A Trio of Bombers

B-10 Export WH-2/WAA ; B-10 Export WC/WAN ; B-10B in US Service

Azur-Frrom 1/72, Ref. FR0042, FR0043, FR0044

The Martin B-10 takes us back to the 1930s.  Entering service within the US Airmy Air Corps in June 1934, it is the first all-metal, monoplane bomber in this service. Its design is for that time nothing less than revolutionary, with enclosed cockpits, rotating turrets, retracting undercarriage, internal bomb bay and effective engine radiators.  And its performances are superior to the fighters then in service in the USAAC.  From it will be developed the B-12, B-13, B-14 and A-15, and it will have a lasting effect on the design of bombers (and other types of aircraft) all over the world.  But with dark clouds gathering on the horizon, and the rapid development of even better aircraft in several countries, the B-10 career in the USA will be short, eclipsed by the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

Martin will have some export successes with the B-10, with aircraft sold to China, the Dutch East Indies, Argentina, Turkey and Siam, under the Martin Model 139W and Martin Model 166 designations.  The Chinese, Dutch and Siamese aircraft would be used in anger.

Azur-Frrom, whose kits are designed in France but manufactured in the Czech Republic, have just released three kits of this Martin B-10.  46 years separate those new kits from the Williams Brothers’ kit..!  How things have changed since 1974..!  The three new kits have in common three light grey sprues, with amongst other parts, fuselage halves (not right and left halves, but top and bottom ones), fin and elevators, engines, propellers, undercarriage, seats and instrument panels, plus a small photo-etched fret with seat belts and external handles.

Other sprues vary from one boxing to another: References FR0042 and 0043 have a similar wing with longer engine nacelles than those of reference 0044; if all three kits have the same clear plastic sprue, reference 0042 has an additional one for an Argentinian B-10 that was modified after an accident; and, obviously, all three kits have differing decal sheets.

FR0044 Engine Nacelles

There are two schemes to choose from in references 0043 and 0044, and three in reference 0042: 

FR0042 offers markings for a Model 139WH-2 of the Dutch East Indies and two Argentinian Model 139WAAs (the second of which has the modified nose in 1942). Additional Dutch national marking are provided as the ‘original’ ones have too narrow a black band around the orange triangles;

FR0043 has markings for a Chinese Model 139WC in 1938 and another Argentinian aircraft, a very colourful Model 139WAN this time, for the Argentinian Navy;

FR0044 has instead decals for two USAAC pre-WWII yellow-winged and blue-fuselaged B-10Bs.

Those are quality short-run kits, with finely engraved panel lines; the plastic on some sprues appear slightly rougher than on others, and there are no locating pins but this should be big issues for most modellers with a little experience of such kits under their belt.  We must praise Azur-Frrom for offering a modern rendering of such an important, original, often colourful but so far mostly un-kitted aircraft.  Let’s hope a Model 166 will in time be released! And let yourself be tempted!


Review and pictures by Daniel Clamot.

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