Kit: No. G.P.019
Manufacturer: Mach 2, France, available from Military Model Distributors, 1115 Crowley Dr., Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, phone 214-242-8663
Comments: Injection molded, 67 parts, decals.
Five years ago, I converted a 1/72 scale Italeri B-57B to the big-wing RB-57F spy plane with a vacuum-formed and resin conversion set from D.B. Models. Now D.B. Models has left the modeling scene and its conversion kits are hard to find.
But don't lose hope. Mach 2 has produced an injection-molded kit of the F model. The cockpit, landing gear, and small parts are as detailed as Italeri's, but there the similarity ends.
All parts except the clear two-piece canopy are molded in soft, easy-to-cut medium gray plastic. There is some flash and the edges of the parts are uneven. Panel lines are recessed, but the surfaces are grainy and pitted.
Mach 2's instructions have four rough assembly sketches, but no part numbers are on the diagrams or the sprues. That leads to confusion identifying some small detail parts. Also, it is hard to determine the positioning of such parts as the nose gear well. The instructions from Italeri's (or Testor's) B-57 kit will help.
Misaligned mold halves, sinkholes, huge ejector-pin marks, and poor fit made assembly a chore. Dry-fitting all the parts is a must. I had to sand the mating surfaces of every part and filled seams with gap-filling super glue.
The canopy had some rough spots, but I dipped it in Future floor polish a few times and that helped clarify things.
The next big hurdle was sanding. Since the model was to receive a natural-metal finish, the rough surfaces had to be sanded and polished. While the soft plastic was easy to sand, it resisted polishing.
I airbrushed the entire model with SnJ Spray Metal and used aluminum powder/polish, but I can still see many scratches and whorls from my polishing attempt.
The only paint guides for the model are the color illustrations on the box top; no FS numbers are given. I used semigloss white on the wing tips, flat black on the antiglare portions of the nose and jet intakes, FS 36231 dark gull gray for the cockpit walls, and semigloss black and red for the ejection seats and instrument panels.
Mach 2's decals were poorly printed, thick, and had a flat sheen. I used the serial number decal on the tail to see how the decals would respond to Micro Sol (they didn't), then substituted SuperScale insignias and letters for the rest. No decals are provided for the extensive wing-walk areas, so I used black decal stripes from a Microscale model railroad decal sheet.
After 46 hours, my RB-57F looks acceptable. It scales right on in length, and only a couple of scale feet short in span. The best reference on the RB-57F is the old Aerophile, Vol. 2, No. 3.
The shapes are there, but it takes a lot of effort to produce a good-looking model from Mach 2's kit. Beginners will find the experience a struggle, but experts may enjoy the challenge.
- Paul Boyer