AIRFIX 1:72 B-26C MARAUDER
Reviewer: Jason Sou (rec.models.scale)
This twin-engined U.S. medium bomber of WW2 was initially unaffectionately known as the “widowmaker” or “killer” due to it’s high take-off and landing speeds and tricky handling characteristics. However, this nickname was undeserved and the B-26 went on to become a reliable and potent medium bomber which served in many war theatres.
The aircraft was designed in 1939 and first entered service with the USAAF in 1941. The US 8th and 9th Air Forces in Europe used this aircraft to good effect from 1943, and by May 1944 28 squadrons (in 8 bomb groups) flew the B-26. By the end of the war, the B-26 units had suffered the lowest loss rate of any American aircraft – less than 1 %! The B-26 also saw service with other allied air forces including the RAF, South African Air Force, and Free French Air Force. The final aircraft was delivered in March 1945 and a total of 5157 were built.
This Airfix kit depicts the B-26 C or the equivalent Marauder Mk II of the RAF/SAAF. The C version differed from the earlier variants by having uprated engines, increased wing span, and a new tail gun turret. The kit contains a larger than usual number of pieces for an aircraft of this size – 146, of which 20 are transparencies of an acceptable thickness.
Interior detail consists of seats for pilot and co-pilot, two spectacle type control columns, a centre console, main instrument panel, a 2 piece Norden bombsight in the nose, 5 bulkheads, and finally 8 bombs to fit neatly inside the bomb bay if you wish to display this open. Two seated pilot figures and a seated mid-upper turret gunner are provided. A mixture of lightly raised, and lightly recessed panel lines adorn major components and I found these quite ok. No trace of the handiwork of the 60’s era Airfix “phantom rivetter” can be found!
As could be imagined, a fair amount of weight (Airfix suggest 12 grams) is required in the nose to prevent this model from becoming a tailsitter - I managed to squeeze approximately this amount of weight in lead into the forward fuselage. How many modellers have a set of scales? Bomb-bay doors are supplied in 6 pieces, + 2 small windows, and I chose to display some of this detail and bombload so finished this kit with bomb bay doors open. For those who wimp out, part 127 is used to cover the bomb bay area.
Undercarriage is well represented in this scale and undercarriage bays are boxed in and contain some detail. The radial engines and propellers are also well reproduced, and 9 0.5 inch MG’s are also quite acceptable and to scale. No putty was required as all components fitted well.
Two decal options are provided with the colour schemes being the same, with the exception of invasion stripes on the USAF machine. Unfortunately, no decals are provided for these so this is a mask and spray job! The basic scheme consists of USAAF olive drab topsides with the usual neutral grey undersides. Humbrol colours 155 and 176 are recommended, and for those younger modellers, it would be helpful if Airfix stated the colour name. I chose to complete the kit as a Marauder Mk II of No. 21 Squadron South African Air Force, which was based in Italy in 1944/45. Decals for this version consist of 2 type C fuselage roundels, 2 type B overwing roundels, 2 fin flashes, 2 black serials, and 4 large white letter G’s for the fuselage sides. I immediately queried the faded red portions of the roundels and fin flashes, but then checked references and realised that this faded orangey-red was a feature to distinguish South African aircraft. No problems there, although the type B roundels and fin flashes were slightly out of register and would benefit from a careful trim prior to application.
I rate this kit as one of Airfix’s better twin-engined WW2 bomber kits and would therefore recommend this B-26C kit to all modellers. This kit is also very reasonably priced compared to some similar sized aircraft kitted by certain other manufacturers who I will not name – but I’m sure you could guess!