Anigrand Craftswork
1/144 XB-70 "Valkyrie"
Kit Number: AA-4007
Reviewed by  Jim Pearsall, IPMS# 2209

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MSRP: $108
Imported by Nostalgic Plastic: www.nostalgicplastic.com
Anigrand Web site: www.anigrand.com


The Aircraft

The XB-70 caught the imagination of the "air minded" back in the late Ď50s early Ď60s. Here was the future, wrapped in aluminum and titanium, ready to go to mach 3 at super high altitudes and defend the United States against Soviet expansionism. It was also to be the prototype for airliners which would whisk us to far away places in no time at all. We could see the future. Well, actually the XB-70 flew so high and fast that we could only see it at take off and landing.

Also, if weíre going to have a mach 3 bomber, we needed a mach 3 fighter to protect it or to intercept the other guysí mach 3 bombers -- thus the XF-103 and XF-108 programs were started.

[review image] Several brutal facts got together and ruined this wonderful idea. The Soviets shot down a U-2 at high altitude near Sverdlovsk, which caused the US Air Force to decide that high altitude, high speed bombers had become yesterdayís weapon. The first ballistic missiles in silos and submarines were coming on line, and they were cheaper to manufacture and maintain than manned aircraft. President Kennedy announced in 1961 that the XB-70 program would be cancelled, but the two aircraft already in production would be built, and turned over to NASA as research aircraft. The first flew in 1964, and flew mach 3 in 1965. The second flew in 1965, and was destroyed in a midair collision with an F-104 in 1966. The first aircraft flew on until 1969, when it was flown to the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where it sits today.

The first time I saw the B-70, it was sitting outside at Wright-Patterson, as the permanent hangar wasnít finished yet. It was more than impressive, you could see that white monster for miles before you got close to the museum. Iíve been back to the USAFM several times since then, but while itís impressively big sitting in that building, the sheer size of the Valkyrie is really brought out when you put it out there with only pastures and smaller aircraft next to it.

The Kit [review image]

This Anigrand kit contains not only the B-70, but also has 3 other North American Aviation products, the X-15C, the XF-108, and an L-17 Navion. Thereís also a "piggy back" adaptor for the X-15, as the NASA B-70 was going to carry it to altitude, somewhat like the B-52 did with the X-15A. Since I only built the B-70, this review will only cover that aircraft. Perhaps another timeÖ


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Itís also no stretch to include the XF-108, as it was a concurrent project with the B-70 program. I just have to wonder about the Navion, as the only connection is that it was originally built by North American, before the design was taken over and built by Ryan.

The kit is quite true to the original Valkyrie, in that when you open the box, youíll be impressed with the size of the aircraft, even it itís "only" 1/144th scale. Of course it has recessed panel lines, and is cleanly molded in gold resin. I am also impressed that the large resin parts which make up the wing, fuselage and intake/engine assembly fit together nicely, with the whole model being straight and true without a lot of jockeying with sheet plastic and filler to get everything to line up as it should. The parts almost fall together, making the assembly of the major parts fairly easy. This is good too, because any error made when putting resin parts together using CA is pretty permanent. Yes, I keep a bottle of debonder on my workbench, but the old carpenterís slogan of "measure twice, cut once" should be applied here. Test fit, test fit, test fit, THEN apply glue.

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While Iíve gone on about how good the parts are, I was kind of taken aback by the instructions. One sheet, both sides. For 4 kits.

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Which leads me to this recommendation: IF YOU ARE GOING TO BUY THIS KIT, BUY THE BOOK. Specialty Press has just released a new B-70 book, and it saved this kit a couple of times. My review of the book is here. The detail photos in the book, as well as scale drawings made sense of what the instructions just couldnít cover in a half page. Also, note that the marking instructions for the B-70 USAF and "star and bar" are on the incorrect wings. They got it right on the X-15, the XF-108 and the L-17, but for some reason the B-70 has it reversed. I did catch it before it was too late, but I was so engrossed in getting the correct angle and placement of these markings, I did get it wrong, before I got it right.

Assembly

Thereís a "how to" on resin aircraft kits in the September, 2004, issue of FineScale Modeler. If you donít have experience with resin kits, or havenít built one for a while, it might be a good thing to look this article over. If youíre a FSM subscriber, you can find it online at www.finescale.com, and do a search for September 2004.

[review image] The parts come off the pour blocks nicely, as the resin is tough enough not to splinter, crack or deform when a razor saw is applied. But the parts are soft enough to not make the job a chore. The FSM article recommends finding the bubbles and filling them. Those very long fuselage parts did have some bubbles, and there were some spots in the wings, but mostly the resin was clean.

[review image] I was quite pleased with the locating pins and holes provided. I was even more pleased that the locating pins actually helped fit the parts in the correct position. It seemed that about half the locating pins failed to mold completely, but there was enough there to help assembly, and with large complex parts like the wing/fuselage assembly this is critical.

[review image] Since there was no step-by-step instruction, I pretty much went by past practice. I mated the wings on a flat surface to get them true. I then added the forward fuselage halves. I mated the right one to the wing, then the left half to the wing and other fuselage half. Fit was fair to OK. I used some green putty on the fuselage halves, top and bottom, because I was more concerned with getting the wing and fuselage to mate cleanly than I was to getting a "contest ready" seam on the fuselage halves. I then attached the intake/engine assembly, using clamps to keep it firmly mated to the bottom of the wing until I got the CA to set. There were a couple of gaps there, but they were easily filled with Mr. Surfacer ģ 500, followed with a cotton swab which had been dipped in Mr. Surfacer thinner.

Now it begins to look like a B-70. Almost time to paint. I painted and assembled the landing gear, got the vertical stabs shaped up, and fixed the bad spot in the trailing edge of one of the canards. Now to the airbrush.

Painting

I used Floquilís Reefer White. I painted the aircraft, and was really disappointed, as the white just didnít cover that yellow/gold resin as I expected it to. OK, back to basics. Primer. I had a bottle of Floquil Reefer Gray, and I used that as the primer. I applied it over the white coat, then put a coat of white over it again. This time it looked marvelous. Also, thereís a pretty low degree of difficulty in painting the entire aircraft white. Keep the airbrush moving, donít get too close, donít put paint on an area thatís still wet, and the Reefer White goes on flat and even. Apply Future, and itís ready for decals.

Decals

There just werenít a lot of markings on the XB-70. The USAF and national markings on the wings, US AIR FORCE and markings on the forward fuselage, the turbine lines and the serial on the tails, and itís done. I was surprised that I got two identical decal sheets in the box. I thought I was getting a lagniappe (gift), as they sell those sheets, no freebies. When I started cutting out markings, I discovered there are just enough markings on the two sheets to do the aircraft. The only extras were the NASA stripes I didnít use. Nevertheless, the decals performed exactly as expected from 21st century technology. I donít know who printed them, but theyíre of Cartograf quality. Register on the US Stars was good. The decals separated from the paper cleanly and could be moved around a little for alignment. They also withstood being removed and reinstalled when I discovered I had put them on the wrong side.

The Last Parts

Once I had the decals in all the right places and the Future top coat dried, I finished assembly with the vertical stabs, canards interior and canopy. I have learned to do decals before I add the small parts, as I develop 11 or 12 thumbs, not just 10, when Iím doing decals. Once the decals are sealed, I can handle the plane to get the parts on. I did manage to get a thumbprint on the top of the fuselage while installing the canards, but it just wiped off the Future coating. I am NOT going to see if it protects the model from black heel marks.

The interior was pretty basic. There are two pretty nice seats, and a bulkhead to go behind them. Since you canít see whatís in there, not much use putting in controls, pedals or a panel. The Specialty Press book was also very helpful in getting the colors correct on the seats. Good color reference photos are always nice to have.

Overall

This was my first Anigrand Craftswork kit. Iím sure Iím going to build another, as the Myasishchev M-50 "Bounder" is in my stash. My motivation for building this particular kit was that the Specialty Press B-70 book became available for review, and I promised Dave Morrissette that I would build the kit and do this review if he would let me review the book. Also, my sister bought me this kit for Christmas 2007, and if I donít finish it, sheíll make it a point that I get nothing for Christmas this year.

Added to that was the number of fellow modelers who admired my finished Valkyrie at this weekís chapter meeting. Even in 1/144, itís bigger than most 1/72 aircraft, and edges out a few 1/48 ones.

Recommended. This kit was a lot easier to build than I thought it was going to be. It didnít have a lot of big problems -- just little ones; mostly tiny bubbles that didnít show up until I painted the wing. It wasnít a quick build, but I deliberately took it slow and careful because thereís not going to be a second one of these babies soon. Special thanks to my sister Beth, who gave me this kit for Christmas 2007

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