|PRICE:||$25.00 MSRP for the most recent gun nose release|
|REVIEWER:||This is basically a group build.|
|NOTES:||Bombshell Decals used. History by Tom Cleaver|
Yossarian: “Is Orr crazy?”
Yossarian: “Then you can ground him?”
Doc Daneeka: “You got it, that's Catch‑22.”
During the Italian campaign from September 1943 to March 1944, the 340th
bombed airfields, railroads, bridges, road junctions, supply depots, gun
emplacements, troop concentrations, marshaling yards and factories in
The last great eruption of
As a result, the 340th Bomb Group was moved with the rest of
the fighter, bomber and reconnaissance units of the 57th Wing to the
island of Corsica, where they were far removed from any further peril from Mount
Vesuvius, and were also placed strategically to provide better support for the
Italian campaign as the lines moved through central Italy and on into the
northern half of the peninsula over the next year of the war, in addition to
positioning the aircraft to make raids on southern France and southern Austria.
So many Allied aircraft were based on
Following the move to
On the night of
Following this raid, many of the 340th B-25s were hurriedly camouflaged on their upper surfaces with what was likely British or Italian dark green paint applied roughly to the silver upper surfaces of these otherwise-unpainted aircraft, giving the unit a very distinctive look for the remainder of the war as the survivors continued to make their missions.
The 340th Bomb Group flew its last bombing mission on
Monogram’s 1/48 B-25 first appeared in 1975 (according to the copyright printed on the lower horizontal stabilizer), first showing up as the cannon-carrying B-25H gunship. The kit was re-released in 1981 as the glass-nose B-25J, and then appeared in around 1986 as the all-gun solid-nose B-25J strafer. It was then released in the late 1990s by Monogram’s Pro-Modeler program as the glass-nose early strafer. All of these kits have been re-released over the years, with the most current re-releases made by Revell of the Pro-Modeler strafer and just this past month with the solid-nose strafer.
Over the years, there have been many decal sheets released for these kits. There are none that are better or more interesting than the three sheets recently released by Bombshell Decals, providing markings for six B-25Js of the 340th Bomb Group.
These decals are so good that when I received the review sheets, I wanted to see them all done. Not wanting to create my own B-25 factory in the workroom, I sent the decals to several good friends who are good modelers, and asked them to do their take on the markings provided. And thus here we are with this “group review” of a sheet of decals and a celebration of one of the great “war horses” of scale modeling, the Monogram B-25J Mitchell.
Being He Who Had The Decals, I chose to do “Ruthie” from the 489th Bomb Squadron, 340th Bomb Group. As noted in the decal instructions, “Ruthie” was a real survivor, flying 108 missions between May 1944-April 1945; during this period, the 489th lost 75 aircraft, three times its assigned strength as a result of losses on missions or from unrepairable battle damage. Whoever the unknown artist was, the “Ruthie” nose art is perhaps one of the best nudes ever put on an airplane during the Second World War, and Bombshell Decals catches all the nuances of this piece of artwork beautifully.
My kit was one I had purchased at a show several years ago, that came out of the garage stash.
Assembly is straightforward. I assembled the wings with engine nacelles, and the tail surfaces before proceeding with the fuselage. I made sure when I did the engine nacelles to fill the space with as many flattened fishweights as I could put in ahead of the main gear, since the model needs all the help it can get; flattening the weights allows even more to be crammed in there. Luckily, the main gear legs are strong enough one doesn’t have to worry about harming them with the weight. I finished off the sub-assemblies by painting and assembling the engines, then attaching the cowlings with their individual exhaust stacks.
I proceeded with the interior painting. The bombardier’s position and the cockpit were done in Dull Dark Green, for which I used Tamiya “Deep Green” with some Black. The rest was done in Yellow Zinc Chromate, with the various electronic great done with Semi-Gloss Black and the rest in Olive Drab. You don’t see this in any detail when finished, so I did not spend a lot of time on detailing, other than to drybrush the instrument panel with Flat Aluminum.
Once I assembled the interior structure into the left fuselage half, I added as many flattened fishweights as possible into the nose wheel well, where they couldn’t be seen. The fuselage seemed nose heavy, so I taped the halves together and then slid the wings onto the spars; there would be no problem with nose sitting. With that, I glued the fuselage together, then attached the wings and tail, and the nose without the glass. I filled the “depression” around the wing attachment to the fuselage with cyanoacrylate glue, let it dry, then covered it with Tamiya “Mr. Surfacer” to fill it in. I applied Tamiya “Mr. Surfacer” to all other seams, and when dry sanded them smooth. I finished all that by rescribing the main panel lines with a #11 X-acto.
I carefully test-fitted the bombardier’s canopy and cockpit canopy, then sanded the edges so there was a good fit, and attached the glass, all of which had been previous dipped in Future. I left off the waist windows and the turret.
One thing important to note with the turret: there is no metal framing!
You don’t need to paint anything!
What looks like “framing” is plexiglass strip that was glued over the
seams of the individual parts in the production. Leave all that alone, the
raised detail is perfect. Just dip
it in Future. Then, once you have
the turret attached, fill in the slots with white glue.
On the real thing, these are fabric zippers, that run up and down as the
guns are elevated and depressed.
Once that is dry, paint it olive drab and you have the turret right.
99.9999% of modelers get this wrong because they have never seen the real
turret, but we have several out at
The Bombshell decals say that the lower surfaces of these airplanes were painted grey. Every photo I could find of these airplanes says that is wrong. They arrived in NMF and the upper camo was applied in the field, with the lower surfaces still in NMF. I had a long series of e-mails on this with Mike Kloppenburg, who created the decals, and he agrees.
I first painted the cowlings yellow, then masked them off, then painted the anti-glare panels on the cowlings and nose with Deep Green, then painted the entire model with Talon acrylic Aluminum. I masked the model with borders around the bombardier, cockpit and tail gunner canopies, as well as the border of the upper colors. and then painted the upper surfaces with Xtracrylix “RAF Dark Green” which I post-shaded a bit. I had decided to do “Ruthie” as she would have looked shortly after the repaint. When that was dry, I gave the upper surfaces a coat of Xtracrylix Gloss Varnish.
Photos of these airplanes show the upper surfaces to be very flat in finish, so I gave the upper surface a coat of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish with a brushful of Tamiya Flat Base.
I finished off by unmasking the glass, attaching the wheels, bomb racks, bomb bay doors, and props.
I had the Monogram B‑25J kit on the shelf for close to 20 years, maybe a few more. It was produced in the days that Monogram furnished decals that were in good registration but were printed on very glossy material that usually defied most setting solutions. Although I liked the markings for "Pancho," I decided to wait for better markings. Over the years, my interest in late‑war Mitchells waned and the kit continued to discover dust. When I heard of the Bomb Shell decals for Corsican B‑25s I decided it was time to resurrect the old kit and rekindle my interest. It fell to me to do "Stuff," an aircraft from the 445th Bomb Squadron whose only outstanding quality seems to have been the beautiful nude pin‑up girl painted on her nose.
I've got to say that the decals were some of the best I've used. The
separated from the backing sheet quickly and cleanly.
very opaque but not thick and reacted very well Micro Sol
setting solution. I experienced a little silvering with the large white
tail figure but some work with the point of a new #11 blade and a little extra
Micro Sol solved the problem. I'll have to try their new series of B‑25 decals
for my 1/72 Hasegawa B‑25J
I rescribed the upper surfaces of the wings and all of the fuselage
mainly because I removed a lot of the raised detail getting the seams to level
out. I also discovered that during the past 20 plus years, several parts,
particularly those around the nose had warped! Getting the clear parts to line
up required some temporary spreaders and some patience while the plastic
Like many tricycle gear kits, this one wanted to be a tail‑sitter. Fortunately, there's a good space for weight in the nose‑gear well and in the bombardier's crawl space. After several tries, I finally got the model to sit properly.
Other than fiddling around with the order of construction, building the
model was easy. I added all the guns late in the process because I really hate
to break things in handling. The only exception was the nose gear which had to
be added early on and yes, I broke it. I drilled a small hole in each part,
added a small piece of brass wire and CA, and the strut was good as new.
I attached most of the clear parts with Gator's Grip Hobby Glue. The nose
cap with the fixed .50 cal was attached with jeweler's cement. I like this
cement for clear parts because it holds well, dries very clear, and can be
cleaned up with alcohol. It doesn't attack the clear styrene!
"Stuff" was delivered in natural metal and probably remained so until a
Luftwaffe raid on the airfield easily picked out the uncamouflaged B‑25s. A coat
of either British dark green or
I finished my Monogram kit with Alclad Duraluminum on all lower surfaces and Polly Scale Olive Drab 42 on the upper surfaces. Since these aircraft were well used, I weathered mine a bit with darkened paint around the engine nacelles.
Bomb Shell's decals include color photographs as well as color profiles so the choice of paints is pretty well narrowed down.
My set of Bombshell decals featured "Solid
I found my decals to be in
perfect register, opaque and with little or no carrier film. When I applied them
they all snuggled down provided that enough future had been brushed onto the
model along with some decal setting
solution had been used on the decals. I had no problems with the Stars and Bars
or the Pin‑up girl but, when I added the lettering for "Solid
I also found the ID number 9Q on the tail to be too big. The letter "Q" should not cover the trim tabs on the rudder . I looked a photo taken by Eddie Little showing "Solid Jackson" flying in formation with a P‑51 and the markings on the tail as a reference and I also looked at some photos of the Mid Atlantic's Air Museums B‑25 "Briefing Time". So I got some frisket paper and made stencils and sprayed white paint on for the number 9 and Q.
To sum it up Bombshell's
representation of "Solid
This is a bomber group I was not very familiar with. The 12th Army Air Force, mostly American but notably including the Brazilian 1st Fighter Squadron is an interesting subject. Looking at the subject of this decal set, the 489th Bomb Squadron, a wide variety of markings is available. It seems no two aircraft are painted identically, and some very quirky subjects are available. There are controversies about which paint colors were applied in the field and many planes sport unique color highlights and nose art. This is all very fun for a modeler.
“Briefing Time,” later “Quitting Time” at war’s end, was 340th BG 489th BS ‑ SN 43‑27638. Colors were often field applied, and Briefing Time may have been British Dark Green or American Olive Drab. I chose British Green, as it was more interesting and it seemed more “field applied” to me. Applied over bare aluminum, the paint easily chipped away, particularly considering the flak these bombers flew through.
Building the Monogram B‑25J kit is not without its tricky spots. I decided to build this out‑of‑the‑box to simplify the review. I wasn’t asked to review the well‑known kit, but new decals and new paint. I’ll pass along a few observations, though, to help fellow builders.
Fitting the interior has a few tricky spots. The bombardier’s seat positioning is not clear, and may interfere with the 50‑cal gun. Assemble the bombardier area before adding the seat. The bomb racks seem a bit too long for their position. Wait until the area is assembled before adding them. The turret sub‑assembly may be added after fuselage assembly if you nip off most of the locking mechanism at the post’s base. This makes painting much easier.
Fuselage assembly is a bit tricky, the halves seem misaligned with a step
joint. If you’re comfortable with
doing so, remove the pins and sand the sides flush.
I did not, and had to do some joint sanding and correction.
It’s pretty straightforward and Gunze Sangyo’s Mr. Surfacer or Aves
Apoxie Putty served the function.
After that filling I decided to scribe the fuselage instead of trying to
replicate the raised panel lines.
Most panels on B‑25s were overlapping, not butting, so make your own decision
about which looks better .
I packed the hollow beneath the cockpit with lead sinker weights and epoxy putty. I got very close to the weight required, but did need to add some additional weight behind the engines. The engine nacelle fit isn’t great, so I sanded them down for another Aves treatment. It’s great for this purpose, as smoothing with alcohol then water meant I didn’t need to sand.
Fortunately, the clear parts fit very well. Little surface correction was required after gluing them in place with Elmer’s White Glue. This was a pleasant surprise. I used Eduard’s mask set and was highly impressed. The tape is similar to Tamiya Tape. It can be removed and re‑positioned if necessary, cuts easily with a sharp curved blade where necessary and after painting removes easily without taking paint with it. This mask set is well worth the money. I left the fuselage windows off to paint separately and later mount the guns. Their excellent fit allowed this preferred method.
The interior is two different colors. Zinc Chromate interior green in the cockpit and (I think) the tail gunner’s position. I also used this color on the turret interior. The rest of the interior is the yellow chromate color. The bomb bay is bare aluminum, I painted it at the same time as the exterior. Here are the major colors I used:
Interior Green: Gunze Sangyo Acrylic H58; Yellow Chromate: Tamiya Yellow Green XF‑4 brightened with Tamiya Flat Yellow XF‑3 (don’t worry too much about this you see very little when the plane is assembled); Aluminum: Alclad Aluminum over Alclad’s Black Primer: Fuselage green: Acrylicos Vallejo Model Air 71049 Dark Green lightened and darkened with Vallejo Black and White; Washes: Acrylicos Vallejo Wash 73200 Sepia and 73201 Black; Tires and propellers: Gunze Sangyo Acrylic H77 Tire Black ; Oil stains: Gunze Sangyo Acrylic H342 Oil;
Gun Barrels: Reaper Pro Paints 08111 Gun Metal; Flat Clear: PolyScale Acrylic Flat Clear
Generally speaking, painting was straightforward. I did test the Alclad over both Gunze Sangyo 1000 spray‑can and the Alclad black. I found the black superior for random appearance and stressed look. If you need a uniform paint color, the gray Gunze is fine. I used Blue‑Tak to provide a soft mask delineation and taped over that. While painting, I temporarily attached the engine cowls. Since the aircraft had a lot of paint chipping, I used the salt‑weathering technique. Make sure you have a way to clean up the excess moisture. You can do this with makeup sponge‑brushes, and can do this after drying. You will see the salt residue you need to remove.
I found the
When removing the salt you do need to be careful. I just use my fingers but I do wear gloves. After removing crystals I clean the areas with the foam applicators and water. I also look carefully at the spots Blue‑Tak was used, to make sure no residue remains.
I applied Future acrylic floor polish with the foam applicators only to
areas decals would go. One coat was
sufficient. The decals are
top‑notch. I really need to avoid
hyperbole here, but they’re among the best I’ve had the pleasure to use.
They wet quickly, are resilient enough to hold up to positioning and
settle down very nicely. I used a
bit of Microscale’s Micro Set beneath the decals and for most of them, this was
all I found necessary. For some
trickier places, like the rudder joints and conforming over the position lights
on the vertical stabilizers, I used a little Walther’s Solvaset.
The decals responded very nicely
After a little wash application in the regular spots like elevator and
aileron joints I was ready for Dullcoat.
I prefer PolyScale’s clear flat coat, but it does need to be diluted and
applied in very fine coats. It does
not forgive over‑application, so go easy.
If you do it right, it’s the best acrylic Dullcoat I’ve ever used.
The moment of truth for any decal is Dullcoat.
Absolutely no silvering showed up after Dullcoat.
I was very happy.
Lastly, but certainly not least apprehensively, I removed the masks from the clear parts. Again, I was happily surprised. Unlike many vinyl masks the Eduard tape masks pulled up easily and cleanly. A little cleaning with the foam applicators and water removed any stray flakes.
I built this model in record time, partly because I decided to build out‑of‑the box (OOB). Monogram’s bombers are great choices for OOB building. Their fit is usually good, and interior detail is often quite good. One disappointing area of this kit is the bombardier area, which notably omits many details of this “office” area. It’s too bad, really, as the greenhouse is so prominent and visibility inside here is great. Another reason the build went so quickly was the great performance during finishing. Vallejo’s paint worked well, Alclad’s paints worked well, and the decals were a pleasure to use.
I highly recommend the Bombshell Decals, you won’t be disappointed.
This is a great subject for the iconic B‑25 Mitchell and gives the
modeler something to show off with simple weathering techniques.
While OOB, I find a little extra money spent on decals and items like
Eduard’s masks are well spent.
The Monogram B-25 is one of my all-time favorite kits.
I built it as a B-25H when it first came out (that model is now long
gone) and then as a gun-nosed J (which sits in my case to this day) in its
second release, using the short-run nose once produced by IPMS.
But I’ve never built a glass-nosed B-25 until now.
The kit went together reasonably well for me, the only sticking points being of my own making. From past experience, I knew that the wing roots were not quite thick enough to completely fill the depressions molded for them in the fuselage sides. After gluing the wing tops to the bottoms, I wedged a thin strip of .030 plastic into the roots to make the sections a little thicker. With this modification, the wings fit the fuselage with no filler needed. I also added detail to the intakes outboard of each nacelle. This consisted of a few bits of plastic sheet each to box in the intakes. The nacelles fit the wings pretty well but I improved the fit by adding a sprue spacer inside each nacelle to widen it until it fit the wing better. Doing this allowed me to reduce the amount of filler necessary to blend the nacelles into the wings. I was able to accomplish this with just a little Mr. Surfacer. I hate filling seams and will go a long way around the problem to avoid it.
One of the areas in which I built-in trouble for myself was the engine cowlings. I wanted to use a set of resin cowlings that had much better shape and excellent exhaust detail. Since they were not made for the Monogram kit, I had to devise my own mounting scheme. I ended up cutting the Monogram cowl flaps from their mounting plates and attaching them to the aftermarket cowls. Then I added the intake pieces to the wings and the engine mounts, along with the engines, to the fronts of the nacelles. Each cowl was then attached at three points: at the top to the intakes and at the 120-degree and 240-degree points (working around the inside of the cowl from the top center position) with small plastic tabs inside of the resin cowl. In all, it was far more work than it needed to be due to my poor prior planning.
The fuselage interior was painted interior green with details painted in various shades. I did no extra detailing or weathering inside the fuselage, since little can be seen once the halves are joined. Since I had an older kit, I scavenged another pilot’s seat from a second kit for the copilot’s position. For the nose compartment, I used the kit piece for the right-hand side, since it has fairly good ammo box and fixed gun detail. For the left side, however, I used the corresponding part from the AM B-25 kit which has much better detail.
One problem this generated for me, though, was the fit of the Norden bombsight. The bombsight in the Monogram kit appears to be a little too big for 1/48 scale and initially interfered with the fit of the left side panel. I carved it down in several places and moved its locator until everything slotted into place. In the future, when I build another glass-nosed J, I think I’ll replace the sight with a smaller version.
Continuing in the nose compartment, I added some detail to the flexibly-mounted .50 caliber machine gun and glued it to the inside of the nose transparency. I removed the barrels from both guns in the nose compartment since I intended to replace them with better barrels from Quickboost. My sequence for building the nose was the attach the two clear parts together first, then add them as a unit to the detailed compartment piece. This left me with a complete nose section to add to the completed fuselage.
The construction sequence for me from this point on was to close the fuselage halves, attach the horizontal tail and fill the seams, attach the nose compartment, attach all of the remaining clear parts, and then attach the wings. To this assembly I attached the vertical tail pieces after I had masked and sprayed the red tips (undercoated in white, of course). I did not rescribe the airframe. Any raised lines I lost in filling and sanding were restored by lightly running a sharp #11 blade once over the plastic to raise the very slightest edge. It’s a good representation of the very fine Monogram raised lines. This left me ready to paint the airframe.
I used Floquil Old Silver for the basic airframe. I sprayed the entire airframe silver, intending to do a lot of chipping through the final upper coat. For the British dark green, I used a tin of Humbrol Matt 30, a replacement in their line for the old HB2 color. The patch for the nose art was sprayed through a mask, the shape for which is provided in the decal instructions. The remainder of the green was sprayed freehand using my favorite Paasche H airbrush. I didn’t preshade the upper surfaces, but did spray the topcoat sparingly, leaving some areas better coated than others. I also went back later and sprayed a slightly lightened green to break up the monotone effect.
The only other color on the airplane is the faded green antiglare panel forward of the windscreen. This was painted with Humbrol Matt 78.
I attempted some chipping using tape to pull up bits of paint. This worked well (I think) on the cowl fronts, but very badly on the upper wing. The tape tended to pull either too little or way too much paint off. I compromised by pulling up a little bit and rubbing off some more with a blunt toothpick, and eventually ended up respraying several areas where the chipping looked too heavy for my taste.
After a coat of Humbrol clear gloss, I applied the decals.
Bombshell supplied all of the unique markings for
The Bombshell decals were a pleasure to work with. They went on well and the white for the tail numbers was sufficiently opaque. The nose art is a real treat – very realistic, I’d say!
From there, clear coat, black wash, flat coat and some additional weathering, and then I added all the remaining bits. One other area I’d like to point out is the gear struts. I painted these using a sort of drybrush technique. I used Testors Metalizer Stainless Steel applied drybrush fashion. It doesn’t look very good initially, but if you keep going, all of a sudden the struts take on a shine that looks a lot like metal. It’s a technique I picked up on an Australian website where the modeler drybrushed an entire 1/48 P-51D and achieved a wonderful result.
This won’t be my last B-25 – after all, there are 5 more schemes available from Bombshell. Their decals are beautifully printed and go on very easily, laying down into and over surface detail with no problems. I recommend these decals with no reservations.
Monogram’s B-25 is one of the “old dependables” that can be trusted to turn into a nice model with a modicum of effort. The Corsican B-25s of the 340th BG can provide a modeler with a lot of opportunity to do anything from an airplane freshly repainted to an old faded veteran of 100+ missions, which means a lot of good fun for the “artists” among us.
Models courtesy of the our
collective wallets. Decals courtesy
of Bombshell Decals. Get yours at
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Review Index Page