B-29 – The plane.
Some words about …… the Monster I imagine all of you pretty much know about. It is a heavy-duty bomber plane, four engine, propeller, made by Boeing for the United States. It was used in military operations mainly during the Second World War and the Korean War. The name Superfortress came from its predecessor, the B-17 Flying Fortress and continued on to the next Boeing bomber planes. About 4,000 units were built in the period 1943-1946, and it was finally withdrawn from service in 1960.
The B-29, although advanced in technology and weaponry for its time, saw action in a few missions in World War II, as production began in 1944, at the end of the war. it was the principal bomber of the American air force at the end of the war and was used mainly against Japan. It was also the airplane that carried and dropped the atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It was armed with 12 M2 Browning machine guns, of which 10 were remote-controlled and could carry bombs of a maximum weight of 9 tonnes. It has the uniqueness of having a pressurized cabin, dramatically increasing the maximum operating height at 32,000 feet and at the same time making the life of the crew easier at such heights. it’s huge dimensions made other big bombers such as the B-24, B-17 and so on, look like toys in front of it!
Some of it’s features were:
Length: 30.2 m
wingpan: 43.1 m.
Maximum height: 8.45 m
Weight empty: 33.800 kg
Engines: 4 × Wright R-3350-23 Two-sided turbo-turbocharger, 2,200 hp (1,640 kW) vertical.
Maximum load weight: 30 tons
Maximum speed: 357 miles / hour
range: 5,230 km
Navigation crew: 11
There are a few things that you put in your life and stay with you forever. That’s what MONOGRAM Models means to us who started modelling at the ’80’s. We grew up with the models of the American company, with a quality that was very difficult to find at the time.
Christmas of 1996, inside a model shop at September 3rd street. Pouring rain, bad weather but I need modelling supplies !!! Searching the shop for various supplies as we all do, i saw The Monster! It didnt take much thought to buy it. Since then, it was always been in my stock pile of kits and it followed me everywhere.
July 2017 and i make the big decision that The Monster should not be left in his box, so after 21 years of waiting, the B-29 project began to take shape.
By opening the box you are in front of a really huge kit (about one meter of wingspan) with many pieces in a package that really makes you cry. random pieces that had fallen from the sprues inside the box. Transparent pieces without extra packaging to prevent them from striking or scratching! Don’t forget,we are talking about the 1980s, the molds (at least the one I had) were produced in 1985! the results were quite good in the first dry fit test on the fuselage pieces . The plastic is sturdy, just lik all MONOGRAM kits and the transparent pieces were with good quality and transparency but very thick . The cockpit, the position of the bomber and the flying engineer – radio station resembles the classic monogram kits with enough detail but when the two halfs of the fuselage glued together there will not be much to see. The bomb bays are detailed enough just as the bombs that will fill the area. continuing to the back of the fuselage we will find the two optic shights of the gun operators that are very good but with very thick transparent pieces. Going further back we’ll find the bunks for the crew with a basic but good imprint that as we said, it’s not going to be visible. Finally all the way to the back we find the position of the tail gunner with basic detail but very good optic sight and in scale thickness and transparency pieces.
Both wings despite their length and the years that passed were fortunately not warped and the detail was quite satisfactory although it would generally be preferable for the kit to have recessed details. Now you will ask me why I dont start engraving the kit. I t’s because some things must stay as they were. The engine cowls look remarkable with some sink marks that are easily repaired. The engines have a fairly good detail but the propellers are out of scale because of the thickness of the plastic.
There are a lot of sink marks in many part, but they are easy to remove. The landing wells have a good detail, but the landing gears have to be improved a lot. The wheels are at a very good level, but I would prefer them to be “pressed” as we talk about a very heavy aircraft even without payload.
The Instructions are Classic Monogram that letts our …… imagination ride wild if there is no proper research. The decals are too thick and personal opinion out of scale.
The choices I had after all that stated above were the two obvious ones. I close the box and move onto the next kit … … or marching forward and start to fight.
But as Amelia Earhart had stated, ” The most effective way to do it is simply do it. ” So I did !!!!!
Some decisions had to be made.
- Which of all B-29s will be represented. After many days of research I made the decision to represend the “Command Decision” because there are many pictures of the real aircraft and most importantly the decal card from KITS WORLD is very well imprinted.
- Improvements. The B-29 is a kit that can really destroy you economically if you get into the process of improving everything. You can find every detail set around today. But I decided to add and make the model veritable and without having to visit a psychiatrist were the following:
Deflated resin wheels from True Details
Canopy masks from Eduard
Propeller blades from Squadron
Canopy set from Squadron
Scale Aircraft Conversion’s landing gear
Decals from KITS WORLD.
The cockpit and, in general, all the internal substructures of the plane were the first welds that were made.Bombers seat, cockpit, flying engineer and a radio broadcaster compartment, the compartment after the bomb bay, the bomb bay compartment, etc. were assembled without much trouble. They were all painted with Gunze’s Interior Green, brown and aluminum in various shades (in the end I will mention all the colors with codes and companies that i used). After the assembly, a filter solution (Black 90% + 10% burnt sienna) was passed to give some depth and look of used materials. i let it dry for a few days and then i dry brushed it with silver to get a worn look. In general lines, the cockpit was an easy and trouble-free construction. But before i close the cockpit on the fuselage i had to put the appropriate amount of weight so that our model did not st on its tail. After a survey it was concluded that at least 280gr must be placed in the cockpit from the front position of the engineer. I used a very fine hunting shotσ by fixing them almost everywhere with cyanoacrylate glue. Below the tables, under the seats, inside the engine control panel, in the lower front rotating gun as well as in the upper quadruple 0.50 cal machine guns , in the front landing gear bay and where I could find space as long as they werent visible. I also used counterweights from car wheels that were placed inside the engine cowls when the wings were assembled and weighting the model I found it suited it to stay vertical !!!
The wings (front and rear) were assembled without much trouble but with … massive amount of glue! After gluing the two halves of the wings, it was time for the two halves of the fuselage to… hide all the internal details (cockpit, bomb bay, etc). The fuselage was glued the main wings were put in place and it was to no surprise that i used a MINIMUM amount of putty. But i have to say that I had done a very careful dry fitting on the pieces and I think it helped a lot. So when everything came into place you begin to realize how big the model is!!!!!! Its dimensions are really huge.
Time for putty and cover gaps or any other corrections that had to be made. Liquid putty was used since there were no large gaps and can easily be covered. The seam of the fuselage was very difficult to handle because we could lose all the raised detail by sanding. but with careful work and Much patience i was rewarded by the result. Let me note that due to the age and the design error in the horizontal stabilizers, i secured them in place by making two new holes and inserting wooden springs so that i dont have any problem again. With the main wings, we did not have any problems, since the model is standing on the landing system. If you decide to hang it, you need to strengthen the union of the wings in order not to have any devastating results.
The next stage in our construction is to dry fit the landing system, cutting and trimming all Lexan’s transparent pieces that will really give our model a truly realistic look because of its fineness and purity.
The next stage in our construction is to become dry fitting to the landing system and to cut and trimm all Lexan’s transparent pieces that will give our model a truly realistic look because of how thin and clear are.
Then all the individual work was done on the gun towers, the shooting sights (where they existed), the resin wheels, on the bombs, and whatever other secondary construction there was to be made and get ready for painting.
So everything is ready for ……. Painting.
At this point I had to decide what color and of course which company I would choose to get the best result on the natural aluminum finishing of our plane.
After many discussions with fellow modellers, inside and outside Greece, the decision was taken.
Alclads for the main colour as well as the black primer for a base so that the aluminum shine as it should.
There was a lot of study as how it should be done. how many times i am going to spray paint etc. To make life easier, SIMPLY FOLLOW THE COMPANY INSTRUCTIONS with the materials that tells you to use and the result will satisfy you.
The model was first sprayed with the incredible in quality Humbrol Primer Spray to see any shortcomings in putty, etc. It was sanded down with 5,000 carbon paper to make everything flat. After all the checks were done, the model was ready to get the first hand from the ALCLAD black base. A really very good material with very fast drying speed between the two hands. I let it dry for two or three days (though I could touch the color from the same day) to bind the color for the Aluminum to come.
The days have passed and it was the time for truth. Alclads Polished Aluminum was sprayed and then at selected panels i sprayed Duraluminium. Painting with Alclads is an experience itself. Whatever defect was found in the color there was like a magnifying glass falling over it. The first hand was sprayed very faint on the black so i had the control to correct it, if it needed. After a lot of waves and three hands on the huge B-29 that I couldnt handle it easily, it became like real Aluminum !!!!!
Moving on with painting it was time for the underside of the model that would be black-glossed (Gunze). It was an easy task after all that Aluminum on the upper surfaces.
The model was placed in its metallic landing gear system but without any glue and was left to dry for one week. Then was time for KITS WORLD’s excellent-to-perform decals and a distinctive wash was made since i didnt want any exaggerations, because the particular B-29 does not appear in any photograph very dirty. I did a lot of spills from fuels, oils and dirt from exhaust fluids that were commonplace for the time of operation for these aircraft.
Again, everything was left to dry out well and then all other details were placed, such as the bombs inside the bomb bay, the machine guns nests that were NOT glued so that can be rotated (!!!!!!!), the landing gears with the deflated tires and after a lot of study i placed antennas where they needed and the resin propellers were placed on the four engines. Finally the bomb bay doors and the landing bay doors were mounted.
After placing the above details, another small-sized chipping was done to match the work thats been made to the rest of the aircraft.
It was really the hardest model I’ve ever tried to built up to now. A kit from the 1980s that really showed its years. But I was actually compensated by the end result, a project that lasted for two whole years. You will see it in a diorama (I will not go into details about it) that its dimensions create dizziness.
A childhood dream in flesh and blood !!!!!
Text – Photos – Buld: John Hillaris
Translation: Konstantinos Nikas