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ICM 1/48 scale B-26K Counter Invader plastic model kit review

This model kit of a near-mythic U.S. bomber does not disappoint
Kit:48279 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$107.99
ICM (Sample courtesy of manufacturer)
Ease of assembly
Delicate decals; sample kit missing weapons
Injection-molded plastic (light gray; clear); 354 parts; decals
According to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Douglas A-26 Invader saw use as an attack bomber during World War II. Redesignated B-26 in 1948, the aircraft performed similar duties during the Korean War. Pulled from service in 1958, the U.S. brought them back as tactical bombers in Southeast Asia in 1961, and finally took them off active duty in 1964.

However, that wasn’t the end. In 1966, the U.S. government brought the 40 B-26s out of retirement and converted them to B-26Ks with rebuilt fuselages, strengthened wing, reversible propellers, and other improvements. Redesignated A-26A, Counter Invaders performed ground-attack missions along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and served in Vietnam until 1969, and then later retired from service.

ICM has manufactured the earlier A-26/B-26 Invader and ends up supplying most of the parts, so end up discarding a lot of plastic, including whole upper and lower wings. However, this is the only B-26K on the market, and you’ll be happy to know it lives up the ICM’s past quality.

Construction starts with the cockpit: good detail, but not too busy. The seats could use photo-etched metal (PE) seat belts or a decal equivalent, but none are provided. I made seat cushions with Milliput to fill ejector-pin marks in the seat bottoms. Color call outs for the main cockpit are “Lime Green” or zinc chromate. However, upon further investigation, it should be ghost gray or neutral gray. (This was the only color discrepancy I saw.) The color guide calls for the use of ICM, Revell, or Tamiya paints; I used Tamiya predominately in my build.

Once you’ve cemented the fuselage halves together, assemble the nose section containing the eight .50-caliber machine gun barrels. The kit’s barrels look like thick plastic rods sticking out of the nose. I replaced mine with spares I had from a Monogram B-25J and drilled the tips. After doing so, I realized those guns were fitted with blast tubes, so the kit parts are correct.

Speaking of the nose, you’ll have to add a lot of weight up front to prevent your B-26K from sitting on its tail. The tail weighs 40 grams, so I added more than that to make sure. Don’t worry about the landing gear—the legs are strong and look realistic with separate tires and wheel hubs for easy painting.

You can opt to model the bomb bay doors open or closed with different parts for either provided. The single-piece clear canopies can’t be opened, unless you’re braver than I and cut them apart.

The multipart engines with separate exhaust pipes look great when complete. However, you don’t see much of them when everything is closed up. Interestingly, exhausts are molded as a single part, but look accurate and to scale.

ICM’s B-26K goes together quite well and quickly. Painting is straightforward. The instructions provide templates for window masks, and I used poster putty as a mask in some cases. On the other hand, the decals were the most finicky I’ve used. Super thin, they tended to form a small crinkled ball after I removed them from the backing paper. I had to use the walk ways from another variant in the kit, so my model is inaccurate compared to the real bomber. Further, my sample kit didn’t contain any weapons. The kit provides colorful painting instructions and decals, but there was no plastic to be glued.

ICM did a great job with this kit. I’ve always wanted a 1/48 B-26K, so I was ecstatic when it was announced. It will look awesome next to my AU-23, O-2, and other Vietnam-era aircraft.
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