SUBJECT:A-26B-15 Invader
SCALE:1/48
MANUFACTURER:ICM
KIT NO:48282
RELEASE DATE:2019
TIME TO COMPLETE:15 hours
RATING:★★★★☆

BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT: In so many regards this is one of the best kits I have ever built, but it falls short of true excellence in a few critical areas. Most surprising, many of the parts were broken off of the tree and rattling around in the bag, even given the very sturdy box. Next, while the detail and parts fit are generally outstanding, particularly the fit of the clear parts, the nose to fuselage joint has a step that will need to be addressed, the landing gear are very flimsy, and the prominent gun barrels that porcupine the Invader could use an upgrade. Finally, the kit has two of the better out-of-box R2800s I’ve ever seen in this scale and the fit of the cowling and cowl flaps was jaw-dropping good. I would highly recommend this kit to the builder looking for a project to settle in and enjoy like a fine sippin’ Whiskey.

THE BUILD: My intent of the unvarnished feature is not to provide the reader with a comprehensive build guide but to give a quick reference of the overall quality and build-ability of the kit. More in depth analysis will be available later in a full build review.

The first 17 steps consist of building the interior of the Invader, including a well appointed bomb-bay and gunner’s compartment. Parts clean up was absolutely minimal and parts fit was fantastic, with one exception area. Parts E-20 and E-21 are the nose wheel bay sides, and doors. Fit here is a bit sloppy with the instructions being less than helpful for exact location and orientation. Some rudimentary test fitting and fiddling will win the day, but be warned to take some time here. From “go” to closing up the fuselage took about 4 hours without any painting or detailing so the modeler will have some substantial time invested here when building “for real”.

Steps 19-23 involve assembly of some of the finest control surface and horizontal stabilizer detail I have ever seen. I recommend cutting off the location pins as they are slightly too big to fit into the matching receiving holes. This is a theme that while not pervasive in the build does repeat itself enough to keep in mind during the test fitting phases of all control surface or wing mating steps. The Invader’s tell-tale horizontal stabilizer dihedral is perfectly reproduced and virtually fool proof with the fit of the stabilizers to the fuselage being complete perfection.

The rudder and elevator surface detail is masterful, and the horizontal stabilizer joint is perfection.

Step 25 asks for 40g of weight to be installed in the nose (weight is not included). I initially attempted to use lead fishing sinkers but decided to pack the nose full of “three green” flexible nose weight instead. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but it sits firmly on it’s nose gear (so firmly that I would recommend replacing the struts with metal gear). This is also where the fit of the nose to the fuselage becomes an issue. There is a small step, one that does not exist on the real Invader, that is left due to the nose being slightly too narrow in the horizontal plane to meet the fuselage flush. After some thought I believe that the solution is splitting the nose vertically, installing some shims to push the sides outward, and then only being left with filling and sanding a seam on the top and bottom of the nose instead of destroying all the detail on the side of the fuselage. There are probably dozens of ways to solve this issue, so be creative.

Play some jazz to align the sides with the nose.

Steps 26 through 39 are building up and installing the wing. The process here was stress free but required cutting off some location pins to get a tight fit (as discussed above). The wings then mount to the fuselage by sliding onto two long mounting pylons that were trapped between the fuselage halves when building out the bomb-bay. Without hyperbole or exaggeration, the wing to fuselage joint is without equal, particularly in any multi engine WW2 aircraft I have ever built.

I’ve never seen a more perfect fuselage to wing joint.

Next the builder moves on to building up the engine nacelle and main gear bays. Much like the fuselage build, the interior walls of the wheel bay have the gear doors attached and require a little fiddling to get aligned and glued in properly, but nothing to be concerned about. Beyond that, the fit of the parts is magnificent, for lack of a better word.

Attaching the built-out nacelles to the wings is the closest to a Jekyll and Hyde moment that this kit has. Where the nacelles attach to the underside of the wing is almost an invisible Tamiya-like fit. Where the top of the wing meets the back of the nacelle leaves a tiny, but very real, gap that will probably require a bit of your thinnest plasticard to fully and quickly fill. This is the worst fit area of the entire kit and I have built many models where that wouldn’t even be worth mentioning in comparison to the other issues. It is a testament to the fit and finish of the majority of the kit that this is a place worth mentioning as bad.

Pictures don’t show it, but the joint along the back of the wing where it meets the nacelle will need some filler.

At this point I was roughly 9 hours in and was approaching my least favorite part of any build: the landing gear and engines. Truth be told, there was nothing particularly interesting to say about the landing gear. I would recommend getting some replacement resin wheels as I never like the time it takes to clean up diamond tread wheel halves. And, I would certainly recommend some metal struts if they are available due to the weight of the kit on its gear.

The gear are already bowing under the weight

Steps 73 to 82 are building an engine and must be done twice. Each engine took me about an hour to build and were beautiful. The serious builder might want to install some ignition wires, but with the cowlings on they will be difficult to see. Take note: Part E34 is a guide to help align the exhausts. Do not accidentally glue this to the back of the engine as I did or you’ll be left with a lot more work than necessary. The cowlings slide on and fit beautifully. The four part cowl flaps are beautifully molded, though a little fiddly, but look amazing once installed.

The remaining issues left are installing the clear glazings, building up the guns, and miscellaneous antennae. As mentioned, I would prefer to use Master Model turned brass barrel for the two turrets and various nose and wing weaponry as they have some mold seam lines that would be easier to replace than clean up. The clear glass fits as good as the best I have seen and while the canopy can be built in the open position, it is clearly intended to be built closed (with no option to leave it open in the instructions).

In summary, this is a great model, though a fairly involved build, and I cannot wait to start another for the full build review.