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B-25J Mitchell

HK Models 1/32 B-25J Mitchell Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2012 Manufacturer HK Models
Subject B-25J Mitchell Scale 1/32
Kit Number 01E01 Primary Media Styrene
Pros First kit of this subject in this scale (in styrene) Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $174.95

First Look

B-25J Mitchell
B-25J Mitchell
B-25J Mitchell
B-25J Mitchell
B-25J Mitchell
B-25J Mitchell
B-25J Mitchell
B-25J Mitchell
B-25J Mitchell

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.

Here is the B-25J Mitchell kit in 1/32 scale. You may recall this was originally going to be released by Wingscale, but due to some problems between Wingscale and the company in China producing the kit, that arrangement dissolved and the Chinese company released the kit under the banner of HK Models. Who would have thought we'd see a kit of the B-25 in 1/32 scale?

I was excited about the prospects of what could be done to a B-25 in 1/32 scale, but I honestly didn't know what to expect when I opened the box (which is huge). I had hoped that it would at least be somewhere in-between the venerable Monogram 1/48 B-25J and the outstanding Accurate Miniatures 1/48 B-24C/D in its detailing. Well I definitely guessed wrong as this kit is offers more detail than either 1/48 scale kit without being over-engineered with stuff you won't see after assembly.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and is presented on 26 parts trees, plus two trees of clear parts and a small fret of photo-etched parts. The surface detailing is finely done and while there are a significant number of recessed rivets molded into the surface, they are petite and not overdone.

The cockpit reveals HK Models' attention to details. The throttle quadrant has the paired levers for throttle, mixture, propeller pitch, cowl flaps, etc. all provided. The pilot and copilot bucket seats look great with even the seat belts and shoulder harnesses provided as photo-etched parts. While there is room for an AMS modeler to add more detailing in there, you won't really see too much beyond what the kit provides once the cockpit enclosure is installed.

So what are the details and options in this kit:

  • Very detailed cockpit
  • Detailed nose compartment
  • Choice of very detailed top turret or no turret (fairing)
  • Choice of bullet deflectors that kept the top turret gunner from blasting the tails in the heat of battle
  • Detailed bomb bay with six bombs
  • Ammo boxes throughout the interior with ammo belts/feeds to each of the .50 caliber guns in the nose, top turret, waist guns and tail gun position
  • Detailed .50 caliber guns
  • Optional cheek gun packs with laminate blast plates provided
  • Ailerons are positionable
  • Elevators are positionable
  • Rudders are positionable
  • Flaps are positionable
  • Bomb bay doors are positionable
  • Crew entry doors are positionable
  • Nicely detailed landing gear
  • Landing gear can be positioned up or down
  • Super-detailed R2600 engines
  • Fool-proof propeller assembly

The only issues I have with this kit:

  • Propeller blades are incorrect shape
  • Cowl flaps are molded open - incorrect if you're posing the aircraft gear-up in flight
  • Only one decal option

While I'm sure someone will produce corrected propeller blades for the kit, it's a shame that such a common silhouette that is widely available in books and online wasn't done right. The AMS modeler may want to do some work to either close the cowl flaps or add push-rod actuators.

With models this size, I prefer to use liquid cement as it provides the strongest bond that is also tolerant to flexing as a model is being handled.

HK Models provides a simple decal sheet for one subject and no airframe stenciling:

  • B-25J, 44-29090, 486 BS/340 BG, 6E, Tunisia, Sicily, "Shark Bite"

This is an impressive first-kit from HK Models and clearly there has been some nice engineering done to bring this kit to life. Despite the shortcomings listed above, this kit should be a straightforward build.