Academy B-17G 15th Air Force Special Edition
This Special Edition kit of Academy's B-17G comes in a large [12” x 18” x 2-½”] heavy cardboard box – this helps when storing a large stack of kits (but who has a stack of kits? Certainly not me). Inside, you’ll find a crisply-molded kit with finely recessed panel lines, along with several extra parts which aren’t needed since they’re used on the B-17C and D series.
Besides the early model stabilizers, there are 2 types of props, cowls, top turrets, and nose glass – though not an E model one – and both a Cheyenne and stinger tail gun position.
This special edition has been issued in honor of the 15th Air Force and comes with decals for 5 aircraft: Betty Lou, KWITURBITCHIN VI, Miss Prissy, Sleepy Time Gal, and hell’s angel, all of which are natural metal airplanes. The kit comes with 500 lb bombs and has a detailed bomb bay if you want to pose it with the doors open.
I followed the instructions by starting in the cockpit, which went smoothly. I did use tape for my seat belts out of habit, but there are ready-made belts available on the kit’s decal sheet. After the interior was done, I painted most of the visible surfaces silver to simulate a natural metal interior – which most B-17s had at that date – then did the same in the main wheel wells.
After gluing the fuselage and wing halves together, I sanded all the seams. The fuselage halves fit well, but when fitting the wings to the fuselage, there was way too much dihedral to them, so I tried to reduce the dihedral angle by removing material from the lower root area of the wings. Even so, after attaching them, a gap remained at the top. To make a neat job of filling them, I put tape on each side of the gap and then used spot putty to fill it. While that was still wet, I removed the tape, leaving a small seam to sand. I also had to fill a small spot on the nose and some more around the bomb bay doors, since I chose to model them closed.
The wing is also a little thicker than the fuselage-to-wing fairing, so I let mine hang down a bit on the bottom. Before I began the exterior painting, I added the clear parts for the cockpit, radio compartment, and waist windows to the model and faired them in. The fit was OK with the exception of the cockpit…I left mine, but I suppose you could fill and blend it in with some more work.
With that beautiful decal sheet, it was hard to select a scheme, but I chose KWITURBITCHIN VI from the 414th BS, 97th BG in Italy, 1945, because I liked the diagonal stripes on the rudder. For finishing, I tried painting the colors before the aluminum, so sprayed the deicers black, then painted the nacelles, fin, and the cockpit anti-glare panel olive drab. I then masked those areas off (a lot of work) and sprayed the natural metal. For the colors, I used Gunze Sangyo acrylics, and for the aluminum, Model Master Non-Buffing Metalizer. I also shaded some panels and dulled the control surfaces to make them look like fabric by overspraying them with a thinned-out solution of white.
The Cartograf decals were beautiful and right on register. The large ones require careful handling, though, because once placed on the model, they don't like to slide much. I used Micro Set to help position them on the model, then went over them with Micro Sol after they were dry. The aircraft name came in 2 colors, black and red – I used the red ones.
Upon adding the nose glass, I discovered to my frustration that it was larger than the opening, and I popped the upper nose seam trying to get the part in place (its back is recessed to fit inside the fuselage). Next time I’d file that part’s back off and glue it flush to the fuselage. I used Sobo glue for making the small windows (Micro Krystal Kleer will work too), then added turrets, wheels, etc.
Overall I’m happy with the model. I liked working with its recessed panel lines best, but am unhappy with the cockpit glass and the wing fit. Although this is my first Academy B-17G build, this is my fifteenth 1/72 scale one in my collection of built up Fortresses.
My thanks to IPMS/USA, Academy, and Model Rectifier Corp. for the opportunity to review this kit of my favorite airplane.