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1/32 B-17E, Old 666


ghodges
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I've started in on building the HK 1/32 B-17E/F Flying Fortress for a client. This will be a L-O-N-G term project as he wants almost every aftermarket item available added and the model built as "Old 666", the B-17E that fought off a dozen or more Zeros on a mapping mission over Bougainville in '43.

I decided to start with the Eduard Brassin engines. The kit engines are indeed anemic, especially for such an expensive 1/32 kit. Each Brassin resin engine includes a sharply cast cowling, open cowl flaps, and several cowl sections in case you want to display it with the cowl off and the parts on the ground nearby. But NOTE: Eduard sells these "by the number", as in "engine #1, #2; etc. It is important that you order #1-#4 if getting all of them, or that you order the correct individual one for the correct spot on the wing because otherwise the cowl flaps may not have the exhaust cut out in the right spot! 1 of the 4 supplied to me was wrong and I had to modify the cowl flaps for that station.

The resin engines are very detailed front and back. If you're NOT going to display it with the cowl off, then nothing for the back is really needed. This can save a LOT of time as one of the biggest resin casting stubs to be removed is on the firewall mount in the back. However, without the rear engine stuff, the engines need to be altered to fit onto the kit mounting pegs. This is easily done by drilling a 9/32" hole in the resin engine bank, which allows it to be slid onto the peg, and also be adjusted forward or back to get it positioned correctly inside the cowl.

The Eduard instructions leave a little to be desired....the illustrations clearly show where everything goes, but they're not really numbered as to which to do in what order. To a degree this is self evident...but later on in the assembly process if you get out of place it can make adding some of the parts tougher. The other problem is that some of the parts need trimming to fit well, especially the push rods. Each of them needed trimming on BOTH ends to make them fit between the crankcase and the rocker arms. I also quickly abandoned trying to use the Eduard PE ignition wires. They appear much too flat (2 dimensional) for 1/32 and are much harder to manipulate than the solder wire I used instead. All in all, there are 45 parts that make up each engine, and that's without using anything on the back side!

Here's pics of my progress this week......

#3 detailed...

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Overview of test fitting the engines on the right wing

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Close up showing how engine bank is drilled to fit the mounting peg in the center, and the fit of the cowling to the wing

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Engine #4 (above) has since been detailed, but I still have the other 2 to build up. It takes about 1.5hrs to build each one! By the way, the offset/canted prop governor is correct, and even its "base" is keyed to help align it that way.

Settle in and grab some popcorn....this one will take a while!

 

Gil :cool:

Edited by ghodges
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Gil, are you going to mount the machine gun on the fuselage just forward of the windscreen so that Jay Zeamer (the pilot) could fire it from the pilot's control yoke?  This mod is why he was credited with one kill.  There's a very good Wikipedia article about the mission in particular and Zeamer in general.  Incidentally, Tony Weddel did an excellent painting of the episode.  I'll be glad to send you a jpg of it if you wish.

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No....despite what you see in "Dogfights", there was NO gun mounted on top of the fuselage ahead of the windscreen ala WWI style. If you read the material from Zeamer himself he states that the extra nose gun (wired to his control yoke) was on the floor in the nose beside the bombardier. So you had 3 guns through the clear nose; 1 each at 2 and 10 o'clock, and one off center at the bottom. This also makes sense in that it'd take major work (metal cutting) to mount a gun on top of the nose, but not much extra effort to secure one to the floor and run some wiring. If the Weddel painting is the one I've seen on line, note it does not have the nose gun mounted in front of the windscreen either.

The real difference for 666 was a return to the twin guns for the radio station, and modifying each waist position with twin guns. Also, there was NO gun pointing down through the floor in the rear fuselage (another Dogfights error). That was a mixing of memories by Zeamer with the Marauders he flew before the B-17. There were 15 guns in firing positions (as opposed to the normal 10) and another couple stationed around inside to be "handy" in case of failures. I'll also need to add 2 additional oblique cameras in the rear fuselage that mapping B-17s carried in addition to the regular camera in the floor under the radio position.

GIL :cool:

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Gil, I've never seen "Dogfights", so I'll stand corrected re that information.  Tony's...and my....information came from an article on Zeamer that differs somewhat from the official Medal of Honor statements.  According to that article, when 666 finally came to a stop after landing and the crew was removed, the ship was so shot up that they took a bulldozer and shoved the  aircraft off the side of the runway.

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As for the Weddel painting that you have seen, all I can say is that the attached photo is a copy of the original painting that Tony took with his own 35mm camera and it does show the m.g. mounted in front of the windshield.  I've also attached a cropped portion of the painting that clearly shows the m.g. in front of the windshield.

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Where that information about the gun's position came from, I can't say.  Is it possible someone did a copy of Tony's painting and deleted the m.g.?  Or is the online painting by a different artist who was inspired by seeing Tony's version?  Unfortunately, we can't ask Tony since he died in 2015.

Richard

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That's not the painting I saw on line....

https://airwarworldwar2.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/debunking-the-myths-of-old-666/

The link will take you to a very good discussion of that mission, and includes the painting I decided was more accurate than the Weddel one.

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This is a close up of it....though note it shows the F nose windows which are incorrect since 666 was an "E". But, it shows the lower "fixed" nose gun, as well as the twin radio and waist guns. The fuselage mounted gun has a certain "romance" to it, but no pictures of the airplane show any such mod, and it lacks common sense too. Anyway, the client has agreed to the configuration I'm building it in. Cheers!

 

Gil :cool:

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Gil, it's always "what the client wants, the client gets".   We can argue some of the details and neither one of us will ever be 100% correct, nor will we ever know the absolute truth of that mission as far as the fine details are concerned.  BUT one thing is fact.  The painting you are referring to was done by Jack Fellows, who is a top ranked aviation artist/historian in his own right and is still alive.  Beyond that, it's not even Tony's style.

Look forward to seeing your finished 666.

Richard

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Pic of the painting progress so far....

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Engines and cowling interiors are done. Decided to go with the kit landing gear and they're very well done. I believe they'll be quite sturdy enough for the model. The oil tanks areshown as part of the wheel well interior painting being done so I can work towards assembling the wings. More pics when they're together!

GIL :cool:

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Plodding along....Got the wheel wells painted and assembled so that the wings could be built....which also allowed for adding the gear actuators to the gear so that they can be added at the end of the build.

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The fit of everything has been "tight", but overall quite good. The wing seams were pretty good overall, though the side exhaust inserts needed more filler than elsewhere.

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Wings are basically assembled, minus some pe details on the leading edge intakes, the landing lights, and the wingtip lights. Note the silver screening I added to some of the intakes...the kit has a couple of screens, but leaves just "holes" for the other 4 in the leading edge.

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The props and supercharger exhausts assembled...the detailing of the waste gates on the rear of each is very good. Also, the kit gives you a choice of the narrower blades for the "E (as here),  but also includes the later paddle blades for the "F" too.

 

It's nothing fancy, but progress is progress and the wings are 95% done, so it's been a good week!

 

GIL :cool:

 

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I've begun working on the fuselage....added the "E" nose and tail to both of the fuselage halves...the fit was a little better than I expected for such a large kit.

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The next step was starting to add a wash to the interior and many of the detail parts....

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While not overly difficult, it was tedious....each fuselage half taking almost an hour each....

But, I can now actually start working on the interior parts themselves; AFTER first studying all of the Eduard interior sets to see what needs adding and/or modification to use them. There will also be quite a bit of detail painting that will be time consuming....but then that's the nature of this big beast. More pics when I have some significant progress to show!

 

GIL :cool:

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  • 2 weeks later...

The devil's in the details, and he and I did some battle this last week. Tedious at times...but making some progress with all of the various Eduard detail sets for this build....

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Still a l-o-n-g ways to go though! Cheers!

 

GIL :cool:

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Some more progress along the same lines.....

Cockpit walls and seat supports just sitting together for the pics...

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Cockpit side walls

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Front radio room bulkhead

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Rear radio room bulkhead

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Rear cockpit bulkhead

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Kit ammo chutes and aftermarket 3D printed ammo belts

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Bombs glued up...

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More pics when more gets done!

GIL :cool:

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Gil,

         Amazing build. My favorite bomber. Great detail all around. The engines look nice and busy. 😍😍. She’s gonna be a big one.

chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got some more work done in the Radio room and the bomb bay.......

Radio room side walls...doesn't look like that  much, but it involves more than 30 PE parts...

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A few door doo-dads added to the bulkheads...

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Bomb bay side walls,,,unpainted so the parts can be seen before they're blended in...

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Bomb Bay doors and the center bay brace....

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Not sure how much will be seen, but it's being added!

 

GIL :cool:

 

Edited by ghodges
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The wash is a mix of Apple Barrel acrylic black (bought at Walmart), water, and a couple of drops of liquid dish washing soap.

Decided to work on finishing up 99% of the nose area; and primarily to determine where to position the nose gun that was added to the floor beside the bombardier.  Took some fiddling and time, but got it added and then decided to finish the area out for the most part. Note that that the seat belts are hanging down so that the crewmen can be added later in a "pre-flight" condition.

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This is the first time I've felt like some really significant progress has been made, despite the mountain of work still to be done....

 

GIL :cool:

 

Edited by ghodges
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Made some good progress this week and also got some key items knocked together for this build....started by assembling the bomb bay and radio room sub-assemblies together and checking their fit into the fuselage.

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The next major area to tackle was the waist.....

Got the wooden floors added and then scratchbuilt new gun pedestals on the gun support floors. These will allow me to add the waist guns at the end of the build through the open waist windows

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Twin waist guns and twin radio guns means that I had to scratchbuild 3 ammo boxes not supplied in the kit. In this pic, 2 are kit parts, 1 is an Eduard pe part, and the other 3 I built...

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Since "666" had twin .50s in both waist windows and the radio area, I had to build twin-gun brackets with a post for each waist position. I kept these very simple reasoning that the crew had to do something simple that the field machine shop could weld together quickly and easily. The guns are a combination of the kit guns and some resin aftermarket guns, all of which are drilled to accept the brass barrels that will be added at the end of the build. The one gun with the socket is for the right nose window, and the other gun is for the left nose position.

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This represents about 10hrs of work....but it was worth it!

 

Gil :cool:

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Got the 2 fuselage mapping camera built, their exact positions on the waist floor determined, and drilled out their camera windows this evening....

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These should be the last scratchbuilt additions for this build....I hope!

 

GIL :cool:

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Made some mundane progress, though progress it is!

 

Got the turret glass into the top turret frame....I used Future to "cement" the glass parts in, and they fit better than I expected. Oddly, the top glass piece fits up inside the framing, while the rest of the glass parts are fitted onto the framing from the outside. I'm not sure why HK used this approach...I'd have preferred a single clear piece with good framing to be masked off, but this does work if you exercise care.

 

I also got the actual turret guts assembled, and this was the first area of the kit where I felt the instructions weren't clear enough and the parts fit was less than expected. It took a LOT of fiddling with all of the parts to see how they'd mesh together, meaning you couldn't really follow the instruction sequencing. This was especially true for the turret gun sight assembly in the top of the turret. It also seemed that assembling the gun breaches into the turret as HK would have it done did NOT allow to check their fit to the top clear piece (and more importantly) the gun turret openings. I opted to glue them place being sure they were aligned well and then add the rest of the turret parts around them.

 

Other than that, I also added some ammo to the ammo boxes and then cemented the ammo boxes into place in the fuselage halves, added the gun button to the pilot's yoke, and got the seat belts onto the radio man's seat. All in all....another kit step is done and I'm a little further along!

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Comments, questions, and critiques still welcome, as always!

 

GIL :cool:

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Some more progress....got the ball turret and tail gunner's position done. NOTE: I've since found out the the ammo cans I built and added to the turret support structure is NOT accurate. Almost unbelievably, the ball turret actually had a 500 round magazine inside it (reference pics below)! BUT, some of the Walkaround books show ammo cans on the upper structure....It turns out that THOSE turret supports were made for the B-32 Dominator, but were never used since it never went into full production. However, when private owners started restoring their B-17s and B-24s, THOSE turret structures were readily available and used, making them inaccurate for WWII era 17s and 24s.

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I've also started to mess with positioning the figures, as that needs to be fully done before I can join the fuselage halves. And again, THESE are technically wrong because they're wearing ETO style heavy, cold weather flying gear. But, these are just about the only 1/32 bomber crews available, and more importantly, are what the client provided, so that's what I'm going with. These are very nice resin figures, and they're soft enough to make cutting and repostioning arms and legs (as I did for the Navigator) pretty easy.

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Ball turret references.....

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GIL

 

 

Edited by ghodges
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Gil,

Given my little experience with model building I usually do not chime in on these build threads.  I just want to say that your work here is incredible.  Whoever you are building this for will, I am sure, be absolutely thrilled.

Stuart

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