Monday, April 4, 2011

Aurora North American XB-70 Valkyrie

Here she is, the creme-della-creme of Aurora's USAF bomber kits: the XB-70 Valkyrie. Aurora and Lindberg were quick to produce model kits of this experimental SAC Mach-3 bomber, and interestingly, were the only ones available for almost two decades until Italeri released a beautifully detailed one in the nineties. Both Aurora's and Lindberg's were engineered from early concept drawings from North American, and Aurora's came out ahead in accuracy and quality. Lindberg's version was smaller, but did have some cool features such as retractable landing gear, and movable wing tips. It was terribly inaccurate in shape and detail though compared to Aurora's. Aurora's is simple with relatively few pieces, and no moving parts. It's an odd scale, and this frustrated serious model builders for years who were trying to build a fleet of USAF bombers in constant scale. Contrail came out with 1/72 scale vacuform version to fix this problem, but not all us modelers are, or were into vacuform.
I did this rebuild as simple as possible in memory of my original. I left it in the original white plastic, with only a few painted details such as black anti-glare panel, and silver struts and tires. The six jet engines are nicely detailed, but once you glue them into the lower intake assembly, you can't see them unless you peer into the narrow intake openings; and then, all you see are the front fan blades.
Out of the four Aurora kits my uncle Norman built for me back in '75, the XB-70 lasted the longest - well into my high-school years. It's long life finally came to an end one day though, when the lower intake assembly busted off from the wing. It looked to me like the top wing assembly should fly, so I tried throwing it in my back yard. The dang thing flew! Well, somewhat. It didn't fly very straight or for very long, but it actually rode some air for a few seconds before falling to the ground in pieces. The Aurora XB-70 will always be one of my favorite kits from childhood.

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