NAA B-45 Tornado
Kev Darling is an aviation historian, writer, and publisher based in South Wales. He served in the Royal Air Force as an aircraft engineer for nearly 30 years, from June 1973 to March 2003. He has written at least 30 books since 1987, working in the RAF Illustrated series, Crowood Aviation series, Crowood Combat Legend series, Specialty Press’ WarbirdTech series, as well as Guideline’s Warpaint series.
Richard J. Caruana, who lives and works in Malta, is best known for his technical and colour drawings which appear regularly in magazines in the UK (Scale Aviation Modeller International), Italy (Elicotteri e Aerei Militari, Aerofan) and Greece (Model Expert). His aviation art, specializing in the history and colours of the Regia Aeronautica, has also been published in the US, Canada, Australia, Portugal, Argentina and Israel. He also has over 21 books to his credit as author.
Warpaint's latest is their standard A4 format softbound publication that is 48 pages (excluding covers) on the North American B-45 Tornado. I counted 99 clear black and white photographs, 9 color pictures, along with 22 of Richard J. Caruana color side profiles. Richard J. Caruana also contributes the centerfold (eight A4 pages) that features eleven line drawings, all in 1/72 scale. The front cover features a color side profile of the North American NRB-45C (sn 0-80017, code BH-017) circa 1957. If you look close, you can see the externally mounted air brakes under the national insignia. On the bottom of the front cover is a color photograph of a 84th BS/47th BG B-45A-5-NA (sn 47-030) on the ramp at RAF Sculthorpe. The back cover features two aerial color photographs of the first prototype, the XB-45 (sn 45-59479).
The North American B-45 Tornado was the first operational jet bomber for the USAF. Born out of the alarm of the Arado Ar 234 jet bomber, North American Aviation’s proposal won in the bidding process. Production of the first three prototypes began on September 8, 1944 with first flight achieved on February 24, 1947. The Tornado was a significant part of America’s nuclear force until replaced by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet in the late 1950s. The Tornado was operational during the Korean War and flew several Russian overflights in the mid-1950s. Britain also flew deep reconnaissance missions over Russia as part of Operation Ju-Jitsu. Only three airframes survive to this day: a B-45Aat Castle Air Museum; a B-45C at the USAF Museum; and a RB-45C at the Strategic Air and Space Museum.
Kev Darling starts out with the development of the North American B-45, ably covering the intricacies of the design and development of the Tornado. Being the USAF’s first entry into a jet bomber, the B-45 suffered from underpowered engines due to delays with the J47 engines as well as other system issues that dogged the prototype test program. The other major role for the Tornado was as a high-speed, high altitude photo-reconnaissance aircraft as the RB-45C.
The Tornado kits and accessories chapter is quite short, but that is only due to the paucity of available kits, since the recent Valom 1/72 kits are the only injected kits currently available. If you are a ‘true’ modeler, the 1/72 Mach 2 kit, along with the 1/72 Sanger vacuform kits can be found. Anigrand Craftwork provides a 1/144 resin kit of the B-45A, but not as a separate kit; it is included with Anigrand’s 1/144 XB-46 kit.
I found the implementation of the B-45 as a nuclear weapons platform quite interesting. The political and operational issues of converting the Tornado to actually being able to deliver nuclear weapons was quite complicated, perhaps apropos to the programs code name: “Backbreaker”. The Chapters include:
North American B/RB-45 Tornado Color Schemes by Richard J. Caruana [Page 19]
- Development [Page 8]
- NAA B-45 Tornado Production [Table]
- The Nuclear Tornado
- The NAA B-45 Tornado Described
- Other Systems
- Bombing and Navigation Systems Plus Defensive Armament
- NAA RB-45C Described
- Photo-Reconnaissance Equipment
- Aircraft Lighting
- 1/72 North American B / RB-45 Tornado Scale Plans by Richard J. Caruana [Page 23c]
- B-45 Deployments and Operations [Page 29]
- Operation Ju-Jitsu
- NAA B-45 Tornado Specifications [Table]
- Tornado Test Beds
- NAA B-45 Tornado Kits, Decals, and Accessories [Table]
- NAA B-45 Tornado In Detail (Photo Essay) [Page 43]
Kev Darling provides a very readable text that is supplemented with clear photographs and color illustrations from Richard J. Caruana. This is easily the most complete reference on the B-45 Tornado that I have come across and as such, is a valuable addition to your reference library. If you have the recent Valom kits, I would consider this edition essential as an aide to your build. I was able to read this tome easily over a single night. If you own any of the previous releases in the Warpaint series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.
My thanks to Guideline Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.