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B/RB-45A/C Tornado


Collect-Aire Models, 1/48


S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Collect-Aire Models Kit #4873 - B/RB-45A/C Tornado
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: Cream-colored resin; 2 vac-formed parts; decals for two versions
Price: USD$269.00 available online from http://collectaire.com
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Neglected subject; good detail; high quality castings; impressive size;
Disadvantages: Instruction diagrams are lacking; righteous bucks required to buy the kit
Recommendation: Highly Recommended to modellers with some experience working with resin kits.


Reviewed by "Bondo" Phil Brandt

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The B-45 is notable as the first production American jet bomber. Filling the technology gap between the end of WWII and the coming of the B-57, B-66 and the definitive B-47, four-jet B-45s played an important nuclear-capable role in the early years of the Cold War. Further, RB-45Cs (some flown clandestinely by RAF aircrews) conducted important data gathering intrusions of the Soviet Union as well as deep photo penetrations of North Korea and China in the early Fifties.

A very “mature” light colonel at Shaw AFB in ‘72 (who was flying the attached B-57E Compass Site birds attached to this curmudgeon’s TAC recce squadron), had actually flown these suckers, and I can remember how old that made him seem to we young crewdogs. And now, thirty four years later, Ol’ Shakey nav Bondo’s in that same elderly airman category, too! What goes around...

Kit Chronology

This is a little-done bird; the only previous release I can remember is the 1/72, relatively bigbuck Mach 2 kit, which rests half-done in the Bondo Industries production facility. As soon as I read of the Collect-Aire announcement in my favorite scale–it must’ve been at least three years ago, but to paraphrase the Collect-Aire honcho, Lou Maglio, “We may be late, but we WILL do the model”–I put aside the labor-intensive French release, probably for good. If I’m gonna be sentenced to “hard labor”, I’d much rather it be in 1/48!





As a battle hardened Collect-Aire “investor” I steeled myself–even though we’re talking righteous bucks here--to accept the idiosyncrasies that often accompany these esoteric kits. I’m happy to say that at first look the B-45 has significantly fewer discrepancies than some of my previous acquisitions.


This is a BIG airframe, easily as large as the Monogram B-17. Wings are solid, but the fuselage halves and central engine pod sections are hollow-cast.


Overall exceptionally smooth (semigloss) surface strongly reminiscent of Planet et al. I found only one small bubble at one of the wingtips. There is very little flash on the medium-to-large parts, and engraving is very light and crisp. Flying surface trailing edges are sharply done; no laborious scraping down the six-scale-inch-thick trailing edges of the injected Mach2 kit! If I were to guess, I’d posit that the Central Euro elves in the Czech Republic were the go-to guys for the project outsourcing. But, as HyperScale bro, Grunticus, sez, “Others may know more.”


Done in hollow-cast halves from the front of the windscreen to the aft tip of the empennage. The fuselage forward of the windscreen is a single hollow cylindrical piece which accepts either the greenhouse of the bomber version or the optional resin recce upper nose section.

Separate detail parts are provided to show off the interior of the navigator/photo navigator/bombardier station forward of and below the pilot. A separate crew entrance door enables some of these details to be seen. If the recce version is chosen, the builder will have to scratchbuild a vertical panel to separate the forward oblique camera station from the nav’s office. There’s lots of room in the nose to add weight; I theenk you’re gonna need it!

The tail crew position can be done in either of two configurations. The bomber version provides a bulbous vacuformed greenhouse assembly, bulkhead, gun housing and gunner seat. You’ll have to saw off the empennage tip to effect this version, but the smoothly tapered recce version tail section is what comes standard in the kit; just add the smaller vacuformed greenhouse, smaller bulkhead and seat. The RB-45Cs deleted the gunner position, using fixed position guns or none at all. As we modern day TAC recce pukes used to say, “Alone, Unarmed and Unafraid.” Yeah, sure! The real version of this motto substitutes “Scared ****less” for “Unafraid.” :)

If you’re going to do the recce version, as am I, you’ll need to cut camera station windows into the bottom fuselage halves per a picture in the instructions–I wish there was a window pattern, or at least provided dimensions, instead of just a picture of what appears to be the underside of a model. Then you’ll have to scratchbuild cameras and fabricate camera windows from the flat clear sheet provided. The newly released 1/48 Trumpeter Wyvern includes a camera, and I’ll bet this could be cloned in resin or, alternatively, one could simply glue a short piece of plastic tube stock to a flat square and paint ‘er black, with a drop of epoxy in the tube to simulate the lens. While we’re talking about camera windows, the prominent forward oblique bulge at the tip of the nose has no engraving to mark that this is actually a camera window. Reference pix clearly show the delineation between the fuselage and said camera lens housing.


The long wings are real chunks of resin, albeit well done, with sharp trailing edges and crisply cut out engine mating areas (some gap filling will be needed, though, on either side of the joints between the underwing and sides of each center engine pod, –I’m guessing that there’s been “differential resin shrinkage” here because of the monolithic wing castings. I’m somewhat concerned for the longterm implications of resin “droop” in the outer wings, but there’s really little option here, unless the builder mills spanwise slots in the undersides and inlays brass strips. The wings locate tightly in fuselage cutouts. I did some dry fitting, and any gaps (or thickness differences) at said wing/fuselage joint are minimal, definitely better than in some past releases. Gear wells have lots of structural detailing, but could use some piping and wiring as well (see the B-45 pix in ARC).

Large, 1200 gallon tip tanks are smoothly molded with just a shade of mold parting line discontinuity; minimal sanding will square this away. Receiving slots for the wing tips mate fairly well. Very thin tank fins (three per tank) are sharply done, but, for added toughness, could be fabricated out of ten thou sheet.

Tail Surfaces

The vertical fin/rudder is one piece and keys into a slot in the empennage. Each longspanned stabilizer is one piece, and each has integrated hinge fairings and keys into pre-dihedraled bosses in the empennage. Again, as with the rest of the kit major parts, all surfaces are very cleanly molded with crisp, light engraving.


Each massive two-engine pod is cast in three sections: hollow center (which fits in a pre-cast, wide slot in the wing bottom, a large, solid forward portion, including both deep intake trunks (separate compressor and exhaust faces) and a small aft exhaust section fairing, with outlets that are about one inch deep.



In the real thing, though, the J47 engines are almost entirely forward of the center of the wing chord, with long tailpipe extensions. I may just Dremel out the bulkhead in the aft fairing and install two-inch sections of plastic tube to simulate the tail pipes. The hand drawn instructions show virtually identical intake and exhaust faces, whereas my kit furnishes two decidedly longer intake cones which appear correct.


The left side cockpit floor of the B-45 is cut out, much like that of the B-47, so that crewmembers may climb up to the seats on the flight deck after entering from the lower entrance door. The kit has an externally detailed nosegear well onto which the entrance floor is glued.

Although we’re certainly not talking Black Box or Aries here, the tandem pilot/co-pilot seats aren’t bad, with molded-in belts and harnesses.

The concave cockpit walls have a fair amount of detail, and that’s good, because the rest of the cockpit is somewhat sparse. A separately molded instrument panel (with molded-in instrument circles) agrees with the technical drawing (included) of the front seat layout. I wish the same type drawing had been included for the back seat, because the rear instrument panel provided is very small and merely attached to a thin, curved brace between sidewalls. Maybe this is how things really are, but it would be much better if the same type technical drawing had been provided as for the A/C position.

While we’re talking documentation, the hand drawn assembly instructions leave a lot to be desired when it comes to identifying and locating the right side consoles.



The roughly-drawn assembly layout would seem to indicate both consoles to be identical (although with differing part numbers), whereas they’re apparently different. The included technical drawing of the cockpit front shows just enough of the pilot’s right console that I was able to figure out that part. The rear console is anyone’s guess, since there is no technical drawing of that crew posotion included; all that was left out of the jumble of parts in the baggy was a triangular piece with what might be a throttle console on top. I’ve asked Lou for some guidance here, and am standing by.

Landing Gear

Sturdy, crisply molded metal gear struts will easily carry the weight of this hefty airframe. A small baggy contains lots of tiny struts and the strut oleo scissors. Large maingear tires have separately molded wheel inserts which are decently detailed.

Each nose wheel and tire is cast together. Gear doors have some depressed detail and molded-in hinges.


Clear Parts

The large vacuformed windscreen, canopy and bomber greenhouse are nicely thin and very clear, much better than in some past releases. That said, it’s gonna be fun to mask all that canopy bracing! The tail gunner greenhouse is as well done as the frontal parts. I’ve already discussed the scratchbuilding of the camera windows. Small pointed tip tank light housings are provided as well as the tiny landing light housing which mounts between the two left side intake trunks.

Decals and Color Schemes

Lotsa choices here! No less than four medium to large-sized sheets offering seven choices of bomber/recce markings, even the one-off all-black bird that made highspeed runs against North Korean AAA searchlights and also a set of markings for the just recently de-classified mission birds flown by the RAF over the Soviet Union. All decals, however, have been finished in a semigloss, almost flat finish, as opposed to glossy, which is much more desirable for applying over NMF schemes, or any glossy scheme, for that matter. The other-than-glossy decals can change the look of the underlying NMF (even when a glossy clearcoat is sprayed over the whole shootin’ match), so I’d recommend trimming all markings as closely as possible, and maybe using MicroScale/Aeromaster equivalents for numbers and letters.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


As a retired Big Blue hardware tech writer, I always appreciate well-done assembly /reference instructions. Unfortunately, such is not the case here. Although the accompanying historical material from (I’m guessing) “other” sources is good, the nitty gritty of assembly is not helped by the roughly drawn parts illustrations, very much like–a name’s coming to me now...M...A..C..H....2! Additionally, although each part has a number, it would be very helpful to see a master parts layout illustration such as is usually included with most injected kits and resin aftermarket sets. Normally, Collect-Aire small part assemblies come in individual small sealed baggys to help differentiate between the often many items. Not in my kit, however. Figuring things out is not really neurosurgery, but ya just gotta grit yer teeth and press on.........



This most welcome release fills a longstanding modeling void in the critical years of Post WWII modern USAF jet aircraft development. I’m pleased to see that some traditional failings in Collect-Aire productions such as overall molding quality have been recognized and apparently solved. Yes, righteous bucks are involved in purchasing this kit, but I doubt if it’ll soon be done in 1/48 even by the CHICOMS. Highly recommended.




  1. “America’s Great Jet Bomber Flyoff,” “Wings” Magazine Vol. 29 No.3, June 1999

  2. “Midnight Reconnaissance–The RB-45 Tornado in Korea”, “Airpower” Magazine Vol. 23 No. 4, July 1993.

Review Text and Images Copyright © 2006 by Phil Brandt
Page Created 13 December, 2006
Last updated 21 February, 2007

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