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Myasishchev M-50 Bounder

15 Jan
2012

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Designed as a supersonic strategic bomber by OKB-23 and named after designer Vladimir Myasischev, the M-50 was the ultimate iteration in a long series of design studies into supersonic bomber layouts undertaken by the OKB and TsAGI in the late 1950’s. The M-50 was rolled out at Myasischev’s factory at Zhukovsky in July 1958, but because the planned VD-7M turbojets were not yet ready, the prototype was fitted with 107.91 kN (24,2501b) VD-7A turbojets and made its first flight on 27 October 1959. By October 1960, the M-50A, as it was now designated, had made 11 test flights totalling 8 hours and 33 minutes.

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On 16 September a speed of 1,090 km/h (677mph) was achieved – which according to the flight data, corresponded to a speed of Mach 1.01, although subsequent recalculations by engineers at Lll (the Flight Test Institute) reduced this to Mach 0.99. The flight crew, however, were convinced that they had ‘gone supersonic,’ pointing out the physical phenomena experienced, such as the disappearance of jolting and lagging of the engine noise.

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Amodel’s clear and concise instructions

In order to continue testing at a wider range of speeds, the two inner engines were replaced by 157 kN (35,2741b) VD-7MA turbojets fitted with afterburners, which, according to calculations should have enabled the M-50A to achieve a speed of Mach 1.35, however, in this configuration, the aircraft only made eight short test flights – including its appearance at the 1961 flypast at Tushino – and the true performance was never tested as the afterburners were only ever used on take-off. The M-50, allocated the ASCC reporting name of ‘Bounder,’ made a total of 19 flights before the programme was closed, the OKB was shut down and the government lost interest, preferring to rely on strategic intercontinental missiles to strike the enemy. The sole M-50A now resides at the Russian Air Force museum at Monino wearing an all-silver finish but with the bort number and black trim from the Tushino flypast.

The Model m-50 bounder

Amodel’s kit of the M-50 is the latest in their range of big Soviet/Russian/Ukrainian types marketed under their ‘Amonster’ banner. The main feature of these kits is that the major components are made from fibreglass resin. These parts are also provided in one piece – in other words, the two moulded halves of the fuselage and wings etc are already bonded together. The rest of the components are conventional injection-mouldings, albeit of the low-pressure, limited-run type. Early Amonster kits exhibited a slightly rough external finish and poor panel detail, but each new release has got better and better and the surface finish on the M-50 is of plastic or resin quality and the engraved panel detail is very well done.

The painting guide quotes Humbrol paint numbers

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Building the Bounder

Amodel’s construction sequence begins with the cockpit, made up from two halves of the injection-moulded nosecones, inside which are fitted front, centre and rear bulkheads, floor and sidewall parts plus the pilot’s and navigator’s instrument panels. The detail on the panels consist of shallow circular recesses which give a poor representation of the instruments, but as not a lot can be seen through the small cockpit windows, I wasn’t too bothered with doing much more than painting the cockpit medium grey and the instruments black.

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Two control yokes are provided and the ejection seats are each made up from six parts and with the addition of home-made seatbelts, are quite adequate. The seats eject downwards on the M-50 and are also extended through two hatches in the cockpit floor and in the bottom of the fuselage for crew access, a feature that Amodel provide and one that I wanted to incorporate, so the floor hatches were cemented in the down position and the seats were left out until later.

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I deviated from the instructions slightly and attached the fibreglass resin wings and fuselage together. The fit is quite good and small lugs and corresponding recesses are moulded into the resin, so I didn’t feel the need to add a strengthening spar. I filled in the small gaps on the upper surface with strips of plastic card and blended it all in with filler. Next up are the two large fuselage wheel bays fore and aft of the weapons bay. These are each made up from two sidewalls, a roof and fore and after bulkheads. The kit instructions would have you attach the undercarriage into the two bays at this stage, but I reasoned that I was bound to knock it off at some point so I cheated and modified the circular locating holes into U-shaped ones so that the built-up undercarriage could be fitted later. The painted undercarriage bays were simply slotted into place in the fuselage and the gaps filled with plastic card and filler.

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The fuselage and wing parts cast in fibreglass resin

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Parts for the front wheel bay

The floor hatches were cemented in the down position and The fit of the wings is good enough to preclude a the seats were left out until later strengthening spar

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Parts layout for the rear wheel bay

The circular locating holes were modified to U-shaped ones The painted undercarriage bays ready for assembly so that the built-up undercarriage could be fitted later

The built-up cockpit nosecone was added and a little filler applied to blend it in, likewise the four sections of the dorsal spine plus the tailcone. Something must have gone wrong with the measuring stick at Amodel – because there is a 4mm gap in the dorsal spine at the mid point, but no fear, Amodel supply an additional small section of spine which must be cut to fill the gap. With the wings and fuselage assembled, it was time to tackle the four huge engines. Each inner engine is made up from no fewer than 21 parts forming the front intake with compressor blades, rear afterburner section with nozzle, plus the two barrel sections in the middle with the made-up sections at the top. Each intake trunk, complete with compressor face, was assembled and slotted into its respective ‘nosecone’ – which left a slight gap on the inside lip of each intake. After filling and sanding as best I could to eliminate the seam, the insides were painted silver. The outer, wingtip-mounted engines are slightly easier with just the front and rear assemblies fitting inside the two-part full-length nacelle. The outer engines have wheel wells that have to be added and both sets of engines have numerous scoops and intakes, all neatly moulded by Amodel. I did experience some confusion with the exhaust sections on the inner and outer nacelles – the shorter sections go on the inner engines. The outer engines are cemented directly onto the wingtips, but the inners have two-part pylons added and are supposed to just fit onto the underside of the wing. Even using superglue, there was no way that this would be strong enough, so I inserted two short lengths of brass rod to give a good solid joint. The two halves of the fin and horizontal tailplanes were cemented together and fitted to the fuselage, again using brass rod for strength and the clear canopy was added after dipping it in Klear to improve the clarity. Note that the fin on the M-50 is a one-piece, all-moving structure, so make sure that you leave a slight gap at the bottom!

Time to tackle the undercarriage Myasischev M-50

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The M-50’s bicycle undercarriage consists of two huge four-wheel bogies mounted fore and aft of the weapons bay with long outriggers retracting into bulged wingtips just inboard of the outer engine nacelles. To provide the necessary angle of attack, the front undercarriage leg is much longer than the rear – and on take-off the whole front bogie pivots about the leg so that only the rearmost pair of front wheels is actually on the runway – thereby further increasing the angle of attack. Amodel provide all of the parts to make up this complicated arrangement, although not for the extended bogie. The two outrigger assemblies are slightly easier, although for these I cut off the long oleo section and replaced it with a length of aluminium tube. I also drilled holes in the centres of the scissor-links on the outriggers for a more scale appearance.

Painting

Amodel’s painting guide is printed on four sides of A3 size paper and gives three choices of markings: an all silver M-50 with white undernose radome and bort number ‘blue 023’ as rolled out in 1958, bort number ‘blue 12’ with grey topsides and white undersurfaces with black trim on the nose and engine nacelles as painted for the Tushino flypast in 1961, and bort ‘blue 12’ again – this time in overall silver finish but retaining the black trim as she now appears at Monino.

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Nose assembly attached

The bays simply slot into place in the fuselage

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The dorsal spine assembly came up short – fortunately the kit provides a spare section that can be cut to fit

Each intake trunk, complete with compressor face, was assembled and slotted into its respective nosecone’

I am not sure if the first choice, bort 023, is legitimate, as when carrying this number, the inboard engines did not have the afterburners fitted, although there is some artwork (but not photographs) showing it with that number and afterburners. No matter, I already have quite a few all-silver Russian bombers in my collection, so I went for the neat grey and white scheme. The painting guide calls for Humbrol 127 Ghost Grey and 130 White, but, not wishing to invest in a dozen tinlets of paint, I used my old favourites Halfords Appliance White and Grey Plastic Primer. The white was sprayed first, after an undercoat of White Plastic Primer to check for any building flaws, following which the white areas were masked off and the Grey Primer applied to the upper surfaces.

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Aluminium tube was used to replace the oleos on the outriggers

The fronts of the engine nacelles were painted gloss black inside and out and although Amodel provide a decal for the upper nose I masked it off and painted it black. I did use the decals for the black flashes on the engines, though.
The only other colour is the long blade aerial on the starboard rear fuselage, and this was painted green as per the machine at Monino although it isn’t pointed out in the painting guide.
Amodel provide circular blanking plates for the front and rear of each engine nacelle, so I used two sets of them on the starboard engines, leaving the port engines open – the red painted blanking plates add a further dash of colour. The model was given a coat of gloss varnish, again from a can of Halford’s Acrylic Clear, ready for the application of the decals, which consist of six red stars, the bort number 12 on the forward fuselage and the black trim stripes on the engines. I used Johnson’s Klear on the decals and they settled down beautifully.

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Following a few mist coats, again using a rattle can of Games Workshop Purity Seal, which gives a nice satin finish, it was time to add the pre-painted undercarriage and doors. I added a few streaks of weathering using pastels, but kept it to a minimum as I was depicting a showcase machine. The Colour Police might look aghast at my choice of paints, but to me, they are close enough and saved lots of time and effort.
With the model now on its legs, I simply added the drop-down doors under the forward fuselage and fitted the assembled and painted ejection seats. This access arrangement causes a few comments from people who view the model and it certainly looks like a precarious way for the pilot and navigator to get into the aircraft as they must be all of 15 feet off the ground when transferring from the ladder onto the ejection seat -1 really must get around to making the two tall ladders to complete the display.

Conclusion

Amodel are to be congratulated on providing such esoteric subjects for us fans of Soviet and Russian aircraft. Whilst not the easiest of builds, they are far better than a vacform would be and with each new release the quality just gets better and better.
The only downside is the SIZE of these subjects – I now have their Sukhoi T4
Sotka, Antonov An-22 Cock, 11-38 May, and 11-76 Candid built, with the A-50 Mainstay and Myasischev 3M Bison in the pending pile, and I am running out of room!

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The outer, wingtip-mounted engines are slightly easier with just the front and rear assemblies fitting inside the two-part full-length nacelle

Brass rods were inserted to strengthen the engine pylon joints

With the addition of various intakes, the upper wing fences and the tail bumper, the main construction is essentially, complete

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Amodel provide all of the parts to make up the complicated Assembly is a little fiddly, but with care the end result looks The two outrigger assemblies are slightly easier undercarriage arrangement good

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Top of the outrigger leg

Starboard outrigger – note the circular hole in the scissor link

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Front undercarriage bogie – note the different wheels

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Starboard inner engine nacelle Nosewheel doors

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Anti-flutter weight on the starboard tailplane tip Large intake on the top of the port outer engine Also positioned on inner nacelle

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Rear four-wheel bogie and door

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This intake is on both sides of the nose

Intakes on the inner nacelle

Intake – on both sides under the wing

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Large intake on top of the outer engine Port inner engine

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Nose pitot probe – with AoA and Yaw vanes

Damaged aerial under the lower rear fuselage

Anti-flutter weight on the fin tip

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