Comet 1/317 scale B-52C, Kit No. PL-21

By Al Supercynski


Comet was one of the pioneers of the American plastic model industry. Having produced wood kits since 1929, it made the transition to plastics in the mid Fifties but sold all its tooling to Aurora in 1963 in the face of stiff competition during the early boom years of plastic modeling in the USA. I've long had a soft spot for Comet kits and have been watching for an example of this one at a reasonable price for many years.

Its small (and odd) scale notwithstanding this neat little kit has stood the test of time well and must have delighted untold thousands of young builders during the halcyon postwar boom years, including its appearance in the UK in Kleeware and FROG boxings. The kit was first issued as PL-11 with a Parents Magazine logo on the box and appeared in a number of Comet's gift sets but unfortunately was never released by Aurora after the acquisition of Comet's molds, the Aurora B-52 being a new and slightly larger (1/270 scale) kit and owing nothing at all to Comet's tooling.

partsThere are 21 parts molded in a silvery-gray plastic, including two for Comet's typical swivel stand, and a tiny clear plastic windshield. Control surfaces and some panel details are presented in somewhat overdone scribing, and as often is the case with early US-made models, decal locations are also indicated by the same recessed scribing. The scribing even includes indications for painting the wing walkways and white antiflash undersides but there's no mention of that in the instructions. There's little flash and no sink marks on my kit and a quick test-fit showed it would go together well, a trait of all Comet kits I've ever had.

instructionsThe instructions are on one side of a single sheet and are very basic, as befitting such a simple kit, but are adequate apart from a lack of painting details, suggesting only that the antiglare panel be painted black. Granted these weren't exactly the most colorful aircraft around in the 1950s but there's a little more to it than that! Given that the instructions tout Comet's own glue and line of paints one would think that they might have suggested a bit of red here and there and the white undersides as well!

decalsThe decals are pretty much a lost cause but that's to be expected from an early vintage model. My sheet is in good condition and is probably usable but doesn't provide anything other than the most basic markings. The national insignias are a joke, suffering from bad proportions and colors (not unlike many kit and aftermarket decals even today!) with red stripes that are badly out of register.

The Comet B-52 is another prime example of an early plastic model and despite all of my criticisms is just a neat little kit that I'd like to see on the shelves again for the pocket money crowd. I got mine on eBay from Skyway Model Shop along with a FROG B-47 for a very reasonable price so they're still out there. Highly recommended if you like small scale models and/or collect for nostalgia!

Until next month, "Build what YOU like, the way YOU want to", above all have fun, and be sure to visit Al's Place while you're surfing the 'Net!

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