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

One of the Airfix B-25Cs will be in a desert scheme. Here is the banded paint scheme in all its masked-up glory. The color separations are masked with “worms” of poster putty and Frog Tape from the hardware store. The turret opening and engine nacelles are plugged with foam to protect the interior.
The same model after painting with most of the masking removed. The scheme is Olive Drab and Sand over Neutral Gray, all three colors deviate a bit from the Mr. Color jars. The Olive Drab was mixed with tans and applied in layers to vary the shade, likewise the Sand was darkened up with darker browns. The Neutral Gray undersides were lightened with white mixes to accent the panels.
A similar technique was used on the other three aircraft which are all Olive Drab over Neutral Gray. There was considerable variation in Olive Drab shades on USAAF aircraft, due to differences in the original mixes and the also the way they weathered. I left the cowlings off the aircraft with intricate nose art so I could get at the nose area easier. DK provides a decal for the white cheat lines on the cowlings, but I chose to mask mine rather than try to get the color separations exactly right.
This is where things went sideways. The white lines on the nose art decals are printed in left and right pieces. The decals themselves are a dangerous combination of thin film and grabby adhesive, which makes them particularly resistant to sliding around for proper positioning. While I did separate some portions which looked like they could be problematic, my decal just refused to slide into position and soon was a torn ball of decal film and ink. Also note the gap in the white line between the decals on the top of the nose.
Dirty Dora was even worse. I cut away all the outer boundary portions of the white trim so I could have better control of each section – I made six sections in all. This didn’t solve everything, it appears the decal is slightly bigger than it should be. The inner lines on the bat wings are not supposed to touch the bottom boundary line. In addition, the scoreboard is miss-aligned and the whole nose art is further aft than it should be. With the decals on it was all was too depressing to even look at. After considering my options, I have stripped off the nose decals from both Dirty Dora and Pretty Pat and pushed ahead with the other two. I haven’t given up yet, replacement decals are on the way from Hannants. Hopefully I’ll be able to wrap up this build next week!

Airfix North American P-51D of Major George Preddy in 1/72 Scale

George “Ratsy” Preddy opened his account while flying P-40s in defense of Darwin with the 9th Pursuit Squadron, 49th Pursuit group.  He was credited with two shared against Japanese aircraft, but was hospitalized after a mid-air collision with another P-40.  Upon recovery, he was eventually assigned to the 487th FS, 352nd FG flying P-47 Thunderbolts from Bodney, England.  Preddy was credited with two victories in the Thunderbolt, and earned a Silver Star for breaking up a Luftwaffe attack against a formation of B-17s.

In April 1944 the 352nd converted to the P-51 Mustang and Preddy began to score steadily.  He scored four on a single mission on 18JUL44. His best day was on 07AUG44, downing six Bf-109s during a single mission.

Preddy was rose to command the Group’s 328th Fighter Squadron as a Major.  During the Battle of the Bulge the Squadron was operating from a forward airfield located at Asche, Belgium.  On Christmas day he led a flight of ten Mustangs on a patrol.  Preddy downed two Messerschmitts, then pursued a lone Fw 190D flying over the front at low altitude.  Two other P-51s joined Preddy as they pursued the Focke Wulf at treetop height.  The aircraft crossed over American lines and were engaged by an M3 halftrack of the 430th AA Battalion mounting quad .50 machine guns.  All three P-51s were hit.  Two Mustangs were downed, including Preddy’s.  He did not survive the crash.

George Preddy was credited with 26.83 aerial victories, making him the eighth top-scoring U.S. ace.

“Cripes A’ Mighty”, piloted by Major George Preddy,328 FS, Bodney, Norfolk, Dec. 1944.  Airfix kit, Eagle Strike decal sheet IP7208.

North American B-25 Mitchell Color Photographs Part I – Production

B-25Cs roll down the assembly line at North American’s factory at Inglewood, California in 1942. The Mitchells in the foreground are nearing completion but are still missing their outer wing panels.
With the war on the factories were in operation round the clock and soon aircraft orders exceeded floor space. Aircraft rolled out of the factory and final assembly was performed on the Inglewood apron in the California sun. Here an unpainted B-25C leaves the factory doors to join others on the outside. Note that the aircraft are being painted even before the outer wing panels have been attached.
This Mitchell has received her wings and is nearing completion. Almost 10,000 B-25s of all variants were produced.
Edward doesn’t make a masking set for this job! Here workers mask off the nose transparencies in preparation for the painting of this Michell’s Olive Drab over Light Gray camouflage. Note that the canopy framing has already been painted, making the job a little easier.
A worker poses with a brand-new Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone engine, giving an excellent view of colors and details of the engine, as well as construction of the engine dolly. The R-2600 developed 1,700 hp.
A worker checks the wiring harness of an R-2600. The paperwork traveled with the engine and is seen rolled up under her hands, and an identification number has been written in red on the crank case.
On the front of the firewall this worker is installing the engine mounts. These served as shock absorbers to reduce the transmission of engine vibrations to the airframe.
Workers install equipment in the nacelle and leading edge of the wing, a useful photograph for super detailers.
Engine assemblies awaiting installation after adding cowl rings and cooling flaps. The cowling opening was 36 inches (915 cm).
The moment of truth! An electric hoist is used to position the engine while final connections are made. The missing panels show the degree of access available for mechanics in the field.

Hasegawa North American P-51D of Lt. Freddie Hutchins in 1/72 Scale

Freddie Hutchins scored his first aerial victory on 26JUL44 while escorting B-24 Liberators on a raid against Markendorf, Germany.  In August he was credited with four strafing victories in Romania.  On 06OCT44 the 302nd Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group was assigned another airfield to strafe at Megara, Greece.  This time Hutchens was not so lucky.  Pulling off his first run, his Mustang was hit by flak.  He managed to nurse his aircraft over a nearby mountain, but came down on the other side.  Although injured, Hutchins managed to evade capture and return to his unit with the help of local Greek civilians.  Freddie Hutchins survived the war, and went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam.

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.

Arma Hobby North American P-51B of 1Lt Robert H. Powell Jr. in 1/72 Scale

Robert “Punchy” Powell hailed from Wilcoe, West Viginia.  He flew 83 combat missions with the 352nd Fighter Group and was credited with an Me 410 and Bf 109 destroyed with a further 3.5 aircraft destroyed on the ground.  His Mustang suffered an engine failure on take-off and was destroyed, but Powell extricated himself from the wreckage and survived.  He passed away on 22JUN16 at the age of 95.

Serial Number 42-106914 P-51B-15-NA “The West by Gawd Virginian” 1Lt Robert H. Powell Jr. 328th FS 352 FG, Eagle Strike 72-08 decals