B-17G Flying Fortresses 353rd BS/301st BG & 401st BS/91st BG
The B-17 is one of my all-time favorite aircraft and with the new Revell kit out in 1/72nd scale I was very excited to get this sheet of decals to give me some additional options when I acquire the kit.
I have used SSI decals before and they have always performed well for me. This sheet is printed in perfect registration and gives full markings for two B-17Gs including stencils and stars and bars for both aircraft. The only flaw I can see is the nose art on both planes lacks detail.
The aircraft depicted are:
- "Little Patches" a B-17G-25-BO s/n 42-31678, 401st BS, 91st BG flying with the 8th Air Force out of Bassingbourne, England in 1943.
- "Sleepy-Time GAL" a B-17G-40-BO s/n 42-97165, 353rd BS, 301st BG flying with the 15th Air Force out of Lucera, Italy in 1944.
The placement instructions are in full color and show the left side of each plane with a separate nose section to better show the detail blocked by the engines and an upper view of the wings showing color and decal placement. The stencil locations are clearly marked and both planes are shown with the Cheyenne tail turret.
I was interested in how the squadron markings looked on the right side of Little Patches and here is where I ran into some inconsistencies with the markings depicted on both aircraft.
A quick Google search on the web brought up a bunch of nose art pictures and a nice build up that showed the view of the markings I was looking for but showed the Group markings reversed with a black A on a white triangle. There is picture of the actual plane in Ref 1 below that clearly shows this. Also, looking through the many books that I have on the subject, every picture of a 91st plane in the OD scheme shows it this way (see Squadron B-17 in Action #1012). The white A in a black triangle was used on aircraft in natural metal finishes.
So, what about the other scheme? Again a search with Google brings up the 301st BG site and a picture of the plane crashed in Austria. Where the decals show a C on the tail which was assigned to the 353rd BS as stated in the instructions, the picture (Ref 4) shows an A and states that she belonged to the 32nd BS (which the A depicts). There is artwork that has been published and on the net showing the markings and squadron as depicted on this sheet but the only photo I can find shows it the other way.
Also, the build mentioned shows Patches with a regular tail turret. According to the B-17 Flying Fortress Detail & Scale book, the first production Cheyenne turrets appeared with B-17G-80-BO (43-38473). However, it is also mentioned that many of the kits were installed in the field so it is possible both of these planes received that modification (Ref 3 mentions that "Little Patches" (then with the 324th BS and coded DF-L) was damaged on March 29, 1944 during a mission to Brunswick and was sent to the Sub Depot for major repairs. When she returned to service, she was assigned to the 401st Bomb Sqn and re-coded LL-L. It is possible she got the Cheyenne turret then but that would also indicate the markings in the kit would have to be from 1944 not '43 as stated. The photo of “Sleepy-Time GAL” does not show enough of the tail to indicate which turret was on her when she crashed. There is a picture in Air Force Colors Vol. 2 by Squadron (page 58) of two of the groups planes, one from the 32nd and one from the 353rd, showing both aircraft with the regular tail turret. Both planes have the green rudder which was added to the planes in the summer of '44 which the picture of the crashed plane does not but that really doesn't prove anything.
So, while I am normally not much of a nitpicker when it comes to my models and probably wouldn't even have noticed anything if I hadn't wanted to see the other side, I was able to find concerns with both sets of markings in a short period of time. References are given on the sheet and I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to the researchers, I have to stick with the data I have found. It would be nice if SSI would send out a correction for the Group markings for Patches and the Squadron markings for GAL or even provide information that backs up their research. I am definitely not an expert on the subject and would gladly change my opinion but at this time, I wouldn't use the decals as is.
Thanks to Squadron Products and IPMS/USA for the review sample.