1/72 Scale AMT/ Ertl X/YB-35 Build, Part I

AMT / Ertl’s Northrop X/YB-35. Italeri has re-popped this kit, but I had one of the older ones lurking in my stash. The empty gun turrets always bugged me, arming them will be the most visible change. Given how big the kit is, there are relatively few pieces. Don’t be fooled by the huge box, everything could easily fit into a Hasegawa box for a twin prop bomber kit if one sprue were laid out differently.  Looking at pictures of the prototypes, you notice lots of open bits which are molded closed off.  One of the first things I wanted to improve was to open the inlets on the leading edge of the wings.  Simply hollowing out the kit part doubles the depth. I will extend these back some more, but this will require opening up the center wing section as well.
And here is where all that cooling air comes out – three vents on the top center of each wing. There is a positionable door yet to fabricate over each, representing the “cowl flaps”.
Another item to open are the wing-tip slots. The section cut out of the top portion of each wing will be built up and remounted, the bottom sections were flipped and faired back in to form the inner channel.
Here’s a shot inside the outer wing panel. The AMT plastic is quite soft, the big assemblies are very squishy. No way they would stand up to sanding and handling if left alone. I beefed up the outer wing panels with Plastistruct and epoxied in an “I-beam” made from scrap oak. That should do it!
Here’s the nose wheel well, the kit part is in the foreground. I have deepened the well and added ribbing. The strut attachment point is extended to the proper length using brass tube epoxied to the underside of the cockpit floor. The well actually extends to the bottom corner of the picture, the two doors covering the section where the wheel itself is stowed were closed except when the gear cycled. I have not found any good pictures of these wheel wells, but if typical they would be full of plumbing and equipment. Debating on how much to do in the wells, at least some basic plumbing where it is most visible.
This is the cockpit, it looks like it would be right at home in a sci-fi kit. I have added fiddlybits based upon what could be seen in pictures, and guessed at the rest. No open canopies here, the crew entered through a belly hatch. The idea will be to create a busy feel for what can be seen through the transparencies. I have not added to the after stations, they will not be very visible.
This shows the oak strip bracing added in order to strengthen the lower center wing section. AMT provides very little in the way of internal bracing – there are only two inserts for where the outer wing panels join, and those only come in contact with one surface. Here I have constructed a box beam out of scrap oak strip, and epoxied an additional strip further back. The wheel wells are used to anchor these, and it feels like this will work.
The wing inlets were extended with 0.08” x 0.25” (2 x 6 mm) Evergreen strip, and the dividers extended with card. I am attempting to force some perspective here to give a deeper feel. To prevent the open look I’ll shoot some flat black into the center sections before I close them up. The upper inlet has internal bracing added, this is visible in some pictures of the prototypes. There are better pictures of the bracing on the YB-49’s, but the pattern may be different.