Minicraft 1/144 B-29 Superfortress






One aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Ex-Crown kit (?)


Those of you who study history will know that the war in the Pacific was brought to an early conclusion in many ways thanks to the B-29. Developed in the early 1940 and hurried into production, it was initially plagued with problems due to the several innovative systems it carried. However, it was brought into service and sent to war in mid/late 1944. Thanks to its extremely long range, once island bases in the Marianas were available, they became literally crawling with B-29s, several Bomb Wings crowding all the airstrips built for them. It was from there that the bombing campaign against Japan was launched and eventually came to bring the war to an end a year later.

There was very little in the way of variation between the first and last B-29 built. Externally, the only real difference was in the upper forward turret, which eventually carried four instead of two guns, and in the tail turret which added a 20mm cannon to the twin 50s that were there. You can see this additional 20mm in the kit box art, an item that is not included in the kit, but can be represented with a section of stretched sprue.

The B-29 served the USAAF and later the new USAF's Strategic Air Command (SAC) into the early 50s. It was the main bomber of choice during Korea where they operated from Kadena, Okinawa. They were later replaced by the B-50 and remaining B-29s were either converted to tankers or used in other secondary jobs. The last ones left the USAF in the late 1950s, being totally obsolete by that time.



Packaged in the typically sturdy box one has come to expect from those kits produced in the PRC, the contents look suspiciously familiar. Upon removing the hard, slightly metallic looking grey sprues from the bag, one notices that the kit is of the raised panel line era. Further inspection shows some flash in the nose gear wells and a lump or two of plastic where it shouldn't be, such as on one of the engine cowlings. The horizontal tail piece slots into the fuselage, a technique not used for several decades on new mold kits.  I suspect that this is probably the old Crown kit as I can think of no other in this scale, and the Minicraft kit certainly isn't a new mold.

Nonetheless, it is a fairly accurate looking kit, despite the age of the mold initially used. There are no real options other than building wheels up. To this end, the kit is supplied with bare prop hubs that are supposed to give the effect of spinning propellers. One thing for sure is that no stand is supplied, nor is there a cutout in the fuselage that I could find to put one. There is no cockpit, only a floor plate to keep you from seeing through the top of the canopy to the outside of the model through the nose gear door. You'll have to add weight somewhere as the B-29 will be a major tail-sitter without it.

This is basically an early B-29A. All four gun turrets are identical, and if you recall, the later B-29s had four guns in the upper forward turret. The tail turret looks a bit suspect in shape, but will do. It only has two .50 cal guns where later versions also had a 20mm cannon.  Wheels are toy-like and the prop hubs are not like those on a real B-29. There are some rather large ejector pin marks on the back of the engine nacelles and inside some of the other parts like the gear doors, but otherwise, the kit is relatively free of them.

Instructions are a single sheet with a decal placement and color guide on one side, and several pictorial drawings of the construction sequence on the other. No history is given and colors are all generalized. The decals are superbly done and printed by Cartograf of Italy. No information is given on the unit which is portrayed by the decal sheet.

(Very late note: a reader has told me that this is the 58th bomb wing, 444th bomb group, and the 676 bomb squadron but the 444th website shows it as being with the 677th BS, though the green stripes are part of the 676th. Confusion reigns!).


If it is the old Crown kit redone, then a pretty good kit was chosen. Despite its age, it makes into a nice model from what I've seen of completed ones. There is a lot of generalization and simplification on this kit, but generally, 1/144 modelers are not obsessive anal types that have to have everything absolutely accurate. Because of its general simplicity, 1/144 bombers like this are a good way to get a youngster involved and their low price makes them doubly appealing.

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