Author Topic: The Boeing XA-8B Bluebeard - A (pea) Nutty Tale in 1/144 Scale  (Read 3049 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

  • He has an unnatural attraction to Spats...and a growing fascination with airships!
  • Holding Pattern
  • *
  • Hulk smash, Brian bash

The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior is a famous, long-serving U.S. Navy aircraft.

Far less known is a competitor it inspired, the Boeing XA-8B "Bluebeard".

After seeing a press release stating the Douglas A-3 was the largest serving carrier-based aircraft, the talented engineers at Boeing thought "yeah, we can beat that" and thus the ignominious XA-8B was born.

Boeing tweaked their famous B-47 for shipboard service by improving the landing gear, strengthening the fuselage and adding wingtip tanks and a fully-retractable tail hook.

But by far the most crucial modification was swapping out the B-47 power plants for two top-secret Pratt & Whitney JT880DX-2100 jets of 25,000 lbs thrust each.

The XA-8 prototype passed flight testing and initial carrier trials not long after McHale's Navy became a hit. A service test batch of the new attack planes was ordered. However, these eight XA-8Bs were all that would ever be made.

After Congress cancelled funding for the Super Duper Carrier U.S.S. Far Too Tall, the XA-8Bs found themselves without a home at sea and were riding out the time until retirement at a shore base on Okinawa. The aircraft were soon given the sobriquet "Bluebeard" due to the paint on the nosecone quickly fading from black to bluish gray and the name stuck.

Things in Korea heated up after long time North Korean strong-man Kim Il Sung died suddenly.

His son Kim Jong Il soon took over.

All would've been well except for the new leader's insatiable hunger. Not for new territory, but for peanuts.

Unfortunately for Kim, the Korean Democratic Peoples' peanut harvest failed and the country lacked the hard currency to import more. A peanut shortage gripped North Korea.

Despite his inner circle's best efforts, no peanuts could be found for the Dear Leader.

All attempts to placate him were useless.

Kim had to have his favorite snack at any cost. His navy started to sieze peanut trawlers on the high seas and return the roasted booty to Pyongyang. Of course, U.S. President and renowned peanut farmer Jimmy Carter was not going to let these acts of piracy stand.

Being a former Navy man, Carter ordered all forces in the Pacific fleet to stop the North Korean brigandage. The Boeing "Bluebeards" were ordered into the air to take out the enemy peanut pirates.

The flight of XA-8Bs spotted North Korean destroyers headed straight for the main Pacific peanut shipping lane and wheeled over on the attack.

In the last split second before the Bluebeards released their weapons, the radio crackled loudly with an urgent order to abort the mission.

Fortunately for the North Korean Navy and Kim Jong Il's snacking habits, non-aligned diplomats had been working feverishly behind the scenes and the war was ended by the United Nations' "Peanuts for Peace" program.

This was a good thing as it's doubtful the XA-8Bs could survive much longer on continued ops since their air frames were deteriorating from metal fatigue. Practically unknown and unloved, the last Bluebeard was scrapped before the Carter administration ended and none survive.

Despite the XA-8B's brief moment in the spotlight, the so-called "experts" refuse to acknowledge the type ever existed and think it's all a bit nutty.

Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 05:18:49 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

  • He has an unnatural attraction to Spats...and a growing fascination with airships!
  • Holding Pattern
  • *
  • Hulk smash, Brian bash
Re: The Boeing XA-8B Bluebeard - A (pea) Nutty Tale in 1/144 Scale
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2018, 04:13:19 AM »
This all began with the venerable and now scarce 1/144 Hobby Craft B-47. Isn't that box art something?

What's inside the box is pretty nice too, especially considering the small scale.

This is one of my favorite 1/144 scale bombers and unfortunately, the last one in my stash. These things are getting hard to find and I might have to look for the only alternative, the Academy/Minicraft offering. If I can find one.

I considered various options until I discovered that the engines from an Airfix 737 were a pretty good fit. Makes sense, they're Boeing products too.

Here's how it all looked before paint. I added landing gear sponsons made from drop-tank halves, a refueling probe swiped from a 1/72 F-100, a nib of sprue as a tail hook fairing, and a dorsal antenna cut from card. I also moved those large aux. tanks over to the wingtips.

Speaking of paint, the old hairy stick was loaded up with a lot of Model Masters Primer Gray acrylic for the top.

White Primer was used underneath and the nose cone was painted Gull Gray. Jet Exhaust was used on the burner cans and a dab of Aluminum on the nose pitot.

The refueling probe tip was given some Steel and Tan was used on the rear radome. The canopy was tinted on the inside with Insignia Blue and a custom mix of gunmetal picked out the tail guns.

Decals were a mix from spares. The spurious VA-732 (Test) "Greased Lightning" squadron markings on the tail were cobbled together from separate bits, the letters are at least 25 years old. I picked them up on a lunchtime hobby shop run back in 1993.

I had a blast working on this model which took about a week from start to finish.

Before I forget, here's a couple of "money shots" (U.S. penny for scale):

I'd like to thank Mr Wombat for bravely moderating this GB and granting the extension that allowed me to get this in as well as the rest of you who are playing along or just stopping by to look.

I hope you enjoyed the Boeing XA-8B Bluebeard and reading a little more forgotten aircraft history even if the whole thing just makes you want to go nuts.

Brian da Basher

« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 09:45:37 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Kerick

  • Reportedly finished with a stripper...
Re: The Boeing XA-8B Bluebeard - A (pea) Nutty Tale in 1/144 Scale
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2018, 09:15:57 AM »
Classic nut job!