Starfighter Decals 72-160: Fortress of the Skies part 1: B Models


$15.00 SRP from


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Scott Van Aken


For the Academy kit

The B-17 could arguably be considered to be the first really successful four engine strategic bomber. However, it took a while for the design to properly mature. Designed with 1930s warfare in mind, it was expected that these planes would be able to fly missions unescorted and so it defensive armament, while considerable for the time, was inadequate to say the least. Early planes were were festooned by streamlined blisters in which to house these guns. They had fairly limited fields of fire and were soon removed and replaced with proper turrets as well as flush mounted waist gun positions. A tail gun was also added to later versions.

However the plane had to start somewhere and while not ready for prime time, the B-17B/C/D versions were put into service, albeit in small numbers. The smallest numbers were the B-17B which was used to get crews used to the type and while very little combat was seen with these planes, they were widely used for training.

This sheet covers several of these early planes.

First up are two options for aircraft 38-211 which spent its time at Wright Field. One option is as delivered and the other is without the various blisters. To do the latter, some kit bashing will be needed with an Academy B-17C/D.

The next plane is one with the 19th Bomb Wing at March Field in 1940. Like the previous options, this one is in overall unpainted metal and sports yellow engine cowlings and yellow fuselage stripes.

38-215 is the next plane. This aircraft was sent to Ladd Field in Alaska for cold operation tests. It had large orange areas on the tail, wing tips, and the engine cowlings. It was later painted in camouflage and carried out several attacks against the Japanese in the Aleutians. By the time this occurred, the upper fuselage and side blisters had been replaced by flush positions, so again, kit bashing is needed.

38-216 is the final option and save for a different fin number, is identical to 215's first paint scheme with all the orange bits.

As mentioned, Academy are the only folks who have done early B-17s, however, it has been quite a while since any of them were released and they tend to be difficult to find as of this writing. Hopefully they will be reissued in the near future.

Instructions are very nicely done and provide notes on the build. No plan view is offered for the underside markings, but this information can be found in the kit instructions. The decals are nicely printed and offer enough common markings to do one of the options.

April 2019

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