Hasegawa 1/72 B-24D Liberator 'Ploesti Raid'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
98th Bomb Group (a brief WW2 history)
Constituted as 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 3 Feb 1942. Trained with B-24's. Moved to the Mediterranean theater, Jul-Aug 1942, and served in that area until the end of the war. Assigned to Ninth AF in Nov 1942, to Twelfth AF in Sep 1943, and to Fifteenth AF in Nov 1943. Entered combat in Aug 1942. Bombed shipping and harbor installations in Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, Crete, and Greece to cut enemy supply lines to Africa. Also hit airdromes and rail facilities in Sicily and Italy. Received a DUC for action against the enemy in the Middle East, North Africa, and Sicily from Aug 1942 to Aug 1943. Awarded another DUC for participation in the low-level assault on oil refineries at Ploesti on 1 Aug 1943: although its target had already been attacked by another group, the 98th proceeded through dense smoke and intense flak to bomb its assigned objective. Col John R Kane, group commander, received the Medal of Honor for leading the 98th to complete this attack despite the hazards of oil fires, delayed-action bombs, and alerted defenses. Afterward the group flew many long-range missions to Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Balkans to bomb such strategic targets as industries, airdromes, harbors, and communications, and engaged primarily in such operations until Apr 1945.
So there is the official history of the group in which the 343 BS was associated. The 343rd apparently had a number of its planes named after characters in 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs', a popular movie of the time. It is on those planes, that this latest Hasegawa release is based.
As this is a reissue, much about this kit is probably known to you, but I'll put in something about it anyway. Apparently, it is selling quite well in its various guises. Hasegawa did their homework on this kit, in the most part, to provide the modeler with all the differences between the variants and sub-variants. Like any plane that was in production a long time, modifications were made on the assembly line so the first plane in a run may not have all the same bits and systems as the final version, despite having the same dash number.
Small this plane is not and the mass of sprues just shows that Hasegawa is fully planning on doing an entire series of aircraft. Perhaps even the LB-30 as the entire nose section from the cockpit transparencies forward is made of clear plastic. The clear sprue also includes a number of different bits and pieces, including many that will not be appropriate for the D model. Gaps on the ends of this sprue show that other noses are going to be done, which is good as that is one of the few ways of telling the later variants apart.
Due to the number of sprues and the size of the parts, I thought a scan of the parts trees from the instruction sheet would be more useful. Hasegawa mold quality has been high for 20 plus years and I see no change in that on this kit. The vast majority of this kit will be the same from variant to variant. That will include the wings, tail planes, most of the fuselage, bomb bad detail and so on. The B-24 was a very tail heavy plane in service, needing concrete blocks to hold it on the nose wheel if more than one engine was removed for servicing or replacement. This kit will be no different, though there is not much room far forward to place weight.
Cockpit is basic with decals being used for the instrument panel. There is a full bomb bay that can have the doors posed open or closed as one wishes. Normally these doors were open on the ground to keep moisture from collecting in them. Each engine has fore and aft cylinders , though the engines themselves are generic. Upper and lower cowling halves with a single forward section are given and the mounts are keyed to inner or outer engines. Full and appropriate turrets are given which can be installed after the airframe is done. This is a huge help for painting. The side guns can be posed sticking out of their doors or with the doors installed. There are also nose guns provided and depending on which marking option you use will determine which holes are opened.
Instructions are standard Hasegawa, which is to say they are very good. There are four markings options, all with the 343 BS/98th BG and in OD over Neutral Grey. The only thing to differentiate the planes are the nose art, aircraft letter and serial number. Besides Snow White, you can model Grumpy, Sneezy and the Witch. Though no markings information is given, you also have the nose art for Prince Charming. Perhaps some research will turn up the specifics. Deals are well done and fully up to modern standards so should present no difficulties.
Heavy bomber fans will be pleased with this particular boxing as the options are all quite desirable. The B-24 is not a small plane, but in 1/72 scale is quite manageable. The end result should be a most impressive model.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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