The HK B-17F & G are really nice kits. Much nicer than the venerable Monogram B-17G and the Revell B-17F, however there are some areas where I prefer the older kit. One of those areas is the engines.
There are a variety of companies that have made update sets for the engines. For me the best and easiest to use is this Aires set.
Packaged in the typical Aires cardboard box are four beautiful engines. The detail is exceptional with the cooling fins on the cylinders being the deal cincher for me. Included in the box are the four engines and four ‘banks’ of push rods with plenty of extras. There are also four spacers included. Also in the box is a fret of brass ignition leads for the cylinders. Illustrated instructions are also included.
Let me warn you NOT to do what I did. The instructions are a little vague on where to cut the engines at. DO NOT cut off the vertical stub behind the engines. You need that to mount them. I did not notice, or was in too much of a hurry, and cut them off. I suck. I had to glue them back on. It wasn’t a big thing, but it had to be done. The actual cutting of the engines from the resin backing was easy.
The little push rods are fragile and some of mine had broken loose in handling. They break at the proper place, but you have to be careful not to lose them.
After I had the engines removed and fixed my screw up, I painted them in Alclad Dark Aluminum. The crankcase was then masked off and sprayed Tamiya Neutral Grey. A wash of AK Dark Wash was added to bring out the cylinder detail and ‘dirty’ up the engine.
While that wash was drying, I painted the push rods Tamiya Semi-gloss Black. The ignition harness which encircles the crankcase was painted AK Extreme Aluminum.
Then it was just a matter of adding the push rods to the cylinders. You do have to supply some solder to form the drain lines. Make sure you add this in the proper sequence, because one line goes behind the push rods, and one goes in the front.
Once that is done you can add the propellor governor on top of the engine. I elected to add a data plate to my oil reservoir. It added a nice touch. That is not provided in the kit.
One thing that I had to do prior to adding the engines was to remove the beautiful propellor shaft and replace it with tubing to add the props with.
Adding the photo etch ignition leads was not hard but pay attention to the proper order. I painted mine black first then AK Extreme Metal Pale Burnt Metal with some details picked out with a silver marker. They were added with super glue without an issue.
A final coat of flat over everything made them ready to install. Installing them is fairly easy. They fit fine just pay attention to the orientation of the engine to ensure what I think is the oil reservoir is pointed down. The engines fit inside the cowlings with no problems whatsoever.
This set is easy to use, and the results are well worth the investment. I’ve already purchased two more sets for my other HK kits. That is the best endorsement I can offer any aftermarket set. The results are beautiful engines ready to turn over.
Thanks to Aires and IPMS/USA for the review copy. You can obtain yours at your local hobby shop or online retailer.