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 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG

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pmmaker

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PostSubject: 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG   Mon Feb 20 2017, 15:08

The B-25 is probably one of my favorite aircraft from WWII. Tough, versatile, and effective, the B-25 was one of the most successful aircraft flown. So when I had a chance to pick up an old AMT/Frog B-25 from my local hobby shop for under $15.00, I just couldn’t resist.

HISTORY:

The North American B-25 medium bomber actually began its existence in the form of a completely different airplane. The Mitchell was a total redesign of a moderately successful light attack bomber built by the North American Aircraft Co. for a USAAF competition in 1938. The original aircraft was lost during a test flight, but the general shape of the prototype had shown much promise. North American undertook the replacement of the lost prototype with an enlarged and more powerful version of the bomber. This aircraft became known as the B-25 and was named Mitchell in honor of the famous American Army officer Billy Mitchell who outspokenly advocated for the role of air power.

No actual prototype of the production version of the B-25 was ever built. Production began with the first plane in the B-25A series. The first nine B-25’s had a slight upward dihedral throughout the wings. Once these planes flew, a lack of stability during simulated bomb runs led to a production design change. This change involved giving the outer wings a flat wing panel 90 degrees to the fuselage. This gave the B-25 its noticeable gull-winged look which would remain throughout its production life.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, a small quantity of B-25’s were already in service. As more groups entered service, they were initially put into anti-submarine and light attack duties in the Pacific. On December 24, 1941, a B-25 became the first American medium bomber to sink a Japanese submarine.

In early 1942, sixteen B-25B’s were flown off the U.S.S. Hornet under the command of James Doolittle in a daring raid on Tokyo. At this time, the B-25 was the largest aircraft to ever fly from an aircraft carrier.

Improved versions of the B-25 would eventually be used, including the B-25C, which included a remote control ventral gun turret. Other versions were sold to the Royal Air Force where they were known as the Mitchell II. The plane was also used by the Nationalist Chinese and the Soviet Union acquired many B-25s through the Lend-Lease program. Thus the B-25 was seen fighting on all fronts of WWII.

THE KIT:

A vintage early 1960s kit, the model comes in an opening end flap box and is molded in a light gray styrene plastic.







As with most of these old kits, the instructions are limited to a single, exploded view drawing with a few small part painting directions. The 50+ year old decals are stiff, curled, and yellowed. Generally unusable, I searched high and low for better replacements, but unfortunately, there were no newer replacement sheets available. So I had to find a way to make these work somehow (more on this later).







Construction of the kit was straight forward. I added a lot of weight to the nose and forward fuselage, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough – the plane is still 100% a tail sitter! Tails, wings, engine nacelles, and the fuselage were all assembled and pre-painted as sub-assemblies. I had to add some details such as the cockpit armor plates, various vertical antennae, and engine exhaust pipes.



The kit does provide three crew figures: a pilot, co-pilot, and top turret gunner, but no figure is given to sit underneath that beautiful glass nose. To remedy this I raided the spare crew box. I found a suitable figure to use as a top gunner (I glued him to the clear gun dome once the guns were painted) and I moved the original gunner to his new station – bombardier. I created the floor decking and seat for him and added some detailing in the cockpit: control yokes, bulkheads, and instrument panel to enhance a rather empty cockpit area.

The kit supplies three sets of markings: a B-25C in Nationalist Chinese Markings, and two B-25C aircraft in 1942/43 USAAF Mediterranean markings of B-25C's of the 489th BS/340th BG, similar to Corgi’s “Legal Eagle” die-cast release. This is the scheme I decided to replicate. I used Testers “Wood” spray for the desert tan and Tamiya “Japanese Army Green” as a very close approximation of the USAAF medium grey. The tan was painted first and then masked off so the green could be over sprayed by airbrush. Lastly the undersurfaces were sprayed using Testers light aircraft gray. Once all the sub-assemblies were united and the paint touched up, I stained the model using olive drab and silver chipping applied in random places and added soot and exhaust stains with my Tamiya pastels. All window frames were masked off and hand painted before being glued on with clear tacky glue. Arial wires were created by using EZ-Line.

As noted before, the decals were awful. They were curled, cracked, and yellowed. A week taped to a sunny window alleviated the yellowing, but this did nothing for the cracked decals. Even with Micro-set and Micro-sol the decals curled and cracked apart. After some frustration, I resorted to over spraying the rest of the sheet with acrylic spray. This helped some, but the decals still broke apart. Here I tried something new. TIP ALERT! I mixed some clear water-based tacky glue with a couple drops of water and applied a light coat to the model. As the glue started to dry a little, I placed the decal on the glue and pressed gently until it stuck. This eliminated the curling. Once dry, I brushed on several coats of liquid acrylic varnish to seal the decals in. A few cracks are visible still, but generally, the results were excellent and authentic, especially once the model was over-sprayed with a protective coat.



Overall this build turned out nicely for a 50 plus year old kit. The tail heavy aspect was addressed by creating a clear plastic stand that holds up the tail. My first 72nd scale B-25C kit is now proudly on display and will keep my die-cast models of this famous aircraft company. More kits of the venerable B-25 are in my plastic kit stash just waiting to be built and I may have to buy more.





pmmaker

















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Migrant

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PostSubject: Re: 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG   Sat Mar 18 2017, 09:11

Beautiful result from a really old kit, PMM, I've always liked the sand/spinach scheme on B-25s. I'm looking forward to the new-tool Airfix 72nd B-25 later this year.

pmmaker wrote:
As noted before, the decals were awful. They were curled, cracked, and yellowed. A week taped to a sunny window alleviated the yellowing, but this did nothing for the cracked decals. Even with Micro-set and Micro-sol the decals curled and cracked apart. After some frustration, I resorted to over spraying the rest of the sheet with acrylic spray. This helped some, but the decals still broke apart. Here I tried something new. TIP ALERT! I mixed some clear water-based tacky glue with a couple drops of water and applied a light coat to the model. As the glue started to dry a little, I placed the decal on the glue and pressed gently until it stuck. This eliminated the curling. Once dry, I brushed on several coats of liquid acrylic varnish to seal the decals in. A few cracks are visible still, but generally, the results were excellent and authentic, especially once the model was over-sprayed with a protective coat.

That's great info – thanks!

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PostSubject: Re: 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG   Sat Mar 18 2017, 10:05

You are welcome! I HATE having to tinker with things like this, but sometimes you have no choice. I didn't want to spend $25 for a set of decals to finish a $8.99 model. So I found a way to make things work out.

pmmaker

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PostSubject: Re: 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG   Sat Mar 18 2017, 10:15

Beautiful build and nice tip on fixing 50 year old decals. I have quite a few very old kits on my stash so tips on decal salvage are appreciated. I learned how expensive they were when I build the early 60's U2. The decals were beautiful but more than the kit. Smile

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pmmaker

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PostSubject: Re: 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG   Sat Mar 18 2017, 10:37

I remember when on the old forum our buddy Mike would call himself a "decal snob" because he could not build a kit and finish it with old, inferior and damaged kit supplied decals.

If I had just built an expensive kit that I had worked long and hard on to get just right, I'd probably agree with him and shell out the bucks for some high-quality decals too.  But for a quick build of a vintage (50+ years old) "cheapie" kit like this one, as long as I get an acceptable finish, I'm willing to work with the less than stellar kit supplied decals.  Money's tight for me right now and I can't even afford to buy most the kits I really want.  So let alone see me spending 2 to 3 times as much as a kit's price for better decals just because the kit ones aren't "perfect". Not happening! So fixing or finding a way to make due with these old decals has to be a part of my skills toolbox.

pmmaker

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PostSubject: Re: 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG   Sat Mar 18 2017, 20:35

Great job on this kit PMM (and thanks for the decal tip!). Allied desert schemes are noticeably absent from my collection (which I need to remedy) so I do like this a lot. Smile

I can't tell from the pics, but did the model have any panel lines / surface details? It looks almost smooth to me. scratch
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PostSubject: Re: 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG   Sun Mar 19 2017, 06:47

Propwash wrote:
Great job on this kit PMM (and thanks for the decal tip!). Allied desert schemes are noticeably absent from my collection (which I need to remedy) so I do like this a lot.  Smile

I can't tell from the pics, but did the model have any panel lines / surface details? It looks almost smooth to me. scratch

Great question Propwash. The old AMT/Frog models of yesteryear had almost no panel lines. Those they did mold in were very thin raised lines. Control surfaces on these kits were generally molded as separate parts that had to be attached.

This model followed this philosophy. There are a few raised panel lines on the wings, tails, and fuselage but they are so fine that you have to really look close up to see them through the paint.

As to the "desert" scheme, I have an affinity for the desert schemes on American, British, and German aircraft. I like the way they look.

pmmaker

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PostSubject: Re: 1/72 AMT/Frog B-25C 489th BS/340th BG   Sun Mar 19 2017, 07:41

Great looking B-25. The camo scheme is very striking. The B-25 seems to be a favorite among many. I need to build one soon!

The decal tip is great. I have not had that problem recently. It used to be a common thing, for me at least, on Monogram kits back in the 70's, where the decals would curl no matter what. Thinned white glue was the answer back then...

I finally arrived at the point where I find a decal on every sheet of a kit I build that isn't going to be used, like the maker's name which is often on there. I cut it out and test it. Even some newer kits fail and then get the Krylon treatment.

Tom

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