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Trumpeter 1/72 scale Tu-160 Blackjack

Kit: No. 01620
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, imported by Stevens International, 856-435-1555,
Price: $149.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 637 parts (four metal, 18 photoetched metal, 14 vinyl), decals
Pros: Well-produced parts, cruise missiles on rotary launchers, separate flaps and slats, movable wings
Cons: Most of the cockpit detailing hidden inside
The Tu-160 Blackjack is the latest addition to Trumpeter's series of 1/72 scale large Soviet bombers. Looking suspiciously like a B-1 Lancer on steroids, the supersonic Blackjack is still in service with the Russian Federation's air force.

The kit's light gray parts are molded with recessed panel lines and little flash. The easy-to-follow instructions provide Gunze paint numbers, and the decal sheet includes markings for Soviet and Russian Federation Blackjacks.

The model is easy to put together but time-consuming. Each roller guide for the leading- and trailing-edge flaps is separate and different, and each segment of the wings' upper surface spoilers is separate. You can pose the swing wings spread out and flaps down, or you can install the wings and slats retracted and be able to swing the wings on the pivots. However, the wings are not connected, so each must be moved individually.

Each of the two weapons' bays is a major sub-assembly that took an hour to build. Each of the 24 cruise missiles has 12 parts, so there's more time needed there.

The cockpit has a lot of detail - too much, actually. The photoetched instrument panel, the photo film instruments, and, the crew toilet behind the nose-wheel well are impossible to see through the Blackjack's tiny windows.

Each detailed main-gear strut has a cast-metal core to help support the finished model. The horizontal bogie that holds the six wheels of each strut is also cast metal.

The overall fit is good. I had some trouble fitting the forward part of the fuselage to the rear section. Both large horizontal stabilizers fit on a single slender rod that allows the elevators to rotate simultaneously. However, the rod isn't strong enough to support the weight of the elevators, and they'll droop if not glued to the fairing.

Since the four-engined, swing-wing Blackjack is a big model, I decided to paint it with a spray can of gloss white after masking the open weapons' bays, windows, and gear wells. The decals went on well and reacted favorably to Solvaset.

The model took me about 40 hours to build. It's a big model and takes up a lot of (deep) shelf space. But if you are like me, you need to have it to complete the Tupolev bomber collection of Trumpeter's Tu-16 Badger and Tu-95 Bear and Esci's Tu-22 Blinder and Tu-26B Backfire.

- David P. Anderson


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