H-K Models 1/32 B-17G Flying Fortress
KIT #: 01E04
PRICE: $298.00 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: New tool kit


          Anyone who doesn’t know about the Boeing B-17 will be unlikely to be interested in this kit.  Boeing’s “Flying Fortress” is likely the most-recognizeable American airplane from the Second World War, the nearly-mythological symbol of American determination to overcome against all odds.

          While the British Lancaster could carry a far larger bomb load than the relatively paltry 4,000 pounds the B-17 carried, and the B-24 Liberator could carry a larger bomb load further, the B-17 reigned supreme in the European Theater of Operations because it could fly higher and was tougher to shoot down than either of its heavy bomber competitors. (It also got the most press. Ed)

          First appearing in 1934 as Boeing’s answer to a U.S. Army Air Corps proposal for what was supposed to be a standard twin-engine bomber, the B-17 was as revolutionary as the previous B-9.  And at the outset just as successful, when the Air Corps decided to buy the Douglas B-18, a military development of that company’s DC-3 airliner, on the grounds that more could be acquired for the same price, Boeing and the Air Corps visionaries who saw the B-17 as the answer to their desire for a strategic bomber persisted in the development of the airplane.  Just in time for America’s direct involvement in the war, the B-17E - the first of the series deserving of the name “Flying Fortress” appeared.  By early 1943, Boeing, Douglas-Long Beach and Lockheed-Vega were producing the B-17F, followed that summer by the definitive B-17G.

           The B-17 is forever immortalized as the bomber that broke the back of Hitler’s Germany.


           Modelers had been joking for years that someone should bring out a 1/32 B-17.  Over the past summer, H-K Models did just that, releasing what is essentially a B-17G-80-BO and later series Flying Fortress. 

           The model has nearly 400 parts and when complete has a 40-inch wingspan, making it the largest plastic airplane model ever released.

           For further information, take a look at the test shot preview.


           Though the model looks intimidating in the box, it is really not that much more difficult a project than the 1/48 Monogram kit.  The main thing a modeler needs to proceed is a work area large enough to allow assembly and movement of the model.

           Before proceeding further, I want to say that as nice as all the photoetch detail sets are that Eduard is releasing, the truth is they are a waste of time, given that once the fuselage is assembled, one cannot see more detail than the bombardier’s pedestal in the nose and the seats in the pilot’s cockpit.  Rather than spend close to $100 on these sets, my advice is save that money to spend on another model.  The various decal sheets that have been released are, however, of great value to anyone who wishes to make something different than the airplane provided in the kit decals.  I used the excellent sheet from Zotz Decals to make B-17G-90-BO 43-38642 “Super Mouse” of the 323rd Bomb Squadron of the 91st Bomb Group.

           I spent about 10 days doing detail painting of the fuselage interior, which was mostly time misspent, since it is not possible to see all the nice wooden floors I did in the nose compartment, the cockpit, the radio room and the rear fuselage, other than the aforementioned bombardier’s pedestal.  Photos of those areas before the fuselage was closed up are included here for historical coverage.  In fact, one need not paint any of the interior aft of the radio compartment, since virtually nothing is visible other than the machine guns in the staggered waist windows.  Painting the rest of the interior needs no more attention to detail than would be given to the 1/48 Monogram kit.

           The instruction sheet can be confusing, since many of the detailed construction diagrams are very small.  I needed my Optivisor just to look them through.  I believe that originally H-K was going to include a DVD of instructions, which would have allowed a modeler to magnify whatever was needed.

           Once detail painting was over, I assembled the engines and inserted them in their cowlings.  I then proceeded to assemble the wings and horizontal stabilizer.  One thing to note is to be certain to get the exact fit with everything, because the assembly is very precise.  Do not leave any little sprue nibs on the parts.  I found a little difficulty getting the main gear wells into proper position - be sure they are as far forward as you can get them, there will be a “click” when it gets into the proper position.  I closed up the flaps, since I’ve never seen a B-17 sitting on the ground with the flaps down. 

           I glued the forward nose parts and the rear gun position parts to the separate fuselages before further assembly, to insure I got a good tight fit of the parts to minimize seams.  The instructions call for assembling the full main fuselage, the nose and the tail separately, then bringing them together.  Bob Swaddling followed this with his model and reports he had no seam problems but I still think my method insures better fit.  Looking back, I would also attach the windows at this point, so they can be worked on from both sides to get them firmly into position without any gaps or seams.

           All the interior parts fit without problem.  In restrospect, I would sand the various bulkheads to take them down just a bit, and would make their edges really smooth.  Doing this will pay dividends when it comes time to squeeze the right fuselage half over the left half with the interior glued in position.

           When I did glue the fuselage halves together, I really had to squeeze to get things to meet on the center line.  I glued down the centerline inch by inch, wrapping the fuselage tightly with strong rubber bands as I proceeded.  Even doing this, there was a noticeable centerline seam that required cyanoacrylate glue and a few applications of Mr.  Surfacer to get rid of.  This is where I think sanding down the bulkheads would improve the fit.  The cabin roof also has a seam all the way around, which I needed to use putty to cover.  After sanding everything smooth with varying fine sanding sticks, I then polished out the fuselage before rescribing panel lines and replacing lost rivet lines with my pounce wheel.

           I closed up the bomb bay on this model because its eventual destination was display at Planes of Fame Air Museum, where it would not be seen from the bottom, though having the doors open would have been an invitation to eventual damage as the model is moved over the years.

           Those eagle-eyed viewers will also notice that the cheek machine guns were misplaced.  They should go to the bottom opening, not the middle.  By the time I realized this mistake the fuselage was assembled, and I did not choose to try and pull the guns out through all the other glued-in detail to move them around.

           Many modelers have stated they intend to keep the wings and horizontal stabilizers unattached to the fuselage, so that the model can be stored when not displayed.  Indeed, these parts can be fitted to the fuselage without glue, but the problem is there are gaps along the attachments.  I ended up gluing this model together solidly, filling the seams along the attachment areas, sanding smooth and polishing, then rescribing lost detail.  Once the model was fully assembled, I found I could hang it on the wall by its tail with .010 flexible wire, and keep it away from trouble when not working on it.

           Once the wings and tail were attached, and the clear parts in position, it was time to paint the model.


           A modeler can do this B-17G in any scheme they want, so long as it is unpainted aluminum.  None of the late-series B-17s were painted in camouflage.  I opted to use Alclad on this, and I discovered that there is something about the plastic that inhibits full curing of the paint for an extended period, a problem I never had with these Alclad paints before.  I strongly recommend you give this model a good coat of grey primer before proceeding to paint it.  For one thing, it will allow you to insure you have gotten rid of those seams in the fuselage and in the wing-fuselage joints.

          After masking all the clear parts, I painted the anti-glare panels with Tamiya Khaki, which gives a good approximation of how late war Olive Drab faded under high-altitude UV light.  I painted the fabric control surfaces with Tamiya Flat Aluminum, and the vertical fin, horizontal stabilizer and wingtips with Tamiya Flat Red.  All this was then masked off and I proceeded to apply the Alclad.

          The outer wings of so-called “NMF” B-17s were actually painted with Aluminum lacquer, since the sub-contractors persisted in delivering them in OD/Grey long after the painting instructions had changed.  I used Alclad White Aluminum for this, and then applied a coat of Model Master Metalizer Sealer.  Doing this also then gave me two fairly substantial areas to hold on to while painting the rest.  I painted the area of the engine mounts immediately behind the cowlings with Tamiya Titanium silver, a dark color, and masked them.  The wings and fuselage were painted in large areas of either Alclad Aluminum or Dural Aluminum.  Then I “blotched” each area with the other color, to get the “blotchy” look I have seen with unpainted aluminum given long exposure to sunlight.

          The turbo exhausts were painted Tamiya Bronze, then drybrushed with Tamiya Copper, to get the burnished heated look shown in color photos.


           I unmasked the model, and applied Xtracylix gloss to the red area of the vertical fin, for decaling later.

          I then attached the engines to the mounts and glued them in position.  I also attached the Scale Aircraft Conversions metal landing gear, which I highly recommend.  The model is not that heavy, but the metal gear insures no problems.

          The Zotz decals went on without difficulty, snuggling down into the delicate surface detail with a couple coats of Solvaset. I then washed the model to get the decal residue off.  I used SuperScale’s “Flat Black” decal sheet to make the deicer boots on the wings.

          I then fitted the upper turret and the ball turret in position and glued them so they don’t move.

          The final thing was to attach the propellers and the gun barrels.


           The model is a stunner built right out of the box.  There is sufficient detail provided by the kit that aftermarket details are not needed, particularly since they will not be seen.  I did make seat pads for the pilot and co-pilot seats from putty, and they are visible.  For as big as it is, it is surprisingly light.  I recommend hanging it on the wall by its tail for displayl.  Hanging it from the ceiling will only result in it eventually being the biggest dust-catcher in your house.

          The model is an easy project for any moderately-experienced modeler willing to take their time in assembly.

          Highly recommended.

Tom Cleaver

November 2013 

Thanks to Neil Yan at H-K Models for providing the test shot.  Thanks to Eli Raphael at Zotz Decals for the review sheet. Thanks to Ross McMillan at Scale Aircraft Conversions for the metal landing gear. 

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