Academy 1/72 B-17C/D Flying Fortress






Two Aircraft


Scott Van Aken




Everyone knows about how successful the B-17 was and how important it was to helping to win the war in Europe. Few know about the early versions. Basically, when the Model 299 first flew, it was far from being a viable bomber. Despite having a lot of guns, they were designed to inflict damage on fabric covered biplanes and not the armored all metal planes that were later to come to prominence.  The aircraft also suffered from lack of armor plating and did not have self sealing fuel tanks. Engines could have stood to have more power as well as the B-17 never really was very speedy.

Subsequent versions slowly moved to fix some of those problems, but money was tight and few aircraft were really built. There were only a handful of A and B models. The 79 C and D versions were nearly identical to the prototype, though the engine situation and some of the defensive armament concerns were being addressed. Some 20 B-17C models were sent to England for use in the RAF and they were dismal failures in their task. However, much was learned and put into the B-17E. Though the much improved B-17E was being built, it was with the B-17C and D that America entered WWII. These aircraft were based in the Philippines and Hawaii. Many of them were destroyed on the ground in the initial attacks, but those few that survived were able to provide some offensive capabilities and gave the folks back home some positive news for the papers. By the middle of 1942, these early versions were out of front-line service and used as transports or trainers.



As one of the 'old codger' modelers around, I can remember when we were begging for an early B-17. This was when 1/72 was king and that was all I was building. During all those years, many new kits came out, but never an early Fortress. Well, when the 'Korean revolution' came about in the early 1990s (that is where we started to see a lot of kits engineered and designed in Korea), we finally got our wish. This kit is dated 1995 so it has been about for a few years. Oddly, I have only seen one built and I really don't know why. Many modelers now consider the Academy 1/72 B-17s to be the best of the lot.

For sure it has all of the necessities of a modern kit. It has engraved panel lines, a semi detailed cockpit, a full bomb bay, and can be built as more than one version. In fact, the only difference that the kit makes between the C and D are the engine cowlings, with the D model having cowl flaps. A nice touch is that the cockpit clear bits are all on one piece so it should be a bit easier to smooth it in with the rest of the fuselage.

Those wishing to add more detail have the chance, especially in the aft fuselage section. Though there are waist guns and windows, there is no floor or any other detailing in that area. You also may want to add detail in the wheel wells as there is none and they are not boxed in. Other than that, there is little to find fault with on this kit. The outline looks good and it is reasonably priced.

Instructions are quite good giving the usual construction steps and offering painting information where it is needed. No FS or ANA colors are given, only generic colors. The decals are for two aircraft, both of them in overall natural metal. One is the box art B-17C of Colin Kelly who was killed when his aircraft was set upon by Japanese fighters after an attack on a minesweeper in early 1942. It is singularly unremarkable in markings other than the aircraft number on the fin. The other is a B-17D of the 436 BG at March Field in 1941. This aircraft has the front of the engine cowlings in yellow and black. The black bits are supplied as decals. The sheet itself is well printed and should work OK. I've never had any real problems with Academy decals, but they don't seem to be quite as easy to work with as aftermarket ones. As far as finding aftermarket decals, good luck as I don't know of any.



Overall, it looks like a very good kit. There doesn't seem to be any problem areas with it and it does have a reputation for being a nice one. Best of all, it is an early B-17 and we are not likely to see it from anyone else in the near future!

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