Revell Germany 1/48 Consolidated B-24D Liberator

Model, Text and Photos by: James Matthews

Introduction

The B-24 Liberator is often overlooked for the more rugged and glamorous B-17 Flying Fortress, but it did play an important part in the bombing offensive. The Liberator was designed by Consolidated Aircraft, and utilized the Davis wing. The new wing allowed the Liberator to fly farther and faster than the B-17. Later models of the Liberator had additional turrets and equipment installed with no increase in engine power. Flight characteristics and service ceiling were adversely affected. Pilots had to work hard to keep a tight formation. The B-24 was a versatile truck that carried bombs, and it flew like a big truck. B-24s soldiered on throughout the war in many roles, and were produced in greater numbers than the B-17.

The Kit

The 1/48th B-24D Liberator #4529 from Revell/Germany is a reissue of the old Monogram B-24D #5604. The current kit shares some improvements made to the previous pro-modeler release. These are scale thickness control wheels, corrugated cockpit floor, and vented machine gun barrels. A tow tractor and full crew in flight poses are also now included. Markings are for 44th BG “Flack Alley”, and 98th BG “The Squaw” in bond tour markings.

The kit decals appear to be a huge improvement for RM, they look to be quite thin with a flat finish. The nose art decals are much closer to photo quality. The Monogram bombers are a great value and build up into fine models with a little effort. This kit is based on the earlier B-24J release and has raised panel lines, and good interior detail. The kit is fairly accurate other than the tail turret and bombsight mounting. The turret included is an A6B turret. It should be an A6 with offset guns. It also has a nasty seam line right through the center.

The bombsight should be mounted further forward on a frame in the greenhouse nose. The canopy is also poorly designed, with no framing where the canopy attaches. This results in a noticeable seam, and also makes the canopy look too shallow. The clear greenhouse nose has a seam down the center that will need to polished out.

The D model liberators did not have the left aileron trim tab this should be filled in. The fuel tank vents near the inboard engines should not be used on D models. The Liberator did not fall together, but is not beyond the average modeler’s skill level. It is also the only 1/48th scale Liberator available.

 

Improvements and Modifications

 

I wanted to depict a Ploesti raider. This would require some specific modifications and scratch building.

 

The Bomb Bay- The kit bomb bay has no ceiling. This was made from v groove sheet styrene. The center I-beams were made from styrene channel and a scratch built hydraulic accumulator was added.

 

Fuel Tanks- Ploesti B-24s were fitted with extra fuel tank bladders in the forward bomb bay. These were carved from 1/2 thick mdf wood blocks and wrapped with cloth ankle tape. Heavy aluminum foil was used for the mounting straps.

 

Bomb Bay Doors- The kit doors “resemble” the real thing. I chose to scratch build new doors in resin. The curved lower edges and notches at the ends look more realistic.

 

Engines- The kit engines are not bad, but I chose to use Engines and Things R-1830 parts. I detailed them with wire and also added prop governors.

 

Wheels- True Details wheel set with some of the bulge sanded down. The kit tires are a smooth radial tread. The TD set has the block tread pattern and also a covered nose wheel typical of most D models.

 

Landing Gear- The landing gear was detailed with foil, and wire for brake lines and tie downs. The retraction rod was also moved inboard about ¼ inch.

 

Canopy / Nose- These are from the B-24D vac set also from True Details. They were tricky to fair in but worth the effort. The TD canopy is a must, to capture the correct look of the B-24. For the nose I glued fine styrene rod around the fuselage to make a ledge. This smoothed out the join with the nose glass. 5 minute epoxy was used to attach the vac parts.

 

Turrets- The dorsal turret interior was taken from the Ertl A-20 kit. The kit turret glass fit with no modifications. The tail turret is from the Koster B-24 conversion set. It is vacu-formed in two parts. I used 5-minute epoxy on the clear parts. The turret interior was scratch built, by my talented brother Chris. The mechanism actually worked until I painted it. My addition was the machine guns.

 

The cockpit- The cockpit was improved by adding armor plate and oxygen bottles, radios, and intercom gear, and an overhead console. The kit seats were re-shaped thinned down and armrests added. Seat belts and buckles were made from thin resin. Throttles were made from fine wire.

 

Waist area- Armor plate, Ammo boxes, oxygen bottles, ammo chutes and tracks were added. A frame for the tunnel gun was cast in resin and glued in a stowed position. The kit gun mounts were also thinned down.

 

Other details- The green house needed additional detail, I scrounged a norden bombsight from a B-25 kit and mounted it in the correct location. Koster metal ammo chutes and bracing rods were added to the nose guns. Oxygen bottles, bailout bell, and intercom controls were scratch built by Chris and cast in resin. The rear of the engine nacelles were hollowed out and detailed.

 

Lights- There are no clear parts included for the lights. I drilled out the landing lights and added clear discs punched from clear plastic. Colored lights were tinted with food coloring mixed with future. There should also be a passing light in the leading edge of the left wing between the engines.


Construction

The assembly sequence pretty much followed the instructions, with the above mentioned modifications. Trouble spots during the build were the engine nacelle seams, and the seams on belly turret blank insert. The join between the fuselage and the horizontal stabilizer required a styrene shim to fill the gap. Scrap sprue was glued on the inside of the fuselage to strengthen the stabilizer joint. The nose wheel bulkhead is weak. I reinforced it with chunks of sprue on the backside. The hatch near the top turret was sanded flush and re-scribed. The Lib is a severe tail sitter. I chose to use a ladder or the ammo box under the tail skid to prop it up. The wings fit very well, so I did not glue them to the fuselage for ease of storage.

Colors and Markings

Interior colors- Early B-24s nose and cockpits were finished in dark dull green with zinc chromate bomb bay and waist area. Sadly I had already finished the interior with a lighter green. Turret interiors were likely dark dull green or black. I usually apply a black wash to the interior parts followed by dry brushing with lightened interior color to add depth.

The Sandman was a b-24D-55-CO assigned to the 98th Bomb group 345th squadron. Robert Sternfels flew the Sandman on the famous 1943 low-level Ploesti raid. The Sandman is pictured in a well-known photo of a b-24 just clearing the refinery stacks. The plane hit a barrage balloon cable and also sustained other damage. The crew dropped their bomb load and returned to North Africa.

Exterior colors- The 98th bomb group aircraft were sand over neutral gray. I used Testors enamel dark tan, over neutral gray. I couldn't bring myself to go for the pinkish tint. Both colors were lightened with white. The national insignias throughout the group at the time of the raid were not consistent. Check your references. I made an educated guess on the Sandman based off of pictures of other aircraft in the squadron. The insignias and fin flashes were taken from the Super Scale sheet 48-626. The nose art was created by Chris using MS Paint and scaled using MS Word. Serial numbers were created in MS Word and the artwork was printed on a color laser printer. I brush painted future over the entire plane to prepare for weathering and decals. Applying the stars over the waist window deflectors was tricky. I repeatedly applied Microsol to get them to conform. After the decals had dried I sealed them with Testors acryl flat.

Weathering

My weathering techniques are still evolving but this is what I did. For weathering I applied a burnt umber artist oil wash along raised panel lines, and a black mix for some areas. The centers of some panels were buffed lightly which on flat acryl produces a faded effect. This was followed by dry brushing some wing panels with lightened tan and some yellows. I then airbrushed exhaust stains using a thin black brown mix. Other highlights and stains were applied using pastels. A silver pencil was used for paint chipping. The subtle weathering effects don’t show up as well in my photos, but I was happy with the results.

Conclusions

 

This is the first kit I’ve built after a long hiatus, and took forever to build mostly due to other time commitments. Some of the details added are not visible after the kit is assembled, but if you like doing interiors this kit is for you. I wish more of the big bombers were being built, the end result from an “old” mold can still be very impressive.

 

References

 

Blue, Alan: The B-24 Liberator - A Pictorial History
Birdsall, Steve: B-24 Liberator in Action #21
Birdsall, Steve: Log of the Liberators
Hill, Michael: Black Sunday: Ploesti
Kinzey, Bert: B-24 Liberator in Detail
Sternfels, Robert: E-mail Corespondence
Waligorski, Martin: Camouflage & Markings Aircraft Interior Colors, IPMS Stockholm
Hendrix, Lin: Requiem for a Heavyweight, http://users.aol.com/dheitm8612/requiem.htm


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