Kit preview of SMT B-Wing.

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SMT Limited Edition B-Wing Kit Preview


By Larry G. Johnson - images & text © 2002

Scale: 1:48 (closer to but 1/41st for the nit pickers) -- about 16"/ 41cm tall when complete
Parts: 42 white resin parts, 1 clear resin (canopy)
Instructions: Seven letter-sized pages of assembly and painting instructions
Decals: Waterslide makings for orange circles and the exterior cockpit (additional, non-canon markings available separately)
Molding Quality: 8 - some bubbles, seams and flash
Detail: 9 - decent enough, though some panel lines do not line up across halves
Accuracy: 8 - see text for description
MSRP: $ 80 USD (~Ä 88 EUR/ $ 125 CAN) available exclusively from SMT
Overall Rating: 9 - Good value for the money

[Box]

The Slayn & Korpil B-Wing Heavy Assault Fighter is one of those barely seen Star Wars vehicles that demands attention from the fans. It is barely glimpsed on screen and then only from the back as the fighter group races through the assembly of capital ships in ROTJ.

[Click to enlarge]

[Click to enlarge]

[Click to enlarge]

^ The kit includes a plaque with the production number

Image: Engine housing

Image: S-Foils and mount

[Click to enlarge]

[Cockpit tub]

^ Cockpit tub

[Dash]

^ Instrument panel

The most famous picture of the B-Wing is a production still, two of them racing away from an exploding Star Destroyer, which never appeared in the film.

Inside a sturdy box are 42 bright white resin pieces, and one clear one. The main bits are hollow cast, which will make lighting possible. The only parts that are not hollow that should be are the engines, but they can be drilled out easily enough. The parts are relatively bubble free but flash and seams from mold halves abound. Flash is easily dealt with. The seams pose a bit more complex problem.

The parts are pretty sturdy, not as soft and flexible as SMTís earlier TIE Bomber. Detail is crisp and abundant with engraved panel lines and cleanly molded "Guts on the Outside". There is a nearly fully detailed cockpit (no rear bulkhead) with pilot that, while not reproducing the gyrostabilization feature of the actual star fighter, can be positioned in any rotational arrangement. The weapon bays are fully loaded and detailed and the s-foils can be positioned open or closed (or anywhere in between for that matter).

The Instructions

Momma said if you ainít got nothing nice to say, donít say nothing. But I gotta say something, this is a review after all. Okay in deference to the creators, designing an incredible model does not necessarily impart the ability to write good directions on how to build said model. These instructions omit steps such as gluing the main fuselage halves together, do not clearly show how the model goes together in general, i.e., how the various sub assemblies go together, and do not use very clear illustrations regarding the steps they do detail. In all fairness, we should know what we are doing with our reference pictures and modeling skills (at least we should have modeling skills before tackling a resin project). Besides how hard can it be to glue together 43 pieces? I have bigger problems with the 1/350th scale resin battleships I have. Many, many more parts and instructions that are just as vague.

Accuracy

I am using pictures of the filming model founding the Art of ROTJ, the Star Wars Technical Journal and the Behind the Magic CD as the basis fro my reference comparisons.

First of all, for the scale freaks, all my references put the B-Wing at 16.9 meters. I do not have a completed kit before me but SMT states the model is 16 inches long when complete. This works out to 1/41st scale.

The panel configuration on the fuselage, intake and s-foils seem very accurate and the arrangement of the instrument panels is a close match lacking only a slight curvature seen on the studio modelís armrest panels. The ejection seat looks like a modern jet seat but who can tell what the little guy is sitting on in the limited references I have of the cockpit. The weapons are accurate save for drilling out the barrels. The general shape seems correct as well.

However when we look at the detail on the s-foils where they connect to the main fuselage, the collar, and the upper fuselage between the collar and the torpedo launchers we see some discrepancies. The "Guts on the Outside" do not match up with the pictures of the filming model. The engines also are radically different from the filming model. The SMT kit has Ďturkey feathersí whereas the filming model does not. Also, the filming modelís engines come to a rounded, segmented ring (almost like Ďturkey feathersí) from which juts a short, smaller diameter exhaust tube. SMTís engines do not replicate this rounded segmented ring. The given detail is true to the Star Wars ideal and anyone examining the completed model will be impressed but such errors in the face of abundant references seems unjustified.

A final point I feel I should mention before someone else does, SMT refers to the twin pods aside the upper fuselage as the torpedo launchers. All references that I have place the torpedo launchers on the main weapons pod at the end of the tapering end of the fuselage. This in no way affects the accurate appearance of the model but some of us like to point these things out.

At First Glance

The collar has a very bad seam where the mold halves do not seem to mate properly. This will take some effort to clean up and set right. I started a bit here, sanding off the seams and evening up the rough edges and let me first say, this resin is a dream to sand but be careful! Itís too easy to go too far too quick and sand detail right off the part! One side of the collar cleans up easily but the other side has a bad mismatch and will take some effort sanding down and re-scribing.

Another bad spot regards the hollow fuselage halves. In some places, the resin is incredibly thin. It looks easy to knock a hole in the main body just by handling it (I did just that with mine - Ed.). Any bubbles in this area will be difficult to sand considering the thinness of the resin. Fortunately on my kit, there arenít any bubbles here.

Finally, the beam weapons are thin and likely to warp with time. I would recommend saving the tips and replacing the barrels with brass tube.

The model begs for lighted engines, fiber optics in the cockpit and even more. The hollow collar means a simple brass tube will enable the true gyrostabilization system to be enabled and with a little work and more brass tube, the s-foils could lock into position.

Conclusion

Considering our selection of science fiction kits is limited (for us Star Wars fans more so than others) SMT's Limited Edition B-Wing is an excellent kit. $80 seems a good value for this much resin. The instructions are the weakest link but a good modeler wonít need them. As an accurate scale model of a Rebel B-Wing, it is a very good kit. The kit is big and impressive and its inaccuracies, though perplexing, are quite forgivable. Nit pickers wonít have too far to go to make it a perfect scale replica of the studio model.


Many thanks to Larry's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 2000+ readers a day? Contact us!

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This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 15 May 2002.