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  1. Ever since I purchased the original Revell kit of the Boeing B-17F "Memphis Belle" I've been wanting to attempt its conversion to the YB-40 Gunship. I've accumulated references and aftermarket sets (unfortunately, they are almost all made for the Monogram B-17G). Paragon issued resin conversion sets in both 1/48 and 1/72 scales, so I bought them both in case I need or want to go to the Academy or Hasegawa B-17F for a 1/72 project. The engine fronts and cowl flaps are resin from the Quickboost line for the Monogram B-17G. The pour blocks were huge, covering the entire back faces of each part, which required tedious sanding, scraping, and sawing to remove on the eight pieces. The Revell B-17F cowls had the flaps molded on, so I had to cut them off with the razor saw. The Monogram kit does not have the cooling flaps on the cowl piece. The four vent holes in the upper wing surfaces behind each engine are molded solid; you have to paint them black on the vertical surfaces. I decided to open them up with a #11 blade tip, dental scraping tool, and tiny files. To my great annoyance, the plastic is very HARD, which made the scraping and digging take much too long. Compare the before and after look. Of course I have to get the kit with the deformed, warped lower right wing. This is a major setback because the engine housings are tilted downward in addition to the wing itself having a sagging appearance. I don't know if any glue will completely absorb the stresses if I just try to squeeze and close the gaps all along the front of the wing and two engines. I could really use a replacement part (maybe Revell can ship me one). Here the Quickboost resin cowl flaps are on the left wing's engine fronts. The green plastic has to be cut back to the face of the piece so the engine front can be glued on. The YB-40 was the first B-17 variant to have the staggered waist gunner windows, with each station boasting twin-50s. This is one feature of the YB-40 experiment that eventually wound up on the B-17G production lines. The Paragon instructions gave the precise measurement for moving the opening forward on the right fuselage. I masked and scribed through the thick plastic all around the new opening, and I used the removed plug to fill the old opening. The plug fit so well that I only used gap-filling super glue and some Mr. Surfacer to fill in the outline. Using the plug also has the benefit of matching the inside surface of the fuselage as well. I will have to add some interior structure to each fuselage half opposite the open windows. I tried to make the True Details Waist Gunner's set for the Monogram B-17G kit work here, but I am really dissatisfied with the quality of the fit of the resin parts as well as the texture of the resin material itself--too hard and brittle with awkward pour blocks. The second top turret from a Martin B-26 was added where the radio compartment used to be. The fuselage was modified to make it fit. The Paragon kit has the resin replacement part. The piece was sized to match existing panel lines on the Revell kit, so masking the cut lines was easy and correct. The piece will need shims in the edges to make a tight fit and to align the surfaces. Another correction is that the two large nose windows have to be closed up and replaced with the smaller windows. The YB-40 had the B-17E small nose windows, and some were later retrofitted with these bigger ones. There is an astrodome on the top that must be added, and the small top window near the cockpit must be plugged. I have the True Details sets for the cockpit and the bomb aimer's stations, but again both are made for the B-17G kit and suffer from the same poor quality resin and fit, not to mention that they are for the large front windows. Some new interiors will have to be scratchbuilt. This pretty well brings you up to date. Many more hours will go into this one. Comments an suggestions are always welcome. Ed
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