North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part IV

This is the Hasegawa B-25J with the canopy and nose pieces in place. My B-25J will be a strafer with the nose glazing painted over which allowed me to add weight in the nose. This view also gives an impression of what will be visible through the canopy.
This is one of the Airfix B-25C, this one will also be a strafer. The canopy masks are from ASK. The resin gun pack on the fuselage side is from Quickboost, it is a style not included in either kit but is needed for certain aircraft. The Evergreen panels represent the extra armor applied to this particular aircraft.
As things move along various sub-assemblies are painted so they will be available at the end of the build. I generally tape the smaller bits to cards for painting and to ease handling.
Here is a comparison of the main gear doors, The Hasegawa doors on top are just slabs but the Airfix doors are thinner and better detailed. I’ll make some replacements for the Hasegawa doors from sheet plastic. The main landing gear bay doors on the B-25 were normally closed, they only opened when the gear was actually cycling, so no need to add any detail to the bays.
I checked the Seamwork with Mr. Surfacer 1000, corrected any flaws and re-primed. This is the Hasegawa B-25H. I noticed some flow lines in the plastic on the Hasegawa kits. This is not an issue on a camouflaged model, but on a Natural Metal Finish the flow lines can show through if you don’t use a good primer.
Three of my subjects will be strafers from the 345th Bomb Group. These are beautiful aircraft with interesting combat records, but the intricate nose art makes them difficult to model. I’ll be using the DK Decal sheet for the markings. On DK’s web page they provide a PDF file so modelers have some chance to mask off the underlying colors correctly. Here I have printed out the PDF and laid Tamiya tape over the patterns to cut out the masks.
Here are the masks after some careful cutting.
The masks applied to the model for “Dirty Dora”. Even with the masking templates there are half a dozen ways this can still go sideways and ruin the models.

North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

There are two challenges for this build – preventing the models from being tail-sitters and the nose art. My worst-case scenario for getting enough weight in the Mitchells was this glass-nosed B-25C – all the others will be strafers and therefore weight can be added far forward in the nose.
Here the fuselages have been closed up. At this point I sanded seams and re-scribed any lost panel lines as the model is easier to handle. I went over the re-scribed lines with MEK to remove any burrs.
The main gear legs are the fulcrum point, just like a see-saw. Any weight aft of the main gear legs contributes to the model being a tail-sitter, any forward helps keep the nose down. Adding weight loads the main gear, but contrary to popular belief if the balance is perfect the nose gear bears no weight at all.
My build is a marginal case, but I think I’ll be okay when all the parts are on. The model will stay where you put it, either on the tail or on the nose. I will leave a way to get more weight into the engineer’s station if I need to.
Hasegawa just says to “use ballast if not using support”, and waits until the final step to remind you. They do provide a step stool to prop up the tail if you need it. This is the nose for the B-25H, which is the best place to start as it is as far forward as you can go. I glue the BBs in place with 5-minute epoxy, which will flow out of the gun holes if not sealed off.
The BBs are epoxied in place. This is a good chunk of weight at the end of the nose, and is therefore more effective than anything added further aft.
The Hasegawa B-25H will not be a tail-sitter, I used about 65 BBs in all due to being able to use the nose.

North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

“Construction begins with the cockpit” is passe but eventually every build gets there. The Airfix kit has good interior detail, but much of this will be hidden inside the fuselage. Airfix does give the modeler the option of open or closed bomb bays.
The Hasegawa kit has even less detail. The ammo boxes to the rear could be omitted without anyone being the wiser, and would lessen the weight to the rear of the aircraft a little.
I added some quick sidewall detail to the Hasegawa kit, but I didn’t go overboard. I’m firmly not in the “but I’ll know it’s there” camp, my interest in adding detail is directly proportional to the likelihood it can be seen. I did add the interior differences particular to the B-25H, mainly a radio in place of the co-pilot’s station and the Navigator’s seat moved back a bit.
B-25 kits are notorious tail-sitters. When adding weight you want to be as far forward of the main gear legs as practical. Airfix says to add 25 grams under the cockpit. I looked it up, three BBs are a gram, so 75 BBs. I filled under the cockpit, behind the instrument panel, the Navigator’s tunnel, and closed the forward crew access door and added the rest to the Engineer’s station. Only 72 BBs in total but I think it will be enough.
I was going round and round with the interior colors, just when I thought I’d reached a conclusion I found an exception or a contrary opinion. Zinc Chromate is a preservative mixture, not a color, and there was a range of final appearances. After I saw a discussion where it was offered that Zinc Chromate Green was actually Yellow I’d had enough. It may be but I was done. The bomb bay is Alclad Aluminum, The Bronze Green in the cockpit is a mix of Mr. Color 511 and 326, the Zink chromate is a mix of 27 and 511.
I was doing the props, wheels, engines, and bombs as I was going along, and then realized that on the B-25 the bombs would be interior parts and easier to install before the fuselage halves were joined. I finished a mix which included several 250-pounders from the Arma Mustangs, in all enough for a 2,000-pound bomb load each for six aircraft.
Here is the Airfix B-25C which will have a glass nose with the interior completed and washed.
An overhead view showing a few additions. The yellow seat cushions are actually photographs of real cushions, reduced to scale and printed on photographic paper. I used the same trick to make instrument detail on the fuselage sides. Belts are masking tape, and I added armor behind the pilot and co-pilot’s seats.
This is the Hasegawa fuselage before being closed up. Both of the Hasegawa builds will have gun noses so there is a little less concern about getting enough weight, but I was taking no chances. If I end up with a tail-sitter I can close the forward access hatch and add weight there, as one option.
In a controversial move, The B-25G and B-25H did away with the co-pilot and moved the navigator to the starboard seat. He was also to serve as the loader for the 75 mm cannon carried by these variants. The gun was derived from the main gun carried by the Sherman tank, and packed a wallop. It was carried in the tunnel under the cockpit, filled here with BBs.

North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

Mitchells! This is a small batch of Mitchells, the 2018 Airfix C/D and the 2008 Hasegawa B-25H and J. These are both nice kits, but Mitchells came in a variety of variants and were subject to conversions and modification in the field. The Pacific Mitchells also present some painting challenges, but the artwork is irresistible.
Here are the main sprues from the Hasegawa kits. Parts breakdown is conventional, and these are molded in the typical Hasegawa hard plastic with finely engraved panel lines.
Sprue “C” has the tail assembly and various interior and detail parts. The fuselage gun packs are optional, not all Mitchells carried them. Locating holes for the gun packs are to be drilled out from the inside to accommodate aircraft with them. The kit provides only one style, so some subjects will need some help from the aftermarket.
Sprue “E” has the engine and other details, sprue “D” is interior parts. The engine is basic, but what is there is good and will look the part with a little added detail. The included bomb load is two 1,000-pound bombs. The interior bulkheads include sections of the main spars to help get the dihedral right.
The Hasegawa business model is to release several versions of the same basic kit with different detail parts and decals. On the top are the unique sprues for the B-25H, on the bottom sprue “M” and “J” are for the B-25J.
The Airfix B-25C/D is a quality kit, but the plastic is much softer the Hasegawa’s. The kit features finely engraved panel lines. Airfix has fired their trench digger, the panel lines on their more recent kits look just right. There is also subtle rivet and fastener detail in some areas which sets of the panel lines nicely. Note the bombay doors are molded into the interior detail – no broken doors on this model.
Sprue “C” has the engines, which are pretty well rendered. The kit provides optional flaps to represent both raised and lowered positions, but the raised option has a sink line through the middle which will require filling. The bomb load here is four 500-pound bombs.
The tail surfaces are all positionable. Also included are two options for the cowlings, one with the single exhaust port and the other with the individual ports.
There’s lots of aftermarket for the B-25, here is a sample. I am really impressed with the Master gun barrels, they are incredibly detailed and really draw the eye.
I began with the engines, Airfix is the lighter plastic, Hasegawa is darker. The top row is stock kit parts, the bottom row is dressed up a bit. For the Airfix engines I added ignition wires to the back row. For the Hasegawa engines I added wires and push rods.
Here are the main wheels with resin aftermarket – Airfix, Hasegawa, Eduard, and Quickboost. The Quickboost is the smallest of the group. From my perspective none of these are so bad they will detract from the finished model, your mileage may vary.
A comparison of the engine cowls, Quickboost on the left, Hasegawa on top, and Airfix below. The cowling opening is 36” in real life, which is 0.5” in 1/72 scale. I measured the openings, Quickboost came in at 0.508”, and went egg-shaped when I removed the casting block. Hasegawa was too small at 0.466”, which doesn’t sound like much but is noticeable. Airfix came in at 0.492″ but went to a perfect 0.500” after the interior mold seam was removed. I expanded the openings with a 0.5” drill bit from the garage, the widened kit parts are on the left, uncorrected parts on the right.

Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” Rebuild

This is an older build of the Hasegawa Ki-84, which was first issued in 1987 according to ScaleMates. I recall building this one in 1985, so now I’m not sure when I originally completed it but it has been in the display case for years. It was painted to match a profile in Thorpe, but neither the model nor the research has aged well. Thorpe identified it as an aircraft from the 52nd Sentai, but current thinking is that the tail markings indicate it was actually from the 102nd Sentai and that the camouflage was a solid color, not mottled.
Somewhere along the line the tail wheel was lost, so that’s definitely something which needs repaired. Since I was building a batch of the new Arma Hayate I decided to dress this one up as I went along.
At the time the conventional wisdom was that everything inside a Japanese aircraft was supposed to be painted transparent blue, so that is what was done. I managed to pop off the canopy in one piece and repaint the interior green, adding masking tape seatbelts and an instrument panel while I was at it. I also added a landing light made from clear sprue to the leading edge of the wing. I blended this with superglue and filed it to shape before polishing it clear again.
I was also able to sand off the canopy framing and polish it clear. The canopy was then masked and put back into position, with any visible seams addressed with Perfect Plastic Putty.
I primed everything with Mr. Surfacer 1000 and this is where the Hasegawa kit shows its age. This must have been one of the last molds Hasegawa cut with raised panel lines before switching to recessed ones. The shape looks good, rescribing the panel lines would really make this kit pop.
I wanted to use the Brown over Gray Green scheme from the last months of the war. The browns were mixed with a few drops of Red and applied in thin layers with variations in the density to alter the tone.
I replaced the guns and pitot tube with Albion Alloys. The mask has been removed from the landing light on the wing. One thing I didn’t replace is the landing gear – the legs are much too thick.
I found a suitable replacement for the tail wheel in the spares box, the missing tail wheel was the proverbial camel’s nose in the tent which originally started the whole idea of a re-build. The bomb and drop tank are spares from the Arma Hayate, which was also the source for all the decals except for the tail markings, those are from a SuperScale sheet.
Here’s the old kit under a fresh coat of paint. While there’s no comparison to the new Arma kit, I couldn’t bear to throw this old bird away after all these years, and it will look just fine in the case with the others.

More photos here:

RS Models Kawasaki Ki-100 Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

The Ki-100 was the result of fitting a radial engine to the Ki-61 airframe which was designed for an inline. The Japanese engineers did a remarkable job of blending the wide engine to the narrow fuselage. RS molded a separate fairing which fits over the standard Ki-61 wing, and as you can see the fit is not great.
The upper wing joint needed some filling as well. The landing light on the leading edge of the wing was missing, I added one here using a section of clear sprue and superglued it in place. This will be filed down to match the contour of the wing and polished smooth again.
The canopy was masked the old-fashioned way with Tamiya tape, it also needed some filling to blend properly. Whenever test fitting reveals clear parts will need filler, I run a black Sharpie along the mating surface so the putty color can’t show through.
I installed the landing gear legs at this point to support the model during painting. Mr. Surfacer 1000 was applied overall, and any remaining filling and scribing errors were corrected. I also drill out any holes for the remaining parts at this point, as any slips of the drill bit can be easily corrected before painting has begun.
The finish is Mr. Color 130 Kawasaki Green over Alclad Aluminum. The Mr. Color 58 Orange Yellow wing ID panels were painted after the Alclad but before the upper surfaces.
There were a number of problems with the kit supplied drop tanks, so I substituted spares from the Arma Hayate kits. Aircraft operating over the Home Islands could carry Orange Yellow drop tanks which made them easier to locate and re-use.
I used the kit decals. They performed fairly well, but are thin and long so are a bit tricky to apply. The decal sheet is very crowded which makes them harder to cut loose. The black decals for the walkways are not the same shape as the molded relief on the wings, something which I didn’t notice until I was actually trying to apply the decals, so mine are painted. This kit takes a little extra work, but builds up into a nice representation when done.

More completed photographs here:

RS Models Kawasaki Ki-100 Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

This is the RS Models Ki-100 kit number 92121. The kit was first released in 2012, and has been reboxed every few years afterwards. I added this one to the bench as a “tag along” to the Arma Hayate build to exploit the commonalities with the color pallets.
The RS kit is a limited run effort, which is in stark contrast to the CAD engineered high-pressure molding of a modern main-stream kit. There is some extra clean up and test fitting required, but the surface detail is nice. The engine and exhaust stubs are cast in resin and are well detailed.
The cockpit consists of nine parts. The canopy is a single piece and is closed, so this will be adequate. I replaced the control stick with plastic rod rather than try to clean up the kit part.
Push rods and ignition wires were added to dress up the resin engine. This doesn’t take much time to do once you get going, and engines really need some complexity of detail to look the part.
Limited run kits are known for their lack of locating pins and other alignment aids and this one is no exception. On the plus side, there are no sink marks to fill where the pins are. Test fitting revealed the cockpit parts are a bit wide at the top and needed some trimming to get the fuselage to close up properly.
I used Mr. Color Cockpit Green for the interior and added seatbelts made from masking tape. I have found the tape belts are usually perfectly adequate for closed-canopy models as the most visible component is the contrasting color. The resin exhaust stubs are fitted from inside the fuselage.
The engine was painted Alclad Aluminum and washed with black and brown to bring out the details. The gearbox was painted Blue Gray.

Part II here:

Arma Hobby Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part IV

Japanese aircraft often sported multiple painted bands and panels, and many of their squadron markings are geometric shapes which are relatively simple to mask off. On the down side I have come to the realization that the Mr. Hobby thinner reacts to the adhesive in the generic masking tape I have been using, causing some colors to seep underneath. On this batch I’m using Tamiya Tape for the hard edges, which appears to have solved the seepage problem.
A few of the Hayate production run came from the factory uncamouflaged, some during the pre-production series and another run supposedly due to a shortage of paint. Photographs show a few of these received mottled camo in the field, but the field-applied mottling on a Hayate is rare compared to other JAAF types. One of the builds in this batch will be in an Alclad Aluminum NMF. On the NMF aircraft I paint the markings after laying down the Alclad, otherwise the textures and tones can show through the finish. All the builds got Mr. Color 58 Orange Yellow wing ID panels and Mr. Color 137 Tire Black anti-glare panels.
The initial factory applied camo was either Olive Drab over Gray Green or Dark Green over Gray Green. Good luck differentiating between the two in black and white photos, and you can find little agreement between profile artists. On this example I went with Arma’s color call outs using Mr. Color 304 over 128. The white bands were used by some units on home defense duties.
Late in 1944 paint shortages resulted in Nakajima switching to dark brown as an upper surface camo on some production runs. According to Ian Baker there were three browns used, and variations within those. The brown on this model is a mix of Mr. Color 42 Mahogany and 22 Dark Earth, with a few drops of Red added for good measure. Mixes with 131 Propeller Color or 520 Lederbraun would result in a similar tone. 128 Gray Green was used on the undersides, and Baker indicates that the browns lightened with white were also used on the undersides. The unit markings on the tail were masked off, and the chipping is a base coat of Alclad with stippling of a liquid mask, then the finish paint layer was pulled off with masking tape.
I used the kit decals for the Hinomarus and stencils, and some of the unit markings. There are ample stencils in both red and yellow options. All the decals performed flawlessly, but several are long and thin so they take some fiddling to get them straight.
The underwing stores were secured directly to the wing and steadied with a series of sway braces. The larger braces are provided in the kit and were used on the drop tanks. The smaller braces were used with bombs, and are missing from the kit. Mine are made from wire, and while not perfect they will look the part over the bombs and drop tanks.
The models were given an acrylic wash using Tamiya German Gray over Testors Glosscote, and sealed with Dullcote. I had issues with the Glosscoat pulling off the paint if I masked over it, the Glosscote didn’t bond well to the Mr. Color paint. I’ll likely shift to a different gloss next build.
The Hayate had an unusual radio antenna arrangement, which I replicated with my standard go to 0.005” Nitenol wire. Resistors are gray paint. Photos show this particular aircraft had lost all the paint off the upper fuselage. Chipping was done by stripping the camo off of an undercoat of Alclad, supplemented with sponge and brush chips.
Here are all six finished models together. IJAAF aircraft are one of my first modeling fixations, so this build had some strong nostalgic elements. If the aftermarket blesses us with some interesting decal sheets I could see myself building more!


This is another strong release from Arma, coming close on the heels of their P-51B/C Mustangs.  The fit is excellent, and the surface details are finely engraved and look just right.  Many of the parts go together with that satisfying “click” which I just love.  The decals performed flawlessly, and there are enough stencils on each sheet to do two aircraft which supplies spares and insurance against mishaps.  There are six marking options provided, all are attractive aircraft.  The geometric nature of IJAAF unit markings makes masking certain tail markings an option – two of my builds feature painted unit markings.  For those planning to build this kit, here are some construction notes:

  1.  The cockpit tub and engine can be inserted after the fuselage halves are joined.  Doing it this way will allow the fuselage to be glued from the inside and ensure the cockpit is seated properly.
  2. The forward fuselage has two tabs which must be removed for the wings to seat.  Easy to fix, but this is not noted in the instructions.  Also, the PE wiring harness will show its raised detail if it is installed opposite from the way shown.
  3. Missing are the carburetor splitter plate and bomb shackles.  Making these are not difficult but they are unexpected omissions given the level of detail of the kit.
  4. The engine cowling is effectively four panels and a front ring.  These are a little tricky to align so plan on taking your time here.
  5. The rearmost section of the canopy does not fit into the slots in the fuselage.  Carefully cut the tabs off the bottom of the clear piece.
  6. The pilot’s seat needs some help.  I drilled holes in mine which improved the looks substantially but it still has some shape issues.  Eduard has already announced a 3D printed replacement which should be coming along soon.
  7. If I were recommending references my first choice would be Aero Detail 24 with Kagero Monograph 18 following close behind.  There are also a number of Japanese language references which are useful, but you will soon begin seeing the same material again and again.
  8. The Kabuki tape masks worked great, they definitely made construction easier.

Part I of the construction here:

Arma Hobby Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

With the cockpit and engine assemblies in place it is time to cut off the tabs behind the engine so the wing piece will seat properly. The tabs are not shown in the instructions and I don’t see why they were added as the engine limits the spread of the forward fuselage.
Even with the wings on there are still several components to add to the construction. There are two sizes of oil coolers to choose from, and both have the radiator inside represented with PE. In this case the PE will be visible on the completed model, although the radiator texture could have just as easily been represented in plastic.
I found the cowling pieces a bit fiddly and had to sand them in most cases to get them smooth. The cowl flaps and exhausts are separate pieces and really look the part when in place. I plan on leaving the horizontal stabilizers off for now on most of these to ease painting. Fit was excellent overall using MEK, the main component in most “thin” glues. I had several seams which did not need filling or sanding, but I have never had a build which didn’t need a seam or two addressed somewhere.
The kabuki tape masks went on without a hitch. The fit of the clear parts left something to be desired. The rear section is designed with a tab which is to fit into a slot in the fuselage, but the tab is bigger than the slot. I shaved mine off with a hobby knife, and used Perfect Plastic Putty to address any remaining seam. This particular build will be in an overall NMF so I attached the horizontal stabilizers.
The finish was checked with Mr. Surfacer 1000. Any seams which still remained were sanded back and panel lines and rivets were re-scribed, then primed again to be sure.
The fiddly bits were cut off the sprues at the same time as the cockpit components, allowing them to be worked on in parallel with the primary assembly path. The bronze rod “handles” on the drop tanks will be the main anchor points when it comes time to mount them to the model. The rods are placed so they can also represent the fuel lines from the tanks.
Wheels and props were also cut from the sprues and cleaned up on the first day of construction, allowing them to be painted and decaled while other assemblies were drying.
This is the nose after any needed cowling panels have been rescribed and rivets replaced with a needle. At this point I noticed that the splitter plate in the carburetor intake was missing. This is an easy fix with a piece of plastic card.

Part IV here: