1/48 Monogram P-61 Black Widow

Gallery Article by Ian T.M. Holahan on June 13 2011


I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Monogram kits so I decided to take on their P-61 Black Widow kit from circa 1974. I used the reissued model which has been re-released off and on for the past several years. The cockpit detail has really stood the test of time, although I did add photo-etch seat belts and various placards and maps to both the front and rear crew stations.  Construction was a little taxing in some places, especially around the booms but CA glue and Mr. Surfacer remedied the problems. The fit of the glass was not optimum either and acetate panels were added in some places.

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I added True Details resin wheels to the airplane and these were treated with MIG Pigments sand to depict the weathering attained from being on the airstrips on Iwo. I used color photos from an issue of International Air Power Review as my main reference. Several photos depicted the finishes on the Pacific deployed- aircraft in incredibly poor shape so I wanted to achieve this. Also, I think it is a challenge to bring to life the finish on an overall black aircraft. The airplane was shot with overall Model Master Interior Black and then accented with Floquil Railroad Grimy Black and Model Master RLM 66. Panel lines were drawn with a Micron Ink Pen and exhaust stains were shot with Tamiya deck tan, to replicate them as in the photographs. The bare metal and yellow primer wear were added with a brush, and then that was weathered as well.

I used Kits-World decals for the model. The rendering of the nose art is absolutely beautiful and the decals laid down like paint. Stars-and-bars and the stencils came from the Monogram sheet in the kit. The plane depicted is "Night Take-Off" from the 548th NFS based at Iwo Jima in 1945. I thought depciting this aircraft would really capture the Black Widow spider effect since it had red spinners and cowl flaps to offset the black. All in all, I enjoyed doing this project and it was fun reminiscing about Monogram models during the build.  

Best wishes,

Ian T.M. Holahan

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Photos and text by Ian T.M. Holahan