Airfix 1/72 B-25C/D Mitchell
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The North American B-25 Mitchell is an American twin-engine, medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation(NAA).
The design was named in honor of Major General William "Billy" Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. Used by many Allied air forces, the B-25 served in every theater of World War II and after the war ended many remained in service, operating across four decades. Produced in numerous variants, nearly 10,000 Mitchells rolled from NAA factories. These included a few limited models, such as the United States Marine Corps' PBJ-1 patrol bomber and the United States Army Air Forces' F-10 reconnaissance aircraft and AT-24 trainers.
Thanks to the longevity of the later B-25J in both the trainer and general transport role, a goodly number are still flying and can be seen at air shows over the world.
With the release of their fine B-25J series of kits, many of us were hoping that Hasegawa would do the earlier version as well. However, this did not happen and we who like to model the C/D variant had to wait until now for something to replace our Italeri kits.
The wait was well worth it as Airfix has made a nice kit for us. It is a series 6 which means it is a bit more pricey than their older B-25H/J (which is still in the catalogue). That means it comes in a fairly large box so don't expect first class shipping.
The molding is right up there with their other newer kits and this one comes with a lot of options. Let me start by stating that this boxing is for the later B-25C/D with the ejector exhaust. Airfix did not provide a parts location guide in the instructions, but searching the sprues turned up all the parts needed to do an early variant as well as other bits.
The cockpit is nicely done and relies on a decal for the instrument panel. There is no harness detail on the seats and they got the short back co-pilot's seat correct, something other kits have missed. There is nice sidewall detailing and one builds up the interior by adding the various bulkheads to it. The very back one contains the wing spars.
Next a lot of paper is taken up with the building up the bomb bay and adding the bombs. If you don't want to model yours with the doors open, there is a piece included to do a doors closed option. The aft bay bulkhead contains the second wing spar. Note that when you close the fuselage halves, you'll need to have installed 25 grams. It will be tricky to find enough room for all that weight, but it can be done.
Instructions show the upper wings attached to the spars first and then the lower wings. This should help get a good upper wing/fuselage fit. On the fuselage side are two clear inserts for the windows in that area. You are also told to glue the main gear to the lower wing at this time, temporarily attaching the engine nacelle halves while the cement dries.
The engine is nicely detailed and since this is the ejector exhaust boxing, you have a goodly number of little exhaust triangles to attach. Once the cowling is done, you attach it along with an insert to the two nacelle halves and then to the wing. If you wish to do an early C/D, those cowling bits are on the sprues.
The kit provides separate flaps for the up and lowered position. You also have separate rudders and elevators. Wheels and landing gear are nicely molded. There is an optional spoked nose gear wheel, but that is not called out in the instruction. Upper and lower turret can be built raised or lowered. On the sprues is a blanking plate for the lower turret as often that was removed to save weight. Both the forward and aft boarding ladders can be posed lowered or up. Two canopies are provided, one with the additional frames on the forward quarter windows. All the other clear bits have well defined frames and can be installed from the outside after you have painted the model. What is not included is the SWPA gun packs and gun noses. However, you can get the early gun packs from Quickboost and I would be surprised if they did not appear in a dedicated boxing.
Instructions are very well done with Humbrol paint numbers provided during the build. Markings are for two interesting planes. One is the box art plane in the infrequently photographed sea search scheme of OD and white operating out of Tampa, FL with the 23rd Antisubmarine Squadron. The other is in a faded desert scheme with the 12th Bomb Group when back home on a War Bond drive in 1943. For this option, the insignia are faded. Decals are quite nicely done and my experience with Airfix kit decals is quite positive.
I'm very pleased that this has been released. Though the Italeri kit is a good one, it is also very much old school and does not have the detail of this one. I fully anticipate a raft of decal sheets and resin bits for this one to soon pop up.
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