Italeri 1/72 B-25B/C Mitchell

KIT #: 123
PRICE: This one was bought started for $4.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Original 1978 release


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.

Though quickly withdrawn from the US inventory after WWII. Many late build B-25Js were sold to foreign governments or converted to TB-25 and VB-25 trainer/utility aircraft, staying in service into the late 1950s. Many of these planes have, for the most part, been reconverted to bombers by enthusiasts and that is what you see flying as today's warbirds.


 I am a bit of a sucker for inexpensive, already started kits. In this case the kit had all the interior bits painted green. The kit came with no decals and with Testors instructions. Not a problem as there are tons of 1/72 B-25B/C decals out there. Right? Well, not as many as I'd hoped. Fortunately, I had some in the stash that would work just fine.

The original kit came with a set for a Doolittle raider B-25B and an RAF B-25C. The kit has raised panel lines and very clean detail, as one would expect from an initial issue kit. There is a fairly well appointed cockpit with a pair of crew figures. The instrument panel 'decal' is actually printed in the instructions. One cuts it out and pastes it in place. There are variations in the fuselage windows so you need to have some sort of reference as some may need to be opened. The way the kit is engineered, you have to install the turret and nose gear prior to closing the halves.

There is no wheel well detail as when the plane was on the ground, most of the doors were closed. This means that one also has to install the main gear before closing the engine nacelles. There are two engine cylinder banks provided and you have two different cowlings. One is smooth for the B and early C while the other has ejector exhaust used on all subsequent Mitchells. The only real difference between a B-25C and B-25D is where it was made.

There are two different tail cones, one with a hole for a gun and the other no such. The nose piece is the same for both options with just a single gun. The Testors kit came with options to do a SWPA strafer. The kit does not include the side packs but the instructions show how to make one. One thing that is not shown is how much nose weight to include. Finding space for it will be a bit of a challenge with the clear nose. The kit includes a tail stand for those who cannot find enough room. It will take a considerable amount but is not impossible.  The underside has the option for the lower turret or a blanking plate. Again, check references to see if your scheme uses this. It was found to be pretty useless and most units removed it to save weight.


Since the interior was already painted, I started this by gluing the wing halves together. I then built up the cockpit. Note that the seat pedestals have huge ejector pin indentations in them so they will need to be sanded flat in order for the seats to stay attached. The rear bulkhead should be open to allow access to the bomb bay and the rest of the plane, but the kit has this closed off. I glued this bulkhead to one fuselage half and taped the halves shut while it dried. I then added the rest of the interior pieces. The instrument panel is supposed to be cut from the instruction sheet and pasted on, but the decal sheet I was using included one so I used that.

Before going any further, I researched the plane I wanted to build, which was 'Lucky Bat' of the 499th BS. Thankfully, the reference has photos of this plane and showed several differences regarding both the kit and the decal instructions. First off, this plane only had two additional nose guns rather than the four shown on the decal sheet. It also had the early cowlings without the ejector exhaust stubs all over them. It did not have the side gun packs, so I get to save the Quickboost ones I bought for another build.

The kit does not provide the small circular side windows that are just above the trailing edge of the wings. Instead, it provides a large oval window that you can cut out. The smaller windows near the tail and just behind the cockpit are too large. The smaller forward window should be bulged. The size issue can be dealt with by masking a smaller area and then filling in the window frame when it is installed. The bulge is another issue and the small circular window can be drilled out and filled with some suitable clear substance. Of course, if you don't care then you can skip all that stuff. I like to at least get close.

Once the small side windows were installed, those were masked off. The nose gear was then attached and I placed 17 grams of weight above it and under the cockpit section. The halves were closed, trapping the upper turret base. Then followed the usual repetitive filling and sanding that often occurs with these older kits. There are several sink areas on the fuselage that need to be filled as well. I used super glue for all my filler work.

I also built up the tailplane assembly. Note that the tails are fairly flat whereas the join surface on the horizontal stab has a definite curve to it. This was glued to the fuselage. I moved to the wings. Using all three hands, I was able to trap the landing gear in the engine nacelles. These nacelles were then attached to the wings. There is a considerable gap on the underside of the wings near the leading edge where these fit. Using a spreader bar would then make it difficult to attach the cowlings, so I did not go that route.

Once the nacelles were attached, I installed the cowl flap piece and got rid of the seam on the intake. The wings were then glued on and once dry, I noticed that the weight I put in was not enough. So I rolled up some more lead (16 grams) into each of the nacelles. That was enough and though it will tail sit if you push down on the back, for all intents and purposes, it will sit on its gear.

I then started the tedious job of masking the transparencies. Unfortunately, there is no aftermarket mask set for the Italeri kit and the frames are too indistinct for Tamiya tape so I fell back on something I've not used in 30 years; Scotch clear tape. This works quite well, but it is real pain to remove. It leaves a residue and removing this will often goober up the frame lines. However, it was done and the cockpit transparency was then glued in place. The nose was just tacked on as I had to install the two nose guns, which would have broken away from handling.

After the engines were built up and installed in the cowlings, I filled those and the various openings with either Silly Putty or tissue and headed to the paint shop.


For this build, I decided to use Superscale 72-691 and do an early plane from the 499 BS, 'Lucky Bat'. This meant using the smooth B-25B cowlings, the down side of which is that there are no proper exhaust stacks. I first tacked on the nose transparency and the cowlings as I'd have to remove those later.

I had run out of my favorite OD and Neutral Grey so used the Tamiya offerings. These sprayed on quite well, but to my eyes the OD is too dark and the grey too light. Still, it is a simple enough scheme, though requires some rather major masking of the underside of the wings and tailplanes to keep overspray to a minimum.

Once that was done, I clear coated the airframe and applied the decals. This plane has fairly minimal markings and I did not weather it, though in reality, this plane would have been fairly well worn from the tropical sun and dirt runways. I popped off the cowlings and masked around the front, painting them with standard Tamiya blue. Instructions for the decals suggested Azure Blue, but looking at photos and the profile in the reference, this would have been too light. Decals went on with no issue and the airframe was then painted with a semi-matte clear.

There were a few final bits that needed done. The nose and main wheels were painted and installed. The aforementioned masking removal was done. The props painted and put into the cowlings. Those were then glued in place. I also cut the handles from the two single machine guns and after installing the bombardier's floor, installed these guns in holes I'd previously drilled in the nose transparency. This was then glued to the nose.

Following this were the tail transparency, the landing lights, the lower gun turret (reference drawing showed this still installed), and the three gear doors. The latter were butt fit. I then drilled depressions for the upper antenna masts and glued those in place along with the ADF antenna. Touch-up painting was done and that was it. I had thought to install just a barrel for the central nose gun, but thought that would look fairly odd as you can see into the nose section.

They often say that things which were difficult look easier with the passage of time, and so it is with this kit. It was not a piece of cake and offered a number of challenges. In all, it took about 3.5 months of on and off construction to complete. I'm glad I finished it as it got a kit from the shelf of doom, but it will be a while before I build the other one in the stash, especially now that Airfix has a new tool early Mitchell.

Not sure if I can recommend this to a fairly new modeler, but then again, I was fairly new when I built the first of these and I still have fond memories of the experience. Let's just say that it won't be as easy as you might think and leave it at that.

Warpath Across the Pacific, by Lawrence J. Hickey

11 January 2019

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