Although Hasegawa's 1/72 scale B-25 Mitchells have been available for some time now, I haven't previously had an opportunity to look at one, so the quality and detail included in the kit came as something of an eye-opener. This is the fifth incarnation of the model - a limited edition solid-nose "strafer".
The kit arrives in a very attractive conventional box with the sprues bagged for protection. The clear parts are sealed in with the decals, facing the reverse side of the sheet so no damage occured in transit. The kit comprises:
86 x grey styrene parts
9 x clear styrene parts
A set of poly caps to allow the propellers to rotate.
Decals for 3 aircraft.
The parts are quite superb - crisply moulded with a level of detail that wouldn't look out of place on a larger scale model. Surface detail consists of precisely engraved panel lines, some raised panels plus embossed fasteners and a few "rivets". Fabric surfaces have raised ribs which could arguably be smoothed down a bit for a more scale appearance. Overall, the surface finish should look excellent under a coat of paint with some careful weathering.
This level of detail extends to the interior, with the inside surfaces of the fuselage halves showing a crisp internal structure, plus a detailed bomb bay and crew positions. The cockpit and nosewheel well are constructed as one unit, the "office" containing seats with moulded-on harnesses, flying controls and a decal instrument panel that should look fine through the closed canopy. The top turret is nicely detailed and a neat touch is that it can be fitted after main painting is completed. The crew access ladders can be posed open, the rear ladder doubling as a support to prevent the kit being a tail-sitter.
The tricycle undercarriage has some fine detail on the legs and unweighted tyres. The mainwheel bays are bare, but little can be seen through the small strut doors - the main doors are moulded closed, as they only opened during the undercarriage retraction/extension cycle.
The engines are made up of two rows of cylinders with separate crankcases. The cowling openings have been criticised for being slightly too small - a problem shared with the Accurate Miniatures 1/48 scale kits. Correcting the problem is such a simple matter, you can't help but wonder at quite the level of fuss in some quarters.
The new gunship nose is presented on a separate sprue, with staggered .50 cal. guns. The instructions show both the nose and the crawl-way beneath the cockpit packed with weight to balance the model on it's wheels if you don't want to rely on the rear boarding ladder as a prop. Unfortunately, they fail to specify how much weight is needed.
Instructions & Decals
The assembly diagrams are clearly drawn, breaking construction down into 11 stages. Everything looks pretty logical and straightforward and matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are keyed to the parts. The kit provides decals for three 38th BG aircraft, each featuring spectacular nose-art:
1. 405th BS, 38 BG, s/n 430921
2. 71st BS, 38 BG, s/n 328145
3. 823rd BS, 38 BG. Oddly, no details of this aircraft are given beyond the nose art, described as a "service decal", so maybe option #3 is intended as something of a bonus. 4 extra sets of numerals for tail serials are provided.
The decals look to be excellent quality - printed in perfect register with minimal carrier film. Getting the large nose art to conform to the tight contours could be tricky - plenty of patience and decal softener could be the order of the day.
Hasegawa's B-25J looks a real beauty, with a level of detail that belies its small scale. The good design means the kit is suitable for modellers of average ability upwards. Recommended.
Hasegawa's B-25J Mitchell Solid Nose "38th Bomb Group" was kindly provided for review by HobbyLink Japan. Visit HLJ for Japanese kits at Japanese prices.
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