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Airfix North American B-25C/D Mitchell

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/72 scale aircraft kit
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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Not to be confused with its ancient B-25J, Airfix’s new kit represents the “early” versions of the Mitchell — those with the dorsal turret aft of the wing. This kit can make the B-25C or D version.

The parts are molded in Airfix’s usual somewhat-soft gray styrene and feature recessed panel lines.

Interior details are excellent, extending from the bombardier’s Norden sight back through the turret compartment. Four 500-pound bombs can be hung in the bomb bay.

A fine decal sheet, printed by Cartograf, includes markings for two aircraft: an antisubmarine bomber in olive-drab over white, and a desert Mitchell in sand over neutral gray. The latter was a veteran of combat in North Africa aircraft that was specially marked for a war bonds tour back home.

One of the strengths of the “new Airfix,” instructions provide precise illustrations showing just a few parts in each large panel. Subsequent steps highlight the parts installed in the previous step with a red tint. But there is no parts map, and the color recommendations for the interior are simply numbers that match Humbrol’s paint line. For those without a Humbrol paint chart, here’s some help: 226 = interior green; 26 = khaki; 85 = satin black; 155 = olive drab; 56 = aluminum; 125 = dark gray; 53 = gunmetal; and 33 = matt black. 

A separate double-sided color print shows the overall paint schemes and decal placement. One oddity: There’s an extra set of fin markings with a different serial shown for Desert Warrior, but no explanation is given for when or why they should be applied.

The kit posed no fit problems. Airfix recommends adding 25 grams of weight to the covered nose-gear well to balance the model. I don’t have a scale, but I filled the compartment with lead bird shot and it wasn’t enough to keep the model from being a tail-sitter. I ended up adding a small rectangle of clear sheet plastic to the extended aft boarding hatch to hold the tail up.

All the control surfaces can be left movable, and there are optional raised or dropped flaps (I chose dropped).

The attachment of the engines/cowls to the nacelles (steps 52 and 53) isn’t precise, so check that they sit properly before the glue sets. Also, the prop axles fit loosely inside the crankcases; if you want to keep your propellers spinning, you may find them to be wobbly. I glued the axles in place inside the crankcases. 

There are unused parts in the kit for the smooth cowls and collected exhaust used on the B-25B and early B-25C; that may be an indication of other kits to come. 

The gun turrets are especially nice and allow the guns to elevate and the turrets to rotate. Aligning the dorsal turret’s long vertical post with its seat at the bottom of the compartment was a bit tricky.

The clear parts are well molded and allow several of the small windows to be added from the outside, making painting the airframe a lot easier. Airfix successfully captured the depth and contours of the Mitchell’s nose and cockpit glass.

I painted my model with Gunze Sangyo Mr. Color neutral gray, then masked for my favorite “sand” — old, but still good, Polly Scale acrylic.
 
The decals performed as expected. Desert Warrior had a campaign map, mission tally, citation, and medal record painted in panels on the fuselage. Interestingly, a Liberator with similar explanatory markings for this same bonds tour was featured in Hasegawa’s initial 1/72 scale B-24D. 

If you choose the antisubmarine Lady Jane, one note: The instructions show dark green scallops on the upper surface of the wings and horizontal stabilizers. But I found a photo of this aircraft that shows the scallops should be a continuation of the white lower-surface camouflage — which also complies with the painting regulations for antisubmarine patrol aircraft of the time.

Airfix has already announced an RAF Mitchell kit to follow, and I hope that a Doolittle Raid B-25B is in the offing. This kit didn’t take long to finish — just 19 hours. It’s clearly the best Mitchell in 1/72 scale, and I look forward to building another soon!


Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2018 issue.

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