Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review - Academy 1/48 B-25G "Shark Mouth"


I am very pleased to announce the very first in-box review here on the Combat Workshop, and its a big one, at least for me. I tend not to work much with aircraft in 1/48 scale because I just don't have the room for them to be adequately displayed. But when Model Rectifier Corporation was offering this kit as a prize for an online contest I simply couldn't resist. As luck would have it, I won the contest and soon the "Shark Mouth" B-25 was sitting on my doorstep waiting for my very excited hands to start digging through it's contents.

A Brief History

As one of the most iconic bombers of the Second World War, there is not much that needs to be told here but I'll humor those looking for a little background. Manufactured by North American Aviation, the B-25 Mitchell was a twin-engined Medium bomber used extensively by the United States and her allies during World War II. It is the bomber that struck back at Japan in the famed Doolittle Raid in April 1942, and carried the fight to the Japanese throughout the Pacific campaign.


The B-25 soon found its niche as a low-level bomber and ground attack aircraft, strafing targets and dropping parachute bombs on airfields and other targets across the South Pacific. Its early success in this role and the need for a hard hitting ground attack platform gave rise to the B-25G. In this version, the transparent nose where the bombadier sat would be replaced by a shorter, solid nose and fitted with two .50 caliber machine guns and 75 mm cannon. Only around 400 of these G variants were produced but had a fairly large impact on the battlefield. Never the less, it was seen that the 75 mm mounted in the nose was fairly ineffective. Being that it had a slow rate of fire and produced tremendous recoil (being one of the largest guns to be mounted in an aircraft) it was eventually removed from subsequent variants like the B-25J which instead boasted a total of 18 .50 caliber machine guns including 8 in the nose.

Some footage of (more than likely) a B-25J at work...

The Kit

Though Academy's B-25G is based on the molds from the original Accurate Miniatures kit it features some new box art on a sturdy top opening box. The side is adorned with several pictures of what the model should look like once complete, and also features a paint index, which I find some what redundant considering the guide is also printed on the instructions. However, at least you'll have an idea of the exact paints you'll need prior to purchasing the kit...







An underrated feature of most kits is the strength of the box itself. Nothing is worse than a flimsy box that loses shape after several openings. As I said, its of sturdy construction, as it should be for the amount it contains - Four bags containing twelve sprue trees.

The parts are molded in light gray plastic, and for the most part are free of irritants like flash and ejector pin marks. The exterior detail is fine, the engraved panel lines and rivets are crisp as you can see here on the engine nacelles...


Similar quality of detail can be found throughout the model, including the control surfaces. The gaps between the rudder and the horizontal stabilizer may be slightly overstated but will allow for easier articulation should one decide to do so...


Decent in comparison to the real thing.


The same attention was given to the interior with the inclusion of a detailed bomb bay, radios, and other internal works. My only issue with such treatment is that all of this work will likely go unnoticeable when the fuselage is all closed up. There quite simply are not enough openings or windows to view the interior...






The engines come in three parts which will add some nice detail as well as some depth to the engine housing...





...and the fourteen individual exhaust stacks will be fun to install...


I'm not crazy about the wheels, however, as the engraving for the tread is pretty shallow and may get a bit lost while sanding away the inevitable seam after mating the two halves. At the very least, the addition of the Good Year logo is a nice touch, and they are pre-flattened, giving the model a nice weighted look...


Similarly, the detail on the .50 cals are not bad for plastic parts, but I'm not hard to please. But aftermarket barrels may be the best route for people looking for a bit more detail...


I particularly love the weapons set, considering there are four different options available for us to choose from - depth charges, 500 lbs, 1000 lbs, and tiny little 100 lbs...


There are a lot of clear pieces, however, several of them will not be used as they were intended for the B and C versions, but there are two options available for the belly turret as well as the tail gunner's position...


The instrument panel is a clear part, also with a good amount of detail that will be complimented with a decal included in the kit...



Instructions and Markings

As I expected from having recently built two different Academy kits, the instructions are pretty clear and concise. Every thing in the interior is put together in subassemblies and installed in a later step. For the most part, each step is an exploded view with obvious instructions. I hate when half of your time is spent scratching your head due to poor instructions rather than devoted to assembling the model. Fortunately, I don't for see that being an issue here...



There are plenty of options throughout the model depending on what configuration you feel like modeling so be sure to decide early which version you'll be building.

I did not see anywhere on the instructions whether or not to add weight to the nose. I'm aware that the Accurate Miniatures kit included several weights to keep it from being a tail-sitter but that isn't the case here. Better to be safe than sorry, so I suggest adding some weight in the nose.

There are two different versions available, each with its own configuration for the belly turret, tail gun, and other small details and the Painting and Decal Guide gives you a four-sided view for each plane...



Though not the shark mouth version, I will most likely build my model in these markings as they are more unique...


There are not a lot of decals to fuss over but its been my experience that Academy's decals need a little extra gloss coat to tone down the silvering. We'll see if the same is true of these. They also include two straps for the cockpit seats but I've never been a huge fan of decal harnesses...




Fit

This was a large beast to put together, and required quite a bit of tape. Even so, the fit is remarkably solid. But you can see how all that interior work will be virtually wasted once she comes together...


This was the only problem area though I believe with some glue and a little pressure it won't be an issue for long...


Having no gaps around the nacelles is aces in my book...



The fuselage is recessed to accept the wing root which eliminates the gap you generally see there. Slight clean up may be necessary along the dorsal portion of the fuselage but very minimal...


One thing of note, the nose cone features no locator pins or notches making this fit a potential nuisance. Never the less, the canopy fit almost perfectly...



Final Thoughts

Oddly enough, the B-25 isn't all that well represented in kit form, especially the G version which is only available in 1/72 from Italeri or Monogram in 1/48. So, if you're looking for a larger, updated version, this is the one. Rest assured that the detail is superior, but I hope you can live with it being hidden from view when all is said and done. Never the less, it has enough options for the exterior and other configurations to keep you happy.
Aside from one or two potential fit issues I don't see how this kit could be a let down at all. Overall, this kit is extremely adequate, and represents the more unique version of the legendary bomber. I'm chomping at the bit to build it!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 

Thanks again to MRC for sending me this kit.

3 comments:

  1. The kits looks quite good and a shame that any interior work would be lost. Look forward to seeing more of the progress.

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    Replies
    1. I have no doubt it will build up nicely! But it is disappointing to see the detail will be hidden for the most part.

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  2. There is a mention of adding 45g of weight in the nose within the instructions. I do not think the instructions are all that easy to follow, especially the dorsal turret assembly and how the 50's are to be attached. some illustrations appear to have a part attached (bomb bay starboard side) with no mention as to what it is. Lastly the installation of the 75mm cannon is not quite adequate to understand. Other than that it is a fine model.

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