Martin B-57B Canberra

Kit:Italeri, 1/72; bought on eBay for $2.17 in 2008. Model finished on 2018-12-07.
Aircraft:"53-3877"/"Hell's Angel", 8th BS USAF, Phan Rang, Vietnam, circa 1966-1967
Martin B-57B Canberra in 1/72

Martin B-57B Canberra in 1/72

Martin B-57B Canberra in 1/72

Martin B-57B Canberra in 1/72

Martin B-57B Canberra in 1/72

Martin B-57B Canberra in 1/72


During the Vietnam War the 8th and 13th Bomber Squadrons of the USAF were equipped with B-57Bs. My cousin Hank Sjogren served with the 8th BS and flew B-57Bs in Vietnam. He was shot down once; he ejected and was rescued from behind the enemy lines. To honor his service I wanted to build a model of an aircraft that he - in all likelihood - could have flown while stationed at Da Nang, Phan Rang and Clark AFB (in the Philippines where the 8th BS and 13th BS rotated).

Construction Notes

The Italeri kit is an accurate and fairly well detailed rendition of the Canberra. Construction is pretty straightforward, although I used a fair amount of putty to fill various seams. The model also requires quite a bit of weight in the nose to make sure it will stand properly on its landing gear. I left the bomb bay open during construction to be able to add more weight if needed.

The cockpit did not require any additional detail, and the canopy was easy to glue on, although some putty was needed to fill the seams. I always mask before applying putty, to ensure that I don't have to do too much work sanding off the excess.

B-57B Canberra basic construction

Basic airframe construction completed

B-57B Canberra canopy

Canopy attached

B-57B Canberra canopy seams filled

Canopy seams masked and putty applied

B-57B Canberra canopy

Canopy attached, seams filled and sanded

The USAF "Southeast Asia camouflage" is a complex pattern of three (upper side) colors. I decided to use ModelMaster enamels, thinned for airbrushing. ModelMaster offers good renditions of the "official" colors, so no mixing was necessary: Dark Green (FS 595b number 34079), Medium Green (34102) and Dark Tan (30219). For the underside I used Tamiya's flat black. No priming was necessary, but I did paint the areas where some "chipping" would show with Tamiya's Flat Aluminum. I then used the "spit-and-salt" method before spraying the Dark Green. The result matches the photographs of this particular aircraft.

The question of soft vs. hard edges between colors is interesting. Photographs show great variation in this. I decided to go with hard edges, and the result - to me - looks realistic.

Wheel wells and insides of dive brakes I sprayed with Tamiya's Yellow Green (their number XF-4), as it is a good match with the US Zinc Chromate Yellow primer. A note about the dive brakes: I have seen many models of the B-57 where the insides have been painted red, but I couldn't find a single picture of a real aircraft that would confirm this; I found several pictures that showed some lighter color, so I made the assumption that it would be the chromate yellow.

B-57B Canberra unpainted

Ready for airbrushing

B-57B Canberra unpainted]

Photographs of the real aircraft show heavy chipping in these areas

B-57B Canberra w/ Dark Tan

First color: Dark Tan

B-57B Canberra w/ masks]

Masked for the second color: Medium Green

B-57B Canberra w/ masks

Masked for the third color: Dark Green

B-57B Canberra painting completed]

Upper side camouflage completed

After painting, there is still a lot of work with all the small details such as the dive brakes, landing gear, antennae, and ordnance. The kit comes with antennae that most scale plans show, but I found that this did not match photographs of actual aircraft.

Preparing and painting all the bombs was a lot of work: There are 9 bombs in the bomb bay (which I left open, obviously) and 4 in underwing hard points. One of the major improvements of the B-57 (compared to the original English Electric Canberra) was that it did not have bomb bay doors; instead, the entire bomb bay rotated to reveal the ordnance. This reduced buffeting and sudden loss of performance, something I am sure the aircrews appreciated.

Decals came from the kit. I finished the model with a mixture of Testors' Dullcote and Glosscote, and weathered it using chemicals from AK and Tamiya.

B-57B Canberra detail parts

Some of the small details

References Used

  1. Air Classics July 1977
  2. B-57 Canberra in action (Mesko); Aircraft in Action 77; Squadron/Signal Publications 1986
  3. B-57 Canberra Units of the Vietnam War (Bell); Osprey Combat Aircraft 85; Osprey 2011
  4. In the Cockpit (Long et al); Collins Design 2007
  5. International Air Power Review Volume 21
  6. Martin B-57 Canberra - The Complete Record (Mikesh); Schiffer 1995
  7. Martin B-57 Canberra (Darling); Warpaint Series 45; Warpaint Books
  8. Model Aircraft Monthly Volume 17 Issue 2 - February 2018
  9. Wings of Fame volume 19

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