Revell-Monogram 1/48 B-58 “Hustler”

Kit #4337                                            MSRP $41.25
Images and text Copyright © 2005 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
        The supersonic B-58 Hustler derived from a concept developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s which took into account the greatly increased capability of ground defenses, including radar tracking and ground-to-air missiles. It was realized that the bomber of the future must be capable of supersonic flight. The Convair firm of Fort Worth, Texas had been involved in advanced bomber design studies since October, 1946 known as GEBO (GEneralized BOmber) I and in the GEBO II project that developed from the earlier program. Boeing and Convair both presented designs for a strategic bombardment system to the Air Force in 1952 and the Convair design was selected as the most promising, the Weapon System concept MX1964 later designated B-58. At this time the Convair design staff was using the name "Hustler" within the company to designate the MX1964; to the regret of some, the name stuck, and even became official.
        Among the many revolutionary advances embodied in the B-58 Hustler was the use of new procedures and materials in constructing the aircraft. Special demands were made on the airframe structure, not only in terms of aerodynamic loads, but also by virtue of its high speed, which through skin friction at Mach 2 could heat the exterior surfaces above 250 degrees F. For covering the wing, Convair evolved a new material known as the bonded sandwich panel. On 11 November 1956 the first XB-58 “Hustler” took to the air for the first time. First service delivery of the "Hustler" was in February 1959. A single high-yield nuclear weapon was to be carried in a long belly pod. The aircraft had long, spindly-looking tricycle landing gear to allow ground clearance for the engines and the weapons pod. A reconnaissance pod could be fitted as an alternate payload. The pod also carried fuel and equipment. The pod was used because attempting to include the payload in the aircraft itself inflicted too much of a performance penalty.
        The B-58 was a spectacular aircraft in almost every regard, elegant with its long, slender, wasp-waisted fuselage and its clean delta wing, sporting four J79 engines, with the inner pair on long swept-forward pylons and the outer pair on short stub pylons. In October 1963, a B-58 named GREASED LIGHTNING flew from Tokyo to London, and despite the fact that it had to slow down for five aerial refuelings, its average speed over the 8,028 nautical mile flight was 785 MPH. The B-58 was one of the sleekest and most impressive combat aircraft ever built, and even in the 21st century the “Hustler” still looks futuristic. As it turned out, a Mach 2 bomber was not a particularly practical idea for the time; the B-58 was only produced in small numbers and did not remain in service for very long. 116 B-58s were manufactured and 26 of those were lost to accidents. In early 1970 the last B-58 was removed from operational service. Today there are only six B-58s left in existence. The B-58 never fired a shot in anger.

The Kit
        In 1986 Monogram released this kit for the first time and over the intervening years it has been reissued several times alternately by Monogram then Revell of Germany, most recently in 2004. Each time rumors within the industry imply that this will be the last time but I have to wonder if that is nothing more than a marketing devise to encourage stash building. This model is of tremendous size coming in a box equal to the 1/48 B-29 and 1/72 B-36 packaging. As with these other large boxings this package includes a reinforcing cross member inside but this also doubles as a containment piece for the upper main fuselage piece (see image below) and helps to immobilize the parts trees during shipping.
        The particular kit that I am looking at is an original 1986 issue. The box art may change and the manufacture will vary between Monogram and Revell but it is the same kit from the same molds. There are two large issues with this model; the first being that it features raised panel lines which are totally inappropriate for this aircraft and the second being that early in the life of the molds some unfortunate individual dropped something hard onto the masters and gouged the area just forward of the windshield. This small pair of raised plastic bumps is seen on all issues of the model and must be repaired. The design of the kit is interesting with the fuselage forward top section being a single piece for nearly the entire run of the aircraft and the lower section consisting of a short nose piece and the main area being incorporated into the lower wing piece. The tail section is a more conventional left and right piece that plugs into the completed forward section.
        The model has good detail inside the landing gear bays and adequate detail in the forward cockpit. Neither of the back cockpits are detailed at all. The engines are fairly well done but the inlet cones set a little too far forward. The modeler might want to move them to just behind the kit mounting points to create a slightly more realistic look. Due to the large size of the engine pods and the small attachment points it might be a good idea to incorporate some wire studs into this area for increased strength. The kit includes a small sprue of clear parts that cover the pilot’s clear pieces and the side windows for the two rear compartments. Overall we have 121 pieces done in a silver gray high pressure injection plastic and four clear pieces for a total of 125 pieces in the kit.

You may click on the small images here to view larger pictures

Decals and Instructions
        Instructions with this kit are very straight forward. They consist of a large fold-out sheet that has a few paragraphs on the history of the aircraft, some basic modeling safety tips and a general paint code chart. There are thirty-two exploded view construction steps followed by a four view decal placement and exterior painting guide. For general modeling purposes these painting and marking guides are okay. The more serious modeler will want to check with other reference material.
        Decals are included for a single aircraft; B-58 #92458 which was the Bendix Trophy winner. The decals look good on paper with good color density and print registry. I you plan on using these for your model you will want to cut away as much of the carrier material as possible. The 2004 release of the kit includes marking for a camouflage bomber – this may or may not have existed. The is little evidence that the scheme was ever actually applied to an aircraft but it certainly looks cool.

        There are two big reasons to build this kit if you want a 1/48 “Hustler”; first Monogram does a really nice job in the overall accuracy department with this model even with the raised panel line issues and second, this is the only game in town for this scale. If you were to get busy you could sand down and rescribe the panel lines on this kit in about ten hours, maybe longer if you are new to rescribing. If you build it straight from the box it will certainly be an impressive model. If you are into some advanced modeling you could add detail for the two back seats with a resin detail package from Engines and Things. In 2004 Golden Dragon Productions was making a detail set for the cockpit and back seats that briefly made it into production. If you can get your hands on a set it would make an excellent addition to the model. There are a few aftermarket decal option available also, Fox One has a package that allows for seven different schemes including the camouflage idea. Mike Grant designed did two different packages to replace all the general aircraft markings and a second to model B-58 “Super Sue”. You can click on these small images below to view large pictures of the Mike Grant decals. The last aftermarket item available for this kit are some canopy and wheel masks from Cutting Edge.

        This is a nice kit, something cool to build right from the box or something to go nuts on with rescribe and aftermarket. Whether this is the last reissue or not it is definitely something to have in your stash on built on your shelf.

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