1/48 Monogram B-24J Liberator

by Chip Berseth

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This aircraft represents "Queen of Hearts". While assigned to the 492nd Bomb Group she was a veteran of 28 missions over occupied Europe. The Queen was often regarded as to have one of the best crews in her bomb group. Her gunners were also given credit for eight enemy aircraft blasted out of the sky.  The Queen's tail gunner alone was credited with two kills. One being a FW-190, the other a Me-109.

In spite of an awesome combat career, The Queen's luck just couldn't hold out.  On July 31, 1944 she had her throttles opened wide, her brakes released, and rolled for the last time down the 5700 foot runway at her base at North Pickenham. The target for the day was a chemical plant located at Ludwigshafen in Germany.  Although fighters were easily taken care of by the fighter escort, the flak could not be so easily whisked away.  Within seconds of dropping her eggs flak ripped her apart.

The first hits took a chunk out of the right wing and left the outboard engine on fire. With the aircraft fast becoming harder and harder to control, the pilot decided it was enough. Throughout the aircraft, the bailout bell sounded that the fight was over. The fire rapidly spread igniting the fuel cells in the left wing leaving it a raging inferno. Four chutes were seen to come from her as she was speeding towards the ground as if not to be late for her appointment with her shadow.

Of her crew three were taken prisoner (one treated for severe burns) and the fourth (bombardier) was attacked by an angry mob after parachuting into a nearby field. Pitchforks and pipes did what 28 missions facing daring German fighter pilots and countless rounds of German anti-aircraft ammunition couldn't. July 31st was also his birthday.

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The kit that I used was a Monogram 1/48th scale B-24J. Seeing as how college is extremely expensive no after market parts were added. It was painted with a mix of Plasti-Cote acrylic enamel spray and Krylon chrome spray.

Using some good old Yankee ingenuity I added armor plating around the cockpit area on both the pilot and co-pilot sides of the aircraft. This was done using a small piece of copper sheet. After cutting it to the dimensions required the plates were super glued to the side of the plane. Rivets were added by dipping a small piece of wire into a puddle of super glue and then placing a drop on the armor plate. After the glue was dry, it was painted with Model Master Aluminum.

While painting the propellers I devised a way to help make the process of painting, decaling, and clear coating these things easier. Taking a Q-tip (cotton swab), I cut the cotton ends off of it. I then was left with just the cardboard middle part which happened to fit pretty good into the back of the propellers. Putting two to a swab I got those out of the way pretty quick.

The decals were a mix of custom, kit, and spares. Micro-sol and Micro-set were used in their application and as always there were no problems. I love that stuff.

Overall the kit was very good. I was very satisfied with how it went together. It is big, one of the biggest I have in my collection, but it is beautiful. I recommend this kit to all who would like an awesome replica of one of the most important aircraft of the 20th century. It looks very nice out of the box, and I'm sure the resin-heads and scratch builders would have a field day with it. Looking at it, I can see why Reuben Fleet proclaimed that this aircraft would liberate the oppressed people of occupied Europe.

Chip

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Photos and text by Chip Berseth