Matchbox 1/72 B-17G Flying Fortress

KIT #: PK-603
PRICE: $
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Dan Lee
NOTES: 1979 Boxing

HISTORY

The B-17 Flying Fortress is one of the iconic aircraft of World War 2 and easily one of the most recognizable bomber type in the world (although fans of the Lancaster might have something to say about that.)

 

When it first flew in combat with the RAF in 1941, it was shown it didnít have enough guns, armor, and fuel.  This forced a major redesign of the Flying Fortress into the form most people recognize.

 

The B-17G was the last and ultimate version of the B-17 which was equipped with 13 .50 caliber machine guns and a typical bomb load of around 4,500 pounds.  Despite the pre war fantasies of the bomber generals and the best efforts of its gunners, the B-17 needed escorts to help protect it in daylight bomb missions over Europe against fighter attack.  The addition of fighter escort helped grind down the Luftwaffe to a shell of its former self and ďreducedĒ the dangers to ďjustĒ heavy flak.

 

One of the main strengths of the B-17 was its ability to take a horrific amount of damage and still bring its crew back home.  The stories became legends and even affected the morale of B-24 Liberator crews who did not have the faith in their plane as much as B-17 crews did in theirs.

 

The B-17 mostly served in the European and Mediterranean Theater of Operations as itís shorter range and smaller payload relative to the B-24 and B-29 proved to be a hinderance in the much larger Pacific Theater of Operations.

 

After the war, the now obsolete B-17 was quickly removed from military service.  Most were sold into scrap and the survivors became target tugs, drones, firebombers and/or VIP aircraft.

THE KIT

My example is a Matchbox original from 1979.  It comes in sprues of three colors (olive drab, grey and black) and one sprue of rather thick clear parts for a total of 98 parts.  The parts are relatively flash free (for the era) and on glossy plastic.  The detail is mostly raised with a few of the usual deep recessed lines that Matchbox was notorious for.

 

A couple of things I really like about this kit is that it provides an option for the original tail gun and the later Cheyenne tail gun and it has the staggered waist gunner positions which were done on the later production batches of the B-17G.

 

The interior is lacking aside from a couple of control sticks and seats, but considering the thickness of the clear plastic bits, I donít think that really isnít a problem except the nose where the lack of detail will be noticed.

 

The decals are a bit thick and rather yellowed with age.  I donít know how well these 30+ year decals will hold up.  It comes with markings for three different B-17s from the Med Theatre: two NMF and one with the earlier USAAF standard of Olive Drab over Neutral Grey. 

CONCLUSIONS

 

It is probably not as nice an offering as the Academy and Hasegawa 1/72 B-17s, but the kit is 30+ years old and comes from a different era of modeling.

 

It should build up into a nice example of a B-17.

Dan Lee

January 2010

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