Convair XAB-1 "Beta-1" (1958)
Atomic-Powered Bomber Concept
PRODUCTION RUN: 2010-2012
About the Design
In the 1950s, America's defense industry explored several radical ways to gain air superiority over the rival Soviet Union. Convair's XAB-1 concept bomber employed two notions that were particularly fashionable during this Cold War period. One was the idea of atomic engines, power plants that could keep a plane airborne virtually indefinitely. (Conventional jet engines were still required for take-offs and landings.) The other idea was that of parasite fighters, high-performance jets that were carried with the bomber and then released over enemy territory to provide airborne defense.
Like many atomic-powered bomber designs of the period, the XAB-1 featured an extended fuselage to keep the crew as far from the atomic-powered engines as possible. The engines themselves were placed on the wingtips so they could be easily removed and serviced by ground crews. These engines would kick in only when the XAB-1 was actually in flight; take-offs and landings would be accomplished using conventional inboard jet engines.
Ultimately, the idea of atomic engines was scrapped when the notion proved too unwieldy and dangerous, while the parasite fighter notion was rendered obsolete by the perfection of mid-air refueling technology.
A classic 1:188 XAB-1 "Beta-1" was released by Hawk Models in 1959 and re-released in 1964. The model is considerably larger in 1:144, but will includes many details found on the original kit, including landing gear and two parasite fighters.
About the Model