by: Matthew Quiroz [ ]
B-24 HistoryThe Consolidated B-24 Liberator was produced in greater numbers than any other American combat aircraft of World War II. It still holds the record as the most produced U.S. military aircraft (18,482) surpassing single model production numbers even for fighter designs.
Often compared to the better known B-17 Flying Fortress, which had been flying for a full four years prior to the development of the B-24, the B-24 was a more modern design with a higher top speed and better range while maintaining a similar bomb load and defenses. Popular opinion among aircrews and general staff tended to favor the B-17's rugged qualities though. The B-24 was notorious for its tendency to catch fire. The placement of the B-24's fuel tanks in the “Davis” high aspect ratio main wings and throughout the upper fuselage, coupled with its lightweight construction, made the aircraft vulnerable to battle damage and subsequent fire. The B-24 was more difficult to fly too, exhibiting heavy control forces and poor formation flying characteristics. Even with these problems the B-24 provided excellent service in a variety of roles thanks to its large payload and long range and served notably throughout the European, Pacific and all other theaters of the war.
The subject of this kit, the B-24D, was the first model of the Liberator to see combat, being issued to active units in January 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the preceding year. The final production run of the “D” was over 2700 aircraft. Among the most famous raids conducted with the Liberator was the attack on the oil refineries at Ploesti and nearby Campina Romania on 1 August 1943. The raid consisted of 177 B-24’s from IX Bomber Command and other Liberators on loan from 8th Air Force. Codenamed "Operation Tidalwave", the cost of the raid was high, with 54 planes and 532 airmen being lost, but damage to the target areas were severe and cut oil production to about half for the refineries. No less than five Medal of Honor winners came out of this raid.
The KitThe long awaited Hasegawa B-24D has finally arrived. If there is one thing I can say about this kit, it is not small. Consisting of 13 sprues of light gray styrene and a small sprue containing four poly caps, even in 1/72 scale this thing is going to take up some room! Judging by the look of the sprues it looks as though Hasegawa is intending on releasing other variants of this historic aircraft, as the entire nose section from the cockpit forward is molded in clear plastic. The clear sprue includes a number of different parts and pieces, including many that are not correct for the “D” model, which leads me to believe the above statement. The clear parts are well executed, and will look even better after a brief dip in some Future. The canopy framing is well defined and will be easy to see for paint masking.
The mold quality of Hasegawa has been high for the 20 plus years that they have been around and I see no change in that on this kit. Panel lines are recessed and consistent throughout. Even the fine rivet detail is captured well and does not look overscale. Knock out marks are present, but not on visible surfaces. Most of the kit parts will be the same from variant to variant, including the wings, horizontal and vertical stabs, most of the fuselage, and bomb bay detail.
The full scale B-24 was a very tail heavy aircraft, needing additional weight to hold it on the nose wheel if more than one engine was removed for maintenance or replacement. The kit is no different, though there is not much room to place the needed weight. The instructions call for 90grams of weight! I’m not sure that will be enough, and if it is where can we find a place to put it? Time will tell once I get started building on this kit.
The cockpit is basic with decals being used for the instrument panel and throttle console. The bomb bay can have the doors posed open or closed. Normally the doors were open on the ground to keep moisture from collecting. Each engine is built up with front and rear cylinders, but don’t represent any particular radial engine. They are generic looking radials, but are well done. Engine cowlings consist of upper and lower halves with a single forward section with the mounts being keyed to the inner or outer engines. Gun turrets can be installed after the airframe is complete making painting a breeze. The option to install the cheek guns is also given depending the variant you are building. Nose guns are provided and depend on which marking option you choose to determine which holes are opened.
Painting & DecalsInstructions are standard Hasegawa with Gunze paint call outs and include markings for two aircraft:
• 343 BS. 98 BG, USAAF 1943- Desert Pink over Neutral Gray.
• 506 BS. 44BG. USAAF, 1943- OD over Neutral Gray “Princess”
Fortunately for us, Aeromaster produced several 1/72 B-24 sheets before the business changed hands so you might consider trying to find one or more of these sheets if you want something a little different than what comes with the kit. The decals are well printed, and in register. Hasegawa sheets had a bad reputation in the past, but their newer sheets have shown they can handle most setting solutions without any problems. However, always test before hand with an extra un-needed decal.
ConclusionThe price will scare some modelers, but I would call this "one to get" if you can. The level of detail really sets this kit apart from Academy's older kits. I've been waiting on this kit to arrive for a long, long time and it will move to the head of the class for building soon! Highly Recommended. Thanks to my wallet and an understanding minister of household finance for the purchase.
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