1/72 Monogram B-1B Lancer

 by Deun Yu

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When I bought this old kit I didn't know it would become the toughest but also greatest model I ever built.  The old Monogram B-1 neither depicts an accurate B-1A nor a B-1B.  What I wanted was an USAF ACC B-1B.  Many changes and additions were neccessary to achieve that and this is how it went.

Cockpit

Modification of the cockpit began with cutting out the entire forward tub.  New floor and walls were added as well as new ACES II seats that are completely scratch built, each seat made of 29 parts.  No changes were made to the rear cockpit as it would be invisible later.  Some details were added to the instrument console, inner canopy frame and the walls.

Landing gear

The main gear is almost unmodified, just a small strut (with two holes) was added.  The nose gear needed more changes to look accurate.  The lights were drilled out and filled with clear paint, the cables were replaced with copper wires and some details were added to the doors as well.  The biggest modification is the forward strut.  The original one was correct for early B-1, while the more recent B-1B have a triangular strut configuration.

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Fuselage

The fuselage basically consists of the upper and the lower half.  Again a lot of modifications were done: engraving the panel lines, shortening the rear weapons bay, filling the holes for external ALCMs, closing and seperating the big forward weapons bay, removing the optical turret, sanding the area between refuel docking and cockpit to create a smooth canopy joint, drilling the rear cockpit windows, removing front and rear walls so my own radome/tail cone (see below) woud fit, a short section of the nose cut off for the same reason, added/opened various inlets/outlets, added vortex generators, lower antenna near the tail cone moved forward some mm, reshaped the "sting" above each exhaust pair.

Balance tests showed that some weight was required to make the B-1B stand safely on its gear even when the wings are in full sweep.  So I integrated 18 steel nails (altogether ca. 40 g) into the fuselage behind and in front of the cockpit.

After the wing seals (plastic foil) had been added the fuselage was closed and sanded.

 

Engine nacelles

Although each engine nacelle is made of only two parts they require lots of work to look right.  First thing was removing the outlets on the underside.  Two canes were added to each intake.

The upper and lower nacelle halves need serious sanding/puttying/sanding to become decently smooth.  I realized that the trailing end of the nacelles were a little too short.  After considering various solutions I decided to leave them that way as modifications would have been very complicated and results not really satisfying.  Just antennas and aerodynamic parts were added.

Exhaust

The featherless exhaust cans - how can one build them?  After considering this problem for a long time I decided to take the challenge of building them from scratch. To make a long story short: each exhaust can is made of 62 parts where one part is from the original kit. The other 61 parts are made of plastic cup and other type of sheet plastic.

After completion of the model I realized that the four exhaust cans were the major sub-project of this model and I am pretty happy they turned out looking not too bad.

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Wings

The wings are the only parts of the kit that have engraved panel lines from the beginning.  They are made of softer plastic than the rest of the kit.

Vertical and horizontal stabilizer

The housing on top of the vertical stabilizer have a flat end on the B-1B, so I reshaped it using resin and added the light just underneath the end.  When comparing the tail section to a drawing in side view it becomes obvious that the small cone between the horizontal stabilizers (pointing backwards) is somewhat short.  I decided to ignore this flaw because it's hard to notice.

Tail cone and radome

Certainly one of the more eyecatching parts was the tail cone which under any circumstances must be redone to get the B-1B right.  After considering different solutions I developed a method to produced a reasonable result.  In short:

  • use a drawing to cut a plastic blade shaped like the cone in side view

  • mount the blade on a driller

  • drill a hole into a candle using the blade

  • clean hole and fill with resin

  • extract resin part when hardened

  • clean resin part

This should also work for the radome.  The radome is slightly too short and pointy - not much, just enough to be noticed in a comparison to a drawing.  However in this case I didn't make the new part like I made the tail cone because at that time I had the opportunity of using a turning machine.  I ended up with a sharp looking radome turned from a piece of high density foam.

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Decals

As I got closer to the final stages of this project (ca. 4 years since beginning by that time) I decided to buy a aftermarket decal set since it seemed impossible for me to paint the decals by hand.  I chose Cutting Edge Painted Bones Part 3.  It offered three gray Bones.  I chose 85062 "Uncaged" with the menacing Eagle noseart. For the small stencils I added some spare decals.  In order to elliminate silvering I applied shiny clear paint prior to decaling.

Paint

The FS36118 Gunship Gray looks unspectacular but certainly caused some trouble.  By the time I began painting the whole thing the paint in the can was already beginning to dry, being highly viscous and drying with shiny finish.  I hoped I could compensate the shine with the final flat clear coat but unfortunately I ran out of flat clear.  I simply bought a new can just to realize that the new paint dries much less flat than the paint before!  In fact even a fresh can of semi-gloss gray would have been better than this!  I was lost!

It was the new Revell Aqua Color flat clear that rescued me.  Thinning it down with water I finally achieved the result I was looking for.  However this paint also made the Gunship Gray a bit lighter.

Weathering was kept to a minimum except for the wings which accidentally were weathered a bit more than I wanted.

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What took you so long?

After mounting the final assemblies like landing gear and engines the B-1B finally was complete after ca. 4.5 years of breaks, relaunches, agony, joy and new ideas and methods.  During this time I started and completed 9 other models but the B-1B is matchless in my collection!  The time spent, the amount of new techniques and scratch building - 87 % of the total 515 parts are made from scratch - and of course the size make the B-1B stand out in my cabinet!  For the future I'm not planning to make a model which will surpass the B-1B but I will try to build faster!

Deun

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Photos and text by Deun Yu