In its conversion from the propeller-driven YB-35, the Northrop YB-49 received eight engines, four vertical stabilizers and air dams, and other tweaks. However, it was about 40 years too early for what it needed most — a computerized fly-by-wire system to reliably keep it in the air.
Cyber-hobby’s kit is a fun study of this turn-of-the-’50s jet. But don’t let the four-step instructions and low parts count fool you. There’s enough here to challenge your modeling skills.
The cockpit is remarkably detailed — with pilot and crew positions, consoles, and tables — but it disappears when the wing halves are joined. The subassembly inset is marked by an exclamation-point icon, meaning “be careful,” but nothing says what to be careful of — just be careful, I guess. The flight engineer’s console has no part number; it is Part C8, wrongly assigned to the tail gunner’s column, which is Part C15. No colors are specified for the cockpit, but research indicates it was natural metal with either red or high-visibility orange seats (hard to tell from photos).
The kit provides no stand but has the option of an inflight pose with gear-bay doors closed. I went with lowered gear but left it off until later for easier handling.
The wing halves ingeniously join at panel lines, with the airfoil’s smooth leading edges part of the upper-wing molding. The halves have thick sprue attachments and are not a great match, especially at the trailing edge. But study pictures before clamping or filling. There should be lines at the elevons and engine housings. Still, I clamped the trailing edges to close them up a little. Vertical stabilizers on the upper and lower halves fit tightly, needing no filler. Instructions attach the stabilizers, gear, canopies, engines, and other items before joining the wings, but I did so afterwards with no problem.
It’s not noted, but be sure to weight the nose before joining the wing halves; otherwise, your wing won’t rest on its nose wheel.
Careful: The landing-gear subassembly is shown horizontally reversed from the drawing with its location. The three-piece gear legs are fragile. I left off the nose gear and door until after painting. Parts C18 and C19, extensions of the main-gear bay doors, are transposed in the instructions.
Colors are keyed to Gunze Sangyo and Testors paints. That chart is on the front of the single-sheet instructions; the painting and decal directions are on the bottom of the box.
Five different metallic colors are indicated for the wing and engines. I primed with flat black so I could mask off the anti-glare panel, then decided to use Testors Metalizer buffable aluminum plate (No. 1401) and vary the panels with buffing. They’re varied alright. Even after a layer of Metalizer sealer, it was hard to handle the model without damaging the finish.
Wing-walk decals are long and a little scary to position, but they’re thick enough to withstand fiddling. Micro Set solution eliminated silvering. Missing are the aircraft serial numbers on the outer face of each outboard stabilizer. Despite the decal guide, position the USAF topside as it’s shown on the bottom.
Clear parts are thick but fit well; three parts remain unused. The sprue is labeled W on the sheet, but D on the sprue; don’t worry, there’s only one clear sprue. You’ll notice the drawings flip again between steps 3 and 4, this time vertically.
Last came the probe on the starboard wing. Some photos show a pitot on the port wing, but none is provided.
The build took about 20 hours, a few of them for my mistakes. The wingspan scales out just right, and the stance looks good. I’d recommend the kit to any modeler.
A version of this review appeared in the May 2012 issue of FineScale Modeler.