B-25D Mitchell 345th Bomb Group (5th Air Force)
"prop jobs" are a challenge to my model building experience,
especially those that flew in the Southwest Pacific Theater. One could spend
weeks weathering a plastic model that, in the end, might look close enough to an
aircraft that began to fade, corrode and become mechanically unreliable in a
short period of time Ė all because of the heat and humidity, even the vermin,
that were a daily presence in that part of the world. I decided to build a
replica of a medium bomber that was instrumental in winning the war against the
Axis, especially Japan, the B-25D Mitchell. I chose to reflect an aircraft that
served with the successful and colorful 345th BG of the 5th AF.
First, a word about the kit. I canít say enough complimentary words about this Airfix kit! It has all one would want in a 1/72 scale model: accurate size and shape; panel lines crisp and distinct; extra parts to make a "C" or "D" version desired, as Mediterranean Theater B-25s did not have the modifications made in the field as those that went to the Southwest Pacific; ability to display dropped flaps and pitched rudders; cockpit and interior more than minimally detailed; The instruction booklet was clearly laid out and didnít have conflicting part numbers; and the fit was nearly perfect everywhere.
My build slavishly followed the instructions, with minor deviation: First, as I knew my model would have SW Pacific unit markings, being a low level strafer instead of a traditional bomber, I omitted the interior parts for the bombardier position. I used the space available to load the front section with weight, to facilitate standing on its three landing wheels. It will need an inordinate amount of weight! Additionally, the stafer variant had four .50" guns in the nose, so I used a micro drill (matching gun barrel diameter) and made four holes in proper location in the front clear canopy piece for the guns. I clipped the kit guns at the breech section and glued the gun stubs into the holes.
As for the cockpit, I only fashioned seat belts and harnesses using masking tape cut to scale width and length. Thereís not much to see of the cockpit area through the heavy framed canopy used on the aircraft/model.
The model construction took minimal time; most of my time was with painting the model. I began by first purchasing an after market decal sheet by Lifelike Decals, entitled "N.A. B-25 Mitchell Pt. 2" (72-040), which had no fewer than five sets of decals to reflect five different B-25s that flew with the 345th BG in WWII. I chose an aircraft from the 499th Bomb Squadron (BS). I used the unique bat decal on the nose section, but I had to lance/pierce the decal film for proper seating on the plastic. The decal cracked in a few places, requiring touch-up with matching shade of blue enamel paint. Be prepared to use a strong concentration setting solution.
As stated above, painting and weathering this model consumed most of my time. I began with a black and dark brown mix of Ammo Mig wash. I then used several shades of olive brown for the upper surfaces, lightening the last two layers with degrees of white paint to show fading in selected areas. The same wash was used for the underside, then painted that side with neutral gray in two shades (not as distinguishable). The painted model was sealed with Future floor wax at this point.
To accent the recessed panel lines, I used Black Detailer and wiped away excess in certain areas to my preference to bring out the stained crevices on the aircraft. I sealed the surfaces with Future again. Lastly, I masked the clear canopy sections (turret, side windows, etc.), then applied a layer of dullcoat.
My final addition was adding limited chipped areas with a silver pastel pencil, plus airbrushing exhaust stains emanating from the engines: a dark umber for the engine sides and lower areas; adding light gray smoke stains on the upper wing aft of the engines.
Iím now anxious to build a second one of these kits, but using a yellow-and-green eagle bird decal/motif thatís also on the decal sheet: this decorated B-25s from the 498th BS of the same bomb group.
Photos and text © by Carl Jarosz