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Academy B-1B Lancer

Build review of the 1/144 scale aircraft kit with excellent fits
Academy’s recent releases have been outstanding, a characteristic epitomized by its small-scale Rockwell B-1.

The kit contains five trees of gray plastic parts, two trees in black for the wheels, one white tree for the landing gear, and a clear windshield. In theory the kit could be built without paint, perfect for a beginner or if you are out of town and looking for something to build. Three aircraft are featured on the Cartograf decal sheet: one from the 34th Bomb Squadron, and two from the 9th B.S.

The cockpit comes as a single part with molded seats and central console and much of it won’t be visible once the windshield is on. However, the decals include the instrument panel and console that look terrific in place.

The fuselage comes in three pieces — top, bottom, and tail — which fit perfectly without filler. Be sure to add weight up front to keep the plane on its gear.

The wings are movable thanks to cogs and plastic ratchets inside the fuselage and the kit provides optional parts for the wing gloves. However, if you fit the spread-wing gloves (parts C17 and C18), you will not be able to sweep the wings. I used the swept gloves (parts C20 and C21) so I can move the wings at will. However, when the wings are fully forward, there are gaps in the root aft of the wing.

Optional open or closed doors are provided for the bomb bays and gear wells. They fit perfectly and are useful for masking the bays during painting even if you plan to display them open. The open bomb-bay doors simply click into place, no glue required. The open gear bay doors are molded with part of the bay walls and slip into perfect alignment. 

An extra fuel tank and large and small unguided bombs are included to fill the bomb bays. 

The well-replicated landing gear parts are small and detailed. Several parts combine for each of the twin-engine nacelles: even the exhaust nozzles have molded rivets. Best of all, the nacelles pressed into place without glue. 

Painting is a breeze, since, except for a few details, this kit is mostly one color; I used Testors Model Master gunship gray. The included masks fit the windshield frames perfectly.

Printed by Cartograf, the decals presented few problems. The only issue I had was silvering for the wing walk, even over clear gloss.  
This well-engineered kit features perfect fits and looks amazing when done. It’s the perfect size if you love the B-1, but don’t have room for a 1/72 or 1/48 scale replica. Pick one up — you won’t be disappointed.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2020 issue.


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