Hasegawa 1/72 PBJ-1J 'US MARINE'

KIT: Hasegawa 1/72 PBJ-1J 'US MARINE'
KIT #: 00866
PRICE: $39.15 from GreatModels
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes 8 gun solid nose and resin wing radar pod


The best known us medium bomber of WWII has to be the North American™ B-25 Mitchell. To most who know about the plane, this was as much due to the famous Doolittle raid of April 1942 as it is anything else. But the rest of us know that it was a plane that was relatively easy to fly, held a respectable bomb load, had decent range, was blessed with very good engines, and was able to not only take reasonable damage, but was an airframe that was adaptable to changing conditions.

All of this made it a very popular aircraft with the USAAF, who made great use of it in the North African and especially the Pacific Campaigns. Not to say it wasn't greatly appreciated in Europe as well, but that was more B-26 territory than anything else. The Navy department noticed the effectiveness of the B-25 as well and requested a number of airframes for use by US Marine squadrons under the Navy designation of PBJ. By the time a sufficient number of airframes were made available, it was mid-war and since Marine Mitchells were basically the same as their USAAF counterparts, no USN-specific suffix was developed; just adding the USAAF model letter to the end was enough.

These Marine Mitchells had one thing that was a bit different from Army planes. It generally carried a radar. Since these planes were operated in anti-shipping or night intruder missions over a lot of water, it was a good thing to have. Some of these radar installations were in the nose where the bombardier would sit, while others had them on the starboard wing tip. With the radar on the wing, the nose could be jammed with .50 cal machine guns. These planes were also used to bomb land targets and were especially helpful during the Philippine operations of 1944/45. When the war ended, these planes were quickly withdrawn from service and most were unceremoniously dumped where they last operated.


This is your basic Hasegawa 1/72 B-25J with the 8 gun nose and a resin wing tip radar pod tossed in. Those of us who have built this kit, know what a delight it is to construct. My only misgiving with this particular kit is that the nose gear fork was broken off due to all the sprues being put into one back and the usual jostling around during shipment. This will not be an easy thing to fix and have looking normal when done due to the thinness of the break area and the weight of the nose wheel. Especially since one will need to pack in the weight to keep it from tail sitting.

To refresh your memory, some of the highlights of the kit are a well detailed interior with decals for the instruments, the ability to have a bomb load and to portray the doors open (in fact, the kit is molded for open doors so some additional work will need be done to have them closed), a very nicely done upper turret and rear gunner's position, and, in this kit, the option to have a standard glass nose with additional guns or a solid 8 gun nose. My experience building the standard B-25J when it first came out four years back,  was that you'll need to do some trimming in the nose to get the guns to properly fit in the glass nose versions. I should mention that the sprues image does not show the solid nose sprue. The kit also comes with a nicely molded resin wing tip pod for the radar.

The markings are for four aircraft, all of them in the tri-color scheme of sea blue, medium blue-grey and white. USN and especially USMC planes were generally pretty bland when it comes to any sort of markings. These are no exception. The first two options carry either a name (as shown on the box art plane from a Hawaii based plane in 1944) or a small nose art as on a SWPA plane from VMB-433. There is a third glass nose options that does not have the tip radome for those who'd rather not hack off the wing tip to install it. It has little more than white nose numbers as was standard with VMB-611. The final option has both the radome and 8 gun solid nose from VMB-611 in the Philippines during 1945. It carries just black nose numbers. The small sheet is well printed, looks to be a bit thick and may well be the 'old' style decals.


Overall, a nice boxing of the equally nice Hasegawa 1/72 late B-25. I know that many would rather have the nose radome and perhaps a mount for the Tiny Tim rocket with this, but maybe that will be a later release.

November 2007

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