Revell 1/48 B-25J Mitchell 'Gun Nose' Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2010||Manufacturer||Revell/Monogram|
|Subject||B-25J Mitchell 'Gun Nose'||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||5528||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Best B-25 in 1/48 scale||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$24.95|
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.
Revell-Monogram has reissued their 1/48 scale B-25J once again, this time in its gun nose configuration and with new marking options. When Monogram first produced this tooling, it was one of their core subjects that remains popular even today despite the fact that the tooling is originally a few decades old. Like other kits that came out of this series, the 1/48 B-17G, 1/48 B-24D/J, 1/48 B-26, 1/48 B-29, 1/48 A-26B/C, etc., this subject has not been attempted by any other kit maker in the world simply because it is still a well-designed tooling.
The three subjects that come out of this tooling include the B-25H gunship, the glass-nosed B-25J, the updated glass-nosed B-25J with guns added to the nose section, and this dedicated hard-nosed B-25J. I've got a number of these kits stashed away because there are so many interesting variations of this aircraft to replicate, not to mention the great color schemes worn by many of the South Pacific straffers.
Besides this set of Monogram tooling, the only other options for 1/48 scale B-25s are the Revell 1/48 B-25B/C kit that features a star-studded array of rivets all over the airframe, and the Accurate Miniatures 1/48 B-25B, B-25C/D and B-25G releases that have some nice detailing and a few accuracy bugs as well. Note that Italeri has also boxed the Accurate Miniatures kit and Eduard had previously scheduled their own boxing of the Accurate kit, though this looks to be cancelled.
As with the other bombers in the Monogram family, this kit features great detailing inside the airframe with a nice cockpit, bomb bay, bombardier nose (on the glass-nosed version), and waist gun sections. Built straight out of the box, this model looks outstanding with just some attention to painting up these details to make them stand out. An AMS modeler can really have some fun in here without much effort and really create a masterpiece.
One of the engineering feats of this kit was the creation of the forward and rear main spars that are integral with the forward and rear bomb bay bulkheads. These spars extend out through slots in the fuselage sides and provide a solid mount for the wings (just like the real thing). Many other model companies followed suit with these integral main spars including Accurate Miniatures with their own B-25s. This innovation is simple enough yet it makes wing attachment and alignment far easier.
And as with the other bombers in the Monogram family, this tooling was developed before the adoption of scribed panel lines, yet the raised panel lines of this kit are quite petite where you actually have to feel the model to tell whether you're seeing raised or scribed details. The really enterprising AMS modeler can easily buff out the existing panel lines and scribe in replacements with a little time and patience.
The ailerons, flaps, elevators, and rudders are molded in the neutral position, to if you want to pose your elevators drooped, flaps down, or rudders displaced, you will have to do some surgery. Be sure to search the internet for aftermarket options for these B-25J kits as there are quite a few items that have been produced for this kit over the years. That also applies to the wide range of aftermarket decals as well. While many are no longer in production, they can still be found at kit swaps and online auctions.
Summarizing the features and options of this kit:
- Detailed cockpit
- Detailed bomb bay
- Detailed rear fuselage section
- Weighted wheels
- Optional .50 caliber gun packs for the sides of the nose
- Positionable bomb bay doors
- Positionable crew entry doors
- Detailed gun nose with positionable access doors (not shown in the instructions)
- Optional crew figures
The kit provides marking options for two aircraft:
- B-25J-32-NA, unknown, 112 BG, CBI, 1945, 'Sunday Punch'
- B-25J-10-NA, 44-29375, 17 RS/31 TRG, Luzon, 1945
This kit remains the best B-25 in 1/48 scale and at the current retail price of $25 USD (with lower street prices out there), this kit also remains the best bargain for a nice B-25 model in any scale. With the wide range of aftermarket options, plus the variations that can be produced with this kit or other B-25 releases from Revell-Monogram, you can have some serious fun at a very reasonable price.