B-26 Update: Detailing stuff that will never be seen

This week, I had a great time working on some details that no one will really ever see (or as my friend Lynn Ritger says, “modeling for God”). I’d ordered the CMK set for the pilot and copilot’s seats, and while I waited for its arrival, I tackled the radio/navigator’s compartment. These are areas where I’d replaced the windows – and in one case enlarged a window. These tiny windows are the only way to see this stuff, and the only way light will ever get inside.

B-26 Radio Compartment

As it stands, the detail is all against the forward bulkhead. First, I added detail to the folding door using styrene strip.  On the left is the radioman’s area, with a Western Electric BC-456-E modulator unit (scratch built) and two SCR-274 comment transmitters (stolen from a Condor P-51A). below that is a BC-348 liaison receiver (scratch built). Below that is the radioman’s folding desk. I learned that, when doing a rack of gear, the first thing to do is to affix the largest piece of gear on the top shelf to the bulkhead first, then add the shelf below it. Then, add the rest of the gear on that shelf. Next, add the gear below it to the bulkhead, and add the shelf below it. Finally (and I have yet to do this), add the vertical supports at the corners of the rack.

On the right is the navigator’s station, with the liaison transmitter tuning unit (scratch built). At the lower right is a mount for a small three-instrument panel that provides the navigator with airspeed, altitude and rate of climb. That will be added after painting. The navigator’s table is there but the facing for the drawer below it will be added after painting.

Here’s an image of the compartment, showing the navigator’s window, the larger of the two, and the relationship of the radio/navigator’s compartment to the cockpit.

B-26 Cockpit and Radio Comp.

There’s a lot of work to do still. First off, I’ve already added soundproofing quilting to the fuselage sides, made from this amazing self-adhesive tread plate intended for HO railroader. I bought it for a cushion back for a master back in the 1990s, and I have no idea who made it, but it’s great.  The detail on the sides of the cockpit come next – compass, drift meter, headphones, intercom box, radio compass, flexible lights, junction boxes. Then come the seats and seat belts on their stands. The rear bulkhead shape is cut out and will be detailed and added last, after the cockpit is finished and right before the fuselage and wings are assembled.

Then, after painting and a little dry brushing, all of this will be entrapped in the fuselage, never to be seen again – at least, not easily nor by people who don’t know it’s in there!

After the compartment’s finished, I’ll go back to work on the cockpit, then circle back to the tail gunner’s position. This may seem like a lot of extra work, but I’m sincerely enjoying it. This is my favorite part of modeling – interior detailing – and I think it shows.

This day in 1944: the 362nd battles the Buzz Bombs

V-1 sites were again the target for the 362nd Fighter Group on May 24, 1944, this time focusing on Campneuse-ville, Le Mesnil-Allard and Beaulieu Ferme, with 35 P-47s carrying 500-pounders and 19 P-47s from the 379th Fighter Squadron providing top cover. Because of the small size of the sites, the group assumed it did little damage; the targets could be seen, but they were well-camouflaged, and flak was intense.

The group took a personal interest in destroying the V-1 sites, or as one man in the 379th termed them, “those damned non-union airplanes.” V-1s routinely made loud fly-overs at Hornchurch on their way to targets nearer to London. “Ack-ack fire shot them down regularly, and Spitfires and Tempests took a great many of their number,” recounted Pvt. Earl Johnson in his memoir. “Some of our own pilots in off-mission flying pasted several of them. They certainly played hell where they hit, but we were lucky enough to not be greeted with any of them in our own area. I remember how one landed in a quiet English village near our field and dismantled almost everything standing.”


70 years ago: the 362nd FG loses Russell Adams – and the Wehrmacht lose some bunkers

On May 23, 1944, the 362nd Fighter Group flew a fighter sweep in the Reims area. 2nd Lt. Russell Adams of the 377th Fighter Squadron, in P-47D-10-RE 42-75167, suffered a sudden drop in oil pressure. With Lt. John L. Hill as an escort, he made a 180-degree turn and headed for home. Hill saw “black puffs of smoke coming from the exhaust pipes of his plane caused by the engine skipping,” Hill said. “The engine stopped and the prop froze. I observed Lt. Adams belly land his ship near a small woods and three pillboxes.” Although Germans fired at him from their bunkers as he was landing, Adams scrambled out of the plane safely and ended up as a POW. Once he was away from his plane, Lt. John Hill destroyed the P-47 to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, then expended the rest of his ammunition on the pillboxes.


A-3 Update: Wheel Wells

I spent last week working on the KA-3B Skywarrior. Hasegawa did some nice wells on this model but they left a lot out. For example, the wheel wells have nice rivet detail and some of the externally visible structure, but they left a bunch of stuff out. The mid-bay bulkheads were missing, for instance – but there are slots in the model that suggest that Hasegawa was going to include them and then forgot! There was also a mess of wiring missing (which is usually the case with ’50s jet kits).

Here’s what the bays looked like out of the box:

A-3 well 1

Nice, but no personality. There’s some good detail but plenty’s missing. I went at the model with fine solder, wire, styrene strip and even a little resin cylinder trimmed from the back of a radial engine. Here’s what this (the port side) now looks like:

A-3 Wheel Bay Pt


And the starboard side:

A-3 wheel bay Stb

There’s more to add – the lower corners have a bit of a spaghetti look to them – but that stuff will go on once the bays get their first coat of white paint.

The details are not conjecture – there are some great web references out there. My go-to for this build was the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers’ site gallery – two sets of photos of the plane at the Oakland Aviation Museum. They have tons of other walk-arounds – it’s worth poking around just to see what’s available.