Faithful readers of this blog (both of you) will remember my interest in the Hawaiian Air Depot camouflage schemes developed after the Pearl Harbor raid. It was only a matter of time before that interest developed into a modeling project, in this case a batch of three. The Academy B-17C is a nice kit for its time, but a little basic by today’s standards. It includes two sets of cowlings, both with and without cowl flaps so either a C or D can be built from the kit. By the time of the Pearl Harbor Raid the B-17Cs in the Pacific had been upgraded to D standard, so for this project cowl flaps are appropriate for either mark. If the sticker on the side of the box is to be believed, I picked this one up at a show for $12. The Academy B-17E is a new “Pacific Theater” boxing of the original tool. This boxing has many unused parts for the spares box including both sets of cowls, broad and narrow props, and a multitude of extra interior bulkheads. A new sheet of decals from Cartograph were promising, but disappointing in design because of incomplete research. Special Hobby’s B-18 finishes off the set. This is a limited run kit with all that entails, and includes both PE and resin parts. Personally, I am not put off by the lack of locating pins standard in these kits, as that also means there will be no sink marks from those pins to fill. A review on line had left me with the impression that these kits shared a common clear sprue regardless of the boxed sub-type, but this is not the case. For my HAD scheme subject a blunt nose is needed instead of the “shark nose” in this boxing, so another kit with the proper nose is on the way.
Examples of the aftermarket collected for the build so far. I will be doing my best to resist the urge to detail out the interiors as test fitting revealed that very little of the inside can be seen anyway. I do intend to replace and detail the engines, wheels, and guns, and I purchased several sets to try to that end. The Eduard turbochargers are intended for the new Airfix B-17G kits and do not fit the Academy kits so those will be saved. The Quickboost cowls do appear to fit, but if there is a difference between those and the Academy cowls it has escaped me to this point. Kora provides a resin Sperry remote turret to replace the ball turret in Academy’s B-17E for those modeling HAD B-17Es before the turrets were replaced.
And we’re off! While I am resisting a full-on interior detail effort, I am adding some basic structures to box in the different compartments and provide some form to hold up contrasting colors. Here I have added the radio compartment to the B-17E using a spare kit bulkhead and Evergreen sheet. I have also boxed in the cockpit walls. All three kits had their rudders removed as these will be painted separately from the rest of the aircraft.
Here the panel for the sighting blister for the remote Sperry turret has been removed. The slots for the scanning windows have been installed on each side, first by drilling and then cutting along the holes with an Xacto knife. By the time of the Guadalcanal campaign the HAD ships were being refitted with the manned Sperry ball turrets. If you want to model a HAD B-17E with a ball turret and no sighting blister that’s accurate for several specific aircraft, but photographs show the side scanning windows remained. This would be true for all of the first 112 B-17Es to come off the production line provided they survived long enough.
Special Hobby’s Bolo with some basic interior additions. The added card covers wing slot recesses. I skipped most of the PE intended for the interior with the exception of the instrument panel, but I doubt even that will be viewable on the finished model either.
The B-18 with the interior painted. Color photos of B-18 interiors show a much paler and more olive shade than the standard Interior Green was being used by Douglas, so I used SAC Bomber Tan here.
This is the B-17C/D with Interior Green forward and Aluminum aft. Walkways are painted to resemble varnished wood. The rubber tread mats are masking tape painted scale black. A spare bulkhead from the B-17E was cut down to fit the rear of the radio operator’s compartment.
All three together just before being closed up. I added some of the larger and most visible pieces of equipment such as radios, tables, and oxygen bottles, but only if they were in a place where it was likely they could be seen. This view also demonstrates the size differences between the airframes – I am surprised at how large the B-18 is turning out to be!
Part II here: