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B-17E Flying Fortress 'Pacific Theater' Kit

Academy 1/72 B-17E Flying Fortress 'Pacific Theater' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2016 Manufacturer Academy
Subject B-17E Flying Fortress 'Pacific Theater' Scale 1/72
Kit Number 12533 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy assembly Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $45.00

First Look

B-17E Flying Fortress 'Pacific Theater' Kit
B-17E Flying Fortress 'Pacific Theater' Kit
B-17E Flying Fortress 'Pacific Theater' Kit
B-17E Flying Fortress 'Pacific Theater' Kit
B-17E Flying Fortress 'Pacific Theater' Kit

The Boeing Model 299 was a promising new design for a bomber requirement from the USAAC but lost to the Douglas B-18 Bolo after th crash of the prototype due to pilot error (failure to remove control locks before take-off). Nevertheless, the USAAC quietly pursued continued evaluation of the type and the B-17 Flying Fortress entered production.

The early Fortressses gained combat experience with the RAF and proved that the design was not yet ready. The aircraft lacked defensive armament, especially in the tail, and a number of other issues which Boeing addressed with the next version: the B-17E. This new version saw a lengthened rear fuselage, larger vertical stabilizer, and an enclosed gunner's position in the tail. The side blisters were replaced by sliding window panels with waist gun positions, and powered turrets were added to the dorsal (behind the cockpit) and ventral (aft of the radio compartment) sides of the aircraft.

Academy has reissued their B-17E Flying Fortress kit in this Pacific Theater theme. To date, this is the only styrene kit of the B-17E on the market though HK Models is about to release the B-17E/F in 1/32 scale in the near future. There haven't been any releases of this version in 1/48 scale (so far) and though you might have seen the B-17E in a Minicraft box years ago, this was also the Academy kit.

Considering the age of this tooling, Academy has maintained the molds nicely as there is no sign of mold flash on initial inspection of the parts trees. Despite the age of this kit, the surface details are all scribed. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus three trees of clear parts. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Simple but effective cockpit and bombardier compartment
  • Bomb bay doors are positionable
  • Bomb bay details with optional bombs
  • Superchargers molded separately making painting easier
  • Rear tail compartment/tail gunner section molded in clear

Some might complain that there aren't enough details in the cockpit and bombardier compartment but you won't see much of anything after assembly. If you're looking for interior details, go with the Monogram 1/48 B-17G or HK Models 1/32 B-17 kits for those opportunities.

The kit provides markings for four examples:

  • B-17E, 41-2458, 65 BS/43 BG, 'Yankee Didd'ler'
  • B-17E, 41-2440, 98 BS/11 BG, 'Calamity Jane'
  • B-17E, 41-9227, 431 BS/11 BG, 'Yankee Doodle Jr'
  • B-17E, unknown, captured by IJA forces

It is nice to see these early Fortress kits coming back from Academy. They are the only ones to produce the early versions including the E-model in this scale and have yet to be rivaled (though the aforementioned 1/32 B-17E/F will change that for a few modelers with ample shelf space).

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!