HK Models B-25J Mitchell Build Log, Pt. 1 – Internals

Now that I’ve started work on this monster of a B-25, I’ve come to realize there are basically two ways to approach the build.

The first is to plan, plan, plan. There are so many subassemblies that need attention, and that all have to come together in a magic leap from one step to the next. For example, closing up the fuselage requires finishing out not only the cockpit, but the column for the turret gun, the bomb bay, the waist guns and ammo belts, and the rear gunner’s position. And the nose strut, which as to be installed to the underside of the cockpit floor before the halves are joined.

The second route is to proceed haphazardly, and find yourself doing multiple things twice or three times, or four. Like spraying interior green, or weathering, or what-have-you.

Despite my best intentions to pull off the former, I find myself wallowing in the latter more and more.

The Cockpit

I started off the build by covering as much as I could with interior green. There are still several bits – notably in the rear gunner’s position and the dorsal turret internals – that have yet to be touched. All in good time.

While dealing with the paint, cure time, and weathering, I got to work on the seatbelts. The photo-etch harnesses that come with the kit are crap, so I decided the time was right to bust out some HGW microtextile belts. These seem daunting as all hell at first, especially considering the vague instructions, but they actually go together quite well.

First up, the belt material comes on a single textile sheet that, to me, resembles something of a cross between a very thin micromesh sanding cloth and money. Before you can do anything else, you need to cut the appropriate belt material free. Then, per the instructions, wad it up, twist it, and generally mangle it. When you unravel it back out, it’ll hold some of the kinks and wrinkles for a more worn look.

Next, get the necessary buckles. These are Eduard photo etch, and very well done. Just use typical PE removal techniques to free them.

Third, thread the belt material through the necessary buckles. For end buckles, I pulled the material through, applied some Gator’s Grip glue, then clamped it down with locking tweezers. Easy as pie.

The vague instructions seem to imply that you can thread everything through. For example, one shoulder harness is comprised of basically three parts. There’s the top, which loops over the seat and secures in the back. Then there’s the bottom, which ends in a clasp. In the middle is another length of belt threaded through a buckle. I couldn’t figure out a way to thread all three of these through that buckle without losing my sanity, so I just glued the tops and bottoms to that middle belt in such a way that it overlapped them. Seemed to work out okay.

Once the belts and seats were done to my satisfaction, I glued the one to the other. Far easier and, in my opinion, far more realistic than photo etch. Consider me a convert to the microtextiles from here on out!

With the seats and belts done, I got to work on the rest of the cockpit.

Overall, it’s actually a pretty simple piece of the build, lacking a lot of the complexity you’d find in, say, Tamiya’s big Spitfire and Mustang kits, or even the cockpits of Hasegawa’s more impressive 1/32 offerings. It feels more in line with Eduard’s 1/32 Bf 109 lineup – good, albeit spartan.

After base painting, drybrushing, a thin raw umber wash and some very gentle pigment work, I decided to call it a day. Was I tempted to go all-out detailing the cockpit? You bet. But it will be relatively obscured beneath the greenhouse, and there’s enough else to contend with when it comes to this kit that I just decided to leave well enough alone.

Though I am planning to add some little touches – perhaps radio headsets draped over the control yokes and an officer’s cap (pretty sure I can steal one from out of the Tamiya Mustang kit) left on the instrument panel combing.

Aft of the Cockpit

There’s a lot of B-25 behind the cockpit, and the HK kit makes a passable job of things. But not a great job. To a degree, I can’t fault this design choice. A fully kitted out interior would be awesome, sure, but it would also complicate the engineering, add to the already hefty pricetag, and ultimately be mostly invisible. As it stands, however, the detail isn’t really all that big a leap over the old 1/48 Revellogram B-25. Seriously. I’m cleaning one up for a commission build right now, and some of the parts breakdown is completely unchanged.

Overall – I don’t know. I feel like I could have done a much better job on the interior as it has progressed to date. More battered, more weathered, more detailed. But my head’s been all over the place, and I’m in too deep to do something drastic like start over. Knowing that 90% of it will be invisible hasn’t helped my sense of focus either!

One Comment Add yours

  1. GaryF. says:

    Those seat-belts look really good! Nice addition. Wonder if I could draw those up in Autocad and print out on hi-fiber paper? Okay, I’m a cheap modeler… I could never do the buckles though.

    Keep up the great work! You inspire me.

    Now back to scrubbing the paint off of old models…

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