Monogram 1/48 B-25H Mitchell
KIT #: 5500
PRICE: $Free (well, I paid shipping)
DECALS: one option
NOTES: You know, there’s a reason why started kits can drive you nuts…


The North American B-25 Mitchell is regarded by many to one of the finest if not the finest allied medium bomber of World War II.  It was capable of being modified both at the factory and in the field to work a multitude of tasks and missions.  From launching off of the USS Hornet to strafing the Imperial Japanese Navy into submission this aircraft proved its mettle time and again.  The H model in particular was a real beast.   This was an improved version of the B-25G featuring two additional fixed .50 in machine guns in the nose and four in fuselage-mounted pods (theses were added later on).  The M4 cannon was replaced by a lighter 75 mm cannon.  Approximately 1,000 were built.  However I do not know if this number includes any aircraft converted in the field.  At this time there is only one H model left I existence and it is completely restored and in flying condition.


To date there have three different boxing of the H and J series.  These are the cannon nose H, solid nose J and clear bomber-nose J.   Various re-boxings of the J have been released over the years by both Monogram and (later on) Revell.  The J has had parts for both versions packaged together but the H has not been re-released nor have its parts been included in any other re-boxing that I know of.   I received this kit from Scott in a Zip-Loc bag.  It had no box, no decals and photo-copied instructions.  Assembly had been started at some point so some parts were on the sprues, some were off and others glued into place (more on that later).  The sprues are molded in a filed drab color and are representative of Monogram kits of the day.  By this I mean no flash, fine raised details with a very detailed interior and cockpit.  The clear sprue was cleanly cast and no distortion is present.  The instructions are very clear and concise about part placement and colors.  The kit decals were not included but I do recall that they are typical of Monogram decals of this era…colorful but thick and difficult to get to conform/lay down properly.  The kit sheet does come with stencils as well.  The Zotz decals for this particular aircraft were sent to me by fellow modeler Jim McLaughlin.  They are very well printed and opaque.  The color instruction sheet offered only a side profile for placement and notes.


First up was to assess the damage.  The wings had been glued together with the landing gear in place.  The engines and cowlings were also assembled as were the nacelles/gear bays.  However, these sub-assemblies had not been glued together.  The exhaust stacks had been glued the cowlings and the rudders had been assembled and glued to the horizontal stabilizer (and were broken off).  Also, many interior parts had been assembled and glued to their respective places in the fuselage.  Three of the four wing spars, molded as part of the interior cabin, had been snapped off.  The 75mm cannon in particular was sloppily assembled and was going to require major reconstruction.  It also appeared that Testors tube glue was used meaning the assembled parts would be quite difficult to separate/repair.  The main gears were both snapped off and would also require surgery to repair and strengthen as did the rudders.  So, with all of this ahead of me I decided to see what I could live with and what needed repair. 

 While we’re at this stage let’s talk about nose weight. With the B-25 being a notorious tail-sitter I went ahead and bought fishing line weights at my local True Value.  Having assembled the J version a few times in the past I knew that the correct weight needed was 2.5 ounces.  This will get a perfect stance but will allow the plane to sit on its’ tail if so positioned.  The key here is making sure to not add too much weight.  My 2.5 oz. rule on this kit has never let me down.  Any more weight is unnecessary and will cause undue stress on the main gear.  The B-25 has a perfect place for stashing weight.  I use 1.5 oz. of lead in the nose gear well (which remains closed up just as the real plane) and place .5 oz. in the very front of in each engine nacelle.  I use 15 minute epoxy to hold them in place.  This allows for any manipulation (if need be) and gives excellent strength so that the weights will not pop out later on.

 The wings were lined up pretty well so I cleaned up the seams and sealed them with Plastruct liquid glue (I do this with all of my seams).  The broken landing gear was cleaned up and each section had a hole drilled in to accept a piece of brass tubing.  The tubing was glued into place on the gear side and the then pushed into place.  The starboard side has a bit of a “kick out” to it but this was as good as I can get it.  Oh well, the joy of working with a started kit!  The nacelles required a bit more sanding but these were cleaned up quickly with the wheel wells painted MM Metalizer Aluminum, .5 oz. of weight added to each nacelle and then glued to wings with Plastruct liquid glue.  A little bit of filler was required here in a few spots but no big nasty gaps were present.  The engines were not able to be separated from the firewall/cowling flaps so I painted them Model Master Flat Black, dry brushed them with Testors Siler and Steel, painted the crankcase Intermediate Blue and then used Citadel’s Armor Wash for a grimy look.  I then painted the inside of the cowlings MM Metalizer Aluminum and glued the cowling to the engine fronts.  The port engine is slightly off-center due to the prior assembly of the parts.  The completed engines were glued to the nacelles and the wings set aside to await completion of the fuselage. 

 Moving to the fuselage the cockpit/nose gear bay was already assembled and numerous parts had been glued to the fuselage halves.  I was able to remove all of these pieces with minimal damage.  However, the 75mm cannon and mount (molded together) was a real mess with major glue damage and misalignment of assembly.  I decided to fix this by cutting out the cannon barrel, replacing it with brass tubing and cleaning up the mount. I used two different sizes for the barrel and painted the larger barrel section MM Metalizer Magnesium and the smaller section MM Metalizer Steel.  The mount and gun bay was painted MM Green Zinc Chromate (referred to as GZC from here on out).  Funny thing about this is that once the fuselage is all closed up you can only see the very front of the cannon barrel!  But it is a vast improvement over the kit barrel and I know it was done “right” and that’s what counts.  I definitely recommend making the time and minimal effort to do this one modification. 

 The assembled cockpit and cockpit sides were painted a mixture of three different greens and grays to replicate the Dull Dark Green color typical of B-25 cockpits.  Assorted knobs and such were picked out with Testors Flat Red, Flat Yellow and Flat White.  Then everything was dry brushed with Testors Silver.  The instrument faces were given a dab of Crystal Cleer.  The seat cushions were painted Polly S Earth, the belts painted Polly S Light Sand and buckles touched up with Testors Silver.   This area was then masked off and the remainder of the fuselage was sprayed MM Metalizer Aluminum Plate via rattle can.  Now, I know that this color choice may be wrong.  However, in my defense, I have to say that there appear to be a few variations on this depending on which production model you are replicating.  I checked what I could and even had some terrific advice given to me on the MM forums regarding this.  It actually got to the point that I just simply had to make a choice and I decided this was the way  I wanted to go.   I also figure that the aluminum color makes seeing the details inside a bit easier.  Anyhow, with this quandary solved I painted the assorted bits and pieces per the instruction color call-outs. The kit-supplied bombs are lacking in detail especially the fins. So I raided my spares box and found a pair of bombs that look much better.  I believe that they are from the AM B-25C/D kit but cannot be entirely sure.  Anyhow these were painted with Testors Olive Drab and Flat Yellow and then glued in the bomb bay.  The upper turret assembly was painted and assembled per the instructions and set aside as it can be added at the end of the build.  Please note that the upper framing should not be painted.  Tom Cleaver was kind enough to point this out on a recent MM group build.

   Please look here for a brief but complete explanation. 

 To ensure that the cannon barrel was centered for the opening in the nose I held the cannon assembly in place and taped the lower nose piece in place.  Super glue was used here to keep the mount into place.  The fuselage halves were then glued together using a combination of Elmers Wonder Bond super glue and Plastruct liquid cement.  I did have to use Squadron White Putty filler on the large seam topside and the area past the bomb bay on the underside.  This was sanded down with finer grits until I was satisfied with the results.  The wings were then slid into place onto the repaired wing spares and glued with Plastruct liquid cement.  Fit here was spot-on.  At this point I glued the tail assembly on and was met with very good fit here as well. 


The interior of the gun nose was painted GZC and then dry brushed with Testors Silver and heavily weathered with pastels.  The quad .50 gun pack was then glued into place.  MM Metalizer Burnt Iron was used to paint the guns.  The props were painted MM Flat Black with the tips done in Testors Flat Yellow and set aside.  The main wheels had already been assembled.  These were cleaned up and painted Testors Flat Black with the center section/rim being brush painted MM Metalizer Aluminum Plate.  The cover for the nose wheel was painted MM Neutral Grey.  The canopy, fuselage glass and rear gunner’s canopy were masked using BMF and then tacked into place with 5-minute epoxy.  The waist guns were attached to the waist windows with 5 minute epoxy along with the pitot tube…which was immediately broken!  The canvas twin .50 cover for the rear guns was painted Floquil Rust and set aside for the final assembly. 


As mentioned previously the kit decals were long gone.  So I put out an APB for a set of H model decals.  Jim McLaughlin came through for me and I soon had the decals to build “Vikin’s Vicious Virgin” in my hands.  Produced by Zotz these decals are very cleanly printed and have good opacity.  The instructions mentioned that this aircraft did not have the optional side-mount twin .50 guns mounted on it.  What pictures I could find verified this.  Unfortunately these had been glued into place already.  These required some serious cutting, prying and swearing to remove.  Once this was done I cleaned up, filled and sanded smooth these areas. 

B-25’s in the Pacific Theatre were known to be heavily used and showed moderate to heavy wear and tear.  I wanted to replicate this followed my tried and true “wear and tear” method.  I gave the model an overall coat of MM Metalizer Aluminum via rattle can.  This was then buffed in preparation for the overall colors.  The airframe is the standard USAAF Olive Drab over Neutral Grey and I used MM paints for this.  The decal instructions show a white background for most of the “sharkmouth” nose art.   I masked this area off the best I could and sprayed MM Flat White until satisfied with the opacity.  I let the model sit overnight to let the paint completely cure.  I then took used Duct Tape, white Masking Tape and brown Packing Tape to replicate random wear areas.  This is done by applying a piece of tape and burnishing it down into place.  Then, with a quick jerk, I remove the tape from the area.  Sometimes it takes a few applications to get the amount/look you desire.  Why the different types of tape?  I have found that the different grades result in a slightly different look especially with Duct Tape. 

 The following day I used Testors Gloss Coat to get a smooth surface for the decals.   As the Zotz sheet offered no national markings I had to look at my kits and decals to fill the gap.  I found that the national markings that come with Hobby Boss’s F6F-3 are a perfect size.  So, these were applied first.  I used Solvaset to help them lay down and they did just fine.  The Zotz decals went on without any fuss…until I got to the “sharkmouth”.   The eyes went on alright but needed four cuts made in each decal so that it would conform to the nose curvature.  The mouth however was a bit of a serious chore.  The instructions would have you place the edge of the upper lip right where the quad gun pack is located.  Yet if you do this the mouth and lower lip rise nearly completely above the cannon opening!  Furthermore the shape of the mouth is not quite the same as what is depicted on the instruction sheet.  After trying to place the decal in every position possible (and tearing it twice) I finally picked the best location and put it in place.  Multiple cuts had to be made to get it to stay down.  For the cannon opening I made four cuts and let it fold inside the opening.  Solvaset was used on the Zotz decals and did a terrific job without any damage.  I touched up the red, white and black areas with MM paints.  I used Testors Flat Coat to seal the decals and give a proper finish.

 The fiddly bits were now attached to the model.  This included the nose and main wheels, upper turret, props, ladders/crew hatches, bomb bay doors and landing gear doors.  The upper nose cover was left unglued so that it may be removed for display.  I painted the gas caps Testors Flat Red (thanks again, Jim!) and dry brushed Testors Aluminum over them and the mid section of the wings where the ground crew might walk on the plane during refueling.  Weathering was done for exhaust stains and gun powder residue using my trusty pastels. 


You don’t seem to see this kit build up to often and that is a real shame.  With the success that the J model has in the marketplace you would think that Revell (who now owns these molds) would see fit to re-release this kit at some point.   The H model makes for a unique and striking aircraft especially when parked next to its other siblings.  The detail, ease of assembly and good all around fit really made this build quite enjoyable.  The previous work started on the kit made for some frustrating moments though and really slowed down the build.  My understanding is that there are very few H model decals available so if you buy this kit complete I would suggest trying to make the kit decals work for you.  If you do not already have this kit I suggest that you add it to your “gotta get” list…especially if you want to build a PBJ-1H.

 The Zotz decal sheet, although very high quality, was a bit disappointing mainly due to the fit issues and placement of the “sharksmouth”.  It just so happened that I was completing my Tamiya Fw 190A-3 and the Aeromaster sheet I was using had cuts already in place for the aircraft’s mouth decal.  I remarked to myself , “Now why could Zotz have not done the same thing?”.  It would have made placement far easier.  Also, their directions were a tad confusing as the profile had the side mount guns in place but in small black letters on the OD background it mentioned that this particular plane did not have them.  If you were not looking closely or using no references this would easily be overlooked. 

 Both items are highly recommended…just take your time with the Zotz decals and always check your references. 

Special thanks to Jim McLaughlin and Karl Hauffe for their assistance.

Model courtesy of Scott Van Aken…and my wallet!


 Various pictures/websites online

Lee Fogel

March 2010

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