- Published on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 00:00 David Johnson
1/32 Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
Catalogue # 01E04
Available from HK Model stockists soon.
Boeing's Flying Fortress
In response for the Army's request for a large, multiengine bomber, the B-17 (Model 299) prototype, financed entirely by Boeing, went from design board to flight test in less than 12 months. The first flight of the Model 299 was on 28 July 1935 with Boeing chief test-pilot Leslie Tower at the controls. Richard Williams, a reporter for the Seattle Times, coined the name "Flying Fortress" when the Model 299 was rolled out bristling with multiple machine gun installations. Boeing was quick to see the value of the name and had it trademarked for use.
Development continued on the Boeing Model 299, and on 30 October 1935, a second evaluation flight took flight. Unfortunately the crew forgot to disengage the gust locks that hold the bombers movable control surfaces in place while the aircraft was parked on the ground. After take-off, the aircraft entered a steep climb, stalled, nosed over, and crashed, killing both test pilots.
The crashed Model 299 could not finish the evaluation, and while the Air Corps was still enthusiastic about the aircraft's potential, Army officials were daunted by the much greater expense per aircraft (Douglas quoted a unit price of $58,200 based on a production order of 220 B-18 Bolo's, compared with a price of $99,620 from Boeing), and as the competition could not be completed Boeing was legally disqualified from the consideration for the contract. Army Chief of Staff cancelled the order for 65 YB-17s, and ordered 133 of the twin-engine Douglas B-18 Bolo instead. Regardless, the USAAC had been impressed by the prototype's performance, and on 17 January 1936, through a legal loophole, the Air Corps ordered 13 YB-17s, the latest model with number of significant changes from the Model 299.
The first B-17 went into service in 1938. By December 7, 1941, few B-17s were in use by the Army. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour production was quickly accelerated. The aircraft served in every World War II combat zone. Production ended in May, 1945, after 12,700 aircraft had been built.
By the time the B-17G appeared the number of guns had been increased from seven to thirteen, the design of the gun stations were finalised, and other adjustments were complete. In this, it incorporated all changes made in its predecessor, the B-17F which was the first mass produced version of the B-17. The B-17G is generally considered the defining version of the B-17. Some 8680 were built and many were converted for other missions such as cargo carrier, engine testing, and reconnaissance. Boeing plants built a total of 6,981 B-17s in various models, and another 5,745 were built under a nationwide collaborative effort by Douglas and Lockheed (Vega). Only a few B-17s survive today; most were scrapped at the end of the war. Some of the last Flying Fortresses met their end as target drones in the 1960s
HK Models Big Boeing
Before we have a look at the plastic, there are few points that need to be taken into consideration before we go any further -
- First of all... This is a pre-production test shot, not the final product from HK Models, so there could be some small changes and adjustments to what you see here, and the retail product.
- The kit came without a retail box, decals and final print of the instruction manual.
Before I get started cutting plastic, gluing parts together and throwing around some paint, as we intend to bring you a full build on the forums... We will have a quick look at the Boeing's famous bomber and HK Models pending release of the B-17G Flying Fortress.
So to kick things off... the first this that hits upon opening the box, is the share size of the 1/32 Flying Fort! The wing span of this model is 989mm and fuselage length is 707mm! To my knowledge this has to be the large aircraft kit produced by any manufacture.
The fuselage has been designed to keep other B-17 variants possible for future releases. The main length of the fuselage is vertically split into halves. The nose and tail section have been split as per the fuse, but they are separate from the fuselage. The top section of the cockpit area is molded as a single item. These are main components that will be required to new parts for earlier variants. The rivet detail is finely recessed, some of the rivet detail is deeper than others, but that shouldn't be issue with a coat of paint and wash to make the detail pop. I know some people won't be happy about the recessed rivets, as unlike the real thing there are raised rivets everywhere. Inside of the fuselage, there is internal ribbing throughout the complete airframe. The ribbing will be hardly visible through the transparencies, once everything is glued into place.
So if the length of the fuselage was daunting, the wings are will scare you! Each wing half is split horizontally and molded so the wing doesn't droop. Surprising there is no reinforcing rod/beams internally of each wing, bar the molded bracing. The wings clip together nice and should prove to quite strong once assembled. The wings have been designed to be removable like past releases of B-25 Mitchell. If you are not familiar with the setup, there are interlocking gates that the wing will slot back and forward, locking and unlocking the wing into place. So if you are going to have space issues, you can easy brake down the kit and store it in a box/crate. Detail is like the fuselage, rivet and panel lines are engraved, some of the exterior plates are a tad over-scaled. I quickly measured one plate with some callipers and it worked out to 6mm thick 1:1 scale.
The bomb sprues that are supplied for the flying fortress are the same as the B-25 kit. The 500Ib bombs are split into halves with separate fins and arming fan that are spread across a total of 5 sprues. The sprue's also carry the 50 calibre machine gun barrels. These are molded with the cooling jacket holes, but I think most modellers will replace them with an aftermarket option from Master Models or one of the other barrel manufactures that are currently available on the market.
Across the interior compartments, bulkheads and sidewalls carry a lot of detail in the way of wiring looms, hydraulic pipes. Most modellers will be happy with the level of detail that is offered, but I am sure that some will go out of the way and super detail all these areas. Unfortunately, once the fuselage is glued together, most of this detail will be lost forever, unless you are planning to do a cut- away. There was no sign of a photo fret with any seat harness at all. Surely you will want to add this to you build, as there are many aftermarket options on the market theses days. Some of the injector pins are quite deep on some parts that will require some filling, but most of the work will be on the fuselage halves as there are many pin marks located between the ribbings.
One area that concerned me with the B-25 kits were the landing gear, the plastic struts were nice and thick which will hold the weight, but there was no structural strength to each strut, causing the B-25 kit to wobble majorly to the slightest touch. I am glad to say this isn't the case with the B-17 kit. The main landing struts and tail wheel, all have structural points to them. Again the struts themselves are molded in solid plastic and I have no concerns of them failing under all the weight that they will be supporting. The kits tyres have a weighted profile to the bottom of each of them, and they are split into halves. The do look nice, but the clean up between the diamond tread pattern could be some fun. No doubt that will we see some aftermarket resin options, once the kit is made available on the market. The wheel well is designed as separate pods that locate into the inner engine nacelle. The pipe work detail is crisp, but it seems a tad bare as there are many wiring looms and hydraulics lines missing. Another area that super detailing modellers can go crazy in!
Another sort point with the B-25 release was the prop blades. The blades weren't the correct shape, but it seems that HK took this on board while designing the B-17, as the blades are far better. Comparing the kit blades to some reference photos in some books and photos on the internet, each blade seems a tad wide in the middle, but could made thinner with a little bit of sanding if they aren't to your liking.
The engine assembly is quite simple, and only requires four parts compared the many-part assemblies of the B-25 engines. The crankcase is the sore point of the engine assembly, as it looks a bit "blocky" compared to photos of a real R-1820-97 engine. The superchargers are quite cleverly designed, and locate into hollows in each engine nacelle and will look the part once they are fully weathered.
I can't comment on the decals that weren't supplied, but there is one colourful scheme being included which is –
B-17G-70BO "Milk Wagon", #43-37756, 708th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group.
However, there is a scan of the decal sheet on the draft copy of the manual that I was supplied. It does appear that only the main markings are supplied and there are no stencils or data information is included, as per their B-25 releases. It's kind of disappointing that it's not included and it looks to be left to the aftermarket guys once again.
The last addition that has been included is a support stand... I can see you all asking why a support stand is require if the model builds up structurally??? Well, HK Models idea for the stand is quite neat... I know most people will have an issue on displaying the kit once complete, so this is where the stand comes into play! It's been designed to be screwed on the a wall surface of a room or a mounting board and clips into the bomb bay area of the kit, allowing the B-17 to safely mounted on the wall. Before you hang it up, check with your partner first! As my plans of hanging in the living room have been shot down in a ball of flames!
There is so much plastic supplied within this kit, I could of easily typed up a 10,000+ word review to go over each sprue and detail in this kit. The best way to show this off, is actually to build it! So a full build is now underway. Please be sure to login into Scale Plastic and Rail forums, and our sister site Large Scale Modeller for regular updates.
You can find the direct links here –
Scale Plastic & Rail – http://sparforums.com/topic/527-hk-models-boeing-b-17g-flying-fortress/
Large Scale Modeller - http://forum.largescalemodeller.com/topic/615-hk-models-boeing-b-17g-flying-fortress/
On a last technical note, from my understanding this kit represents a B-17G -50Bo or later variant. There are some 1/32 B-17 decals on the market already, but none of them will be suited to this kit unless you do some back dating work.
So what do we think?
The sheer size is mind blowing and the detail will please 99% of modellers. A ton of plastic for the price, and that will bring you many modelling hours! If you have built one of the HK B-25 Mitchells... You will want to build this for sure.
Wow!! On so many factors!
Our sincere thanks to HK Models for the review sample used here.
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