Italeri 1/48 B-25C/D Mitchell Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2006||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Subject||North American B-25C/D Mitchell||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||2650||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Best B-25 kit in this scale; nice decal sheet, improved instructions||Cons||A bit pricey for a kit still in production for $20 less|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$69.00|
The B-25 series started life as a drawing board concept at North American Aviation, designated NA-40. Developed as a light bomber for the 'peacetime' Army Air Corps, the NA-40 was a twin-engine, twin-tailed aircraft that was competing for limited funding. The NA-40 was adopted, with some changes, as the B-25. The B-25 and B-25A were both procured in small numbers and used for training, as these aircraft were not configured with self-sealing fuel tanks and other combat necessities. The B-25B would be the first version that was combat-ready, and the RAF dubbed the aircraft as Mitchell Mk.I.
It didn't take the Army long to learn from the early Mitchells' combat experience. An improved design was ordered to incorporate more powerful versions of the Wright R-2600 engine, longer range fuel tanks, enlarged bomb bays, provisions for carriage of external weapons, and replacement of the 30 caliber machine guns with 50 caliber weapons. The ventral turret was eliminated in early production, but restored later. These new capabilities were integrated into the B-25C/D Mitchell, the first version to go into mass production. The differentiation between with C and D models were little more than the location of production - the C model was built in Inglewood, CA, while the D was built in Kansas City, MO.
The B-25C/D would also be the first version to be modified in the field for straffing duties. The nose was modified in some rather creative ways to house numerous .50 caliber machine guns inside the 'greenhouse', and additional gun packs installed on the outsides of the nose. These guns were fixed along the aircraft boresight and operated by the pilot. These straffers would play havoc with Japanese shipping and would inspire even more impressive gunships to be produced later by North American.
Italeri has issued the Accurate Miniatures B-25C/D kit in an Italeri boxing with new decals and a much-improved instruction sheet. You'll note the logo on the lower right of the box top showing that this is an officially licensed Boeing subject.
This kit is molded in light gray injection molded plastic, and sports finely engraved panel lines and details throughout. The parts are all flash-free and there are no injector pin marks in any visible locations.
The kit features a completely detailed interior, and while I thoroughly enjoyed detailing the inside of the kit, I was equally disappointed that little of that work was visible from the outside. Bear that in mind before you go hog wild inside your fuselage. This isn't a ding against Italeri (or Accurate Miniatures), quite the opposite. Kudos on them for the great work. But until they release the kit with a transparent fuselage, you simply can't see inside not enough windows.
One of the greater weaknesses of Accurate Miniatures' kits is their instructions. While the B-25 instructions are better that most, Italeri did a nice job of cleaning up the instructions.
The nose of the aircraft houses the navigator/bombardier. on the left side is an aisleway to access the rest of the aircraft, on the right, an avionics/equipment bay. In the early releases of the Accurate Miniatures B-25s, this avionics bay was filled with brass weights that were sized to fit nicely in this bay and provide sufficient ballast to keep the model sitting on its nosegear. This kit, as well as the current releases from Accurate Miniatures, does not include ballast, so plan on loading up some lead ballast for the job.
The kit also features weighted tires, so no resin wheels will be required to make the model look right sitting on its landing gear.
The bomb bay can be displayed open or closed. The interior of the bomb bay is fully detailed and comes with a variety of weapons.
I had heard some rumblings in the community about the accuracy of the engine cowlings in the B-25 kit. The issue turned out to be the size of the opening on the front of the cowls - they are 6 scale inches too narrow in diameter. To be honest, most folks wouldn't notice, but for those who want an option to correct this, Cutting Edge released a set of corrected cowlings for this kit (CEC48184).
Not pictured here is a sheet of styrene that you can cut into shape using the included template to replicate the blast shields that were laminated to the sides of the forward fuselage ahead of the side-mounted, forward-firing 50-caliber machine guns.
Markings are provided for five examples:
- B-25D, 42-87293, 17 RS/71 TRG, Linsayen, Philippines, 1945
- B-25D, 41-30278, 500 BS/345 BG, New Guinea, May 1944
- B-25C, 42-32496, 488 BS/340 BG, Sicily, 1943
- Mitchell Mk.II, FL218, 180 Sqn, RAF, Foulsham, 1943
- B-25C, 41-12935, 18 Sqn, Royal Dutch AF, Batchelor, Australia, 1942
With the variety of paint schemes and nose art available for the B-25C/D series, it will be difficult to build only one of these aircraft. I can recommend these kits to anyone with better than beginner modeling skills.
The one thing that puzzles me is the MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price). This kit is listed on the MRC website (the new US distributor for Italeri kits) at $69.00. The kit is still available from Accurate Miniatures at $49.98. Are the improved instructions and different decal options worth the additional $20? Only you can decide that one.
Thanks to MRC for the review sample.