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Scratch-Built 1/72nd Remington-Burnelli RB-1

Scratch-Built 1/72nd Scale Remington-Burnelli RB-1

By Gabriel Stern



Now, there you have an airliner. Almost an ocean liner, one could say.
Thirty-two passengers, mind you. Mister Vincent Burnelli developed a whole family of planes around the lifting fuselage concept, used much, much later in more contemporary machines. Its earlier interventions in the design field contributed to planes like the Lawson Airliner and the Continental KB-1, amazing creations on their own.

Structural soundness, safety and many other qualities of the plane were sought after with the rational use of advanced design concepts. In a way, the “lifting body” is related to the flying wing, both searching for minimum drag, efficiency and structural advantages. Lifting bodies will appear much later, among other examples, in the NASA experimental planes that studied atmospheric re-entering vehicles. A similar line was pursued by French designers: De Monge (7.4 in 1924 too), Dyle-Bacalan (DB 70 around 1925) and Carpentier (C-1 of 1935).


There is a wealth of material on the Net, so if you feel attracted, do your homework and you will find many interesting stories and the planes and men that created them.

For the purpose of this article, I would just say that this story starts in1920, when Burnelli became associated with Mr. Remington (hence the “RB” denomination) that there were two version of the plane, the RB-1 and the RB-2, but RB-1 was reincarnated at least once. Here we deal with RB-1 second life. You could have tons of fun trying to sort out which is which, as many of the photos on the Net are mislabeled, and some minor modifications were performed in the machines, even in the same versions. Here are some clues: look at the wheels, vertical tail surfaces, engines, tapering –or not- of the aft fuselage and the protruding –or not- ailerons. The best part is when sources contradict each other. And yes, I say all of the above with a mischievous smile.

The Model

Boy, what a corrugated slab! It was love at first sight. A long haul enterprise, without doubt, proven by the fact that this model went off the building board for more than a year. After I reached the three hundred parts mark I decided that I was better off not counting them. Although it seems hard work, I can assure you that it is much worse than it seems. To get some relief from the project stress I became involved in building five models at the same time, three vacuforms, one conversion, and one scratch. It worked, because compared with that, the Burnelli project looked almost like a smooth ride.


The photos will tell the story, but a sound track with screams could be added to make for a more realistic effect. Hey, look at the bright side: almost no decals!

Materials: mostly styrene, some wire, printed paper for the seats, band-aids, wood for the props, Aspirin, Sculpey for the sofas, wheels from the ICM 1/72 TB-3 monster (which I built on skis). Vacuformed canopies were made thanks to the acquisition of an old but in perfect condition Mattel Vac-U-Form machine. Hey, that Mattel contraption is really fun! It is small, so don’t have any visions of grandeur about molding big fuselages or floats. But here it is, another opportunity to burn your fingers, melt plastic and get involved in the arcane technologies of the sixties. Now I understand why people looked so happy then. Contrail and Strutz’s strut material from Aeroclub and a couple of photoetched parts completed the list. I must hereby confess that I received some extra help and encouragement from the Wings of Peace forum, together with harsh and insensitive commentaries about the appearance of the airplane.

All in all quite and adventure, including the hundreds of genuflections and push-ups performed to recover minute parts from the carpet, which rendered going to the gym redundant.

And I’ll throw my gauntlet at the feet of the ones that dare to call it ugly.