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Beggsy

"Sandbar Mitchell" - Tanker 8Z

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This is one that I've been wanting to build for a long time.

 

I was born in Alaska, and aviation in that state has always fascinated me.  A few years ago, I came across the "Sandbar Mitchell" project, the restoration and return to flight of a B-25J Firebomber that made a wheels-up landing on a sandbar near Farbanks, Alaska.  The restoration is also a mentoring program for youth to learn technical skills, and it seemed like a good cause to me (and still does!).  You can find their website here:

 

https://www.warbirdsofglory.org/index.asp

 

I made a donation, and was given a small piece of the actual aircraft in return.  I'd show a picture but my phone doesn't want to upload it, going to have to fix that before the build starts!

 

The aircraft is going to be restored to the colours of a wartime aircraft, but fire aviation has been an interest of mine for some time, so I've now been keen to build a model of it in the colours it wore on the day it came down in the bush.  When Airfix announced their new-tool 1:72 Mitchell, I knew what I had to do.

 

4.jpg

Intended colours for the real aircraft (rendering by Ron Cole)

 

1.jpg

The Mitchell as it looked on fire-fighting duties.

 

As you can see from the picture above, this shouldn't be too difficult of a conversion from the stock Mitchell.  

 

So that's the idea.  Stay tuned!

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A history of the aircraft itself can be found here:

 

https://www.warbirdsofglory.org/history.asp

 

Long story short, the aircraft served as a trainer throughout the war and up to 1959.  In 1960 she was converted for firefighting and flown to Alaska.  9 years later she suffered a double engine failure shortly after takeoff and landed on the sandbar (crew unharmed), where she was stripped of her engines and other useful parts, and then left to slowly waste away for the next 44 years.

 

The site's got a good collection of photos of 8Z from her firefighting days:

 

3.jpg

 

000.jpg

 

001.jpg

 

002.jpg

 

003.jpg

 

004.jpg

(She's hard to see in that one, but if one assumes her sister-ships were identical, it's still a useful reference)

 

There are also pictures of the wreck.  For further reference, the recovery process was extensively documented with photos here:

 

https://www.warbirdsofglory.org/recovery_1.asp

 

Those might be useful for things like the interior colour and what the retardant tank actually looked like.

 

To convert the Airfix "C/D" into a "J" looks like it involves moving the upper turret forwards, modifying the waist gunner positions, removing the lower turret and modifying the tail turret.  The upper turret is going to disappear anyway for the firefighter conversion, so scratch that one.  Then of course there's leaving off the guns and sorting out the internal tank.  It looks like the bomb bay doors were stock, so if I leave them closed I don't have to do anything else....but where's the fun in that?  That said, I haven't been able to find a single photo of what the tank and drop mechanism look like.

 

A_New_Airfix_North_American_B25_Mitchell

 

As for the paint job, I think there's enough in those photos to work with.  I am going to have to make a small number of custom decals though.

 

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

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Got it, camera's working again:

 

41243127582_515a97f741_b.jpg

 

Looking forward to displaying this with the model!

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Like many builds, this one will start in the cockpit (which, by the way, I've ordered a Falcon vacu-form glazing set for).  The real aircraft's nose seems to have been scavenged at some point, so no recent photos of it's interior.  However, other photos on the recovery page are enough to confirm that Tanker 8Z still wore the fairly standard interior green on most of her internal walls.  Therefore, I'm going to do the cockpit in fairly standard colours.  Here's a good picture:

 

30c1496ef6d9fb514f05a144dc5d3fa0.jpg

 

The cockpit pieces look pretty detailed

 

26420048717_b67ae25921_b.jpg

 

41291802281_7bb1d24218_b.jpg

 

I also found this part...

 

41291837851_823d294a12_b.jpg

 

Which isn't in the instructions but looks like it will fit in here:

 

26420073707_69bd02c2af_b.jpg

 

One less turret to have to work out how to remove!

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Construction has commenced.  the cockpit pieces went together very easily, and there seems to be plenty of detail.  Interesting to see that tiny crawl space to get to the front section!

 

39505524850_614fc857b4_b.jpg

 

The bomb-bay sidewalls are very detailed:

 

27442752238_ec52752253_b.jpg

 

They look good alright!

 

39505538440_9396220fc7_b.jpg

 

There's one wall on the cockpit section that could do with a touch of detail, it will just barely be visible through the boarding hatch:

 

41314878811_553ae8ccda_b.jpg

 

The aft wall of the bomb-bay goes together with some interesting locating features.  I wonder whey they didn't just use the normal pin/hole.

 

41272723362_cfb71d8304_b.jpg

 

Easy enough to put together, though.

 

Dry fitting the fuselage and interior:

 

39505888500_40a1079972_b.jpg

 

This allowed me to join up the forward and aft sections of the bomb-bay and cockpit.  This will give me easy access to build the retardant tank.

 

26443560617_cc3507f996_b.jpg

 

It's very hard to find pictures of said tank, but this one....

 

052.jpg

 

...suggests that it's just a simple aluminium sheet-metal job. I'm assuming the upper "ceiling" of the bomb bay was removed at the same time as the fuselage skin in that area, i.e. I should be including it in my "in-tact" aircraft.  The only other detail I can find is this...

 

054.jpg

 

..which makes it look like there were three filling ports in the top.

 

Does anyone know if there was anything visible externally for filling these things, or what the underside of the tank would look like?

 

 

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Welcome Beggsy, I was hoping someone would do a firebomber.

 

Nice history and pics, really looking forward to your progress

 

Simon

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Let's start adding some colour!

 

40509399305_736d5aa48b_b.jpg

 

Black primer applied

 

27534117138_3beebafa9e_b.jpg

 

And to the control columns, too.

 

Green applied over the top of the primer, not being too thorough to try and get a tiny amount of shadowing around the raised detail.  Not sure how effective it was in the end.

 

39596026160_ec8ca58251_b.jpg

 

The cockpit also got a coating:

 

26533976957_fae17e4177_b.jpg

 

It also needs a little weight in the nose.  Not sure if this will be enough but I can get some in behind the engines too.  Good thing North American made the gear doors retract when on ground!

 

40690848564_944fe69485_b.jpg

 

The aft bulk head got some paint too.

 

41362329832_8b23a47210_b.jpg

 

I'm not planning to modify the interior too much.  There was a bit of difference between the "B" and "J" (largely the addition of the turret behind the pilots), but this wont be visible from the exterior.

 

I'm seeing a lot of different colours for Mitchell interiors.  There don't seem to be interior photos of 8Z's cockpit, so I guess I'll have to assume something based on photos of other airplanes.

 

Next up will be to make that decision and start detailing!

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I take that back!

 

There IS a photo of the cockpit!

 

048.jpg

 

Not much left, buy I can work with this :)

 

 

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Started adding the various other colours to the cockpit:

 

40725589014_5c13bc181f_b.jpg

 

26569208037_d28bb219a4_b.jpg

 

You might notice I've removed the bomb doors.  Closer inspection of this photo.....

 

003.jpg

 

...seems to suggest that it's got a set of 6 smaller doors (3 per side) that open to release retardant.  This is further supported by this photo....

 

006.jpg

 

...which doesn't seem to show open doors in front of the torrent of retardant coming out of the fuselage.

 

I'm also wondering about the feature running down the centreline on the belly.  It looks like a bunch of short black wires or pipes and can be seen in these images, in the same forward-aft location as the drop doors.

 

000.jpg

 

003.jpg

 

001.jpg

 

Any ideas?

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Not very easy to find pics of one, well not on my phone.

 

I am sure there is BM member who is interested in fire bombers, but I can’t remeber who. Will have a look later when I get home as he may have a better idea ( unless I am imagining it lol)

 

Nice start by the way!

 

Simon

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Beggsy

 

You may want to contact the BM member - Radleigh, I believe he runs the Water Bomber Sig. He may be able to help you

 

 

Simon

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Thanks for that Skids, I'll try and get in touch.

 

In the meantime, I've finished weathering the interior with pastels, various colours of washed and some silver paint for chipping/scratching.   It's all ready and waiting for a bit of metal.......  :)

 

41472447252_0983749f42_b.jpg

 

26643828627_949dae4309_b.jpg

 

41472446632_e8275484ec_b.jpg

 

I tried to make it look pretty beat-up, given that it served careers as a trainer and as a firefighter!  Both of those would expose it to a fair bit of abuse, I imagine.

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Some goodies arrived!!

 

41821587952_dd62cb7668_b.jpg

 

27995628248_20fd200c11_b.jpg

 

41821586332_9d892d620d_b.jpg

 

These will be a lot of fun!

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Well, I nearly sent myself cross-eyed, but I finally installed most of the Photo-Etch.

 

Cockpit seats and entry hatch/ladder:

42154951952_3c574ba6f3_b.jpg

 

Landing gear legs:

27330251507_2d07bc3e6f_b.jpg

 

Right hand cockpit sidewall:

41480678444_82d3a1e081_b.jpg

 

Left hand cockpit sidewall:

27330253527_05de95e2be_b.jpg

 

And finally the cockpit itself:

 

41480678904_a1fc3f2d84_b.jpg

 

27330252967_acc33dbe62_b.jpg

 

Next up is to pain the seats and get the fuselage stuck together!

 

 

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The seats are painted:

 

41322847895_7b7d1c3fc7_b.jpg

 

I also started work on plugging windows and adding new ones for the conversion.  Cutting out that gap in the horizontal stabiliser piece was a bit tricky!

 

42175412502_af130f1499_b.jpg

 

Almost ready to stick it together.

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Got the seats done.

 

42229876281_da5e09e5d9_b.jpg

 

They look pretty good installed in the cockpit

 

42183336092_a3c8eb7434_b.jpg

 

42229875581_b4e4cd1f44_b.jpg

 

Next I need to sort out those side windows, then I can finally close this thing up.

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Those seats look fantastic Beggsy as does the whole cockpit.

 

Did you manage to get hold of Radleigh? I was thinking about it as I have a Tigercat that I may do as a water bomber.

 

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Oh yeah, totally forgot about that.

 

The photo-etch (and current ongoing window construction) distracted me from the actual fire-fighting equipment.

 

Thanks!

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Afternoon guys... I have some info on this aircraft but not to hand.. I do have these though, art work done by Juanita Franzi.. 

 

I love my Russian stuff, infact a lot of people know me to only love Russian stuff, but my second passion is fire bombers from any era.. and I love the B-25's... will post more stuff when I have it :)

 

42294255732_c9d7d09f03_o.jpg

 

27472863467_390ff01969_o.jpg

Edited by Radleigh

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Wow, that's a fantastic picture!  Thanks!!!

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Another progress update.  Sorry there weren't more photos during the process, but these were a bit of a pain and I just wanted them done, in the end.  Shaping putty is hard!

 

42332731902_973254b096_b.jpg

 

Time to close it up, I think!

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I finally did some more assembly!

 

41660488934_a133dce76b_b.jpg

 

41660489104_ebf2346f19_b.jpg

 

These landing gear legs are a bit spindly.  I feel there's a risk of accidentally breaking them off.

 

41481457315_08716dbcc4_b.jpg

 

To safeguard them, I build this:

 

40575995820_381b61a5c2_b.jpg

 

It makes a bit more sense when the plane is loaded up:

 

40575994440_d539df1e26_b.jpg

 

That will keep the weigh off the gear legs until the engine nacelles are on to reinforce them.

 

Next up:  Building the nacelles and then filling/sanding/rescribing around the turret locations and windows.

 

 

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Nice jig you got there!

The internals of the Airfix kit sure looks a lot nicer than the Hasegawa J that I'm building.

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