Liberator Mk III/V "Coastal Command"
Extreme gratitude from IPMS USA and this reviewer to Hobbico for providing us this kit… it’s been a while off the radar and we’re pleased it’s back!
This kit was originally released as a B-24D back in around 1999, if I remember correctly. At the time it was (and still is) the best of the 1/72 kits of this multi-use aircraft, and in Hasegawa’s normal practice, this time is released in the guise of an RAF Coastal Command aircraft.
The short history is the British needed a long-range coastal heavy bomber capable of flying out to assist the beleaguered convoys shipping war materials to Britain from the U.S., in the form of anti-submarine reconnaissance and general over watch of the ships. In these roles the aircraft proved more than capable.
The kit contains an additional sprue in this case catering to the turret and quad-Browning .303 machine guns, along with the thimble-shaped lower ball turret replacement radome used on the Mark V for locating surface ships and submarines. The earlier Mark III did not have the radome but a standard B-24D with no lower turret assembly.
In 16 separate steps. 56 basic airframe parts are assembled to make the airframe. If you use the bombs, 30 parts are added. There are four extra bomb doors that are designed for the “open” position. As this is typical multi-use Hasegawa kit, the clear and plastic runners include parts for the various unused turrets, guns, and turret mounts… relegate to the scrap box! Other options include waist gun position doors which can be installed in the open position, providing those of you who like the opportunity to detail this part of the model.
The gear CAN be assembled in the up position, but it is up to the modeler to figure out how to close the doors. There also are no crew-members for the kit. Also YOU NEED TO ADD NOSE WEIGHT to the front. I used the forward wheel well with about ½ ounce of lead sinkers, and then put about another ounce worth in the area below the top turret, which is not open to the front to be seen. If I were to do this kit again (I am) I will plan on using metal gear, probably bronze…
Decals are provided for two Coastal Command aircraft, both with medium Sea Gray uppers, with overall white lowers. The major difference is how high up the demarcation line is. On the Mk V it is almost the extreme top, but on the Mark III it extends further down the fuselage side.
Hasegawa would have you assemble the aft section first around the bulkheads and bomb bay assembly, then assemble the nose section and cement this to the aft fuselage. Personal experience indicated this was great place for a “Step” and extra filling… I chose to add the fuselage sides to the nose sides, then incorporate all the internal details on MY build. This, however, is a review kit, so I went with the instructions and spent time with putty and wet/dry 230 paper j1/80 WD paper, then finished with 600 Paper, I just had to work at it more.
The pictures show the interior of the model. Included in the kit are excellent bombs and racks, but time pushed me to get this done so I closed it up; the kit parts for closed bays are in included. As a note, CMK makes a set of correct louvered open bomb doors if you want to save a lot of scribing. Just a thought…
The cockpit is difficult to see when complete, but it’s worth making tape seat belts and painting the instrument panel. The forward upper fuselage has the canopy integrally molded in clear, and it is a bear to mask… but it fits great is and is worth every second of work.
Install the stabilizers and cement the fins/rudders together but do not attach to the stab; it is a lot easier to paint the deicing boots while they are flat on the table.
The wings were next, and these were uncomplicated with detailed wheel wells and oil coolers. The engines are then offered up to the nacelles, and if you are careful, will fit relatively well. The cowlings are multiple part items, but everything keys in where they are supposed to. Do NOT install the wings to the fuselage yet, as they are press fit and it’s easier to add toward the end of the build, due to their design. They fit perfectly with NO putty required.
The canopy and forward nose clear sections really almost require one to use a pre-cut mask set. Really. This is the second “D” I’ve done and I purchased sets for the D and J models while at the Eduard Stand during the nationals. As it was I used some kabuki tape but for the most part ended up using clear scotch frosted tape, as otherwise the framing is not deep enough to provide outline markings to capture the knife tip.
I closed the side waist doors/windows, as the cold weather over the North Sea tended to cause crews to keep the windows closed unless necessary. Blue bunny heated suits aside, I’ve flown in more modern aircraft with the side windows open (CH-53’s in Germany) and in the winter the wind blast is brutal at 100 knots, and I didn’t have a heated suit. Those guys were tough… and they lost a lot of fingers and toes to frostbite.
The main seams required a bit of work, but nothing onerous, and the engraved detail was simple to restore. As I had masked off the clear parts, the painting commenced. First, black de-icing boots are all around on the wing leading edges. Wait a day to allow the paint to cure, and then mask them off. This is where my previous build paid off, as the fins were easy to mask and cut around the boot engraving verses trying to do it on the aircraft. Same for the wings being off, a LOT easier.
The upper Medium Sea Gray was painted with Tamiya Sea gray 2 rattle can, and allowed to cure another day. Light masking for the gray overall (it’s a hard demarcation) then Tamiya rattle can primer white followed by Duplicolor gloss white rattle can lacquer spray.
Remove the masks (except clear areas), touch up, and glosscoat. It was at this point I cemented the fins and the wing to the airframe. Easy job! Same for the landing gear and wheels; the nose gear was already installed, so the wings went on without problem.
Decaling was about ½ hour, not much there, except I had one wing roundel leading edges bit that did not adhere, and when I tried to fix it the bit tore off and flew away.
Dangit. No time to fix it now… deadlines approaching.
Another gloss coat, then lots of oil weathering. I did it a bit too much, but I know how much oil use and wear occurred in the colder climates, hence the black oil on the fuselage sides and one engine with more problems than the others.
Detail paint, install the upper and tail turrets, and done.
Final rating is top mark; reason? It’s THE best game in town IMO, fit is great, and clear parts are well thought out. The separate engine nacelles look great too. Sincere thanks again to Hobbico for sending the model to the review corps, and the team for allowing me to build it. I had a fantastic time… and it’s an unusual B-24 mark!
Hello, this kit looks remarkably similar to a photo of my Grandad's aircraft that is on my wall and that has since been posted online in quite a few places after I shared it with someone about 10 years ago. Thanks for the blog, going to have to get the kit. Regards, Joe