Minicraft 1/144 PBJ-1H/J Mitchell Kit First Look
|Date of Review||June 2010||Manufacturer||Minicraft|
|Kit Number||14625||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Simple build, nice details||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$12.95|
The B-25J was the last production version of the Mitchell and was produced in the greatest numbers of all B-25s with over 4300 airframes delivered. The aircraft incorporated a number of engineering changes that were adopted in the cannon-nosed B-25H including a tail gunner's position and relocating the dorsal turret to just behind the cockpit (and manned by the flight engineer), while retaining the glass nose of the B-25C/D. At least that was the intent.
Many of the B-25s in the Pacific were getting some interesting field modifications. While the B-25 was great as a low-level raider, the crews wanted forward-firing guns to suppress the enemy while they delivered their bombs. Since these aircraft were being flown at very low altitudes, the need for the bombardier was eliminated and his nose compartment was used to mount varying numbers of 50 caliber machine guns and ammunition trays. As some designs turned out to be better suited, North American evaluated these modifications and introduced new gun noses that could be installed in the field as well as production aircraft with these gun noses installed. Even many of the glass-nosed aircraft were modified with gun packs that were strapped on the sides of the fuselage.
The US Navy also put the B-25 to use in the Pacific designated as the PBJ. The PBJ-1H retained the gun of the B-25H but added a radar pod out on the starboard wingtip. While some PBJ-1Js retained the glass nose of the standard B-25J, others were painted over to provide the operator a clear view of the radar scope displaying a picture from the radar dome mounted over the nose.
Minicraft has re-released the Crown 1/144 B-25J/H kit with a twist. When we last saw this kit last year (look here), it was looking pretty nice given its age. This time around, Minicraft has had the tooling updated with new parts. There is one new clear sprue, plus a few parts added to each of the two gray styrene trees. Now you can render the B-25H, B-25J, PBJ-1H, and early or late PBJ-1J right out of this box (though the decals are for the PBJ).
The fuselage has the four .50 caliber machine guns, two on either side of the forward fuselage, that was a common fit for the Pacific theater strafers. The B-25Hs and many Pacific-bound B-25Js had these gun packs installed, and this weapons fit was applied to the PBJ as well.
The instructions show you where to remove the nose section on the fuselage halves to facilitate installation of the H-nose provided in the kit. Aside from the differences in the nose, especially in this scale, the rest of the model goes together the same way for either version.
No interior is provided, not that you'd see one through the clear parts - the parts are nice a clear, but you wouldn't see much of anything in there anyway. Minicraft made the decision to keep the model simple to keep the price low - it worked!
Markings are provided for three examples:
- PBJ-1H, unknown, VMB-613, USMC, Kwajalein Atoll, early 1945
- PBJ-1J, unknown, unknown training unit, USN, Hawaii, 1944
- PBJ-1J, 64973, VMB-612, USMC, Iwo Jima, 1945
This is a nice kit that will go together nicely and provide a quick project to add to your scale flightline. This is another nice installment in Minicraft's growing line of 1/144 scale aircraft.
My sincere thanks to Minicraft for this review sample!