1/72 Scale AMT/ Ertl X/YB-35 Build, Part II

B35Build9[1]
These are the propeller shaft fairings, all four are slightly different. The cooling air scoop for the reduction gear fits poorly. Shape, fill, sand. The discharge air exits at the end of the fairing under the shaft. These outlets are not represented, but are easy to fabricate. I am hoping to shim the bases out a bit for a tight fit and add the fairings at the end of construction.
B35Build10[1]
Here is the finished cockpit, showing the added weight and the nose wheel bay. I have added about 1.5 ounces, hopefully that will suffice. There’s still a few options if it’s not enough, but overloading the gear struts is always a concern. The three crew seats have tape seatbelts, but they will be difficult to see when the model is closed up. The other four seats will be directly under transparencies, they will be equipped with photoetch belts and added later.
B35Build11[1]
Another shot of the cockpit, with a U.S. quarter for scale. I am modeling a “production” machine so I have used Interior Green, but the prototypes were natural metal inside. The green was drybrushed with lighter shades, and everything was given a thin wash of black when detailing was finished. The seat cushions could be yellow or O.D., the kit instructions call out red. Was red a SAC thing?
B35Build12[1]
Next is the major assembly, and to put back all the bits I’ve cut off. I am pleased with this build so far. There is a gremlin waiting, though. The main transparency was loose from the sprue and has a bad scar where it was attached. I’ll try to sand it out and hit it with Future, but it’s ugly.
B35Build13[1]
Well, she’s together, major assembly is complete. Got to say, the fit was terrible! This kit is reminding me more and more of a limited run kit – soft plastic, poor fit, ejector pin marks. Most of the bench time this week was spent filling and sanding, or cleaning up the sub assemblies. Just about through it here. The chaos on the workbench is spreading – 90% of the work gets done on a 3” x 6” spot on the edge.
B35Build14[1]
This is the underside of the wingtip slot. There are five structural supports inside, in some of the pictures of the actual aircraft these can be seen quite clearly. The forward part of the slot was constructed using the portion removed from the wing and two pieces of 0.1” quarter round. The inside was filled with casting resin to level it out.
B35Build15[1]
How do you control yaw without a rudder? Northrop’s solution was a “drag rudder”. Basically, the back of each aileron was constructed as a split flap. These could be employed together as speed brakes, or used asymmetrically to function as a rudder. Here is my attempt at modeling it, the background is a picture of the real deal under construction. Still have a few tweaks, but this is close. My intention is to only display one side open, to illustrate the “rudder” function.

Eduard Focke Wulf Fw 190A-8/R11 Neptune in 1/72 Scale

This is the Fw 190A-8/R11 Neptune of Ofw. Günther Migge, 1./NJGr. 10, Werneuchen Germany 1944.  Migge ended the war with eight victories, all at night.  The kit is Eduard’s Fw 190A-8 in 1/72 scale, with the Eduard resin engine and  gun bay detail set.  The radar arrays are Hasegawa supports with Albion tube and Nitenol aerials.

Eduard’s Fw 190s are the best 72nd scale 190s on the market today.  They are well researched and molded.  Eduard has gone to great lengths to provide the proper parts to accurately model each variant and to account for the differences in bulges and equipment.  Detail is unsurpassed.  Decals are the equal of anything on the aftermarket and the schemes are interesting.  These kits are a bit fiddly to assemble, and will punish modelers who skimp on test fitting or parts clean up.  There are specific areas which other manufactures have done better but in all, Eduard’s 190s are excellent offerings and the best place to start if you’re building an Fw 190.

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Color Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Nose Art of the 490 Bomb Group

Some nice color photographs of Boeing B-17G nose art from the 490th Bomb Group (Heavy).  For the most part these Flying Fortresses are in unpainted natural metal with red identification markings.  These photographs are one of the seemingly rare cases where all the relevant attributions are known.  The artist was Master Sergeant Jay D. Cowan and the photographer was Captain Arnold Delmonico, both of the 490th Bomb Group.  The photographs are preserved as part of the Roger Freeman Collection, Imperial War Museum.

In late August 1944 the 490th Bomb Group traded their Liberators for B-17Gs and began bombing German industrial targets.  They were based at Eye, Suffolk until the end of the war.  The Group then participated in food drops to famine-stricken Holland.  After the war most of the aircraft pictured here were flown back to Kingman, Arizona and scrapped.

BigPoison
“Big Poison”, serial number 43-37894
AliceBlueGown
“Alice Blue Gown”, serial number 43-38400
WithBreakfast1
“£5 With Breakfast”, serial number 43-38728
WithBreakfast2
A nice in-flight picture of “£5 With Breakfast”.
WishBone
“The Wish Bone”, serial number 42-38058
LoveEmAll
“Love ‘Em! All”, serial number 44-8698
LookyLooky
“Looky Looky”, serial number 44-6893
GoinMyWay
“Goin’ My Way”, 43-38865
FriscoKid
P-51D Mustang serial number 44-11373 “Frisco Kid” of the 357th Fighter Group, photographed at Eye.
490Taxi
490 Bomb Group B-17G warming up engines.

1/72 Scale Opel Blitz Flak Truck Conversion

This is a conversion using the Academy Fuel truck and a Zvezda flak gun.  I got this one for free from the LHS, the owner had bought this in a lot and it was missing some parts so he couldn’t sell it (thanks Brandon!).  As I already had a couple fuel tankers I scratched up a bed and skid mount for the Zvezda 20mm gun and converted it into a flak truck.  The gun is nice, but it would take some cutting to change the position.  The only vice is it comes without ammo clips other than one molded into the base and another held by a figure.  Fortunately I had one in the spares box so the gun can be loaded. I had a lot of fun building this one and liked the way it came out.

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Descent Into Darkness Book Review

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Descent Into Darkness – Pearl Harbor, 1941, A Navy Diver’s Memoir

Hardcover in dustjacket, 214 pages, illustrated

Published by Presidio Press June 1996

ISBN-10: 0891415890

ISBN-13: 978-0891415893

Dimensions 6 x 1 x 9 inches

Ed Raymer was a Metalsmith First Class and a trained diver.  On the first day of America’s entry into the Second World War he and eight other divers boarded a plane in San Diego.  Once airborne, they learned their destination was to be Pearl Harbor.  Their assignment would be to dive into the battleships sunk there and assist in their salvage.  This is his story.

While underwater welding and cutting were known skills, many of the problems encountered at Pearl Harbor were new.  The divers improvised many techniques as the need arose, such as hydraulically stabilized eductors for burrowing through the mud under the hulls of sunken ships to inspect for cracks or using kapok to plug leaks while the ships were being dewatered.  Their job was to assist in salvage of equipment and to prepare the ships for being refloated and repaired, if possible.

The work was inherently dangerous.  The divers had to work in the dark, as oil and silt rendered lighting useless.  A typical dive required the diver to navigate through the passages and compartments of sunken ship, underwater and blind.  Hatches could jam, damaged equipment might shift, air lines had the chance to snag or be cut.  The ship might be capsized, like the Oklahoma or Utah, or shattered like the Arizona.  The tasks ranged included removing unexploded Japanese bombs or cutting into magazines to salvage projectiles.  Underwater explosions could occur when a cutting torch ignited gas trapped in the ship.  Some compartments contained the bodies of sailors which had to be recovered.

Raymer also describes the divers’ efforts to blow off steam in a Honolulu under martial law and the threat of war.  Liberty was limited, alcohol was prohibited, and women were greatly outnumbered by the servicemen on their way to war.

An interesting break in the narrative occurs when Raymer volunteered to serve on a salvage detachment aboard the fleet tug USS Seminole (ATF  65).  Seminole departed for the war zone in the Solomon Islands at the end of August 1942.  Raymer was aboard when Seminole was sunk by gunfire from Japanese destroyers in October.  There the narrative becomes somewhat surreal, as the survivors were put ashore on Guadalcanal.  Outside of a formal command structure and supply chain, the divers operated small boats ferrying personnel and supplies to the island and completing other odd jobs.  Raymer describes filling in for crewmen on PT boat patrols, helping repair the USS McFarland (DD-237), and rescuing survivors from the Battle of Guadalcanal.  He assisted in making temporary repairs to the Heavy Cruiser USS Portland (CA-33).  While aboard he collapsed from malaria and went along with Portland while she was repaired in Sydney.  The narrative closes with Raymer’s return to the Salvage Unit at Pearl Harbor in April 1943 and the efforts to right the USS Oklahoma (BB-37).

This is an interesting first-person narrative of a side of the war not usually seen.  Raymer writes honestly and openly, and includes several fascinating insights and anecdotes into a very unusual job in a very unusual time.  Highly recommended.

1/72 Scale AMT/ Ertl X/YB-35 Build, Part I

B35Build1[1]
AMT / Ertl’s Northrop X/YB-35. Italeri has re-popped this kit, but I had one of the older ones lurking in my stash. The empty gun turrets always bugged me, arming them will be the most visible change. Given how big the kit is, there are relatively few pieces. Don’t be fooled by the huge box, everything could easily fit into a Hasegawa box for a twin prop bomber kit if one sprue were laid out differently.  Looking at pictures of the prototypes, you notice lots of open bits which are molded closed off.  One of the first things I wanted to improve was to open the inlets on the leading edge of the wings.  Simply hollowing out the kit part doubles the depth. I will extend these back some more, but this will require opening up the center wing section as well.
B35Build2[1]
And here is where all that cooling air comes out – three vents on the top center of each wing. There is a positionable door yet to fabricate over each, representing the “cowl flaps”.
B35Build3[1]
Another item to open are the wing-tip slots. The section cut out of the top portion of each wing will be built up and remounted, the bottom sections were flipped and faired back in to form the inner channel.
B35Build4[1]
Here’s a shot inside the outer wing panel. The AMT plastic is quite soft, the big assemblies are very squishy. No way they would stand up to sanding and handling if left alone. I beefed up the outer wing panels with Plastistruct and epoxied in an “I-beam” made from scrap oak. That should do it!
B35Build5[1]
Here’s the nose wheel well, the kit part is in the foreground. I have deepened the well and added ribbing. The strut attachment point is extended to the proper length using brass tube epoxied to the underside of the cockpit floor. The well actually extends to the bottom corner of the picture, the two doors covering the section where the wheel itself is stowed were closed except when the gear cycled. I have not found any good pictures of these wheel wells, but if typical they would be full of plumbing and equipment. Debating on how much to do in the wells, at least some basic plumbing where it is most visible.
B35Build6[1]
This is the cockpit, it looks like it would be right at home in a sci-fi kit. I have added fiddlybits based upon what could be seen in pictures, and guessed at the rest. No open canopies here, the crew entered through a belly hatch. The idea will be to create a busy feel for what can be seen through the transparencies. I have not added to the after stations, they will not be very visible.
B35Build7[1]
This shows the oak strip bracing added in order to strengthen the lower center wing section. AMT provides very little in the way of internal bracing – there are only two inserts for where the outer wing panels join, and those only come in contact with one surface. Here I have constructed a box beam out of scrap oak strip, and epoxied an additional strip further back. The wheel wells are used to anchor these, and it feels like this will work.
B35Build8[1]
The wing inlets were extended with 0.08” x 0.25” (2 x 6 mm) Evergreen strip, and the dividers extended with card. I am attempting to force some perspective here to give a deeper feel. To prevent the open look I’ll shoot some flat black into the center sections before I close them up. The upper inlet has internal bracing added, this is visible in some pictures of the prototypes. There are better pictures of the bracing on the YB-49’s, but the pattern may be different.

Special Hobby Brewster F2A-2 Buffalo in 1/72 Scale

This is Special Hobby’s 1/72 scale kit of the Brewster F2A-2 Buffalo.  This is a limited run kit augmented with resin parts.  A decent enough kit but a bit tricky to get together, and marred somewhat by the iffy fit of the clear parts.  The sliding portions of the canopy here are vacuform replacements.  The markings are for a VF-2 aircraft from the USS Lexington (CV-2) with a few substitutions from the spares box.  VF-2 removed the long radio mast from the fuselage due to vibration, and landed the antenna to a stub mast mounted on the port wing.

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Douglas SBD Dauntless Color Photographs Part 2

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More color Dauntless photographs.  First is yet another from the LIFE magazine series posted last week, which I missed last time.
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The same flight as the LIFE color photographs, but a different photographer and this time in black and white.  A nice overhead view and an incredibly tight formation.  Note that black 2 has the “Eight Ball” marking.
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A stacked formation of Dauntlesses from the USS Yorktown (CV-5) seen in the pre-war overall light gray scheme.
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Another Yorktown SBD from Scouting Five showing details of the overall gray scheme.  A nicely-composed picture but from an obviously damaged negative.
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An SBD with her tailhook down the moment before recovering aboard a carrier.
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Another landing photograph, this time aboard the USS Ranger (CV-4).  Modelers should note the color and wear of the flight deck stain.  US carrier decks were stained in the last few months before the war.
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A flight deck crewman attaches a ground wire to prevent static discharge while refueling.  The large yellow numbers indicate a training aircraft.  The numbers were repeated on both sides of the fuselage, the upper surface of the starboard wing and the underside of the port wing.
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Another view of a different SBD being refueled.  The red outlines to the national insignia were only used for a only few months during the summer of 1943, effectively dating the photograph.
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A fine atmospheric shot of an SBD on an atoll “somewhere in the Pacific”.
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SBDs of VS-37 in the Atlantic anti-submarine scheme.  Something a bit different for modelers tired of the blue Pacific schemes.
SBDColor_21
A nice study of a war-weary SBD in use by a training command.  Interesting details are the fresh outlines to the faded national insignia and the replacement cowling with the graded camo scheme.  The fading and paint wear present an interesting challenge for an experienced modeler.
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The underside of the same aircraft seen in the previous photograph.  Multiple views of the same aircraft are comparatively rare but quite useful when found.