Minicraft 1/72 B-24D Ploesti Raider Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2010||Manufacturer||Minicraft|
|Subject||B-24D Ploesti Raider||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||11658||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice detailing throughout||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$40.00|
The B-24 Liberator was a mixed blessing to the war effort. It was produced in much larger numbers than the B-17 even though production didn't begin until after the start of the war. Thanks to Henry Ford, the first real aircraft mass production line was established in Willow Run, MI and B-24s were reaching all theaters of operations.
Despite their greater availability, bomber crews preferred the B-17. Even though the B-24 was faster, more modern, and had greater capabilities, it was also less stable and much more work for the pilots. Cartoons from the period indicated that B-24 pilots could be spotted at the pub because of their one massive bicep required to keep the aircraft in the air.
The Liberator was not only flown by the USAAF, the RAF operated a number of the aircraft, as did the US Navy. In fact, the Navy built the ultimate B-24 by stretching the fuselage, replacing the twin vertical stabilizers with one huge fin, and creating an effective maritime patrol aircraft - the PB4Y-2 Privateer.
One pilot of the B-24 moved through the ranks of command during his time in the Mighty Eighth Air Force. Actor-turned-pilot Jimmy Stewart had to work hard to be recognized for his skill and leadership made difficult by his star status in Hollywood. Nevertheless, Stewart worked hard to stay out of way of the press so that those that served under him would receive their well-deserved recognition.
Jimmy Stewart enlisted as a Private at the start of the war and by the end of the war he had risen to full Colonel, not as a token public relations figurehead, but as a true combat leader of a B-24 squadron and later as the operations officer of a B-24 bomb group. According to General Hap Arnold, if the war in Europe had lasted another month, Jimmy Sterwart would have been commanding his own B-24 bomb group.
Minicraft has reissued their 1/72 scale B-24D Liberator and still looks good for its age. You might remember these B-24s were first released when Academy/Minicraft were still a shared brand name and they offered an impressive range of B-24 variants in their line-up. The tooling is set up to facilitate these variants with parts swap-outs without compromising on details.
Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on six parts trees, plus two trees of clear parts. There is no sign of flash on this example so assembly should be straightforward.
The kit offers some nice interior details including loaded bomb racks visible through positionable bomb bay doors, positionable landing gear, and positionable waist gunners windows to reveal a gunner platform for the port and starboard waist guns. The flight deck ahd nose compartment are also provided with nice crew stations, though Minicraft doesn't waste effort on super details that are all but invisible through the styrene windows in this scale.
Assembly of the rest of the airframe is simple and straightforward, with all of the right parts to blank off the ventral turret position that was not yet installed on these B-24s and the glass-nosed guns manned by the navigator and bombardier.
Markings are provided for three examples from the Ploesti raids:
- B-24D, 41-23817, 67 BS/44 BG, 'Susy Q'
- B-24D, 42-40606, 506 BS/44 BG, 'Timba-a-ah'
- B-24D, 42-40991, 343 BS/98 BG, 'Kate Smith'
The decal sheel replicates the markings for each of these variants including the faded US roundel on Kate Smith while adding the newly painted surround and white bars that followed the transition early in the war.
These B-24 kits from Minicraft are still nice kits and are half the price of the Hasegawa B-24s that more recently arrived on the market. If you're looking for some nice Liberator fun, here is a project you can tackle, and with the money you save, you can acquire those Eduard photo-etch detail sets that were released for the Hasegawa kit should you wish to give this kit the AMS treatment.
My sincere thanks to Minicraft Models for this review sample!