Revell 1/72 B-17F 'Bomber Command'

KIT #: 4338
PRICE: $
DECALS: One Option
REVIEWER: Greg Ewald
NOTES: Old style kit

HISTORY

 I am not going to bore you with yet another recitation of just how wonderful the 17 was, instead, I am going to bore you with what could have been:

 Outside of San Francisco, 1943

 Grant pulled the plane up out of the low clouds,  the heavy four-engine bomber had been scraping the waves on the last patrol pass. With visibility so low, it was tough on the pilots, and easier on the submarines looking for transport or merchant vessels to sink.

“Skipper, we have weather clearing to the north, it looks like this stuff is going to burn off.”  The intercom was still crackly between the navigator’s station and his cramped cockpit, he’d have to make sure the ground crew fixed that when they went back to the base.

Now that they were above the fog and cloud cover, he could see the Bay Bridge in the distance. Maybe he could get a day off and go fishing sometime soon, if he was lucky.

Grant chuckled to himself, “Yeah, if pigs had wings.”  Of course, he was better off than most of his chums, since he was a star, the military had chosen to keep him from going overseas.  Testing out the new ship and sub hunter plane had turned into a media event, just yesterday he had a Movietone crew aboard for the entire flight, jabbering throughout the day.

A loud squawk came over the headset. “ Detecting something directly beneath us, large. Are there any scheduled ships in the area?” Grant looked to his right, and the copilot shook his head, “No.”

“Better drop down again then, I should have brought my fishing pole!”

He eased the stick, and the plane gently headed down into the cloud cover once again.

“Holy C !”  Just in front of them was a massive submarine, as long as a freighter, with an airplane on it’s back. The markings were American, but he knew they didn’t have any military boats like this. The sharp eyed copilot spied the flag flying from the aft. “They’re Japs!”

Grant could see the crew frantically trying to ready the guns as he swung back around, the 37mm cannon in the nose pointed straight at the sub’s tower. “ Ready the torpedoes, and get set to drop the charges.” Test plane or not, this was one Japanese sub that would never see home. “Fire”The nose of the bomber erupted in light, and two torpedoes dropped from the wings, most of the men in the submarine would never know what hit them.

THE KIT

Yep, it is molded in olive drab. Yep, the clear parts are massive and clunky, to say the least. Ill fitting? Please!  This is molded for the obvious ceiling-hanger / kid toy market, with miserable detail, off the mark instructions, and moveable bits.

Nonetheless, don’t just dismiss it as a pile of junk and trash it, kits like this can be a virtual playground for the newbie, the B-17 addict, or the whatifmodeler.

It goes together easily, and for vrooming around the yard, could easily be built over the weekend. I decided to go a step further.

The plastic itself is quite nice, crisply molded rivets are in abundance here, and it is easy to sand. (thank the heavens) The clear bits are best replaced, as they are about one foot in scale thickness, and while I am all for armored canopies, this just goes too far.

CA glue and a bunch of putty, some sanding sticks and paper, let’s rock!

CONSTRUCTION

This was yet another of my stash purchases from a garage sale that I came close to giving to the neighborhood kids for bb practice, but then I caught a bit on U-boats from a research project that remarked on the sinking of a sub from torpedoes launched by a B-17. My WHIM (whatifmind) went into overdrive, and I immediately thought of a beautiful early war 17 all done up in silver, blue and yellow!

Digging out the kit from the closet, I saw that I was going to need some putty. Hey, big surprise, they don’t sell one part Bondo at Checker auto parts here in Arizona anymore! I ended up at Autozone getting some no name brand that is the same thing, in a massive tube. Yes, I would be needing it to fill in the gaps that occurred all over the plane.

1:Cleaning:  You might be surprised, but there was a huge amount of time spent cleaning flash off of the plastic on this styrene-betty ! Wash, scrape, and sand were the order of the day. With the rivets and the excess goo off the plane parts, it was time to break out the glue and go to town.

 2:Fuselage:  This kit is a total yawn for any of you who appreciate interiors, but hey, that gives you superdetailing gurus room to grow, right?  The cockpit is nothing more than a slab of plastic with some lawn chairs, but that is o.k., since the windshield is so narrow that it renders the interior invisible. How did those pilots see out of that thing? I was going to do a solid nose to house the massive cannon, so I didn’t bother with detailing any of the front canopy, either. The belly turret was filled and sanded smooth, to become part of the submarine detection gear, and the upper turret vacced out as a solid observation housing. It took a fair amount of tape and rubber bands to hold the fuselage together while the ca glue set up.

 I used a piece of styrene tube to make the Magnetic Anomaly Detector, and filled in the rear gunner’s position with putty.

 3: Wings:   The separately molded flaps are neat, and the wing surfaces mated together fairly well, though I did use some clothespins to clamp the edges tight. Once dry, the control surfaces were mated to the fuselage, and the tedious bit of puttysandrepeat came into play.

 4: Weapons:  I kit bashed a torpedo using some spares, then cast them in resin. At first, I was going to mount 2 on each wing pylon, but decided that a mixture of torps and depth charges would give the B-17M more versatility for hunting subs. The depth charges were scratchbuilt, molded, and cast while I was doing the torpedoes.  I found the pylons in my massive spare parts bin,  they fit perfectly to the contours of the wing. I did paint and finish  of the entire pylon assembly prior to attaching them to the airplane, the thought of screwing around with all of those little pieces made me nervous.

With the solid nose, I drilled two holes head on: one for the 37mm cannon, and another for the smaller 20mm that would have been filled with tracer rounds for night combat. The 20 could have been used to pinpoint the target, then you’d open up the 37 for serious damage.  I left off the waist guns, the kit issue were little more than sticks, and I didn’t want to spend any more money on this build.

I cast a resin nose pod and put it on the chin, you can’t have enough radar!

COLORS & MARKINGS

To me, the prettiest planes of all time were those of the pre or early war American Navy. Vibrant yellow, deep blue, and varnished metal.  With this being an experimental craft, it seemed natural to finish it this way.

I had also been entertaining the thought of using some different stains on a few projects, but wanted something inexpensive to try them out on, and here was the opportunity.

The whole craft was primed in Krylon Automotive Light Gray, then sprayed with Krylon Metallic Silver. Once this had cured overnight, the fuselage was masked off and the wings sprayed with Rustoleum Summer Squash.  After everything was dry, it was time to attempt the woodstain idea, so I broke out a few cans of Minwax wood stains and started in.

I found that by painting a line, then dragging back from that line with a q-tip, you can achieve a pretty neat panel effect on the surface. Blotting with a piece of cloth, any areas that are overdone can be easily removed.  When you burnish the silver finish, it gives off a good look of tarnished metal, perfect for what I wanted.

You do have to let the oil based wood stain dry for at least 24 hours prior to handling or sealing, or face some serious orange peeling!

Decals came from a Superscale sheet for a Catalina, and the stripes were airbrushed on the tail. Accurate? No, but I do really like the look of this fantasy plane.

CONCLUSIONS

Don’t get this model if you are serious about doing a realistic B-17, but if you want to have fun with a chop-shop version, or need something to chase around the yard, this one fits the bill.

REFERENCES

Uh, none, other than my fevered imagination.

Greg Ewald

March 2008

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