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1/72 XB-36 Peacemaker- Cockpit Work

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Aren't projects supposed to move FORWARD? You could've fooled me on this one. I'm doing as much moving backwards as I am moving forwards. For example? Take this little assembly.


Took three days to put together. It's the battery box for three of my four electrical circuits. The doo-dads on the right side are headphone jacks- that way I could remove it from the model to change the batteries. AND I can't use it. It's too big, too impractical, and wouldn't work that well if I put it in. All this had to be thrown away.

Second, remember this piece?


Turns out it's wrong. Reading back over my source materials, it seems that the "connected" bomb bays were used on the YB-36, but proposed too late to be used on the XB-36. That's okay, though. I've gotten good at making that other bay divider.

It isn't all doom and gloom, however. I've begun some interior detailing, first by modifying the flight engineer's station.


(Production panel is on the left, XB panel on the right)

I've also managed to fit one landing gear leg well enough to test it, along with the amount of nose weight I have installed right now. For once, it was a success.


I want to get the new battery box finished in a few days and get some of the wiring finalized by the end of next week. It'd be nice to get some of these electro-gadgets to work....

Until next time!

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Not really an update per-se today. Work is getting done, that's for sure. The problem is, with a plane like the B-36 that's got six engines, there's a LOT of repetition involved. Soldering wires can only be SO interesting. So, in the meantime, I thought I'd have a bit of a history lesson on one of the least known stories of the XB-36- the initial defensive armament.

Now, most are familiar with how most operational B-36s were armed- six fuselage turrets, each sighted with a blister, nose turret sighted from the front and tail turret radar sighted. It's wasn't always like this. You see, the B-36 started life back before the US even entered WWII. Defensive armament specifications were sort of vague until around '42 or '43, until an official arrangement was nailed down- ten .50cal machine guns and 5 37mm cannons, arranged in 5 turrets.


(Incidentally, this is how I'm basing 90% of my interior detail on the model. The photo is about 3 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Squint city.)

Starting at the front you have the two manned turrets, each with a pair of FREAKIN' HUGE 37mm cannons in them. These were meant to be pressurized, self-contained units, built by the United Shoe Machinery Corp., of all people. Gunners would enter them at an altitude low enough to not need pressurization (the front weapons bays were unpressurized), then stay inside during the combat portion of the mission. Originally these were going to be able to be remotely controlled as well, but this feature was later dropped. In addition, each was going to be made of self-sealing material, so that they could maintain interior pressure even if they were shot. Mockups were built.


(Upper turret)


(Lower turret. Absurdly spacious, when compared with B-17 belly turrets)


The 37mm cannons were chosen mostly for their ballistic characteristics at longer ranges, rather than stopping power. Problem was, the weight of them was so heavy that each gunner was only going to have 100 rounds per gun. :)

Moving back to the rear turret bays (located between bomb bays 3 and 4), these were going to have two remote turrets, with 4 .50cal machine guns in each.


Control for these would've been much closer to the setup used on the B-29. The four gunners in the rear compartment (identical to the ones on production B-36s) would share control of these two turrets.

Finally, the tail "stinger" would consist of two .50cal machine guns and one 37mm cannon.


As in production models, it would be controlled by a radar operator in the rear compartment, with the ability for the four rear gunners to take control as well.

So, why wasn't this ever fitted? Mainly, weight, and complexity. This whole arrangement was MILES overweight for an airframe that needed to be as light as possible in order to make its specification of a 10,000 mile range. No matter what anyone did, the system was too heavy. Second, the computers needed to create a system where any gunner could take over any gun on a plane 160 feet long proved impossible to develop. There were other factors as well- as the war progressed, more and more things needed to be stuffed into the nose of a combat-worthy aircraft- bombardier, radar, AND a nose turret. The XB-36 airliner canopy just didn't have enough room for all this. There were a few proposals for barbettes on the sides of the nose, but these created so much drag they were an obvious no-go. In the end, the only option was to just give each gunner a dedicated gun of their own, relatively close to their sighting station. A step backwards from the B-29, but a necessary one.

So there you have it, a history of what could've been on the B-36. 99% of the info was gotten from the book "Convair B-36, A Comprehensive History of America's Big Stick" by Meyers K. Jacobsen. Combine that with "Magnesium Overcast", and you've got more info on the B-36 than you know what to do with.

Soon, back to your regularly scheduled program!

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I'm beginning to see why it took those guys 5 years to build this thing.... In any case, it's that time again...


For this, we turn back to the wing. Funny thing; I've never liked wings. Fuselages are okay. They're rational. Like this one- it's a tube. I can get it. Wings, on the other hand? All weird and curvy-like.... no real easy reference points for building detail into. Despite this, I feel compelled to at least try.

I've already done a fair bit of work on the open engine nacelle. My goal is to make this build "seamless"- anywhere you could look for detail, there will be detail there. This INCLUDES the six engine intakes. Cracking my knuckles, I dove straight into it with my glue and sheet plastic.


As you can see, engine number 3 (open nacelle) is pretty much done, as is engine 1. I've begun blanking off the lower opening to engine 2, and later on I'll add a piece of PVC tubing for the upper opening. To blank off the rear of the main intake, I whipped something up with some of the spares I had lying around.


This is the intake fan (I think) from a X-32 combined with the nose cone of a Fritz X bomb, Frankenstiened together to make a cooling fan. One mold later, and I'm able to cast as many of these as I need (six, specifically). Once glued to the back end of the intake it nicely blocks that opening off, and provides a nice surprise for those with the penlights.


Also? This photo was a %&*^ to get. <_< I've already got one on engine 3 (but that one's even HARDER to see. It's still there, though!), and will have one on every engine.

That pretty much takes care of the intakes. Now, for the outtakes- literally. As in, the back end of the engines.

Now, the Monogram B-36 is a great kit, but it's not perfect. Take the props, for instance. In the kit form, they are huge units that reach all the way back into the nacelle. The real thing? Not so much. Although the props on the Peacemaker were pushers, they still needed cooling flaps. This was solved with a movable ring around the rear opening of each nacelle. (As a sidenote, the decal sheet in the Revell Germany re-issue of this kit actually contains the markings applied to this ring. Problem is, there is NO ring in the actual kit whatsoever.) Hidden under this ring, directly in front of the prop, is an system of spiral ducts matching the engine. This was stationary, the props rotated behind it. This photo of the XC-99 shows what I'm talking about:


Sometimes having too much info is a bad thing. That way, you feel compelled to fix the things that 99.9999% of people won't even know what's wrong. I had a choice- make the ring, or make the goofy-spiral-vent-circle of death? Guess what I chose.


Yup, that's right. I went with the death spiral. It just looked too cool not to! It wasn't even that hard- a few quick passes with my Dremel saw tool, and I got what you see. I'm still in the process of smoothing out the actual spinner- that shaft is something I added so I could chuck the thing into my aforementioned Dremel and turn it into a makeshift mini-lathe. VERY handy for parts such as this.


Here you can see the difference between kit part (left) and modified part (right). I'm going to resin-cast the two-part new prop assembly. Of course this means I'll have to glue on each prop blade separately- but we'll burn that bridge when we get there.

Until next time!

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  • 2 weeks later...

'tis true. I've been busy with the soldering iron. Finally I'm able to show of the fruits of my labors.

First off is the port wing. I'm nearly done with the internal work. All the electric motors are in, along with the LED/fiber optic connections for the port wingtip light.


I've decided to run three fiber optic lines for the wingtip lights to increase the visibility. I'm finding they're great at transmitting light distances, but once it gets to the end there's no real "projection"- you can really only see the light from one angle.


I've modified a piece of sprue to hold the LED-to-fiber optic connection area. I hollowed out one end for the LED, drilled out the other for the fiber optics. Works great!


I've also got all four of the "taillights" working:


Once I finish sanding the tail two fiber optics are going in the right fuselage side (the one everythings installed in). The other two will have to be fed in the other fuselage side when I glue the halves together. It's going to be fun.

I've also got the front landing lights permanently installed, connected to both battery and switch.


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Taking a break from the lights real quick, I've also corrected my bomb bay divider "mistake". Now all the bay needs is the bomb rack structure. But that's getting ahead of myself.


Now before you start saying, "But Mr.- all those wires look tacky! You didn't even TRY to hide them!" No, I didn't. Because they're on the real thing!


I've also put a bit more detail into the front and rear crew sections.



There's still a long way to go, though.

Finally, a comparison shot of some work I'm quite proud of. Not only does this look cool, there's a basis for it in reality- this exists on the real plane (thanks to a trip to Dayton).



I still need to put of row of them in the other fuselage half, but apart from that all the lighting circuitry is done. I've got me a nice rat's nest of wires in the central spar... but at least it's done, right? (Well, nearly.) Still a long way to go.

But hey- now I've got pretty lights! :cheers:

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  • 1 month later...

It's been a while since my last update, but fear not! I have been busy in the meantime. I've managed to reach a milestone of sorts- I've finished enough work in the bomb bay to lay down a bit of paint!


In lieu of a specific green zinc chromate I chose the very-technical shade of "Interior Green". I'm not 100% positive of the color, because I've never seen a period color photo of the bomb bay, but the photos I HAVE seen show it to be rather dark. I'm rolling with it.

The sharp-eyed will see the small details I've added after the last update, but before painting. For the not-so-sharp-eyed, I'll point them out for you.


The "big" addition is a full-length tunnel on the left fuselage half. The Revell kit only comes with a half-tunnel, and it isn't nearly long enough anyway. I used some aluminum tubing. The only thing I need to watch out for is temperature- I left this half outside overnight (to let some paint dry), and the aluminum contracted enough to break my superglue bond at one end. Gotta be careful with that one... :whistle:



I've also added the final half divider between bomb bays 2 and 3, along with boxing in and cleaning up the battery opening. I'll have to fabricate a hinge for the door I made to cover the battery box eventually.


I've also fabricated a unique place for the battery powering the propeller motors- in the tail! It's just large enough to fit a AAA battery nicely. The "ball" dummy turret will (later) connect the negative terminal of the battery to the outer casing of the battery case. The positive terminal has its own contact at the other (front) end.

With this, all the "functional" components are done.


Closed up, it looks pretty good. The next step is a bunch of details that would be between the sidewalls and bomb racks- things like oxygen bottles, test equipment, and (fake) wiring. It'll get some color into the bomb bay and break up the monotony of the green. But that's for the future.



I've done a bit of mocking up in the cockpit, to get a sense of what this area will look like later on. The verdict? I LIKEY! :woot.gif: I've got the work done- now, as they say, I'm able to start having fun! Interior detailing, here I come!


This is a sort of "overall" shot of this project and another I'm working on at the same time, Special Hobby's Me 264. Sort of a mini "dual-intercontinental-bomber" build, with the US on one side and the Germans on the other.

Finally, a small piece of note:


The horizontal stabilizers. These parts are unique. You see, out of ALL the major and 90% of the minor parts in the original Revell kit, these are the only pieces that will NOT be altered in ANY way whatsoever. With this build, that's something pretty special.

Until next time!

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  • 2 months later...

As said before this build suffered a bit of delay- I wanted to finish my Me 264, and a week-long cruise sorta got in the way. But never fear, I have returned, and work has re-commenced (for now). Which began with a bit of mold-making.


I've been steadily collecting pieces that I'm going to need multiples of, and I think I've gotten them all. So, I made a mold with some RTV silicone. Thankfully a one-part mold was all I needed. Pour in a bit of resin, and this is what you get:


Unfortunately, I won't be able to use this one. Too many short shots and air bubbles. What you're SUPPOSED to be seeing is some interior bits and those for the propellers.

Next up was some interior detailing for the rear crew compartment. I first needed a set of bunk beds, which I whipped together with some plastic and wire.


It isn't as perfect as I'd like but for what you'll see of it, I'm happy.


This is where it's going. The platform for the upper gunners was build of plastic and wire, with a pair of resin seats (copied from kit parts). The tail gunner table and radar is glued into place, although the seat is just a placeholder for how.


With the bunks in place.


AND the other lower gunner seat.



And finally, my last bit of scratchbuilding- the world's smallest commode.



I still need to add one thing in front- er, right BEHIND the bunks, a crew comfort station (food storage and cooker), but this area is pretty close to being done. Because all you'll see is through five small holes, I may have gone too far as it is. At least I'LL know it's there.

Next up? HOPEFULLY the office up front, with maybe some bonus bomb-bay detailing for the trouble. Until then!

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  • 2 months later...

I'm happy to say that finally, after 3 months, the Peacemaker has found its way back into my build rotation. I'll let the pics do most of the talking.


First up- a small addition to the "gunner's gallery"- Representation of storage/cooking area. No clue if this was installed on the prototype, but it helps fill up the space. The rest of my work was directed to the cockpit.


The kit seats were modified to more closely resemble those used in the XB-.


The back panel, in the process of being details with bits and pieces of whatever I can find.




One of the more interesting things I found was the presence of a hanging seat directly below a blister on the top of the cockpit for the Aircraft Commander. While it can't be seen on the single interior photo I've seen, it's present in diagrams and looks like it could possibly be folded up. It was too cool to leave out.


This area still needs some detail.



I've begun to finish up the bomb bay as well. Using styrene strip and brass wire, I'm slowly working my way back adding the girders that made up the sidewalls of the bomb bay. 2 down- 6 to go!


Thank you for your patience! Hopefully it was worth it!

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  • 3 weeks later...
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