Jump to content
This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

Mike

B-24J Liberator (83211) 1:32

Recommended Posts

B-24J Liberator (83211)

1:32 Hobby Boss via Creative Models

 

boxtop.jpg

 

Consolidated's Liberator always seems to have flown in the shadow of the more popular B-17 Fortress in the media's eye even thought there were more of them, and in some aspects it was inferior, with poor low-speed handling and a lower ceiling, but it saw more than its fair share of action in almost every theatre of WWII, both in US use and in the hands of the RAF.  It has a specification written around its main design traits, and had a long wingspan, twin bomb bays and four super-charged engines to provide motive power.  It was unusual in having a high wing placement, tricycle undercarriage, and tamboured bomb-bay doors that retracted up the side of the fuselage, and was fitted with a fully glazed nose cone with .30cal machine guns for protection from head-on attacks.  This was later updated to a turret fitted with .50cal guns with a glazed lower for the bomb aimer's position, but many of the earlier D models were still in use concurrently.

 

Taking a leaf from the B-17's defensive armament book it could be fitted with up to 10 .50cal M2 Browning machine guns, with the layout changing during production changes, when various options were found to be unsatisfactory, such as the poorly defended nose, and the underside guns, which were eventually replaced with a Sperry ball turret that could be retracted into the fuselage to reduce drag, and must have pleased the crew no-end if they had to make a belly landing.

 

The name "Liberator" was coined by the British, and soon spread to other operators, as they were early adopters of the type after the fall of France, serving with Coastal Command, and later with the RAF after the fuselage had been lengthened.   In US Service the Liberator flew with the B-17, and later superseded it when the shorter range of the B-17 began to be an issue, with the Ploiesti raid being one of the most notable operations that featured the B-24, which suffered heavy losses due to the low level nature of the attack.  After the J introduced the nose turret, the N was intended to be a major upgrade that incorporated a standard single tail fin to improve handling.  Due to the end of the war this was cancelled, although the tail was still seen in the PB4Y-2 Privateer operated by the US Navy until long after WWII.  After the huge success of the B-29 and the dawning of the jet age, the Liberator was drawn down at the end of the war, with only the Privateer soldiering on.  A civilian airliner was prototyped as a potential offshoot, but that didn't proceed due to the same issues.

 

 

The Kit

There was quite a bit of hubbub about this kit when it was announced by Hobby Boss, and much has been said about its size and so forth.  With the increasing number of 1:32 kits of WWII four-engined heavies however, it seems less unlikely now than it would have a few years ago.  It is a brand-new tooling from Trumpeter's stablemate, and has been released at a price point that might make your eyes bulge for one of two reasons.  If you're used to paying £30 for a kit, the fact that it's around £150 might make you swallow hard, but if you've bought other 1:32 heavies from other manufacturers, you might be surprised at how low the price is.  Actually – make that three reasons for shock.  The wingspan of this model is one metre five centimetres. 1049.5mm in total, with a length of 675.9mm.  It's enormous!

 

The box is pretty huge too, and has a rather retro-style boxart that reminds me of the model boxes of yesteryear, even down to some of the lettering, and the loose but effective manner that the bare metal has been painted.  It is a top-opening box in sturdy cardboard, with a sub-box holding a number of the smaller sprues, and a compartment for the clear parts and delicate bits such as the PE, which are all separately bagged, the clear parts having bubble-wrapped bags for extra protection.  Once you get over the awe of the size of the box and then the parts, you begin to realise that for the money you are getting an inordinate amount of plastic, which includes an almost complete interior, encompassing a lot of detail missed out from other kits of this scale and size.  The surface detail is relatively straight forward, with engraved panel lines and rivets, which is consistent across the airframe and a good starting point for anyone that want to super-detail the exterior.  A number of areas have been improved by the use of slide-moulding, and the landing gear has been strengthened by inserts within the detailed legs that appear to be made from a stronger plastic, although Aerocraft Models have produced a set of brass internal struts that will ensure your B-24 never does the splits once it's finished, which are really nice.  This has got to be a must if you are planning on putting any kind of aftermarket in there, as it all adds weight.  I'll be penning a review of this useful addition shortly, so keep an eye out.  I'll link it from here when I'm done.

 

sprue1.jpg

 

sprue2.jpg

 

sprue3.jpg

 

sprue4.jpg

 

sprue5.jpg

 

sprue6.jpg

 

sprue7.jpg

 

sprue8.jpg

 

sprue9.jpg

 

sprue10.jpg

 

sprue11.jpg

 

sprue12.jpg

 

sprue13.jpg

 

sprue14.jpg

 

sprue15.jpg

 

sprue16.jpg

 

sprue17.jpg

 

clear.jpg

 

wheels.jpg

 

pe.jpg

 

gear.jpg

 

First impressions are excellent – the panel lines may be a little deep for some, but I suspect they'll look fine once there's some primer then paint involved, and the level of detail is really good, especially considering the attractive price.  Some folks have picked up on the engine fronts being a little simplified, but when you step back and consider the whole, it's not a deal-breaker and there are at least some Photo-Etch (PE) wiring harnesses to busy them up.

 

detail-ip.jpg

 

Construction begins with the cockpit, which is set on the large floor, with consoles, seats and the main instrument panel fitted on it, the latter having a set of decals for the dials, and the throttle quadrant benefitting from a set of PE levers and side panel skins, which is nice to see from a mainstream manufacturer.  The rear bulkhead has a doorway cut into the middle, and two tables for the next compartment attached in anticipation.  Another short bulkhead affixes to the floor in front of the panel, closing off the nose from the cockpit area.  The nose gear bay is moulded into the front of the lower floor, which has an opening for the crew hatch cut into it, and is detailed with separate rib-work aft of the partial bulkhead, with a PE skin in the hatchway.  The nose gear leg is a short affair, with the aforementioned central inner leg, surrounded by the two outers, a large frame aft and a small scissor-link forward.  The tyres are made of black flexible plastic, and have a two-part hub that fits from each side, and then slides onto the sturdy axle with a clipped mudguard close to the contact surface, which has a pair of small braces to prevent vibration.  The leg is fitted into a square hole in the bay and stabilised by a central tong-shaped brace, plus retraction jack on the port side.  A scrap diagram shows how the wheel and the forward bulkhead should look from the side, to avoid issues later.  The two assemblies are brought together, with the entry floor moulded into the other side of the bay floor and additional parts added before the additional bulkhead with access ladder and another floor panel are fitted below the entryway, with the front resting on the partial bulkhead installed earlier.  Another small piece of flooring is made up with ammo canisters flanking a simple hinged stool and the bomb-sight, with a rest pad in front of it for the bombardier's comfort during the run-in to target.  This slots into the holes in the front of the lower bulkhead, and is joined by another bulkhead at the rear of the entry area, which has another stool fitted, this time with a back for the comfort of the radio operator as he hunches over his table.

 

detail-bombbay.jpg

 

By now it is clear we're building the interior of the fuselage from front to back, which leads us to the bomb bays, which are bisected along their length by a tiny and dangerous 9" (23cm) wide walkway that wasn't at all liked by the crews.  The bomb racks act as supports, and the completed assembly plugs into the roof, which is the underside of the wing.  Ribs are added behind this area, and a bulkhead with doorway slots into the end.  If you are planning on loading your B-24 with bombs, now is the time to build up twelve bombs, each of which is made up from two halves of the body, and another two parts for the fins, plus a spinner at the rear inside the box of the fins.  Three go on each ladder, and you can have a bit of fun weathering their olive drab finish, as bomb dumps are usually outdoors a long way from shelter.  The belly turret surround is also made up from a floor section with hexagonal hole for the turret, a short bulkhead that suspends it above the fuselage floor, and a step up/down to get in and around the turret.  These two assemblies are then slotted into the back of the forward interior, and joined by the aft floor on which the waist gunners will stand to operate their .50cals from their windows.  There is no "floor" as such aft of this area, so it is built into the fuselage halves later on.  First, the various turrets are built up with their interiors looking very good OOB.  The nose turret is first, with the internal structure built up around the two .50cals and fed by flexible styrene ammo belts from the centre.  The glazing fits around the internals split front and back, with two small doors for the gunner's use separate at the rear, which necessitated a traverse full to the side to enable bail-out in an emergency, putting the gunner dangerously close to the likely still flailing props just behind his position.  The aft turret is split into two side parts, into which the guns and their supports are installed, again being fed centrally via flexible styrene ammo runs.  A piece of armoured glass at the front of the turret, and two more doors in the aft are added, then the turret is fitted through a base plate, and locked in place by adding the turret floor, permitting the turret to rotate freely, all being well.  The belly turret is a more complex affair, as it has two axes of rotation.  The suspension unit has the ammo cans fixed to the sides, and has a ring at the bottom, which has two pivots for the turret to rotate "up and down".  The ball turret begins with the two clear side panels having a gun fitted and then joined together by a detailed cross-member with sighting equipment added.  Then the clear central halves are closed around the assembly to form a rough ball, which is then clipped into the ring's pivots ready for installation.

 

detail-turrets.jpg

 

detail-interior1.jpg

 

detail-interior2.jpg

 

Before the fuselage and internals can be joined together, a great deal of equipment is added along the fuselage length on both sides, plus windows and various colours for the wall sections, which already have some nice detail moulded in.  Scrap diagrams show the more complex assembly of the cockpit area parts, and colour call-outs are given where necessary, which is a big help.  The waist gunner positions are added, as are copious yellow oxygen tanks, the prominent cable runs that pass through the bomb bay, and more ammunition.  The uppermost sections of the rear fuselage are blank due to moulding constraints, but as the area will be seen through the waist windows, an insert that mimics the ribbing throughout the rest of the fuselage is installed on each side, with oxygen bottles and the waist gun window panels stowed there whilst they're in use.  The starboard aft fuselage then receives a hollow bulkhead, equipment on the walls and a short length of walkway just forward of the rear turret, which acts as a step up/down for the cramped gunner, with his turret being installed at this stage, a small set of parts in the roof above the waist gunners, and the nose gunner's turret, which is locked in place without cement to allow it to turn.  The interior is then installed in the starboard fuselage, the nose gunner's ammo belts are linked in, the belly turret is inserted through the hexagonal opening, and the long run of ammo is placed into its trough in the side of the fuselage, with additional parts having curves to enter the turret and leave their box by the waist gunner's station.  This all sounds very quick, but there are a lot of parts, and a great deal of painting to be done during this stage, so it won't be a five minute job, and you still have another turret to build.  The top turret has another two .50cals on a mount, which is sandwiched between the top and bottom "floor" and is joined by a number of other small parts, plus a short length of ammo leading down into the curved cans that are then fitted at the front, plus an armoured back with two oxygen tanks for the gunner in a small PE sling.   It is set aside while the fuselage is joined, and slotted into the hole behind the canopy shortly after.

 

detail-exterior1.jpg

 

detail-exterior2.jpg

 

The B-24's Davis wing relied on a long wingspan and narrow chord for high speed, but in return gave poor low speed handling, and had a high wing loading, which put a lot of stress on the airframe.  In order for the model not to tear itself in half once completed, HB have included the mother of all spars, which extends 36cm across the centre of the aircraft once inserted.  It slides into the slot over the bomb bays, and ledges on a lug to ensure it fits centrally, after which you can finally (finally!!!!) close up the fuselage, at which point you'll see a lot less of your hard work on the interior, but because of the scale, you'll still see a lot more than if it was 1:72 or 1:48.  The aforementioned top turret drops into place behind the cockpit, and the canopy is fixed down over the aperture along with the nose-mounted astrodome, the "whiskers" on the nose sides, the open tamboured bomb bay doors and the wind deflectors in front of the waist gunner windows.  Flipping the fuselage over, the bombardier's window goes on under the nose turret, the nose gear bay doors are added to the sides, four PE skins are fitted to the bomb bay centreline, the belly turret insert slots in on four upstands that hold it level with the skin of the outer fuselage, and here you'll just need to double-check that it is level before committing to glue.  The rear hatch fills the aperture in the space between belly turret and tail, and that's the fuselage done for now.

 

detail-wing.jpg

 

detail-winginterior.jpg

 

detail-spar.jpg

 

The main gear bays are buried deep in the wing, so need building up before construction on the wing begins in earnest.  They are made up from individual slabs and a slightly curved roof that is in fact meant to be the underside of the skin.  A number of ribs and stringers are installed, and it's all painted interior green, times two in mirror image.  The finished wells fit into the lower wing, which has no nacelles at this stage, while the upper wing has the tops of the nacelles moulded-in, with a gap for the cooling flaps, which are separate.  Top and bottom formation lights and a landing light near the gear bay are added from clear parts, and the process is repeated for the other side.  The wings have heavy stiffening ribs inside, and are closed up around the spar that is now poking out of the fuselage on both sides, retained in place by stout turrets that pass through holes in the spar (see the pics for details).  They could be adapted to be removable, and my first thoughts are to remove the turrets and add a neodymium magnet to the side of the gear bay to clamp against a piece of sheet metal that is attached to the spar.  It could work, and it's bound to be something someone figures out fairly quickly, as there can't be all that many modellers with enough space to permanently display a complete B-24 with its wings on.  During the mating process the flaps and ailerons are trapped between the halves, and the two lower engine nacelles with their cooling flaps and huge supercharger intakes recessed into the bottom complete the aft section of the nacelles and await the engine cowlings.  There are some issues with the wing thickness and angle of incidence that have already been brought to light by other diligent modellers, but the fix is quite involved, and may terrify some of us (self included), for what might seem to some to be a slight difference, and to others it will make all the difference.  I'm not sure yet which camp I fall into, but you can work that one out for yourself!  Repeat the process (this is getting repetitive!) for the other wing, and then assemble the main gear legs around their central tougher strut, with retraction jacks, scissor-links and rubbery wheels with two-part hubs.  This will be the first time the B-24 has stood on its own three wheels, and here I'm going to apply my usual pet worry about rubberised tyres on what is a rather heavy model.  I don't know for sure what the long term prognosis will be for this plastic, but I would be sorely tempted to replace them with resin aftermarket wheels as and when they become available, just in case.  We'll reconvene in 10 years and see whether I was right or not – I won't gloat if I am, I promise :)

 

detail-engines.jpg

 

There are predictably four engine cowlings, and they are made up from an outer section and a small insert that blanks off the intakes on the sides.  The Pratt & Witney R-1830 radial engines, which were a direct lift from the Catalina are depicted as two pseudo banks by applying the cylinder parts back-to-back, so that they will be seen through the front of the nacelle, and through the cooling flaps at the rear.  The aforementioned PE harness is bent around the front bank, and an old-skool axle with collar is buried inside to take the three-bladed prop and allow it to spin freely once installed.  The completed quartet are applied to the fronts of the nacelles once assembled, the retractable bumper is added at the rear, and small gear bay doors are attached to the newly fitted main gear legs.  The instructions would have you fit the whiskers again at this stage, but don't be fooled – just do it the once, as late on as you can get away with, as they look eminently breakable!

 

The build tails off with the big H-tail, and I'm really sorry about that pun.  The main plane has separate elevators, all of which are made up of top and bottom parts, with the rudders also being separate from their fins, so that you can pose them as you please to add a little more interest to the area.  The completed tail drops into the gap in the fuselage, closing over the fuselage, and completing the build save for a trio of antennae on the spine between wings and tail.  At this stage you'll probably have knocked most things off your desk at some point with those massive wings, and be starting to wonder where you'll put it.

 

 

Markings

You'll probably need a larger spray booth for this one unless you've figured out how to make the wings removable, and you'll be pleased to hear that HB have included three decal options from the box on this large sheet.  If you're phobic about natural metal finishes, you'll also be pleased to hear that there's an olive drab option too, although the aftermarket decal options are sure to balloon once this has been on general release for a while.  Polka-dotted assembly ship anyone?  There were a few Js.  Now I'm wondering… and yes, there are some schemes out there that will probably be scaled up soon if not already.

 

From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • B-24J-185-CO 44-40927 "51" 'My Akin?' of the 722nd BS, 450th BG
  • B-24J-25-CF 42-109816 "YM" 'War Goddess' of the 409th BS, 93BG
  • B-14J-175-CO  44-40674 "Going My Way" of the 431BS, 11BG

 

profiles.jpg

 

decals.jpg
 

As usual, Hobby Boss give very little info regarding the decal options, so I've had to use my rudimentary Google Fu to come up with any more information, although it's not hugely difficult.  The two letter codes in the type represents the factory where the airframe was constructed, with CO standing for Consolidated's San Diego factory, and CF for their Fort Worth operation.  The numeric code after the J Series letter is the Block Number.  You can find a huge list of factories and such online here.

 

 

Conclusion

For the money, it's unlikely you'll get a bigger model, and to a great many of us it's a B-24J Liberator that will look awesome once built and painted.  If you're a super detailer, you've got a lot more than a blank canvas on hand, as the detail levels are already excellent, especially when you consider the price.  There are a couple of issues, the most notable being with the wing, but if that's not an issue for you, and I can very well see that being the case with a lot of folks, then it's a no-brainer.  Go and get your credit card!  If you're concerned about the wing, get your search engine to point you at the fix being worked on by our member Iain, or any others that are doubtless being worked on.

 

As a point of note, it'll be impossible to sneak this box in past the missus if this is a criteria for you, but if you do get caught, it's almost big enough to live in anyway, so it's all good.

 

Speaking personally, I'll be figuring out how to make the wings removable, loading it up with detail, and probably hiding my eyes about the wing, whilst singing "la-la-la can't hear you". :headphones:

 

bin.jpg

 

Review sample courtesy of

logo.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a quick addendum, I taped together the fuselage and the wings, plus of course the spar, and weighed it.  There's 640g of plastic in those seven parts :shocked:

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 2
  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hell of a kit Mike.  Just as well there are metal U/C legs available.

Great review as well.

 

Chris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Me wanty, but know I will never, ever actually slay the beast... It would have to join a very long queue of big Trumpeter jets, most of which I may never quite get around to. 

 

I can dream, can't I?

 

Thanks for the comprehensive review.

 

Cheers. 

 

Chris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, spruecutter96 said:

Thanks for the comprehensive review.

Cheers Chris - I enjoyed doing it TBH, but half way through decided to re-take the pics of the large sprues as I wasn't happy with their quality.  I'm so glad I did, as they're like chalk & cheese in terms of sharpness and colour :coolio:

 

13 hours ago, stringbag said:

Just as well there are metal U/C legs available.

Yeah - after posting that comment about the weight of the biggest 7 parts, I remembered that they also suggest you put 300g nose weight in, so I have a feeling we're looking at an all-up weight of 1.5kg or more.  Metal gear legs are pretty much mandatory in my mind, and white metal probably won't cut it.  Brass or Bronze are the only ways to be sure.  Titanium legs anyone? :Tasty:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review. As a fan of the B-24, in the grand scheme of things, £150 for this kit is great value! When you consider this one kit will probably take at least 6 months of fair consistent modelling, you regularly see fellow modellers walking around shows with several carrier bags of a similar value and probably don’t even think about it? 

 

Unfortunately these big bombers have 3 disadvantages. 

1: Having the space to build it

2: Having the space to display it

3: Smuggling it past the missus!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Josip said:

Has anyone noticed the wrong type of dorsal turret?

Would you care to elaborate on that with whats wrong? with maybe some supporting documentation and photographs rather than just a statement that its "worng"

 

Thx

 

Julien

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The B-24 had Martin dorsal turret that came in early and late version. It was covered by a clear perspex bubble without metal frames. The turret on theis kit looks like something more appropriate for a B-17G.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...