The English Electric Canberra was one of the first post-war jet bombers to come out of England and it followed the principles demonstrated by the Mosquito during the Second World War: high altitude, high speed and no defensive armament. Originally concepted with a fuselage-mounted axial flow engine, the designers shifted the engine to the wing, adding a second and changing them to the much more fuel efficient centrifugal type. This also freed up space in the fuselage for more carrying capacity both for weapons and for fuel, and the resultant aircraft became the Canberra.
Initially thought of as a bridging aircraft, the Canberra proved to be a very stable platform both as a bomber and as a reconnaissance aircraft. Stability didn't make it a slouch, though, as it was also quite maneuverable, resulting in the Canberra flying in the skies over the United Kingdom for several decades as well as serving with the USAF and ANG for an almost equal amount of time.
This is the latest release from OzMods in 1/144 scale, a scale that seems to be enjoying a surge of popularity recently. This kit comes molded in a very dark gray plastic and features recessed panel lines and a surprising amount of detail throughout, including a complete interior and detailed landing gear. Two sets of vacuformed canopies are provided, and a small decal sheet provides three choices: one British, one Australian and one US.
The instructions are simple but complete, providing a single exploded view drawing of all the various components. While this small kit has quite a bit of detail, the total parts count is small, with the finished model consisting of only 35 parts with the gear down. Separate doors are included if you want to model your plane with the gear up, a nice touch considering that the main gear is molded integrally with the gear doors. The interior includes a cockpit tub, an instrument panel, a control stick and a seat, and while you'll probably need to do some general cleanup on these parts overall the quality is pretty good. The seat is easily the best 1/144 seat I've seen. The finished interior is sandwiched between the fuselage halves, and here you have an option of either cutting the nose tip off and replacing it with the clear part or leaving it alone.
Moving to the flying surfaces, the vertical fin is molded with the fuselage halves and about the only thing you'll want to do here is thin down the trailing edge a bit. The wings are split into upper and lower halves and incorporate the majority of the engine nacelles. There is also a bit of wheel well detail provided on the inside of the upper wing halves. The flaps and ailerons are molded as one piece with the upper wing, so thinning the edges of these will be pretty easy, although you might end up with a gap along the bottom leading edge of these once the wings are together. As the instructions say, test fit all parts beforehand, and by doing so you should end up with an excellent fit here. The wings (and tailplanes for that matter) have tabs that fit into slots in the fuselage so the final joint should be plenty strong and in the right place. The landing gear is delicate but as I mentioned before the main gear is molded with the wheel doors so it will be very sturdy, even after thinning the doors down. The last bits for the wings include separate exhausts and intakes.
The decal choices offer an interesting collection of schemes, although for one of them you'll need to do some modifications to the kit. Being an Australian kit it's no surprise to find the Australian example included here, this one being a Canberra B. Mk 20 of 3 Squadron, RAAF, in the late 1950s. This plane is finished in silver overall with the top of the fuselage painted white, including the vertical fin. I'm not entirely sure but I believe the Australian Canberras were painted aluminum rather than natural metal. A red lightning bolt adorns the vertical fin. The British example is a Canberra B. Mk. 2 of 45 Squadron based out of Singapore in the early 1960s. It's listed as having gray and green upper surfaces with medium blue-gray lower surfaces. The squadron badge is on the tail, while the rest is standard RAF markings. The final example is a US RB-57A and it's this one that will require some modifications (see below). The plane is finished in overall black with red lettering. The decals themselves appear to be printed on an Alps printer and are well done. I would wonder about the opacity of the red lettering going down over a black plane, but that's not restricted to just Alps decals, as I had the same problems with my 1/72 Italeri B-57.
To make a B-57A (or RB-57A) from this kit there are a few small modifications you'll need to make, most of which involve the engines. When Martin built the Canberra for the USAF they replaced the Rolls Royce Avon engines with Wright J65s. This resulted in different nacelle contours, being deeper above the wing and shallower below the wing. The exhausts were also slightly different, and the intakes were slightly larger and a bit longer. This resulted in the engine bullet fairing not sticking out quite as far. The most noticeable difference though is the addition of an air intake on the lower front of the nacelle. Other smaller differences include a shorter bomb bay, a different canopy shape, and relocation of several antennae. If I were to build a B-57A from this kit, though, the only things I'd worry about would be the spare intake on the engines and the bomb bay size, as the rest really won't be noticeable in 1/144 scale.
This is a great little model that should build up into a nice Canberra with a little work. For those more ambitious modelers out there this kit would make an excellent starting point for an RB-57D, as that long-winged Canberra won't take up much space in this scale. With the recent Hobbycraft & Academy releases of US bombers from the 50s & 60s you can have a very impressive collection of small-scale bombers.