1/48 Revell / Monogram B-58A Hustler

by Alan Purusram



This is one of the classic Monogram 1/48 bomber kits re-released by Revell of Germany. It comes with three decal options, including the much-rumoured but never-substantiated SEA scheme of the 305th BW machines seconded to Eglin AFB in 1967.

The Hustler was an incredible airplane for its time - a medium nuclear bomber weighing 150,000lb that could sustain long-range flight at over Mach 2, could reach 85,000ft, and could effortlessly outmanouver a Phantom at its normal cruise altitude of 50,000ft. Strategic Air Command had two wings of these amazing aircraft, and their capabilities were demonstrated in 1960 when two Hustlers, which had only been in service for three weeks, won the SAC bombing contest outright in 1960. Some of the fourteen speed, altitude and payload records set by the B-58 still stand. Sadly, the complexity, costs and high peacetime attrition of these thoroughbreds led to their withdrawal from service after just ten years.

I decided to build 61-2059 "Greased Lightning" of the 305th BW at Bunker Hill (later Grissom) AFB, IN. On Oct 16 1963, this plane set a never-surpassed Tokyo-London non-stop speed record of just 8h 35m, an average of 938mph. (It would have been even faster, but for a failure of one of the afterburners after the last air refuelling near Iceland.)

As well as the great array of material on the web, I used a fantastic reference book for this build, which was Jay Miller's "Convair B-58 Hustler". This hard-to-find but excellent book was very kindly lent to me by a member on
www.Britmodeller.com. (Thanks Andy!). I also found some very useful contemporary videos on YouTube which are well worth a look: Tall Man Five Five, Champion of Champions, and The Bendix Trophy Race.

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This is a great kit for its age, with very good detail. The pilot's station and seat are well represented. However, the other two stations are not represented at all, so that was my starting point and main focus for the build. I scratchbuilt the Navigator/Bombardier and DSO's positions from plastic card, and modified two seats from the Monogram F-105. As I was building a 1964-vintage Hustler, they had to be the Stanley escape capsules as the one provided in the kit. The instrument panels were made from scored plastic card, sprue rod buttons and wine-bottle foil sidewalls. I made the compartment hatches from plastic card, and Milliput for the padding.

The next parts to modify were the engines. Fisher Model and Pattern supplied the intakes, which were from masters by Mike Braun of Silicon Valley IPMS, who made the best model from this kit I have ever seen. The nozzles and afterburners came from Aires. Both resin aftermarket items I used were of excellent quality and fitted with minimum fuss. They really enhance the look of the kit very well.

I used the kit landing gear with no modifications, apart from adding some prominent bracing struts to the front gear legs, and adding the landing lights from some MV lenses.

As a finish, I was trying to get a very high-shine natural metal finish as on the real thing. To achieve this I concentrated on getting as smooth and glassy a surface as possible. I re-scribed the whole model before beginning to assemble the parts, then lightly sanded with 1000 grit and washed it all thoroughly in dishwashing detergent. I tried to keep sanding during the build to a minimum, so used Squadron White putty for filling, and smoothed it with nail polish remover. Smaller filling and finishing jobs were done using Mr Surfacer 1000 from a can. I then used an overall coat of Tamiya white primer, then re-scribed the lines, sanded and washed it again. Then another two overall coats of Tamiya primer were followed by a wet coat of satin black auto paint from a can. I sanded this down, micromeshed it to 6000 grit, then sprayed thinned Tamiya X-1 Gloss Black over it. Finally I brushed a coat of Johnsons Klear (Future) and I was ready to paint!

I sprayed Alclad Polished Aluminium as the main colour, with Alclad White Aluminium, Duraluminium, Steel and Dark Aluminium for other panels on the wingtips, underbody and tail. The engine nacelles were striped with Gunze Mr Metal Color Stainless, then oversprayed with several coats of Alclad Jet Exhaust. I was VERY pleased with the overall results!

There was a sting in the tail with the build, which had gone very well up to then - as I couldn't get hold of any Fox One decals, with Ben having sadly closed his business, I had to use the kit decals, which were quite poor. Most of them silvered, and I didn't want to use Klear (Future) as a setting agent due to the Alclad finish. I ended up using a lot of MicroSet and Sol, with the result that most of the decals ended up okay, but some of the more prominent ones (worst was the large "USAF" on the right wing, despite cutting it up into individual letters) still showed a lot of silvering.

Overall this was a very good build to do for practicing techniques related to the dreaded Natural Metal Finish, and I am very happy with the results!


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Photos and text by Alan Purusram