Davis Wing: 1/48th Monogram B-24J Liberator
This is the original release of Monogram's big 4-engine bomber, the B-24J. Issued a year after their popular B-17 kit in 1976. Here was another impressively sized model with interior detail, crew members and bomb load to attract many a model maker of the day. Also included with the model was an attractive colour diorama guide, from the master Sheperd Paine, to further inspire you to push your building skills.
Notable Kit Features:
Some interior detail to get you started (although not much of the interior will be seen you could spend a lot of time scratch building here
Optional open or closed bomb bay doors
Typical bomb load included
Gun turrets rotate
Crew figures provided
MG-1 Cletrac tractor included (although any AFV model builder will cringe at the one-piece molded tracks and wheels assembly)
Back in my early model making days, the Monogram kit releases in North America were always highly anticipated events. After my interest was piqued with the B-17 kit, this second Heavy American Bomber was a must for my fledgling collection. Both these big kits came with an inspirational pamphlet showing the work of Sheperd Paine, highlighting and breaking down what he could do with a kit to add interest. To a new model maker his scenes were awesome and inspiring, and quite some time was spent pouring over the details of his build foldout (Note: this was well before the Internet allowed such relatively easy access to model making reference material.) Due to its daunting size, this kit stayed in inventory a while and then after I did start the kit, it got packed away again due to a pending relocation. There it remained for quite some time on "The Shelf of Doom" due to lack of display space and new interest in building other aircraft. Initially, I was going to build a USAF Liberator, however at some point I came across some reference material for a B-24J in service with the RCAF that was being used for anti-submarine patrols. The rather unique paint job sealed the choice to do some rework on this kit and try and replicate this Canadian crewed 10 Bomber Squadron aircraft based out of Gander Newfoundland in 1945.
Kit requires a LOT of nose weight and there is lower glass and a glass turret so you will have to be efficient in your placement (unless you want to opt for the rear hatch ladder as a tail prop)
It was designed to be built gear up, as the wheels do not fit into the wells, nor is there provision to attach the strut in the folded position. (For such a big kit this is an interesting omission)
The engine nacelles are an area that does require some work to get the seams smoothed out (I don't recall any other problems, however I may have forgotten)
All control surfaces and flaps are molded in neutral / up positions
Front gun turrets have seams running down the center of the glass
Raised panel lines (this was the 70's after all)
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Upper turret removed, capped off and contoured
Ventral radar added (sourced from some scrap plastic part unrelated to model making)
With the build complete, the first paint application is on the masked glass surfaces with the appropriate interior colour. Next stage was the cumbersome overall coat of white paint. I have found airbrushing a matt white over a light gray primer gets the job done, however it still takes a few shots before I am not discovering spots that were missed. The white paint is actually a series of off-white colours in order to add some interest and weathering. The upper Atlantic Coastal Command camouflage of Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey was added, followed by painting the black deicer boots. The "tiger face" was then hand painted using the few references that I had at the time (with the exception of the teeth that were purchased in a decal set). The final coats of gloss for the decal and wash applications were applied, the decals cobbled together and then the final matt coat topped it off. (This was back in the lacquer gloss / matt coat days which I find is now yellowing a tad.) Very little weathering was added to this paint job however in hindsight it would have benefited from more time spent here (This build suffered from a bit of "let's get this done" syndrome).
The After-Build Report:
If you are looking to build a 1/48th B-24 Liberator, this kit is your starting point. The only difference between the Revell B-24 kit and the Monogram one is it may include the added parts from the early 90s "Pro Modeler" release (extra crew figures and weighted tires). The last release of this B-24 Liberator was in 2011. Interestingly, for 45 years this kit has no competition in its scale. Lack of love for the B-24 you may think, however look how long Monogram's 1/48th B-17 reigned uncontested, until the HK release in 2019.
Completed build #143 - December 2011 using the 1/48th scale Monogram #5601 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers