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Monogram 1/48 B-25J Mitchell Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2009 Manufacturer Monogram
Subject B-25J Mitchell Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5502 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, very nice detail, several options in the box Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $21.00

First Look


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 another classic kit from Revell-Monogram. Produced as one of Monogram's many 1/48 scale masterpieces, this kit has been in production for decades. The instructions in this example are Copyright 1981 and this kit is currently released as kit number 5512. This is definitely one of Revell-Monogram's more popular kits, and for good reason.

This kit is molded in silver styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus one tree of clear parts. The fuselage halves are provided separately. The detailing is nicely done though the panel lines are raised.

The kit has some very nice detailing inside the fuselage including positionable bomb bay doors and a complete bomb bay to see. In addition to the positionable bomb bay doors, the kit also provides a positionable crew entry door.

The pattern makers didn't waste much effort in areas that can't be seen so the engines are a slab of cylinders. Given the tight cowlings, most modelers won't notice this after assembly, especially with some good painting and perhaps a set of photo-etched ignition harnesses to catch the eye.

As provided in the kit, the model assembles into a later block B-25J with the strap-on guns on the fuselage sides. You can alter the kit to any number of configurations with the help of some good photos and perhaps some aftermarket accessories. At the moment, there isn't much on the market for the B-25, though over the decades that this kit has been available, there have been a wide range of details and modifications for this kit. Ditto on the decals. Check your local club swap meet or eBay for some of these goodies.

I've built a few of these kits over the years, though none of them survived the moves around the globe whilst I was in the Air Force. I've stashed away a number of these kits to build sometime in the future, and it may be about time to dust them off.

As I recall, the kit goes together with little problem with fit, though as with any kit, your results may vary. When I built the Accurate Miniatures B-25B back when it was first released, I could not get that nose to fit on the fuselage. When I told Bill Bosworth of my plight, he'd just finished one of his own and had no problems at all. It wasn't until he built another B-25B that he encountered the same problem I had - the parts were coming off of the molds too warm and causing the shapes to shift slightly. The result was a frustrating fit on some kits. The only thing you can do is test fit and use some of your skills to counter any of these challenges that may crop up.

On the outside of the airframe, the ventral gun packs can be added should you be modeling one of the later blocks of the Mitchell. These are optional. If you don't use the gun packs, you may want to remove the molded-on applique armor plate that was added to the sides of the nose.

While the transparencies are a bit on the thick side, you can see in the images just how clear they are. Several companies have produced vacuformed replacements and these are still readily available.

Assembly of the model should be straightforward though you'll need to do some dry-fitting and clamping to get this bird together as the parts may be prone to some twisting/warping. Nothing that some proper planning, clamping, and liquid cement can't handle.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • B-25J-10, 43-28147, 396 BS/41 BG, 'Panchito'
  • PBJ-1J, USN, no distinctive markings

Straight out of the box, this model builds into a beauty. With the variety of decals and details that have been produced for this model, you have a wide variety of options and subjects to choose from. With a retail price of $21.00, this kit is more than half the $50.00 retail price of an Accurate Miniatures kit, making this Monogram B-25J a bargain!

While the B-25J has been available nearly continuously over these decades, its sister kit, the B-25H has been on limited runs and hasn't been released in a while. Nevertheless, you can still find these reasonably priced at kit swaps, etc. You can add an H-model gunship to your B-25 line as well!