Accurate Miniatures 1/48 North American B-25C Mitchell
 

 

Model, Article and Photos by Tony Bell

 

Introduction

Of all the reference books in my somewhat large collection, Dana Bell’s Air Force Colors, Vol. 2 ETO & MTO 1942-1945 has undoubtedly provided the most inspiration as far as colour schemes is concerned. One of colour profile in particular has always caught my eye, that of an early production B-25C in olive drab over white maritime anti-submarine warfare markings on page 41. My preferred scale being 1:48, it wasn’t until the Accurate Miniatures released their Mitchell that I could build a model in these distinctive markings.

This model actually started life as an original boxing of the Accurate Miniatures B-25B, which doesn’t quite have all the parts needed to build a ‘C. Accurate Miniatures issued a conversion kit that allowed the ‘G version to be built from the ‘B kit, which fortuitously also provided all the bits necessary for the C/D, including the enlarged carburettor intakes, cockpit canopy, exhausts and tail skid. Don Fenton's feature article on Accurate Miniatures B-25G Conversion and B-25 Variants proved invaluable for sorting out which parts were needed.

Construction

As usual, I started construction with the cockpit. The kit seats were quite poor and didn’t resemble the real thing in any way. I used the B-25B photoetch set from Eduard to replace the seats and lap belts, with seat cushions made from epoxy putty and stencilling printed on bubble jet compatible decal paper. The knobs on the ends of the Eduard throttle levers were made from blobs of super glue. Fortunately Eduard provides a couple of spares to replace the ones that fly off into a parallel universe. I considered using the Eduard instrument panel, but ultimately decided that the kit panel looked better and so used it instead. The kit panel is moulded in clear plastic with a reverse-printed instruments decal that is applied to the back of the panel.  I added a few cables on the sidewalls to augment those already moulded on.

The bombardier’s compartment also benefited from the Eduard set which supplied ammunition box brackets and lap belts. I also nicked an oxygen bottle from the Verlinden B-17 update set to attach to the rear bulkhead, along with a hose made by wrapping fine copper wire around some thicker solder. The Norden bombsight was detailed with bits of styrene but only I can tell, of course.

To make an accurate ‘C model, I added the small oval window to the right side of the fuselage, just above the wing trailing edge. Using the other nearby window as a template, I made the new one from a CD jewel case and cut a corresponding hole in the fuselage.

The bomb bay and bomb bay doors were painted silver, and the details picked out with a wash consisting of a mixture of Polly Scale satin and India ink. The rest of the interior was assembled and painted per the instructions. I treated the insides to an oil paint wash of burnt umber and removed the excess with a paper towel moistened with thinner. I followed this with a drybrushing of oil paints and painted the details with Humbrol enamels. Once the fuselage was closed up absolutely none of this was at all visible (of course). The kit supplies nose weights in the form of brass sheet which is inserted into the nose behind the cockpit. I found that the weight provided was just a shade too little, so more weight in the form of steel ball bearings was added behind the engines.

Because of all the stuff inside the fuselage, it was a bit of a challenge to get it all aligned properly before gluing the halves together. Unfortunately I didn’t quite manage to do it right and ended up with a slight, but visible, twist to the fuselage which had to be steamed straight.

The kit transparencies are thin and clear, although the shape of the canopy and bombardier’s glazing have been the target of criticism on internet discussion boards. Squadron offers a set of replacement canopies that address the shape issues, and while admittedly they offer a visible improvement, the original parts were good enough to me.

            

The nose glazing fit perfectly, but the cockpit canopy had to be shimmed with 0.010” styrene to close the gap at the aft end. The navigator’s astrodome has a funky shape so I replaced it with a home vacuformed piece and added a black dot punched from a spare decal (what this dot was for, I have no idea). As well, the dome of the Martin gun turret suffered from some mould release scars, so I vacuformed a replacement over a master taken from the turret out of the old Monogram B-26 Marauder kit. The turret also received brass details from the Eduard photoetch set and resin gun bodies from Aires. The barrels of all of the machineguns were replaced with hypodermic tubing and Eduard cooling jackets. To roll the jackets I first annealed them over a candle and wrapped them around ever smaller drill bits until the correct diameter was achieved.

The tail blister was replaced with a much thinner home vacuformed piece which was attached with Future. The position lights were  MV model railroad lenses. Because it was quite visible, I sanded and filled the inside fuselage seam and replaced the stringers with Evergreen styrene strip.

The wings required a bit of filling, sanding and rescribing around where the engine nacelles attached. The drain tubes at the aft end of the nacelles were replaced with hypo tubing. Other tweaks to the wings included drilling little holes in the leading edges and replacement navigation lights from epoxy putty tinted with Tamiya clear red and green. The tailplane required some shimming to get it to fit just so, and I cut the elevators free and repositioned them slightly drooped. The position lights on the fuselage and tail planes were also made from drops of clear epoxy glue.

             

The engines also received some extra detail in the form of Evergreen styrene stock pushrods and ignition wires made from fine solder. The Eduard set includes ignition harnesses, but in my opinion they’re too flat and 2-dimensional looking. The much-debated kit engine cowlings were tossed in favour of the Cutting Edge resin replacements that have a more accurate profile and larger opening. The resin cowls have a (correct) circular cross section, whereas the kit cowls are slightly oval. Because of this, some surgery was required to get the kit cooling flaps to match up with the resin cowl. If I were to do it over again, I would simply enlarge the cowl openings and deal with the slightly off profile. The kit exhausts look lumpy so I replaced them with sections of soda straw of the appropriate diameter.

Using the Squadron-Signal B-25 Walk-Around as a reference, the main landing gear was detailed with solder, piano wire and Eduard bits. The diamond tread patterns on the main tires were laboriously rescribed with a razor saw to give them more definition. The sprue attachment point on the nose gear leg was on the oleo strut, and because of the somewhat brittle plastic used by Accurate Miniatures, I was unable to clean it up properly. I decided instead to cut the oleo cylinder off and replace it with styrene rod. To give it strength, I carefully drilled down the axis of the gear leg and glued a steel pin in place with super glue. The oleo scissors on all three gear legs were replaced with ones from the Eduard set. The landing gear was painted with Alclad Aluminum and given a wash of Polly Scale satin and ink.

             

The antenna posts were replaced with sections of steel wire that I hammered flat, and the antenna wires themselves were made from monofilament nylon thread painted Humbrol Metalcote steel. I made the insulators from short lengths of heat stretched (a la stretched sprue) Evergreen styrene tubing threaded on to the aerials and fixed in place with a bit of Future. After supergluing the aerials in place I tightened them up by gently heating them with a hair dryer.

Painting, Decals and Weathering

I used Tamiya tape to mask all of the clear parts. Although the kit came supplied with vinyl masks, they were not the correct size. Subsequent Accurate Miniatures boxings addressed this issue.

After pre-shading the panel lines and recesses with a dark, browninsh-grey mix of Tamiya paints I painted the undersides Poly Scale white, which was quite translucent and required multiple coats to achieve good coverage. The upper surfaces were painted Aeromaster acrylic Olive Drab 41 and Aeromaster enamel U.S. Medium Green 42. Fading was accomplished by spraying heavily thinned Aeromaster Olive Drab 41 Faded in a patchy, random pattern, followed by a similar application of Tamiya buff.

The national insignia were masked with frisket paper and sprayed, while the nose art was printed up on an ALPS MD-1000 printer, courtesy of a fellow IPMS Toronto member. The tail numbers came from a generic Aeromaster sheet.

Some minor paint chipping was added with Humbrol 11 silver, and the panel lines received a wash of burnt umber oil paint, followed by “post shading” with a heavily thinned mixture (95% isopropyl alcohol) of the same brownish grey used for pre-shading. A slurry of ground pastels (this before I discovered MiG pigments) and water was used to dirty up the areas of heavy ground crew traffic, and oil paints were used for the oil and grime streaking on the cowls and nacelles. The exhaust stains were sprayed with Tamiya paints, again heavily thinned.

Of course good old Murphy has to stick his big nose into most of my builds, and this time he manifested himself in the form of none other that Dana Bell himself. After seeing my finished Mitchell on the web, Mr. Bell (no relation) sent me some images that he had acquired after the publication of Air Force Colors, Vol. 2. The pictures clearly depict my subject aircraft and there on the nose in block capital letters is the name “CINDY”, in a light colour, possibly yellow. It is also clear that the real aircraft was not nearly as grubby and dirty as I had depicted it. Oh well, if anyone ever calls me to task on it I’ll just claim that my model depicts the airplane after the pilot broke up with “Cindy” and was so depressed that he didn’t care how clean his plane was any more!

 

Conclusion

When the first incarnation of this kit was released in 2000 it quickly became the subject of highly polarized debate on internet discussion boards. On the one hand it was praised for its stunning and comprehensive detail, while on the other hand it was damned for shape issues concerning the engine cowls, bombardier’s glazings and canopy. Aftermarket corrections for both of these have been released in the form of resin cowls (from Cutting Edge and Quickboost) and Squadron vacuformed clear bits. The kit its self has a bit of a convoluted history, first appearing in its initial guise from the original Accurate Miniatures. After the demise of Accurate Miniatures, there was a period when it was unavailable, save for eBay and other second hand sources. The kit was resurrected with the phoenix-like rebirth of Accurate Miniatures, and it has also been reboxed in recent months by Italeri.

It can be built straight from the box into an impressive model, or it can be dressed up with any combination of the loads of aftermarket detail currently available. Either way it is an enjoyable, if not slightly challenging, build.

                      

 

 

Models and Accessories:


Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

AI484097
B-25B Mitchell Cockpit (Acc Min)
Aires 1/48 Resin Details



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

EED48025
B-25C/D Dutch 320 Squadron
Eagle Editions 1/48 Decals EagleCals



ENG48171
CW R-2600-9, 1700 hp for Monogram B-25J, also suitable for B-25A,B,C,H - 2 engines
Engines & Things 1/48 Resin US Engines



EU48260
B-25G/H Mitchell
Eduard 1/48 Photo-Etch Aircraft Details



EU48261
B-25J Mitchell
Eduard 1/48 Photo-Etch Aircraft Details



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

EU48524
B-25G Mitchell exterior (ACM)
Eduard 1/48 Photo-Etch Aircraft Details



EU48525
B-25B Mitchell exterior (ACM)
Eduard 1/48 Photo-Etch Aircraft Details



EU49322
B-25B Mitchell interior (ACM)
Eduard 1/48 Colored Photo-Etch Aircraft Details



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

EUBIG4861
B-25B Mitchell (ACM)
Eduard 1/48 Aircraft BIG Combo detail sets -EVERYTHING you need!



EUBIG4862
B-25G Mitchell (ACM)
Eduard 1/48 Aircraft BIG Combo detail sets -EVERYTHING you need!



EUEX-119
B-25J Mitchell (REV/MON)
Eduard 1/48 Vinyl (Kabuki tape!) Canopy/Wheel Masks



EUEX-126
B-25G Mitchell (ACC)
Eduard 1/48 Vinyl (Kabuki tape!) Canopy/Wheel Masks



EUEX-134
B-25B Mitchell (Accurate Miniatures)
Eduard 1/48 Vinyl (Kabuki tape!) Canopy/Wheel Masks



EUFE-322
B-25B Mitchell interior (ACM)
Eduard Zoom 1/48 Simple Colored Photo-Etch Sets



EUFE-327
B-25G Mitchell interior (ACM)
Eduard Zoom 1/48 Simple Colored Photo-Etch Sets



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

EZM138-48
B-25B Mitchell (ACC)
E-Z Masks 1/48 Scale Pre-Cut Vinyl Masks



EZM139-48
B-25C/G Mitchell (ACC)
E-Z Masks 1/48 Scale Pre-Cut Vinyl Masks



EZM214-48
B-25H/J (RMX)
E-Z Masks 1/48 Scale Pre-Cut Vinyl Masks



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

QB48022
B-25B Mitchell Gun Barrels
QuickBoost 1/48 Resin Details



QB48029
B-25C/D Mitchell Gun Barrels (ACC)
QuickBoost 1/48 Resin Details



QB48038
B-25G/H/J Mitchell Cowlings (ACM)
QuickBoost 1/48 Resin Details



RMX5512
1/48 B-25J
Revell-Monogram Plastic Kits



SQ9645
North American B-25B Mitchell (ACM)
Squadron 1/48 Vac-Form Canopies



SUP48-0848
B-25C 13th BS/3rdBG & 499th BS/345thBG
Superscale 1/48 Decals



SUP48-0849
B-25D 501st BS/345thBG
Superscale 1/48 Decals



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

TCD48003
RAF B-25D Mitchell II (mkgs for 4)
Techmod Decals 1/48 Aircraft Markings



TCD48004
RAF B-25C Mitchell II (mkgs for 4)
Techmod Decals 1/48 Aircraft Markings



TD48019
B-25B thru J Wheels
True Details 1/48 Resin Weighted Wheels



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

VPI1580
1/48 B-25 Control Surfaces
Verlinden 1/48 Aircraft Accessories/Details



 

Reference Material:

'
Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

SS6152
Air Force Colors V.3
Squadron Signal Books



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

SB1501-3
Leatherneck Bombers-USMCs B-25/PBJ
Schiffer Books



I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.

I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.