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B-26B Marauder
ICM (48320)

Reviewed: Apr 2024

ICM continue to hit home runs for the 1:48 aircraft modelling community. Next up in their successful run of WW2 twin engine bombers is a brand new tooled Martin B-26B Marauder. The cigar shaped Marauder has long been a favourite of model builders and up until now the main game in 1/48 has been the 1978 Monogram kit which has been re-released over the years in Hasegawa, Revell and Monogram boxes. The last time this kit was re-popped was 14 years ago in 2010. So, it is little wonder this new tooled release from ICM has been so hotly anticipated.

Planned for release in later 2024 by ICM are two additional boxing of the Marauder. The first is the iconic "Flak Bait" of the 322nd BG which makes perfect sense and will be a big seller no doubt. The second boxing appears to be the usual ICM option of including a figure set with the aircraft. It seems most likely they will re-use their existing 48088 USAAF Bomber Pilots & Ground Personnel set.

The Martin B-26B Marauder

The Martin B-26 Marauder was an American twin-engined medium bomber that saw extensive service during World War II. The B-26 was built at two locations: Baltimore, Maryland, and Omaha, Nebraska, by the Glenn L. Martin Company. First used in the Pacific Theater of World War II in early 1942, it was also used in the Mediterranean Theater and in Western Europe. [source: wikipedia]

After entering service with the United States Army aviation units, the aircraft quickly received the reputation of a "widowmaker" due to the early models' high accident rate during takeoffs and landings. This was because the Marauder had to be flown at precise airspeeds, particularly on final runway approach or when one engine was out. The unusually high 150 mph (241 km/h) speed on short final runway approach was intimidating to many pilots who were used to much slower approach speeds, and when they slowed to speeds below those stipulated in the manual, the aircraft would often stall and crash

The B-26 became a safer aircraft once crews were retrained, and after aerodynamics modifications (an increase of wingspan and wing angle-of-incidence to give better takeoff performance, and a larger vertical stabilizer and rudder). The Marauder ended World War II with the lowest loss rate of any U.S. Army Air Forces bomber.

In total, 5,288 were produced between February 1941 and March 1945; 522 of these were flown by the Royal Air Force and the South African Air Force. By the time the United States Air Force was created as an independent military service separate from the United States Army in 1947, all Martin B-26s had been retired from U.S. service. After the Marauder was retired, the unrelated Douglas A-26 Invader then assumed the "B-26" designation, which led to confusion between the two aircraft.

IN THE BOX - ICM 1:48 B-26B Marauder (48320)

If you already own any ICM kits the box contents will be fairly familiar. Sprues are carefully protected, with the single clear sprue having its own dedicated bag. Nine sprues in total, eight in ICM's standard grey plastic and one clear. Very few parts are flagged as not needed for this boxing. The marking options provided all have the starboard fixed nose gun removed and so the opening in the perspex nose cone faired over, hence parts G83 (fixed .50 cal) and part H8 (nose with open gun port) are not used.

To further protect the delicate clear parts ICM has thoughtfully wrapped them in a gentle foam layer. This means upon opening the parts are perfectly crystal clear and blemish free.

ICM has consistently provided their own in-house decal sheets and in my experience of using them they perform pretty well. Not as thin perhaps as Cartograph or Microscale but certainly perfectly fine for box decals. Three marking options are provided on the sheet, which we will look at in more detail in the next section.

As an added bonus, an A2 sized color poster/calendar is included. This depicts the same aircraft as the boxart and will look great on your modelling room wall.

COLORS & MARKINGS - ICM 1:48 B-26B Marauder (48320)

ICM have provided a total of three (3) marking options in the kit. Over the years many aftermarket manufacturers have released decal sets for the Monogram 1/48 kit, many of which are long out of production and often hard to find. I anticipate that current decal manufacturers will jump on the chance to release new decals to suit this new ICM tooling.

Each paint scheme is provided in full colour on glossy A4 pages and colour call-outs are provided using ICM's own acrylic paint range. Luckily the colors are very standard and can be found in just about all common model paint brands.

The first markings are for "Ladies Delight", a B-26B-55-MA, 42-96077, 584th Bomb Squadron, 394th Bomb Group, RAF Boreham, England, summer 1944. This aircraft is finished in Olive Drab over grey.

The second markings are for "Coral Princess III", a B-26B-55-MA, 42-96214, 494th Bomb Squadron, 344th Bomb Group, Pontoise, France, Autumn 1944. This Marauder is finished in overall natural metal.

The third and final markings are for “The Big Hairy Bird”, a B-26B-55-MA, 42-96165, 599th Bomb Squadron, 397th Bomb Group, Peronne, France, December 1944 This Marauder is also finished in overall natural metal but with some very colourful nose-art in the form of a yellow head with open mouth and teeth.

HANDS ON - ICM 1:48 B-26B Marauder (48320)

Before we begin, it's worth taking a moment to explain a little bit about the different Marauder designations you will see me mention in this review. The 'B' and 'C' models of the Marauder were produced in larger numbers than any other, over 3000 being built. B-26B's differed from the equivalent 'C' models only in site of manufacture, the former being built at Martin's Baltimore plant, the latter at a new facility at Omaha, Nebraska. Since the Omaha factory didn't begin production until several months after 'B' models began coming off the line at Baltimore, the sub-variant designations didn't match. B-26C-5s, for example, were similar to B-26B-10s. Within these model runs there were tremendous evolutionary differences. In many ways the B-26B-55 was far more radically different from the original B-26B, much more different than a 'B' was from an 'A'. With this in mind, remember that this ICM kit is designed primarily to represent a late B-26B-55/B-26C-30 aircraft.

Kicking off my hands-on exploration of the new ICM Marauder, let's begin as normal with the fuselage interior. The roof of the nose wheel bay is the floor of the main cockpit and ICM gives us both as two parts which are joined together early on. The crew access door (via the nose wheel well) is here and it would be fairly east to open that up if you were so inclined. As with most ICM kits, the cockpit is simplified so plenty of opportunity for scratch-building or aftermarket resin.

A quick comparison of the kit nose wheel well and the real aircraft highlight several areas that ICM have chosen simplicity over accuracy. Some of these are very easy fixes like opening up the oval shaped "lightening" holes on the side walls. Adding electrical and hydraulic piping is another level of detailing that will lift the model as a whole but requires much more work.

For the most part the ICM Marauder cockpit is a true representation of the aircraft with all the major components present. The parts seem well molded with sharp detail. Assembly is easy and will be comfortable for modellers of all skill levels.

As with most mainstream kits, details such as wiring, fabric covering etc are missing. Like many, I personally like to add just enough extra to make the cockpit pop without boiling the ocean (as I'd rather save that time and effort for elsewhere on the model). Much information can be obtained from the internet or books and this photo of the cockpit of "Flak Bait" is a good example freely available if you make the time to look for it.

“Missouri Mule”, 41-34891 is a B-26C of the 441st Bomb Squadron. The airframe shows typical signs of wear and tear particularly noticeable of high traffic areas such as the engine cowlings. The red cowling faces and propeller hubs are a Group marking.

In the box ICM provide a total of six bombs with nicely detailed racks. From, the shape and suggested load-out on the center racks, my educated guess would be that these are 600lb GP M32 bombs. Assembly is straight forward with the main center support connecting the two bomb-bay bulkheads, fore and aft. An internal roof to the bomb-bay (part E5) is also provided.

The general shape and size of the bombs looks well done. As usual the fins are very over-scale in plastic but I'm sure that PE options will be forthcoming from Eduard and others. It also occurs to me that designing and printing new thinner fins would not be that hard either.

The Marauder internal bomb load was between 3,000 and 4,800 depending on the model and range. The forward bay was capable of holding a wide array of bomb loadouts including: two-2,000-pound bombs, four 1,100-pound bombs, six 600-pound bombs, eight 300-pound bombs, or twenty 100-pounders.

The smaller rear bay could hold: two 600-pound bombs, six 300-pound bombs, or ten 100-pounders. With the Army Air Corp abandoning the requirement for carrying a total of thirty 100-pounders, the aft bomb bay was sealed up from the B-26B-45-MA/B-26C-45-MO variants and onward. [source:]

Once complete the cockpit/nose gear well and bomb-bay modules can be inserted into the fuselage. The addition of two wing spars is nicely done as this will certainly help support & align the large wings when it comes time to attach.

Unlike their early A-26 Invader kit, ICM have done a far superior job on the bomb-bay interior. Inserts have been provided to "block off" the space adjacent to the wing roots so that when viewed from below the whole bay looks enclosed and complete. It's a 5/5 from me on this improvement.

An extremely useful photo of the Marauders bomb-bay taken looking forward. Here you can see the inner and outer bomb racks, the folding doors on either side and the tubing and cabling that runs across the front bulkhead and down the side walls. All of this could be added to the ICM kit with some effort.

Steps 29-31 cover the assembly of the tail interior, with the waste guns and Bell type M-6 tail turret. For the most part these are accurate but there are significant parts that are missing, the most noticeable being the flexible ammo belts for all guns. I know these would not be easy to provide in plastic but I have seen other manufacturers tackle this so its a bit disappointing that ICM have not even tried. Another omission is that the waist doors cannot be positioned open. The guide rails are kind of provided but no OOB way to fix the sliding door in place. This is a pity as having them open would afford a good opportunity for some of the interior to be seen on the finished model. All in all I'm a bit underwhelmed with the effort ICM put into the whole tail section.

Starting with the B-26B-20-MA and B-26C-20-MO, the tail gun assembly was redesigned. The hand held "twin-fifties" were replaced by a power-operated twin .50 caliber electro-mechanical Bell Type M-6 turret. The now blunt, rounded-off installation visibly changed the Marauder's tail profile. The Bell type M-6 tail turret had a transparent Plexiglas cap through which the guns protruded. The guns were hydraulically-boosted and had a 90-degree cone of fire behind the aircraft. The gunner was protected by armor platting stationed between him and the guns. The turret was operated by a mechanical linkage which moved the N-8 gunsight and guns in tandem. The gun movement was very fast, up to 35-degrees per second. [source:]

The M2 .50cal guns provided in the ICM kit are quite well detailed, as far as plastic parts go. Nothing however can compare to the realism provided by a set of metal barrels, which come with turned brass barrels and separate drilled cooling jacket. The set shown here are by Master Model and are an easy and cost effective upgrade to any WW2 US aircraft.

A flexible mount for a single .30-caliber designed to fire through the rear crew entry hatch was introduced in the earliest B-26 models, the so called "tunnel" gun. This was in response to complaints about the lack of downward defensive firepower. Two waist .30-caliber waist guns were also added to the earlier models. The "B-26B-1" did away with the single ventral gun and had waist positions augmented. Waist windows were located on each side of the aft fuselage. Each window now had a single .50 Browning M-2 Machine gun. The guns were mounted on swivels. Ammunition canisters were mounted on the fuselage ceiling with the belts running down to the guns. Sliding hatches covered the waist openings when not in use.

With the B-26C-5-MO, the side waist gun doors were enlarged and moved one station aft to improve the angle of fire down and to the front. Also with this model, a single larger circular scanning window, replacing the two smaller ones, was located above each waist door to give the gunner a better view. It is this configuration that the ICM B-26B kit provides. [source:]

Perhaps the most visible feature of the waist and tail guns are the .50cal flexible ammo belts and chutes. As mentioned above none of these are provided by ICM in the kit and make the interior of the kit look empty as a result.

The Marauder used Martin's own power turret. It was highly successful and used in a variety of aircraft including, but not limited to, those produced by Consolidated and Lockheed as well. ICM provide a full and well detailed 250CE power turret with a single piece clear cover and well provisioned interior. The addition of some wiring and flexible ammo belts would make this a highly visible feature of your finished Marauder.

The Martin 250CE full-power turret was located forward to the waist gun and just aft of the rear bomb bay. It was designed as a "drop in" unit and was hung from the upper fuselage. The unit rotated on a large ball bearing ring. It weighed 655 lbs, was 6 /12 feet tall, 4 ft. in diameter, and had a 3/8" protective armor plate skirt that rotated with the turret to provide protection to the gunner. The .50-caliber guns & mount, controls, site, and cartridge canisters (400 r.p.g.) were all a part of the unit. It featured a drop seat that was brought up and latched once the gunner lifted himself into position. Power was derived from a General Electric amplidyne motor. [source:]

With the interior now squared away its time to seal up the fuselage. Because the Marauder employed a tricycle undercarriage, ICM remind you to add a minimum of 50g of weight to the nose section. As per the assembly diagram this will fit nicely into the hidden radio operators compartment. I always do dry tests with weights to make double sure that enough is included.

The fit of the fuselage halves is very good. Everything played nicely together and I encountered no unexpected gaps or issues. Based on my previous builds of ICM kits this is exactly what I expected.

One area that will require some work is the surface roughness and shallow panel; lines found on both the top and bottom of the fuselage halves. You can clearly see the grainy surface texture here (made more visible by the black wash I applied to the panel lines and some got caught in the roughness). This will be easily smoothed away by some 600 grade wet n dry but I fear the shallow engraved oval inspection hatches and other shapes will be more difficult to deal with. These may need to be filled and re-scribed to obtain a satisfactory result.

Now that I had the fuselage together and could appreciate just how large it was, I realised that it looked empty being void of surface detail. I've decided that surface rivets will be needed at some point and thankfully have a full set of scale drawing for just that purpose. In speaking with some other modellers I know that this is a bridge to far for many but I personally think the effort in adding rivets is well worth the end result and on such a large canvas as the Marauder it's a must.

Photographers of the 322nd Bomb Group pose in front of B-26 Marauder (serial number 41-17934) "Pappy's Pram"

Moving next onto the empannage, ICM provides us with separate rudder and elevators. The Marauder used fabric covered controls for both the tail and wing ailerons.

ICM have molded the entire horizontal tailplane as a single piece designed to mate with the fuselage in the center. The elevators are separate so positioning them in a relaxed position (as I like to do) should be very easy. Thank you ICM.

The horizontal tail of the Marauder was designed with 8 degrees of dihedral, whilst the wings had almost none at just over 1 degree. ICM have incorporated the exact dihedral into the kit parts so that the modeller does not have worry about this at all (a gold star here). I found the fit to be very good as can be seen here.

An excellent period photo of the Marauder from above affords us a near perfect view of the fabric elevators and ailerons. A couple of things to note here are the very pronounced scalloping of the fabric and the different color compared to the metal parts due to fading.

ICM provide a very realistic subtle scalloped stressed fabric affect on both the rudder and elevators. Often times manufacturers struggle to accurately reproduce fabric control surfaces but in this case I think ICM have nailed it.

A photo from the rear shows that distinct 8 degree dihedral of the horizontal tail planes.

Clear parts come next in the build order. The main canopy, nose cone and tail shroud are the primary clear parts on the Marauder and ICM provide multiple options here.

ICM include two variants of the main cockpit windscreen. The early B-26B and C's had a smooth windscreen which wrapped around with no framing to impede the pilots view. Commencing on the B-26B-45 and B-26C-30 a 'V' Shaped brace was added to the main cockpit windscreen on the pilot (port) side.

Starting with the "B-26B-1" a flexible machine gun was mounted in the center of the nose with a canvas bag under the breech to collect the shell casings. Ammunition hung in a box from the right side of the nose frame. The weapon could be hooked to a clasp on the left to keep it out of the way while the bombardier was over the bomb sight. In addition, the "B-26B-1" had a fixed forward-firing .50-caliber installed in the lower right-hand side of the nose. ICM provide this version of the clear nose as part H8.

The fixed .50-caliber machine gun in the nose was deleted in the middle of the B-26B-45-MA/B-26C-45-MO production run (from 42-95979) and the hole in the perspex was not removed but simply faired over with a metal cover. This change was often made in the field to earlier versions as well. ICM provide this version of the clear nose as part H7.

The fit of the nose clear part is excellent. Some tricky cleanup is needed to the mating edge as this is where the sprue gate is, however nothing that can't be overcome with some care.

The main canaopy likewise is a very neat fit. I love that ICM provide the top doors of the canopy as separate parts, allowing us to easily display them open if so desired. I wish they had taken this approach with their 1:48 Douglas A-26 Invader clamshell canopy doors as well.

These period photos show that the pilots side window could slide open (ICM do not provide this unfortunately) and that the top hatches had handles and reinforcing strips built-in. All useful details for a future build.

An overall view of the nose section with the clear parts installed. It's a big relief knowing that you don't have to fight with the delicate clear parts, which can always be risky.

The tail cover is also an excellent fit, which is welcome as there is no visible framing around the edges on this part to hide any "mistakes" you may make.

A wide shot of the mostly complete Marauder fuselage. ICM have captured nicely that very distinctive "mathematical" cigar shape which uniquely identifies the Marauder.

Turning our attention now to the wings and ICM provide separate ailerons and both inboard and outboards flaps. The main wheel wells are integrated into the wing and engine nacelles.

The most drastic change in the original Marauder design, to tame the 'Widowmaker' and make it an easier aircraft for new pilots to fly, was the introduction of a new, lengthened wing. Span was increased from 65 ft to 71 ft and area from 602 sq ft to 658 sq ft. Top speed dropped a remarkable 35mph (282mph). A slight dihedral angle was incorporated and the split flaps were replaced by slotted ones. Despite this major alteration in the Marauder's dimensions, it is difficult to distinguish in photographs between small and large wing B-26s since the wing planform was virtually identical. A much surer distinguishing feature of the 'B-10', 'C-5' and all later marks was the new, taller fin and rudder also introduced on these models.

The ICM kit comes with the 'larger' wings as it is designed to represent a very late B/C Marauder (B-55/C-30). The panel line and hatch detail provided by ICM is very clean and sharp. I've applied a black wash here to make it easier to photograph.

Being very keen to fill up all that empty space on the wings (and fuselage) I managed to track down some scale drawings that show the rivet pattern. This will be enough for me to add enough rivets to make the model more visually appealing/accurate. Not everyone's cup of tea but I do like a challenge.

A couple of closer photos help to show the nicely scaled panel lines. ICMs injection molding process seems to struggle with surface detail on curves close to the edge such as those on the leading edges. Any panel line that does not hold a wash at this point is a sure candidate for more attention later.

Technically speaking when adding rivet detail to a Marauder I should be using raised rivet heads. This is a monumental amount of work and in 1:48 even I am happy to admit defeat and settle for recessed rivets which are enough to give a convincing visual representation.

As I was assembling the upper wing I noticed some distinct rows of corrugated sink marks in the wing surface. Flipping the wing over the culprit turned out to the be the molded-in ribbing detail for the roof of the main wheel well. Shrinkage is a pretty common side affect with injection molding when thicker plastic sections set more slowly than thinner. The result can be that the thicker plastic section sags while it is setting hard. As these particular sink marks are in a very visible place they really do need to be dealt with.

Thankfully the fix is an easy one. A thin layer of Tamiya Basic Grey putty was spread over the sink areas and then sanded smooth using 600 wet n dry. I'll need to double check with a coat of primer but from the photo I can already tell it's 99% fixed the problem.

The Marauder was powered (like most US aircraft of the time) by a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engines. Different variants of the R-2800 were used over time, as technology improved during the war, resulting in the B-26B-55 ultimately having the R-2800-41 power-plant, generating 2000 HP. ICM are quite generous when it comes to kit engines, and these could easily be used without having to resort to aftermarket resin options.

The kit parts are well detailed and you will have to deal with seam lines running across the cylinder cooling fins, but unfortunately this is par for the course in 1/48. About the only major item that ICM does not include is the distinctive electrical wiring loom that can be seen on the front face of the engine. Copper or lead wire is your best bet here.

If you are looking to model an engine maintenance setting with your build then you are up for some extra work. Reskit or Eduard may come to the rescue here but that seems unlikely as they have not done so previous ICM releases (yet).

ICM provide only one option for cowl flaps, which is open. This actually suits me fine as it is my preference. A closed option would have been nice as well. As normal fine parts such as the lift/push rods are a bit overscale to my eye but can easily be replaced with smaller plastic or metal rod.

The engine cowlings for the Marauder have a fairly complicated shape. This is due to the front facing position of the upper carburettor air intakes and lower oil cooler air intake. ICM has managed to capture pretty well the overall shape, but it's taken them six separate pieces.

The cowling parts all play well together, with no major alignment problems or gaps visible. Sanding the join inside the two small carburettor intakes will be a bit tricky I think.

As I was preparing the parts I decided that the oil cooler air intake could benefit from being opened up a little more. A sharp knife and sanding paper bent back onto itself was all I needed to reshape the intake to something closer to photos.

Offering the cowling up to the nacelle proved to be problem free. All the joins are on natural panel lines so minimal sanding will be needed at this point.

The engine nacelles are designed in two halves each and ICM provide appropriate bulkheads to install within.

The general fit of the nacelle to the wing is close to perfect with no gaps present. I did need to do some trimming of the internal bulkheads to get them to fit snugly against the outer curve. There are positioning slots for each but I found these hindered more than helped.

By the time you reach step 109 it's time to mate the wing to the fuselage. The addition of the two wing spars and associated slots inside the wings was of great help here.

Thanks to the spars and inner slots the wing to fuselage join could not be easier. As you can see the fit of these parts is precise and will be strong as well.

A closer look at the wing root join from both on top and below. I anticipate no filler will be needed at either place. A real credit to the quality of the ICM tooling.

In my research I came across this useful cutaway drawing. I enjoy pouring over such detail, even if I have no real intention of adding it to my model.

Getting close to the end now I thought it would be useful to see some of the other common parts provided by ICM in the box. It's been my experience when reviewing ICM kits that tyres are not their strong suite. The kit main wheels are very basic and I for one will be reaching for a set of aftermarket resin wheels.

As I mentioned early, the .50cal guns provided in this kit are very well done, with the barrel (and possibly ring and bead sights) being about the only thing I would want to improve. Here we see the flexible machine gun mounted in the center of the nose. The canvas bag under the breech is to collect the shell casings and the small perspex door to the lower left was for emptying any overflow casing outside the nose, lest they interfere with the bomb sight. To my eye the ICM part is very well done.

No review of the Marauder would be complete without at least one appearance of "Flak Bait" of the 322nd BG. This aircraft holds the record within the United States Army Air Forces for the most number of bombing missions survived during World War II. During the course of its 202 (207 including its five decoy missions) bombing missions over Germany as well as the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, Flak-Bait lived up to its name by being shot with over 1,000 holes, returned twice on one engine (once with the disabled engine on fire), and lost its electrical system once and its hydraulic system twice.

CONCLUSION - ICM 1:48 B-26B Marauder (48320)

So, ICM have added yet another WW2 US twin to their catalog. I know that this kit has been hotly anticipated by 1:48 aircraft modellers and I'm sure it will be a big seller for them. No doubt the two additional boxings planned for later in 2024 will also be popular.

Will they do an F/G, which will require a new tooled fuselage to cater for the increased wing incidence? Well I certainly hope so and I remember wondering when I first completed my A-26 Invader review back in 2019, whether they would eventually give us a B-26K Counter Invader. It took then two years to pleasantly surprise me then and I hope they will do it again.

I think it's fair to say that this new kit is a quantum leap compared to the ageing Monogram Marauder. It's not a perfect kit, but as ICM themselves have explained, they build to price point and let the aftermarket industry cater for the rest. I think this is the right approach.

I do look forward to see some of the amazing builds that will be forthcoming of this kit and plan to start my own build sooner rather than later.

If you are a fan of WW2 medium bombers, then this release is right up your alley and I have no hesitation is highly recommending it. Many thanks to ICM for providing this kit for review.

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS - ICM 1:48 B-26B Marauder (48320)