By Fred Boucher
with kit history by Alan Bussie
In the chill of the Cold War a golden age of aviation inspired many new aerospace vehicles, including surface-to-air missiles. One was the supersonic, long-range anti-aircraft Bomarc missile. The USAF originally categorized it as a fighter aircraft and designated it F-99. Later they re-designating it IM-99A and IM-99B after 1955, and finally CIM-10 after the McNamara Sept. 1962 dumb-down.
Bomarc Base #1 with missiles in launch position (courtesy Wikipedia)
Most of these kits came out before I was born so perhaps it isn’t so strange that I never saw them at my hometown hobby outlets. In fact, I was not even aware that many existed until the advent of online sites.
Aurora wasted little time detecting and acquiring information to cut tooling and produce injection molded models of those contemporary subjects. Their goal was to be to market first with the latest – and they were! The Boeing “Bomarc IM-99 Intercepter- [sic] Missile With Mobile Launching Platform- Newest Weapon for America’s Defense” was released in 1958. Aurora scaled it to 1/48. It was packaged in an Aurora standard “long box” carton, a sturdy cardboard conventional lid-tray design. Dramatic box art shows a Bomarc searing skyward from its launcher into the atmosphere to smite commie inbounds. In an effort to maximize mold utilization, Aurora issued this model as two kits (just like the Regulus II). 377-198, the subject of this review, was the Bomarc with a working launching. At nearly double the price, this kit featured completely new box artwork, decals and instructions. The traditional Aurora stand was not included, presumably because the launcher doubles as one.
377-198 Bomarc with Launcher and 131-98 Bomarc Missile (only) @1958
131-98 was issued in 1958 and features the Bomarc Missile only, along with the traditional Aurora ‘Triangle Base’ clear stand, decals and instructions.
The very short production life of these kits greatly contributes to their rarity. While Revell, Monogram and Aurora all witnessed very high initial missile sales, this was a bubble only. The sales quickly collapsed. When the 1961 catalog came out, the missiles were gone – lasting no more than 3 years at the very most.
Although restrained by packing tissue paper, the sprues were loose in the box which means that several pieces could be expected to be rolling around loose. Later Aurora kits were internally bagged. Instructions and decals were included, and occasionally a promotional insert.
This kit is essentially two models in a box, the missile and the launcher, with more than 60 injection molded pieces to build up this subject, in white and silver plastic.
Bomarc – 16 pieces including boosters
Missile parts (click to enlarge)
Launcher – 50 pieces
Launcher parts (click any to enlarge)
Molding is fair in that most parts are well defined with no flash, a few slight mold seams and shallow sink holes. However, visible ejector marks mar parts, such as along the leaf springs of the launcher. I test-fitted the fuselage together and found most of the seams joined tight. Liquid cement should fill them with little need for filler.
Fuselage Fit (click to enlarge)
Bomarc appears close to 1/48 as advertised by Aurora.
Raised and recessed panel lines detail the surface although there doesn’t appear to be much in the way to represent. After the fashion of the era Aurora molded markings and insignia with raised textured areas on the model. On this model those eyesores might be difficult to remove from the rocket. It will probably take time and effort to remove them.
Missile parts detail (click any to enlarge)
It has respectable surface detail for the frame, wheels and springs. However, Bomarc was not fired from a mobile launcher, rather from a hardened shelter nicknamed “coffin.” Thus, this fanciful “mobile launcher” is actually the Bomarc transportation trailer – which did elevate and lower, possibly to assist in loading the missiles into the “coffins.”
Parts detail (click any to enlarge)
Instructions, Decals, Painting
Aurora printed up a large multifold paper sheet with text, line art and half-tone illustrations. One side is the assembly instructions and the other side advertises all of their models, with focus on their series “Whirlybirds,”, “Giant Bombers,” “Modern Day Fighters” and “Famous Tanks.” Aurora always used left-over white space to market their own brand of paint and glue too.
Advertising and Bomarc history (click to enlarge)
Assembly is guided via the “exploded” style of illustration. Several illustrations coach building the F-99, the launcher, and joining of the two. Thirty-one written steps support the graphics. A concise history of the vehicle is included in a sidebar. Minimal painting guidance is provided.
(click any to enlarge)
Only a single missile is offered on the decal sheet. Decals have thicker carrier film that extends farther from the printed graphics than is acceptable today. Yet they are sharply printed and registered. All of those markings were intended to be applied over the textured areas. Before using any of these older decals, please take appropriate precautions. There is an article located here about saving or recreating old decals.
The two Bomarc decal sheets (click any to enlarge)
Aurora’s Bomarc is acceptably molded. Thick parts and some ejector marking on the launcher suspension detract from the model, as do those thoughtful yet unappreciated raised insignia areas.
As with other Aurora missile and rocket kits I have reviewed, the quality of molding is not up to today’s standards compared to some of the modern manufacturers. Also like those other Aurora missile and rockets, if you have one of these kits, treat yourself and build it. I think it would be a very interesting addition for your Cold War air defense collection.
Bomarc in launching position
Bomarc was quite a piece of hardware for the time. Bomarc ‘A’ was launched with a liquid-fuel booster, guided by an electron-tube based radar and computer. ‘B’ model boosters were solid-fuel with a transistor based guidance radar and computer.
A Bomarc B test intercepted a Mach II Regulus II cruise missile flying at 100,000 ft in March, 1961!
Incredible film footage of a test Bomarc passing by a QB-47 Stratojet target drone (click to enlarge)
* The supersonic Bomarc missiles (IM-99A and IM-99B) were the world’s first long-range anti-aircraft missiles, and the first missiles that Boeing mass produced. The program also represented the first time Boeing designed and built launch facilities. It used analog computers, some of which were built by Boeing and had been developed for GAPA experiments during World War II. Authorized by the Air Force in 1949, the F-99 Bomarc prototype was the result of coordinated research between Boeing (Bo) and the University of Michigan Aeronautical Research Center (marc). The missiles were housed on a constant combat-ready basis in individual launch shelters in remote areas. The alert signal could fire the missiles around the country in 30 seconds. The Model A had a range of 200 miles, and the B, which followed, could fly 400 miles. The production IM-99A first flew on Feb. 24, 1955. Boeing built 700 Bomarc missiles between 1957 and 1964, as well as 420 launch systems. Bomarc was retired from active service during the early 1970s. Specifications First flight: Feb. 24, 1955 Military designation: IM-99A/IM-99B Classification: Missile Wingspan: 18 feet 2 inches Diameter: 35 inches Length: 45 feet Approx. takeoff weight: 16,000 pounds Top speed: More than Mach 2.5 Range: More than 400 miles (IM-99B) Ceiling: More than 80,000 feet Power: 50,000-pound-thrust solid-fuel rocket (takeoff); two 12,000-pound-thrust Marquardt ramjet engines (cruise) Armament: Nuclear warhead**
*”Bomarc Missile.” *Boeing: Bomarc Missile*. Boeing., n.d. Web. 25 Nov.