Academy Boeing B-17E “Pacific Theater” Kit Marking Options

Academy has re-released their venerable Boeing B-17E, this time in a USAAF B-17E “Pacific Theater” boxing. The molds appear to be holding up well, and represent a B-17E with the Sperry manned ball turret in the belly.  What is new is the decal sheet, printed by Cartograph.  This includes an instrument panel and seatbelts for the interior, stenciling, and markings for eight 500lb bombs – although the bomb markings are not called out in the instructions.  Markings for four different aircraft are included.


First is 41-2440 “Calamity Jane”. This Fortress was initially assigned to the 19th Bombardment squadron operating from Australia.  For this portion of her service she was fitted with the Sperry remote ventral turret and did not carry nose art.  In November of 1942 she was transferred to the 5th BG operating from Guadalcanal, and about this time she was refitted with a Sperry manned ball turret and received her nose art.  She got her name because she was damaged by Navy aircraft taking off from Nandi, and was repaired using parts salvaged from another Fortress damaged in the “calamity”.  She survived her combat service and returned to the States in March of 1944.  Here is a photo of the original Calamity Jane nose art.  The work of a talented artist.
A later version of the nose art. This time Jane has been provided with a shirt, likely for her return Stateside.  This is the version of the artwork included in Academy’s decals.

Next is 41-2458 “Yankee Diddl’er”. This Fortress had a long service history, first serving with the 19BG from Java and Australia, then with the 43BG.  In November of 1943 she was converted to an armed transport and served in that capacity until she was scrapped in January of 1945.  Like Calamity Jane, she was originally fitted with the Sperry remote belly turret which was later replaced with the manned ball turret.  Modelers should note that the remote turret installation included six scanning windows around the sighting blister which are not represented by the Academy kit and will have to be added, even if modeling a ship refitted with the ball turret.  “Wouldn’t it root ya” is Australian slang and was considered quite risque, but much photographed.  Academy’s decals do not recognize flesh tones, in both cases the skin on the pin-up art is rendered as white.
This photograph of 41-2458 taking off from Seven Mile Drome reveals a rather serious and glaring omission from Academy’s markings – the large “U.S. ARMY” lettering under the wing is not included. This was applied under the wings of all Fortresses produced until April of 1942, when the practice was dropped to make production more efficient.  Modelers who want to make an accurate replica may find the necessary markings included in Starfighter Decals USMC/USAAF at Midway sheet.
41-9227 Was named “Yankee Doodle Jr.” She was produced with the Sperry ball turret as original equipment and left the Boeing factory in May of 1942 after the practice of applying the “U.S. ARMY” lettering under the wings had stopped.  Therefore, this is the only aircraft with accurate markings and configuration of the four in this boxing.  Yankee Doodle Jr.  crashed on take off from Espiritu Santo in December 1942.
The last marking option is a Fortress captured by the Japanese at Java and flown to Japan for evaluation. The Japanese were able to assemble two B-17E from the wreckage.  The decals for this one include six very nice Hinomaru and the Tachikawa “eagle” tail insignia.  Modelers will need to do some work on this one as she carried the Sperry remote belly turret, sighting blister, and scanning windows.  An excellent article by Robert Mikesh on the Fortresses captured by Japan can be found here:

So all in all a mixed bag. This is a Cartograph sheet and so there are no technical errors in the quality or resolution of the production.  The bomb markings are a nice touch and are often omitted so they are a very welcome even without mention in the instructions.  On the negative side the lack of the U.S. ARMY markings for under the wings is a very disappointing omission, as is the lack of flesh tones on both pin-ups.  If accuracy is a concern, modelers will need to go to the aftermarket for decals if they want to build either Calamity Jane or Yankee Diddl’er, and will need to fabricate a Sperry remote turret installation for the captured Japanese Fortress.



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