Hasegawa 1/72 B-25J Mitchell

KIT #

00546  (E 16)

PRICE:

3200 yen (about $27) at Hobby Link Japan

DECALS:

3 aircraft

REVIEWER:

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

A real beauty

HISTORY


For a look at what is in the box and a brief history, please visit the preview.

CONSTRUCTION

First thing I did on this one was to start looking around for subassemblies. This meant gluing the wing halves, wheel halves and stabilizer halves together. Then I opened the various holes in the fuselage for the 'cheek' guns and started gluing interior bits into place on the sidewalls. Turning to the interior, the floor, seats, control column and bulkheads were assembled. The bombsight was glued to the bombardier's floor and I glued the main bits for the upper turret together. Finally, the bomb bay sections were glued together.

Since most of these pieces were to be painted the same color, I then started making some inquiries as to what color all these bits should be. Now the Accurate Miniatures B-25Gs I did had interior green cockpit, bare metal bomb bay and the rest of the wheel wells and such in yellow zinc chromate. The instructions wants everything in chromate green except the bomb bay which it agrees should be aluminum. An inquiry on the Reader's Forum brought me many conflicting views. I chose to paint most of the fuselage yellow zinc chromate along with the gear doors, entry doors,  and forward gear well. The bomb bay, main gear well and inside engine cowlings were painted aluminum. Everything in the forward section of the plane was done in FS 34092, which is a fairly good match for 'interior bronze green'. OK. It is a bit dark, but will do.

The instrument panel is a decal, so once that part was dry, the decals were put on. I bravely applied Solvaset, expecting a disaster, but none occurred. Obviously waiting for farther into the construction! The panel was glued into the cockpit. I glued the engine nacelles together and glued them into the appropriate wings. Fit is excellent and unlike the AM kit, the upper engine intake is molded in to the upper wing so no unsightly gaps. In fact, there are several other areas where Hasegawa simplified things a bit and the upper turret assembly is one of them. That construct is no where near as fiddly as on the AM kit.

Before closing up the fuselage halves, I did the usual additional paint work on various interior bits, mostly with silver and black. There is no cockpit sidewall detail, which is a bit of a shame, but probably done because of an exterior panel that needs inserted on the co-pilots side. Not sure if it is supposed to be armor plating or what, but it doesn't fit very well, leaving a rather large gap around it. I also glued the bombs in to the bomb bay. There is one on each side and some very nice mounting lugs are provided to fit into holes in the bomb. The bomb has mounting holes on both sides, but these will be invisible when one looks into the bay. These assure positive mounting, unlike the AM kit where one basically had to wing it and hope for the best. While all this paint was drying, the engine cylinders were painted aluminum and given several black washes to bring out a bit of detail and darken up the aluminum a bit. The nose gear well won't be seen when the model is finished so this was filled with as much weight as I could put in there.

The fit of the fuselage halves was fairly good. I nearly forgot to install the tail gun and armor so make a note to yourself so you don't forget this part! I did have to use some filler to take care of the sink marks opposite the alignment pins. These were most noticeable on the upper surface.

While all that was going on, I cleaned up the engine cowlings and the cowl flap parts. I fear that the cowlings are probably just as inaccurate in form as the Accurate Miniature ones, though they don't look too bad to me. Undoubtedly an aftermarket replacement will be produced to remedy any errors in shape. The cowl flap assemblies were glued to the nacelles. I needed filler on the upper intake as the gap there was rather pronounced.

Returning to the fuselage, the upper gun blocks (which keep the upper turret gunner from shooting off the tails) were glued on as was a low bulge on the bottom. I'll leave the ADF antenna off until near the end. At this time I glued the tail gunners greenhouse to the horizontal stabilizers and masked it off. Then the wings were glued to the fuselage. Fit is excellent though a touch loose. Be sure that the wing spars fit into the slots in the wing or you'll have problems. Meanwhile I glued the guns into the nose section. These did not fit well. The bombardiers seat obstructs the one side and the bomb sight makes it impossible to mount the other at all. I snapped off the bomb sight and glued in the guns as best I could, though they seem a bit too far forward. All that matters is if the nose piece fits. The sight was glued a bit farther to the center. Then this assembly was glued onto the the nose section. It took a bit of filler.

The tailplane assembly was then glued into place minus the rudders. There is an odd 'strake' under the nose that was glued in place along with a lower bulge. I later found out that this strake was some sort of intake, though what for is beyond me and must have been a very late war addition. A reader later told me that this was to remove gun gasses and he only found it on late war planes operating in Italy. Means it probably isn't germane to my Pacific Mitchell. The gunners greenhouse was masked prior to installation. Only a bit of filler was needed on this part. Then the fins were glued on. I masked the upper bombardier's greenhouse and the cockpit transparency. These were glued in place after a bit of adjustment to the surrounding area to get a good fit. The upper turret dome was also masked as were the side gun windows. I then sanded off the upper wing formation lights as those were only applicable to early B-25s (B/C/D). All the openings were stuffed with tissue. The kit was then taken to the paint shop where the initial coats of OD and Neutral grey were applied. I used Aeromaster acrylic Neutral Grey and Testors enamel Olive drab. Again, this was just preliminary painting and the masked clear bits were painted at this time as well. When dry, I test fit the forward clear part to make sure all fit well. It didn't. I had to bend the guns into a rather odd shape to get them to be straight when they came out of the nose section as they were too far inboard to fit into the holes. Once that was done, the nose section transparency was masked and painted OD.

CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS

Then it was an odd case of hurry up and wait. Roger Jackson had offered a scheme from the Albatross B-25 sheet and I figured I'd put the kit on hold to see if the markings would be appropriate to the aircraft I was building. This meant that I didn't know if there would be other areas of the kit that would need some color added. Meanwhile, I completed the general OD/Neutral Grey camouflage, figuring that what I added to it could be easily done later.

Some construction continued at this time when I added the myriad ejector stacks to each engine cowling. I also then painted the forward cowling with Floquil Reefer White in anticipation of possible color to be added to that portion of the airframe. The engines were completed with minimal fuss. These do not include the pushrods and electrical wiring that were provided on the Accurate Miniatures 1/48 kit, but are good enough. I also painted the props keeping the hub aluminum. The gear doors and bomb bay doors had Neutral Grey painted on the outer sides.

Finally (well, it wasn't that long, but seemed like it), Roger's decals arrived and I broke out the reference to see how far off the decals were. Actually, the drawings should be used for placement purposes and not as solid historical accuracy. The kit, with its four additional nose guns and the extra intake is correct for the two B-25J glass nose aircraft shown (which has only two guns and no extra intake on the drawing). The decal instructions also missed that 501 BS aircraft at this time had white stripes on each wing outboard of the engines. I couldn't find an exact measurement for them, but a photo did show them so I did a best guess sort of thing.

This required two things. One was that I had to paint the forward cowlings red, which I did using first a white undercoat and then Testors Insignia Red. Next, I took thin Tamiya tape and outlined the area on the wings to be painted white. Then I covered the rest of the wings with Parafilm M to prevent any overspray. This is a LOT easier to do than to heap on more masking tape and much better an idea than just hoping that I don't screw it up!

Once the stripes were painted, the cowlings, which had the red masked off, were tacked into place and the OD/Neutral Grey were then applied. This pretty well took care of the painting. The model was then returned to the work bench to have its main landing gear installed, after I forced some more weight into the nacelles. Then I drizzled some superglue in there and shook things around to be sure that the glue would attach itself to the weights. With that done, the kit was firmly on its gear and it was given a coat of Future in preparation for the decals.

I used decals from a number of sources. The tail markings and fuel filler markings came from the kit decal sheet. These are very 'non-Hasegawa' decals as they are quite thin and reacted well to the Solvaset I used. They are still a bit transparent and the white is still ivory. The nose art and tail numbers came from the Albatros B-25 sheet, to do a late B-25J from the 501 BS/345 BG, otherwise known as the 'Air Apaches'.  The insignia came from a White Dog B-24 sheet and are a touch small, but I really couldn't find any the right size in time to finish the model. The most difficult one to apply was the left fuselage insignia as it had to conform to some rather large bumps on the side. A good dosing with Solvaset (actually several doses were needed) got them to snuggle down without tearing. After they were dry, I wiped them off and gave the model a matte clear coat using a mixture of Gunze flat base and Future. I also installed and painted the lower nose window and the pitot tube.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

With that done, the kit had the wheels glued in place as well as the gear doors and bomb bay doors. The aft gun cover was painted a lighter shade of OD and glued in place. It was then that I noticed the model was still tail-heavy! I cut up a bunch more weight and stuffed it loose into the engine nacelles. Sounds like a herd of babies with all the rattling in there! The wheels, gear doors and bomb bay doors were then attached. The gear doors are way over scale if you want to thin them. The bay doors also attach a bit inside the door. The outer edge should be flush with the fuselage where they attach. Both of these problems are fixable if you want to do so.

The pitot tube was installed and I put MV lenses in where the landing lights go. The exhaust was applied with pastels and then sealed in with more matte clear. I then attached the DF 'football' to the underside and slid the props into the engines. Some quality time was spent removing all the little bits of masking from the transparencies and using another piece of tape to pick up some smudges from where I slid the tape on the clear bits. The nose section was then fit into place after gluing in the machine gun. The fit is very tight and I could have left it alone, but I cemented it in place. The guns were glued into the side windows and then the windows themselves were glued to the fuselage. The upper turret was simply dropped into place. Landing light covers were the last bits glued on and they did not fit very well at all, despite some trimming. The various position lights were painted and I did a bit of touchup here and there. The finished model was then taken to be photographed before I broke anything on it! I should also point out, that the kit is missing the lower ADF sense antenna posts that are generally rather prominent on the underside of the nose. Builders may wish to add those. I did not do so as I wanted to build the kit as close to out of the box as possible.

CONCLUSIONS

I think Hasegawa has a winner with this one. Those who want a quality late B-25 will overlook the price tag for this one. By simplifying some of the constructs, several of the more frustrating parts of the Accurate Miniatures kit have been done away with and we are left with a very, very nice kit.

September 2003   
#1282 in a series

REFERENCES

Warpath Across the Pacific, Lawrence J. Hickey, 1986, second edition (revised)

Thanks to for the review kit

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