1/48 Monogram B-26 Marauder

Hangar Queen Diorama

Gallery Article by Stephen A. Carr on Dec 19 2016

 

      

I got this old Monogram kit given to me around 2011, but due to work and home life, didn't get around to doing anything with it until October 2013. Plastic modelling is a third concurrent hobby for me, and always comes third place to maintaining my three World War 2 vehicles and astronomy, my other two obsessions! As a result, progress on the B-26 has been slow, with the build taking virtually three years to the day. I never build a model out of the box, as that would be too quick and simple, although after a three year build, perhaps I should start! So rather than build the usual complete factory finish or weathered aircraft, I chose a fictional hangar queen being stripped for useable spares. Internally the model was built from the box, as with so few openings, I had little interest in building detail that wouldn't be seen. 

Where the changes came was to open up many of the inspection panels, remove the control surfaces and strip the nacelles back to the firewall. Several ARC members were helpful in supplying photos of B-26's for reference. Some control surfaces would be refitted later and a copper wire engine mount was soldered up for one nacelle. Painting was a fairly simple OD/Grey scheme using Humbrol enamels sprayed with some sprayed subtle tone changes. Another of my previous hobbies was R/C aircraft, and as a result, the smallest nozzle on my Iwata Kustom TH airbrush is 0.6mm. Ideal for R/C models, but more tricky to use for these little plastic kits. However with pressure and paint flow adjustable and restrictable, I get by with it.

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After the basic colour coats, was Future, decalling, a sealing coat, then a number of enamel washes to simulate the dirt streaks washed down an airframe left uncleaned. The kit decals were decades old but after much soaking, they applied ok, but required large amounts of Microsol to settle them into the details. I'm sure I'm not alone in hating the masking of canopies, and have developed a technique to make it much easier. Instead of trying to mask each small window, I mask parallel frames, in one direction only, and paint those first ( see picture ). Once dry, I mask the frames in the other direction. It may take a bit longer to paint, but the masking is made far more simple. To muddy up the wheels, I wet a cloth in brown paint and simply rolled the wheel across the cloth. Beause the cloth gave way a little, it coated the tyre nicely in fake mud.

With the basic airframe complete, it was time to look at accessories. I turned a master 45 gallon drum on my lathe and produced a silicone mould to allow me to cast several drums. Using wartime pictures as reference, I built a jig to solder up an elevated working platform. This was steel wire with a 1/32 plywood deck. I also made some wooden step ladders and a table from 1/32 ply. The ladders were glued together on an acrylic board so they wouldn't stick. A number of crates were made from scraps of wood too, stained with dilute enamel paint. Four figures were selected from a Monogram B-29 kit waiting in the stash. I've never had great results painting figures so decided to make a better effort this time. Faces, hands and arms were all painted with three different flesh tones to help to define the shape, while the clothes all had high and low lights added, all painted while squinting through a magnifying glass. I surprised myself with the results and I'm pretty pleased with the way they turned out in the end.

The final assembly began in early October 2016, with the display base made and details being attached. The base was drilled for the elevated platform legs, and the oil drums had a steel pin fitted before they were epoxied down. The bits of engine cowling were just attached with 5 minute epoxy while the ladders, table and crates were glued with PVA woodworking adhesive. The three figures on the ground all had a 0.3mm steel pin drilled into one leg to help support them. The B-26 itself has pins glue into the bottom of each main wheel, and another at the tail. These just locate into holes in the base to position the aircraft and are not glued.

Like all models, it has its flaws and areas that should have been re-worked, but art is never finished, only abandoned; and so I've called time on the B-26 now, and I'm pondering whether the 1/48th Hurricane, B-17 or B-29 will be keeping me busy for the next three years!

Stephen A. Carr

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Photos and text by Stephen A. Carr