1/48 B-24J Seat Belts, Exterior, Bomb Bay, & Surface Panels|
For the Revell / Monogram kit
|Stock Number: Seat Belts- #48xxx, Exterior- #48618, Bomb Bay- #48634, Surface Panels- #48647|
|Reviewed By Rod Lees, IPMS# 10821|
Note: this is really one of three related reviews -- see also:
Nose & Aft Fuselage
First off: Special thanks to Eduard for providing IPMS (and hence me) all the PE sets which I have used over the past three months!
Now, from my wallet: A "I want to thank my producer" Emmy-night listing of everything I used to build a model one of my favorite bombers.
Thanks to Bill Koster for being a true pioneer from Monogram's Halcyon days in the 1960s, who produces EXCELLENT aftermarket parts for this old Monogram kit, in this case clear gun turret parts, cast white metal .50 cal weapons, both mounted and free-standing … Fast service, competitive price, and excellent products.
Terry Dean and his well-thought-out nose weight sets
Dave Klaus and his former company "Meteor" who did what nobody else was doing at the time and became a prodigious producer of cool stuff for us model freaks who just had to step over the line without doing a lot of scratch-building on our own… I used Meteor's (OOP) B-24H Ford nose conversion and Meteor's "PYN-up" nose art for "Jamaica?"
Also starring Technics' .50 cal ammo brass belts, , Squadron's vacform canopy, and Accurate Miniatures' 500LB and 1000LB bombs from their weapons set.
And the original team at Monogram models, who, by stepping out in front of the pack, provided all of us with the 1/48 scale models that nobody else has decided to produce. Name your company, I dare you. Monogram developed and fielded a model of every major heavy bomber aircraft produced by the Air Corps, and they are STILL available at very reasonable prices; no $200 kits here, and they can be built OOB and look right without going to the extremes I am about to expound on.
OK, confession time: This turned into one serious AMS build. After using everything else Eduard have produced for this kit, I thought "Now I can finish the beast".
I noted (and volunteered my time with) the aforementioned previously reviewed sets. Let's get a few things clear off the bat… The venerable Monogram B-24 is a 1976-era model. I graduated high school that year, and it was the epitome of model bliss back then. Fast forward: It is STILL an excellent kit, worthy of your efforts. Some marketing info: This kit is versatile. Modifications: You can get Bill Koster's conversion to make a Privateer… or if you were independently wealthy, you bought the Meteor conversion of the same aircraft. (I ALMOST did…). Bill also has a set of clear turrets, resin bits for same turrets, and white metal .50 cal weapons with ammo feed chutes or bare bullets, your choice. Or you can build one of the myriad re-releases of the B-24D, which has JUST BEEN re-released and is currently just about out of stock everywhere. That tells me Monogram's B-24 is a true classic. Now Bill has released a nose conversion for an "H" to fill the gap left by the demise of Meteor Productions, which will be the subject of a build later on. The "J", well, you can do yourself.
I have had two or three original Monogram B-24J kits in my stash for about 15 years… I purchased the Meteor B-24H nose conversion back when everyone showed up here in OKC in 2003 for the nationals, and subsequently the "PYN"-up nose art decal for "Jamaica" around the same time. I was going to do the Aeromaster "Naughty Nan" sheet, but the Meteor PYN decal won. And all except the decals have been languishing in the attic (read "Oklahoma Heat") since then. NO WARPS! It's how you store the kit that matters… in this case, stored flat, not allowing the plastic to be on-end.
Eduard's sets forced me to do something! It's called "BUILD THE KIT". I had not intended to go AMS on this, but these sets make it worthwhile. (Yeah, a non-paid for plug for Eduard stuff). I have a set of engines from both Koster and Aires; and did not use them on this build. Bills' engines are pretty well complete, paint, highlight, drybrush, and install items. The Aires engines require you to install pushrods. Lessee, seven cylinders times two, times four engines. Nope, not enough time for a review build. AND, the Eduard PE B-24J exterior kit includes ignition harnesses for the kit engines. As this is mostly an Eduard review, I used them… and they look good 'nuff for this build.
In this case, having built the cockpit, fore and aft fuselage interiors, and having received the bomb bay, I was ready to go to town! Eduard's bomb bay and cockpit sets are, in my opinion, worth the cash. Seat belts, radios, oxygen regulators, all add to the kit's basic interior. I used the Squadron "True Details" cockpit canopy as the shape is deeper and more accurate than the kit item.
As for the bomb bay, all the bomb rails, shackles, bulkheads, boxes, and upper bay ceiling make all the difference in the world to the appearance of the kit. A lot of little folded metal bits represent the stringers and stiffeners… And I totally botched the forward ladder between the bay and the cockpit, to be scratch built some day. The walkway is folded around a plastic strip; the instructions tell you to use the cut-out walkway and exterior longeron from the kit, but I had misplaced one half and opted to use Evergreen strip. There are a lot of wire runs and details that are added to the basic bay; light assemblies, hydraulic lines, etc. This enhancement certainly increases the "busy factor". I did not use the Eduard bomb tail fins, as I opted to use bombs from the Accurate Miniatures Weapons Set" which are complete out of the box.
The bay doors, well, I could not get the interior corrugation to behave, (when I used a ball point pen and ruler to run down the lines, it balled up) so I cheated and backed up the door skins with plastic scalloped roofing material. Looks good to me, too bad for the judges at the contest that I don't plan to enter the model in.
Again, I have several "non-Eduard" plugs here. Terry Dean's nose weights were used to great effect on the model. Solved the "wow, I didn't know the real aircraft nose wheel was packed with huge lead fishing weights" issue so common in the past. Both weights fit to either side of the aft lower fuselage before the bomb bay and behind the nose wheel well, and are not obtrusive. They do the job "jest right". Can't see anything in there anyway, and they work. If you are gonna do it, do it right. On the top turret, I just happened to have a set of Brass Technics (Read "Meteor") .50 cal ammunition belts, which provided some feed detail for those weapons.
Meteor's now out-of-production nose and decals were also cash well spent. Follow the instructions, remove the "J" nose, and install the H nose parts. Yep, you will have to be careful on the removal and install, and they may "break off" on occasion, but hang tough and you'll have a decent "H" nose. I used clear casting resin to fill in all the windows on the nose and fuselage; (Sand off the window frames), use clear packaging tape on the exterior, burnish it down so there are no leaks, and fill from the interior. Let cure for three days, and then remove the tape. Polish off the tape adhesive, and you have flush windows. I used the window frame surrounds from the Eduard PE set to highlight what was removed by sanding before the resin was poured.
Main wheel wells receive interior bracing from Eduard. Once again, worth the time. The nose gear doors have plates with lightening holes in them, and PE strip hinges that make for a secure attachment to what is usually just a butt joint.
The exterior panel fret is worth mentioning. Yep, it was a PIA installing the lower and upper wing access panels and fuel filler caps, as well as all the other little bits and pieces scattered around the bird as access panels. HOWEVER, they make a difference. Make sure you fully sand down the existing panel markings (They are not recessed, this is an old model)… If you are fortunate to have an original release, the silver plastic has a tendency to still show where the old panel lines and all that are located when you sand them off, which makes rescribing easier. After installation, they are made less obtrusive by two primer coats, although you tend to fill the screw holes on the panels that way… in 1/48th scale, this is not a major problem.
Finishing the model included installing Koster tail and nose turret assemblies, with resin bits. I used Koster clear parts for most of the model, with the exception of the excellent Squadron Cockpit canopy. The frames and interior details on the Emerson nose turret were brass wire bent to shape, and Eduard Details on the interior. Koster .50 cal weapons were also used exclusively on this build; They are white metal and take a lot of abuse and bending before breaking. I used a dremel to remove a lot of the kit lower frame assembly from the Emerson turret; I then scabbed the Koster clear parts in place after detailing the turret. Koster .50 cal ammo chutes were bent to shape and cut to fit inside the lower part of the nose turret. I did not try to route ammo chutes from the back of the turret to the ammo boxes; nor did I fabricate the fuselage door and fairings which exist behind the gun turret. Again, too much effort for outcome. Having crawled through those doors to access the turret on Barksdale AFB's B-24 while doing restoration work, I was having some serious flashbacks… I'm too big of a boy to be doing that stuff. The tail turret was much the same, except I used all the Koster parts for it including the resin frames and clear parts. Eduard's frames were excellent and would have been perfect in the Monogram turret parts, but I like the structural integrity of the Koster items.
With the waist guns installed, the rams' horn pitot tubes, and a couple of antennas, we were done. I did heavy weathering and exhaust/oil staining, because these beasts endured that. In the end, I have a B-24 on the shelf that looks like no other, and satisfies my retro side with a real bomber.
Closing comment: I cannot rave enough about Eduard's PE enhancements; they are extremely well engineered and add the final touch to the model …