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AMT/Ertl 1/72 scale XB-70A Valkyrie

Kit: No. 8907
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: AMT/Ertl, Highways 136 and 20, Dyersville, IA 52040, 319-875-2000
Price: $36.50
Comments: Injection molded, 77 parts, decals.

DESIGNED TO FLY at Mach 3 and at altitudes over 80,000 feet, the XB-70 Valkyrie was to have been the ultimate strategic bomber -- too fast and too high for interception. But during its development, the Soviets produced an antiaircraft missile that could reach high fliers and the scenario changed. Now penetration would have to be at low levels. The XB-70 became a white elephant even before its white paint was applied.

Two Valkyries were built; the second featured a noticeable wing dihedral. This aircraft fell victim to a midair collision with an F-104 that was flying in formation for a publicity shoot. After a short career as a test ship for supersonic airliner designs, the first prototype now rests in the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Molded in light gray styrene, AMT's XB-70 kit features fine raised panel lines with heavier recessed lines around engine access panels and the cockpit door. Optional parts allow you to pose the outer wing panels in supersonic cruise (down) or subsonic (up) positions. The forward cockpit windows also are provided in raised and lowered positions.

AMT did a good job controlling warpage, sometimes a problem with some large injection-molded parts. The cockpit has moderate detail, certainly enough for what little you can see through the windows. Seams running through the middle of the crew seats are a pain to sand, though. The landing gear has good detail, but the engine exhaust bay seems thick and clunky for the scale.

The overall parts fit is average, with problems occurring where the "neck" of the forward fuselage meets the spine, and where the spine meets the wing. You'll need filler and sandpaper to fix them. Take special care matching the wing panels to keep the seams from producing large gaps. The fuselage/canopy joint also will need attention.

The instructions suggest painting the landing-gear struts and wheel hubs white and the tires black. The XB-70's undercarriage was colored aluminum, and so were the tires. Like the main gear tires of the SR-71, the Valkyrie's tires were aluminum-impregnated rubber to reflect heat. I used flat aluminum overall.

The rest of the ship, except for the exhaust area, antiglare panel, and wing-hinge fairings, is gloss white, so I airbrushed Testor Model Master classic white.

My sample's decals were printed well and snuggled down with Micro Sol. They have a flat finish and look odd on the glossy airframe. I used the optional NASA tailbands to add color. For some reason my vertical stabilizers seem to tilt outboard a bit.

It's a handsome model when finished, and sure to catch everyone's eyes at shows and contests. It's big, too -- 32" long! There's nothing complicated about the assembly, but making everything fit seamlessly will require experience. I put 15 hours into my model, but I would need more if I wanted to make it a contest contender.

For an additional $10.50, you can purchase a limited-edition version of the kit (No. 8908) that provides a poster of the box art with a photo of the test pilots superimposed. It also includes a small plated plastic plaque that labels the model.

Randal Dieck
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