Converting the Minicraft B-29 Superfortress into a Tu-70
The Tupolev Tu-70 was a Soviet passenger variant of the Tu-4 bomber (which was a reverse-engineered copy of the American-made Boeing B-29 Superfortress) designed in the mid 1940’s. It used a number of components from a group of Boeing B-29s that had made an emergency landing in the Soviet Far East after bombing Japan. It had the first pressurized fuselage in the Soviet Union and first flew on 27 November 1946. The aircraft was successfully tested, recommended for serial production, but ultimately not produced because of more pressing military orders and because Aeroflot had no requirement for such an aircraft.
The year was 2013, I was watching an episode of the Wings of Russia documentary series when suddenly a large, four-engined unknown soviet airliner appeared on the screen and caught my attention. It was the first time when I heard about that unique airliner and I knew that this is the plane that I must have in scale 1:144-scale.
At the time I’ve been over a few successful conversion projects, the method and the technique were given, the donor vehicle (Minicraft B-29 Superfortress, stock number: 14609) was purchased, feasibility studies were ready, but work started pretty slowly. The project was finally launched in September 2015.
Building the Model
Similar to my previous projects, the wings, the landing gears, the power plants and the stabilizers of the Minicraft B-29 kit was combined with a new, scratch-built fuselage that was made of 0.3 mm aluminium plates adopted from the printing industry.
First, the frameworks of the mid-fuselage section was created. The right cylindrical shape was achieved by using aluminium disks with the calculated diameter of the fuselage and by applying wooden wands as bracings, which then covered with aluminium plates.
For the nose section, it was also necessary to create a basic framework first, by applying the same technique that I applied during the creation of the mid-fuselage section. Later I covered that frameworks with aluminium plates and used a lot of filler in order to reach the proper curved and conical shapes.
After the final integration of the tail, the nose and the mid-section of the fuselage I had to decide which part of the B-29 could be used and what modifications need to be done with the wings, the landing gears and the stabilizers.
After the final assembly I started working on the painting of the model. The original aircraft had a bare-metal scheme. In order to make the model a bit more realistic I decided to leave as many panels unpainted as possible to keep the original bare aluminium colour on the fuselage.
For the first time, on the plastic components I applied self-adhesive aluminium tape in order to reach the proper bare-metal colour. The result of that new building procedure has not fully fulfilled my expectations. The use of this technique requires further exercises.
With the creation of the Tu-70, my bomber-based airliner collection has become complete. In spite of the challenges I enjoyed the realization of such projects, but further bomber-to-airliner conversion is not planned for a while.