well-printed and opaque. I chose the box-art jet for its colorful tail band. The decals went down nicely with a nudge from Micro Set. After adding the landing gear assemblies - taking care to align all the bogies on the ground - the B-1 was finished.

While the greatest disappointment with this kit is the nose shape, I would recommend it to any modeler who can deal with minor fit issues.

- Chuck Davis


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