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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

Tipping Point: 1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress

Updated: Jun 28

If I look back on the kits that got me seriously involved in the hobby of aircraft model making, this 1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress is a key trigger. I received this as a Christmas present in 1978 and was awestruck with the kit's size and detail. Highlighting the model's box contents, was one of Sheperd Paine's pamphlets on making a B-17 diorama. I spent hours & hours going over that booklet and although I didn't build a diorama, Sheperd Paine's work continued to inspire me over the years.

1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress

Notable Kit Features:

  • Good overall shape

  • Respectable cockpit and interior details

  • Simple but decent engines

  • Working gun turrets

  • Control surfaces have a molded fabric texture

1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress

Build Inspiration:

The 1/48th Monogram B-17 kit version is basically an early G version, before the staggered waist gun positions or the Cheyenne tail turret. It does have the bulged “cheek” windows on the nose (which weren't necessarily present on early Gs). For most, the main attraction was the sheer size of this kit and the fact that it was a "Flying Fortress". The B-17 (similar to the Lancaster in Europe) is "The Bomber" that comes to many people's minds when considering WWII bombers. I certainly was pumped to build this model shortly after I received it and still have it in my collection to serve as a "starting point reflection". There's plenty of nostalgia wrapped up in this Monogram B-17 kit for sure, and I still haven't decided whether my next attempt will be another Monogram kit or a splurge for the pricey, but modern, HK kit (if I can accommodate another B-17 considering the space requirements).

Sheperd Paine's Monogram model B-17 diorama

For a look at Sheperd Paine's work make sure you visit: for some inspiration

Heads-Up Report:

The kit was built quite some time ago so some details are fuzzy

  • Raised panel lines (finely done however and with nice surface details)

  • Careful parts preparation and test fitting in areas will pay off

  • Underside has some gaps that will require filler

  • Simplified details (some interior details will not be seen however adding detail to the nose section and possibly the radio room may be beneficial)

  • Tail glass parts fit leaves a gap to be filled

  • Cockpit glass is tricky to fit well

  • Single window glass pieces have visible tabs

  • No open bomb bay option

  • Aftermarket guns would add to the kit as the kit guns are not the ventilated variety

1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress

Kit Additions / Modifications:

This kit was built out of the box (... I don't think there was much aftermarket back then - aside from optional decals. Besides, even if there was aftermarket, I was just starting out and wouldn't have considered it.) In my early model builds, I just glued the parts together to get them ready for painting. No seam join checks or other time consuming measures necessary. I did start to cut away the control surfaces but quickly realized that I didn't have a fine enough saw, so skipped that and the dropped flaps plan. Definitely a simpler build time for me, back in the days when ignorance was bliss, when it came to kit construction. At that point, I wasn't considering the historical accuracy and just finished my kits in whatever markings I decided were to my liking.

1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress


If I did take away anything from Sheperd Paine's booklet, it was the way a weathered paint finish would add to the look of the my Olive Drab B-17. After detailing up the interior sufficiently (for a fledgling model maker), I moved onto the exterior and selected a (fictitious) red flashed Fortress. Multiple shades of olive Drab were sprayed on with a newly purchased Badger single action 350 airbrush. I didn't have a compressor and instead relied on a spare tire which I hand pumped-up to provide the required air pressure. (That system got old real fast, although kept me in good shape :) For ease of paint masking I kept the upper and lower wings separate and glued them together post-paint. Decals were applied directly over the matte paint (after a bit of cloth burnishing) and most likely lightly sealed with a coat of clear matte lacquer. I am impressed the decals are still on this kit, some 45 years later!

Over the years this kit was disassembled (a feature of the Monogram kit. is that the wings fit into the fuselage using a slide and clip method that allows you to remove them if you don't glue that join). Guns have been broken off, exhausts, windows and landing lights are missing, however for the most part this big Monogram B-17 is still intact and highlights the good, the bad and the ugly of my early aircraft model making attempts.

1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress

The After-Build Report:

The 1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress kit is coming up on 50 years old now, so it is definitely showing its age, however it can still be built up into an impressive model of the venerable B-17. Considering its relatively reasonable price tag this kit is still a contender in 1/48th scale. If you choose to add on, there are plenty of aftermarket details or scratch build opportunities with this big build.

HK released both the B-17G and F models around 2019, bringing model makers a modern new-tool kit, however these kits have some issues (but are still a major leap forward... of course so is the price tag) The good news is you now have a choice in 1/48th scale for a Flying Fortress, depending on your budget.

1/48th Monogram B-17G Flying Fortress

Completed build #2 - March 1979 using the 1/48th scale Monogram #5600 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

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