Atomic Models 1/32 AGM-86B cruise missile

From time to time this large cruise missile model pops up on Ebay. I considered a couple of times to bid on one, but the near-total lack of information on the manufacturer or this specific model stopped me. My curiosity won in 2008, and I was the highest bidder for a still shrink-wrapped model.

The model

This is how the kit greets you after opening the box. I like the paper strap across the box, like older Japanese kits. The plastic bag contains the parts for the stand. Not shown is the four-page instruction sheet. No decals are included.

According to John Burns's PAK-20, Atomic Models existed between 1987 and 1989, and two models are listed: a Yak-15 and a Bell XF-1. Unmanned aircraft are not mentioned in PAK-20, hence the AGM-86B is not listed. The catalog number 32001 makes me think it was Atomic Models' first kit.
  The parts laid out roughly as they are meant to be assembled, with the fin and pitot tube in the left front. The wings and tail planes look awfully small compared to the body, but I'm pretty sure all the dimensions are OK. The model appears to be well-researched. The nose shape identifies the model as the production version. The prototypes had a rounded nose.

One peculiar error in the instructions is that the wings are shown with about 10 degrees of dihedral. I also found a sketch of various AGM-86 versions that shows 5 to 6 degrees of dihidreal ('The Evolution of the cruise missile', page 159).
This photo shows the typical detailing of the model. The resin has a metallic look to it. As usual with resin models, considerable attention needs to be spent on the mating surfaces. The shape of the rear lower fuselage is not correct. The model's width is continuous up the the rear of the horizontals. Photos of pylon-mounted AGM-86s show that there's a discrete step in the width just ahead of the horizontals. The 1/72 model by Projekts Model Company has this shape correct. I also think that the mounting points for the horizontals are set too low. It will be an interesting challenge to modify to model to the correct shape.  


The model does not contain decals. I designed a sheet for the flight test version, that had more markings compared to the operational version. Two funny things in the markings were the non-standard star & bars and the non-standard 'C' in FORCE with rounded corners. I copied the mistakes in the decals. The operational version used a much reduced set of markings, consisting of just the warnings.


In 2019, John Sabotta e-mailed me with the following:

I was surprised to see your web page covering the Atomic Models 1/32 AGM-86B cruise missile - surprised and somewhat nostalgic, as I worked for Atomic Models during it's brief existence, and I was the person responsible for the design of the box graphics and the painting of the missile. I suppose I must have done the instructions as well, which┬ makes me responsible for the error in the wing dihedral. I don't know whose idea it was to add the inside paper strap; it does look rather nice, doesn't it? I had forgotten about that. This was before computer desktop publishing; you paid by the line at a phototypesetting place to get your type to your specifications, had your artwork photographed on a stat camera to the desired size and used Chartpak tape for things like grids, which you then physically pasted up and gave to the printer. I had forgotten that we'd opted for a two-color label, which may have been a little extravagant. Although adding a second color didn't really cost all that much more. It was a long time ago...

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