Author Topic: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Finished!!!  (Read 18601 times)

Offline trickyrich

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Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Finished!!!
« on: July 28, 2015, 09:06:36 PM »
Well the GB for this project is just about to start so I am starting this build thread properly. This build is part of a WhatIf GB on another site so I will be running a build on that site plus another one (I know some know me on all three sites). The build update will be exactly the same on all three sites, just the local replies to comments will be different.

I have been waiting for this build for quite sometime, 2 years to be exact, so it had to be something epic to celebrate it!! At one stage I was going to build the Arado Ar-234 P5 “Turbo-Prop” Nightfighter (which I am currently building here) for this build but after seeing some of the parts I didn’t think I would be able to complete it in the time available, as there was a lot of work required. My work patterns have changed so I do have more time for modelling now, and that build just seems to be just falling together. It’s too late for the GB as it’s past the 25% rule.

Then I as I mentioned in another thread I happened to see some amazing profiles by the artist Logan Hartke and I just fell in love with the ones of the B-51 Panther, which are based on the Martin XB-51. So after a couple of e-mails to him I had his blessing to use one of the photos as the basis for the build. Actually he was very excited to see someone actually try to bring this design to life (Very much appreciated Logan, I do hope I can do your wonderful profile justice!!).



So the base of the build will be Anigrands XB-51!  I had hoped to have had Collect-Aires 1/48th version (I will build one as soon as I can get one) as trust me it would have been an easier build than the Anigrand one….more on that later.





The new nose and canopy(?) will be from an Italeri B-57G along with a couple of other bits supplied from it as well. Though I have found a F-4E canopy that looks quite good on it as well!



Plus just to give myself a little bit more work a 1/72nd Master M61 Vulcan rotary cannon will be fitted to the weapons bay as per the Pave Gat program originally fitted to a couple B-57G’s in Vietnam in 1968. Insanely small PE….my favourite…I think not!

Finally she’ll be finished in RAAF colours for SEA operations around 1971. 

Work required;

•   Ok the Anigrand base model is horrible! All four sections of the fuselage were and still are warped, even a nice warm bath didn’t work, I think it made it worse! So lots of work there.

•   Main wheel well bays need to be rebuilt, are warped.
•   Completely new cockpit to be built.
•   Canopy will either be from the B-57 donor or a F-4E
•   Modernise the XB-51 airframe
•   Get carried away with any additional mods I always end up doing!!!

Well I have my work cut out for this one……but am so excited I can’t wait!!!

Oh the aircrafts full title is Martin B-51G Panther Tropic Moon III wt Pave Gat. The actual Tropic Moon III program started in 1967 as a result of operational requirements in Vietnam. Have managed to get the original de-classified documents for the program, which is really cool and very helpful!

So after much talk the build well begin this weekend…gee I’m a sucker for punishment!
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 03:03:55 PM by trickyrich »

Offline LemonJello

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” build!!!
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2015, 10:05:30 PM »
I'll be following this build with great interest and anticipation! 

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” build!!!
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2015, 12:05:36 AM »
Me, too! You're going to be the first person to actually bring one of my profiles into plastic as far as I know, so I can't wait to see this one!

Cheers,

Logan

Offline finsrin

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” build!!!
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2015, 08:37:13 AM »
Me too.  Delighted to see this build.  Cool jet 8)
Have that kit and a vacuform B-51 in stash.  When find it will check fit.
1/72 B-51 really should be injection kit by now.

Logan - appreciate the inspiring profiles.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2015, 02:26:32 PM by finsrin »

Offline Dr. YoKai

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” build!!!
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2015, 08:57:53 AM »
 Always glad to see someone building a XB-51. Sorry the kit is such a chore - hang in there.

Offline FAAMAN

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” build!!!
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2015, 02:02:18 PM »
Can't wait to see this :), love the XB-51, on with the show  ;D
"Resistance is useless, prepare to be assembled!"

Offline trickyrich

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” build!!!
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2015, 10:27:31 PM »
Thanks for all the nice comments, I have been looking forward to this build for sometime. The Arado build as difficult as it has been has given me  a lot of confidence for this one. It should be a lot simpler as the conversion is quite simple, the main issue is the warped fuselage. This shouldn't be too much of an issue as the resin is quite thick, so lots of rubbing down and filler will be the order of the day.

I do hope I can do justice to your profile Logan, that is probably one of the scariest things of the build!!! 

Offline trickyrich

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” build!!!
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2015, 10:37:30 PM »
Ok time to start this build!

First off the rear fuselage was jointed together…oh that was fun too!! As can be seen the gaps are quite noticeable as well as the now warped wheel well! Unlike all the other resin models I have this one didn’t like the warm/hotish water bath at all, at first it did try to straighten the warped bits but as they cooled down they did crazy stuff!!! So there is a bit of work to do bit nothing like I have had to do on the Arado!!



The forward fuselage section is just as bad but this time one side is longer than the other!! The water bath didn’t do this!!



So with the two sections together you can see the fun I am going to have!! Nothing some filler and wet-n-dry won’t fix!



Now some of the updating work I will do, the tail section is quite plain, on the profile Logan has added a spike on the “T” junction, I’ll add something similar except it will be a little squarer in shape to house an antenna array.



There is something wrong with this picture!!! All three engines are meant to be GE J-47-GE-13’s so you’d expect them all to have intakes with the same opening areas! Clearly they didn’t get this one right! MY beast will have the later J-47-GE-27’s (as fitted to the F-86F’s, these had 5970lbs of thrust as opposed to the original 5200lbs ones of those fitted to the XB-51’s. So revised intakes are a must and the fuselage actually has a recessed section in it for the upper intake, so this one will have an enlarged intake and larger recessed section.



I have had a look at the three different options I have for the canopy, original, B-57G version, and one from a F-4E. While the B-57G one looks good from the side profile it’s quite wide when viewed from above and the fuselage is quite narrow. The F-4 one suits the era quite nicely so that’s the way I’ll be going, plus it will be much easier to profile it in!



Finally I had a look at some of the options I will have for stores. Due to it being a wee bit on the thirsty side, drop tanks are a must! Now being a Tropic Moon beast with the high-tech nose early LGB’s or Bullpup’s will be the go, and maybe AN/ALQ-87 or AN/ALQ-101 ECM pods.



Plus I have to build a new cockpit area and new main wheel wells!

While there appears to be quite a bit of work required it is all quite manageable. This should be a fun build and with luck I’ll dive right into it next weekend!

Offline trickyrich

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 02/8
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2015, 06:23:02 PM »
Well the fun has begun and I have a workbench covered in resin dust…it would have been so much easier if it had been a plastic model!

So we’ll start with the rear fuselage section first. Thought I have been asked why I didn’t first glue the front and rear sections first, then glue the halves together…good question! Probably because I like to make things difficult for myself! But really with the sections being quite warped and fuselages being different lengths doing it this way is the easiest. Plus she’s very long it would make life a bit harder as I’m bound to break something, along with the fact I’m rebuilding the wheel wells as well!

So with the rear section glued together and given a quick rub down off we go.

First up the wheel well, I’ll be doing both the same. So I make a basic box for the well with the side the right height, I’m not worried about the ends for the moment, just that they are longer then necessary (who could have guessed a simple box would be so hard to make!!!). Then using the model and reference photos I add some detail, it’s not quite exact but looks the part. Then fit….well there is a little bit more involved in this part, for the rear one I had to first grind out the old one so the new one will fit, quite a long process. The front section will be a bit different as because I’m fitting a new cockpit as well I’ll do all this work before I join the halves together.



It actually doesn’t look to bad at all, there are quite a few sins which are hidden but it does look so much better, plus it would have been a horrible job to fill those gaps! As it turns out the models wheel well are too short and the doors are even smaller…guess I’ll be custom making those as well!





Next up the intake for the #2 engine, as it turns out I missed something completely with this one! The #2 engine was only used for take offs, so it was fitted with a rotating cover/fairing. In its open position there should be a lower section of the intake visible. So an old drop tank was sacrificed for this job along with another one for the intake proper further in. Plus the upper part of the intake was removed and enlarged slightly. I now have an intake with roughly the same inlet area as the other two.  After some filler, sanding and profiling she should look great!



Next up the spike on the tail, it seems some aircraft didn’t had it (suspect early prototype/s) while later ones had different shaped ones. So I’ve made one up, it still needs some tiding up plus I’m probably going to add another fairing as well…hmm think about that one.



I have started the basic shaping of the canopy but won’t do too much more until the cockpit is done and the fuselage is together. Speaking of the cockpit I have decided to go with an aftermarket one for the B-57 (oh I’ve decided to use that one instead of the F-4’s one) as it will be simpler and look much better.

So just taped together…… I love the look of it!! She’s a big aircraft with a long body and not so big wings, by all reports she handled nicely and was fast, her only real problem was she was thirsty!





It’s turning out to be more than a simple conversion but that seems to be the case for any of my builds like this. I still think the Collect-Aire 1/48th version would have been a simpler build…I even have a Collect-Aire B-57G ready to donate its nose as well! Well at least I have until late November, when the GB finishes, to complete her!

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 05/8
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2015, 11:04:56 PM »
It's already looking great, Rich! I know that nose does nothing for the aesthetics, but it does look a lot more business-like. Well done!

In case anyone is wondering for any future projects, we used the B-66 Destroyer's engine pods for the J57 upgrade and the Caravelle's for the Avon upgrade.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Talos

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 05/8
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2015, 09:46:57 AM »
Looking great! This is the first model I can think of based on a profile drawing Logan and I've done. If you want lineart-accurate canopy, I used the F-101B canopy as a base for the drawing. The B-57's looks nice on it too.

EDIT: Didn't know this was mentioned by Logan on the other forum. Whoops.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2015, 09:59:14 AM by Talos »

Offline trickyrich

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 05/8
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2015, 11:50:55 AM »
thanks, it's nice to here yours and Logan's comments.

I did sort of wonder at first what canopy you'd used as the B-57's didn't quite fit or look the same. The F-101B's canopy probably would have made it a bit easier, but since when have I ever made builds like this easy for me!


Offline finsrin

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 05/8
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2015, 12:53:55 PM »
Very righteous of you to bring us a 60s-70s-? B-51G 8)
Is also example of extended service life.
Perhaps including service in first gulf war.

Offline trickyrich

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 05/8
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2015, 04:51:45 PM »
Well the replacement cockpit has finally arrived seeing the first one I ordered didn’t arrive….who knows where it will end up! So lot the fun continue.

As mentioned earlier I wanted the cockpit position sorted out before I closed up the front fuselage section. After couple of hours messing about I finally had it in a position I was happy about. This is not its final position but it’s close enough to allow me to close up the fuselage.



So after adding lots and lots of superglue gel and accelerator I ended up with gaps and joins like this….scary!!!



Not one to mess around they were given a very rudimentary going over with 240 grit wet & dry before being joined with the rear fuselage section. I wasn’t to concerned at the moment about how the front section looked as once it was align with the rear section the whole lot would be sanded to profile. The aligning required a couple of little plastic pegs/wedges to help, bit all was good. So more superglue and accelerator and a really good going over with wet & dry and I ended up with nice joins like this!



The fuselage does have a few dimples/ripples bit some filler will sort them out.

Next the radome/sensor head. The nose needed a bit of surgery for the radome to fit correctly….though I did get a bit carried away!



There is nothing behind the sensor window so I figured while I was here I’d at least add something, so it’s now all boxed up and I’ll add some sensors to it later. Plus I needed to add some “padding” around the sensor pod to help with the fit.



So again after superglue, accelerator and some filler the nose is on, and I’m happy to say it’s even aligned up properly!



So what’s all this work look like….

The tail is pretty well complete (she’s just sitting there for the photo), I’ll give it another quick undercoat to look for any final defects.



The #2 intake so pretty well complete as well, though a little more cleaning up is required. The patch of filler on the side was needed as that section had a very noticeable warp in it. So some plastic strip and filler to the rescue.




The forward wheel well will be fitted once the underside sanding is completed, I did run into a problem here as my new wheel well was slightly wider than the hole and there was very little material left in the fuselage. Some wafer thin sanding of the new wheel well was required….it’ll fit….just!



I was just playing around with some possible loadouts, though the drop tanks will be used.



She is a big sucker!!!



While I was waiting for the cockpit to arrive and in a fit of complete madness I decided to build up the Gatling gun! This is another one of those beautiful products for Master Models. As you can see she is tiny and is made up of 17 parts! Amazingly I didn’t loose any bits while building it and it didn’t take long to build. Pity though that this will be hidden from view under the aircraft!


Offline FAAMAN

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 11/8
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2015, 05:50:07 PM »
Coming along awesomely!!!  8) 8)
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 11/8
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2015, 10:48:47 PM »
Someone's stolen the wings! :o


Oh, no, there they are! I thought they were the fitment stubs! :-[


Very nice constructing there, mate! :)
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Offline b29r

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 11/8
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2015, 11:53:27 PM »
Great job so far, loving this!  :-*  You are doing a masterful job of blending all these sweet components together  :)  Love the M61 concept too . . . when Dad worked at Boeing Wichita back in the day, I seem to remember him mentioning working on a similar project, tho it may have been the 30mm variety  ???  The memory is always the first to go.  Looking forward to more fine work of course!

Best regards,
Kem

Offline trickyrich

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 11/8
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2015, 04:32:05 PM »
Great job so far, loving this!  :-*  You are doing a masterful job of blending all these sweet components together  :)  Love the M61 concept too . . . when Dad worked at Boeing Wichita back in the day, I seem to remember him mentioning working on a similar project, tho it may have been the 30mm variety  ???  The memory is always the first to go.  Looking forward to more fine work of course!

Best regards,
Kem

they did have some cool projects for rotary cannons!!

Someone's stolen the wings! :o


Oh, no, there they are! I thought they were the fitment stubs! :-[


Very nice constructing there, mate! :)

amazingly the incidences of the wings could be varied, guess they had to do something to make up for their small size!

Offline trickyrich

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 11/8
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2015, 04:38:40 PM »
Well another busy day at the office and another of the major items can just about be ticked off and another one to be added!!

Most of the day was spent on two chores, contouring the nose and building the Pave-Gat system.

I started rubbing down the nose section but immediately came onto a problem, with the two small exhaust vents getting in the way and slowly getting miss-shaped. So these were removed to be replaced later, though while researching other stuff I found that Italeri had actually gotten them in the wrong spot in the first place. They should not have been on the radome section of the nose but slightly further back on the fuselage (on the B-57).  With them removed it was easier to clean up all that filler…I do tend too use too much. Then a second lot of filler was applied and left to dry.

Once the second lot of filler was cleaned up, everything was given a light-ish undercoat to see how it looked and what further work was required. All in all it all looks very nice, not to much work required to finish this part off. Re-doing the panel lines will be a fairly big job unfortunately and I hate that job!!!






The forward wheel well was fitted and small fairing strips added to the forward and rear section, I’m quite happy how both wheel wells turned out, so much better than the stock ones!



The tail looks good, though while researching other stuff I found that the brake-chute pod was missing from the tail! So one task completed and another to be done!



Ok the Pave-Gat system, this took up most of the day, as the information is so confusing, the building was actually quite quick! There are very few detailed photos of this system fitted or not, plus there appears to be a very early prototype version fitted to a test frame which looks nothing like the one actually fitted to the aircraft. There appear to be two versions of this weapons system, the TAT-161 (and it was officially called the Pave-Gat) and and earlier(?) version the TAT-157.

The TAT-157 had the M61 fitted at the rear of the pod/platform with the ammunition drum forward of the gun, while the TAT-161 had the M61 fitted to a turret forward of the ammunition drum. Most common photo of the Pave-Gat system shows a B-57B fitted with the TAT-161 system while the B-57G is shown fitted with the other TAT-157 version.




So for this build I will be going with the later version which if the numbering system is correct probably the more advanced version.





The M61 was rotated rearwards for storage when not in use.

It looks pretty good but after a closer look at the photos I may change the turret the holds the M61 slightly, as it does need some azimuth movement. But that won’t take long and that bit will be completed.

Offline finsrin

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 12/8
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2015, 04:59:37 PM »
Whatz not to like?
Assembling that M61 kit is its own feat :icon_surprised: :)

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 12/8
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2015, 03:09:05 AM »
Wow!
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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Offline trickyrich

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 12/8
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2015, 05:09:52 PM »
Well lots more progress has been made though not too much to show, a lot of it involved sorting out final positioning of things, plus I rebuilt the Pave-Gat!

I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out how the new cockpit was going to fit and how the canopy would fit.

So once the general position of the cockpit was worked out cuts were made for where it was going to sit, I didn’t need to change these. The height was the issue, as I wanted the canopy to be quite low and not appear to have been “stick on”!! I was lucky in still having two bulkheads still in place, so these were shortened as required until the cockpit sat just right.



The canopy for sometime had worried me as I like the look of it but the frame profile was all wrong, it had quite a pronounced curve on it (to match the B-57’s nose profile).



But I didn’t need or want this, I wanted an almost straight frame. So out with the scalpel and nail-polishing file and off to work we went (plus a quick dip in some oven-cleaner to remove paint). I now have a canopy free of framework and pretty clear and scratch free. Just needs a quick going over with 12000-grit micro-fibre, polish, and a dip on acrylic floor polish and she’s done. I can now have the framework I need to suit the fuselage profile. 




Ok the engines were fitted next, they went on trouble free, though I did use lots of thin CA glue and accelerator. This made the join cleaning up process a breeze with very little filler required.




Next was the cut-out for the Pave-Gat, I probably should have done this before I fitted the engines as it would have made the process a bit easier, but……  I faired off the rear section just so it didn’t quite act like a brick. The gun platform is fixed, so this is a permanent modification, the rear section of the bomb bay is now an additional fuel tank.



Ok the Pave-Gat itself, as mentioned I was quite happy with the look of it after reviewing the drawings and photo. So I pulled it all apart and gave it proper 2 axis movement, as it should have had. It looks much better now and a bit closer to the actual unit. The initial coat of paint looks a bit sad but it’s just an undercoat.



It does look pretty cool once fitted but there is one issue! Unless the aircraft is really moving quick there is a chance that ejected shells could hit and damage the port engine, so an additional strengthening plate has been added to that engine. Good old aussie engineering at work!  ;D




The bodywork is now pretty well completed, I just need to finish painting the cockpit and fit. The work required to profile and fit the canopy is quite minor compared to what has been done! The wings will be next, they just need to fit smoothly, no filling required, because the wings or the real ones could vary their incidences. The tail will be the last piece to be fitted, as that would be the first piece I’d knock off!! Plus I have started painting up undercarriage and engine bits.

Gosh at this rate I’ll be finished soon, then what would I do!

Offline Artoor_K

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 14/8
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2015, 07:30:24 PM »
Nice work :) I'll keep an eye on this :)
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You need strengthening, toughening
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Ignite the fire within you

Offline LemonJello

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 14/8
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2015, 08:12:30 PM »
Wow...just, wow. 

I can't think of the appropriate superlative(s) for this project.


Offline ChernayaAkula

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Re: Martin B-51G Panther “Tropic Moon III” Update 14/8
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2015, 11:06:08 PM »
Loving this! A lot!  :-*

Great to see that you found reference material on the Pave Gat installation. All my Google trawls regarding that system over the years haven't been able to produce anything worthwhile.
Cheers,
Moritz

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