YB-49 Flying Wing

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Company: Cyber-Hobby - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
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Designed by Jack Northrop and built by his company, the YB-49 symbolized the culmination of his work with flying wing designs that began with the N-1M when he started his company in 1939. There were a total of three of these aircraft that actually took to the air, two YB-49s and a single YRB-49A. All were converted from XB-35 airframes, trading in the four Pratt and Whitney R-4360 engines and counter-rotating propellers for eight Allison J-35-A-15 jet engines on the YB-49, or in the case of the YRB-49A, six Allison J-35-A-19 jet engines. The aircraft was 172 feet across, 53 feet 1 inch in length, and stood 15 feet 3 inches tall.

The wing area for the aircraft was 4000 square feet, which supported a maximum takeoff weight of 193,938 pounds (the maximum bomb load was 32,000 pounds). The YB-49 could fly at a top speed of 493 mph, and would cruise at 419 mph. The range was 3155 miles for the YB-49, which had a ceiling of 40,700 feet. One YB-49 was lost on 5 June, 1948, killing its pilot, Major Daniel Forbes (for whom Forbes Air Force Base was named), co-pilot Captain Glen Andrews (for whom Andrews Air Force Base is named), and three other crew members. The other YB-49 was lost in a high-speed taxi trial when the nose wheel collapsed on 15 March, 1950, at Muroc Field. The ensuing fire from the crash completely destroyed the plane and, two months later, all orders for the flying wing were cancelled by the Secretary of the Air Force. The YRB-49A last flew on 26 April, 1951, after completing some 13 test flights. The plane was ordered to be scrapped on 1 December, 1953.

This new release by Cyber-Hobby is a wonderful rendering of the predecessor of the modern B-2 (now nearly thirty years old), provided in a very manageable 1/200 scale. The kit consists of a mere sixty-one individual pieces, and goes together rather quickly, with no real issues to mention. There is a decal sheet with all of the wing lines and other markings, and the instructions are contained on a single sheet of paper (this necessitates that the directions for painting and marking be placed on the box). The plastic used is the standard light gray and slightly pebbled product used in Dragon kits. The clear parts are very nicely done, and are crystal clear.

There is not a lot to discuss on the assembly, as the interior parts fit well and drop right in to the wing halves. The level of detail, in my opinion, is fantastic for this scale, with the presence of seats, steering yokes, various instrumentation boxes, and even a fold down table. I will also note here that, in order to get the front canopy to install correctly, I needed to trim the top of part C14 off. There is an option to build the plane with either the landing gear raised or lowered, and there are two options on the main gears for the main support legs that are included. These items dropped into place without issue, once placed on the correct side (I will elaborate later). This kit actually went together so well, and so fast, that I did not even think about the possibility of it being tail-heavy. Care to guess what would bite me later on?

I painted my YB-49 using Model Master Metalizer paints for the most part. The interior received Non-buffing Aluminum, while the exterior is Buffing Aluminum, and the engine exhausts were painted with Exhaust. I painted the seats with Model Master Acryl Insignia Red. Aircraft Interior Black was used in the cockpit on the instrumentation boxes, and Vallejo Dark Rubber was used on the tires. I sealed the paint after buffing it and the decals after they were installed with Model Master Metalizer Sealer. I did have an issue with my decals that go on the ends of the wings, and I had to replace portions of them. My first end decal broke, and the piece travelling front to back folded up. I thought ahead and installed the other side in pieces to remedy this. I used a piece of chart tape the same width as the decal (lucky for me) to create my own end pieces.

As far as my hits of this kit are concerned, this new kit by Cyber-Hobby is molded with light panel lines, and the fit of the parts was excellent. The top and bottom wing halves join on the underside along a panel line, so the builder does not have to mess around with the leading edge of the wing at all. There was no excess flash to clean up on any of the parts, and there were few mold lines that required any attention. The clear parts attached perfectly, even though their small size can make them intimidating.

My one real miss with this kit was the failure to mention adding any weight to the nose during construction. Not that I should not have known better with nearly forty years of experience building kits, but sometimes things just slip your mind. I attempted to add what weight I could to the front half of the enclosed main wheel bays, but this was not enough to overcome the rear-end weight of the plane. I had a few errors that I identified during construction relating to the clear parts and assemblies being mislabeled in the directions. In the directions, the clear parts are spelled out as being on sprue “W,” where my clear sprue was labeled “D.. This is not a big deal, as the actual numbers were still correct. I did find that the semi sphere (part W2 in the directions) actually needed to be part D4. I also found that the main landing gear assemblies (C24 and C25) need to be swapped (C25 needs to go to the right side to fit properly). Finally, in step 1, part C8 actually should be part C15.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this kit to fans of flying wings, whether made by Jack Northrop or not. This kit does not require a lot of experience to make a good looking wing, but the installation of some of the small parts do require attention to detail that may challenge a less experienced builder. Overall, this is a great kit of the YB-49, and the completed plane will not fill a display shelf the way that the 1/72 scale kit will.

I would like to thank the folks at Dragon Models USA for providing this kit to IPMS/USA for review, to Steve Collins, who runs the review corps, for selecting me to do the build, and to you for taking the time to read my comments.


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