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B-24J

Monogram 1/48 B-24J Liberator Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2006 Manufacturer Monogram
Subject Consolidated B-24J Liberator Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5608 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Still the best B-24 kit in any scale Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $29.95

 

 

First Look

B-24J
B-24J
B-24J
B-24J
B-24J
B-24J

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. He 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.

Here is another of my favorite kits to come from Revell-Monogram - the 1/48 B-24J Liberator. This model was developed a number of years ago in conjunction with their equally impressive bomber line-up consisting of the 1/48 B-17G, 1/48 B-24D, 1/48 B-29, 1/48 B-58, 1/72 B-36, and 1/72 B-52D, all originally released under the Monogram banner. If you look at all of the heavy styrene in this one line-up, you're looking back at the Trumpeter of a few decades ago. No one, not even Trumpeter, has even taken aim at any of these subjects in their respective scales. These remain the kings of their respective hills.

While this kit is currently out of production, it is released every year or two as is its sister, the 1/48 B-24D which is currently available (at a higher price) through Revell/Germany. Unless something happens to Revell-Monogram, both of these Liberators will be back on store shelves in the relatively near future.

This kit is presented on five parts trees. Three of the trees are molded in silver styrene and comprise most of the airframe exterior and many of the interior compartment bulkheads. One tree is molded in black styrene and provides propellers, guns, main gear wheels, service tow tractor, and the remaining interior details. The fifth tree contains all of the clear transparencies for all of the windows and turrets on this aircraft.

Construction naturally begins with the cockpit. As with their other kits in this series, the cockpit and other featured compartments are nicely detailed. While an AMS modeler could still add additional detailing, it is questionable how much you'd be able to see through the transparencies.

The forward and rear turrets are nicely done, though I think that some photo-etched ammo belts fed into each gun would really make the detail stand out. All of the turrets in the kit can be installed to be movable should you find yourself in a solo gun battle with a flock Bf 109s.

Unlike their B-17G kit, both B-24s have the option of open bomb bays and the detailing inside the bays is nicely done. The forward nose compartment is sparse on detail, but then again, you'd be hard pressed to see anything in there without breaking open the fuselage. Monogram wisely did not waste time detailing areas that are not visible after assembly.

The top turret is laid out similarly as the forward and tail turrets and would also benefit from ammo belts. The ball (ventral) turret does retract and extend out of the fuselage.

The kit also comes with a tow tractor should you want to depict the aircraft being moved around the airfield or just parked in the background.

Markings in this release are provided for one aircraft:

  • B-24J-60-CO, 42-99995, 530 BS/380 BG, 'On De-Fence'

Interesting how this bomb group based in the South Pacific carries no identification codes, but it does carry its squadron emblem as a large bit of artwork on the left side the nose, while the group's individualized nose art is carried on the right side of the nose.

Here is another classic from Revell-Monogram that has lots of decal subjects and aftermarket items available, but doesn't get the recognition it is due. Like the B-17G kit, these B-24s are easy builds and have beautiful detail straight out of the box. Nevertheless, these kits are designed for the average modeler and for the more AMS-afflicted modeler who may want to add additional details to achieve the look they might want. In any case, at these retail prices, kits like this one are a bargain considering that the 1/72 B-24 kits out there are roughly the same price and are not as nice.

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