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Accurate Miniatures

1/48 B-25B Mitchell "Doolittle Raider" model kit

Product # 3430

Product Article by Bradley D. Chun in 2000

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Scale: 1/48th 
Price: $ 49.98 (retail) 
Manufacturer: Accurate Miniatures, Inc 
Address: 100 Centre Street 
Charlotte, NC 92656 
  
The B-25B was destined to take part in perhaps the most famous single raid of World War II. The mission, the Doolittle Raid to bomb the Japanese homeland. When this raid was in its infancy, the B-18 was the first aircraft that was to be considered. This idea was later changed to also include the B-23, B-25, and B-26, for consideration. The selection process revealed that the B-18 had lacked the necessary range for the mission, and the B-23 was ruled out because its wing span was so wide that it was not be able to keep clear of the “island” of the aircraft carrier. The B-26 proved that it needed a longer take off distance, to clear the deck of an aircraft carrier, therefore, the B-25 was chosen to take its place in the history books.  

LTC James H. Doolittle, who had the responsibility to lead the raid, selected, and trained a group of volunteers who had been taken from the 17th Bomb Group and the 89th Recon Squadron. While training was being conducted, the aircraft were modified to increase its range. The ventral turret was removed to make room for an additional fuel cell that increased fuel capacity to 1,141 gallons, and also subtracting 600 lbs from its overall weight. The maximum weight would be 31,000 lbs at take off, but would decrease, as fuel was used enroute to the target. Other modifications to the aircraft included deleting the super secret Norden bombsight and replacing it with a 20-cent gadget, the “Mark Twain”, which just happened to be more accurate for low level bombing. Twin, fake, .50 cal wooden machine gun barrels would also be installed to discourage rear attacks from enemy fighters. De-icer boots were also installed on the leading edge of all flying surfaces.   

The USS Hornet, CV-8, with 16 B-25Bs lashed onto her deck set course from the San Francisco Bay on 02 April 1942. The 18 April launch was earlier than planned as it was deemed “necessary” in case the task force was spotted by a Japanese patrol. The Doolittle force would bomb various, specific targets, including Tokyo, and even though the physical damage was minor, the psychological damage was tremendous. Even though all of the B-25s would eventually be lost, most of the aircrews did survive, and the end result did justify the costs. As a morale booster to the American people it was an outstanding success and the initial shock to Japan was that it should never happen again. To prevent this from happening to Japan again, four front-line fighter groups were kept on the home islands even though they were needed in the South Pacific.  

Until now, if a modeler wanted a 1/48th scale B-25B depicting a Doolittle Raider, there weren’t too many choices in 1/48th scale. If a modeler wanted to build a Doolittle Raider, he/she would have to combine the Revell 1/48th scale B-25B (which lacked detail and has long been out of production) with the interior and other details from the, until recently, widely available 1/48th scale B-25J by Monogram. Or one could always heavily modify and add scratchbuilt details to the Monogram 1/48th scale B-25J kit. I know of a few model builders that have taken on the undaunted task of cutting up and modifying the Monogram 1/48th scale B-25J.   

Accurate Miniatures has now released the very much anticipated and long-awaited B-25B “Doolittle Raider” in 1/48th scale.   

The sturdy, two piece box has an artist‘s rendition of LTC J. Doolittle taking off from the deck of the USS Hornet on the cover. The inner box has a photo of the model built by Jeff “Mongo” Cramer on the bottom of the box. Upon opening the box, the modeler will find one bag containing four sprues of injection molded parts (such as the fuselage and other detail parts), one bag containing one sprue of injection molded parts (this sprue contains the cowlings specific to the B-25B), and another bag containing the sprue for the wings. Under the “false bottom” of the inner box, the modeler will also find an instruction booklARC Artclesaiet, a bag containing numerous brass weights, a sheet of vinyl canopy masks, a bag containing the sprue of clear parts, the decal sheet, and the Doolittle after-action report.  

 

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The majority of the parts are contained in a bag of four injection-molded sprues. The first sprue has the fuselage halves, pilot and co-pilot seats, cockpit detail parts, machine gun turret parts, radios, the in-flight chemical toilet, nose and main wheel hubs, and other detail parts. The second sprue includes the ordinance, such as the four depth charges (the same ones found in the Avenger kits), and 100, 500, and 1,000 lbs bombs. The third sprue has the bomb bay/wing spars, nose and main tires, nose and main landing gear struts, bombardier nose parts, crew access doors, and additional cockpit and bombardier detail parts. The fourth sprue has the propellers, radial engine parts, rear tail parts, and engine nacelles. All of the parts are cleanly molded with no flash to be found. (I really don’t expect to find any flash on any of Accurate Miniatures’ kit.) The panel detail is of the finely scribed, recessed variety. Ejection pin mold marks are even strategically placed. There are two noticeable ones above the aft observation windows, but they will hardly be noticed once the fuselage halves are glued together. I did find ejection pin marks on the crew access hatches they will pose a problem in removing them. There are a few sink marks, but as Bill Bosworth has stated, any injection molded piece that is molded thicker than 0.060” will suffer from some shrinkage. This is a result of the injection-molded process and cannot be prevented. All of the parts scream out to be painted, washed, and dry-brushed.  

The second bag contains the cowlings specific to the B-25B, the bombardier nose .30 cal machine gun, the fake machine guns for the tail, and the long range, bomb bay, fuel tank. As with the other parts, there was no flash to be found, and the amount of detail begs to be painted, washed, and dry-brushed.  

The final bag of parts contains the wing halves. The detailing is in the form of both finely scribed, recessed panel lines, and raised detail. The modeler will have no problem masking off the de-icer boots for painting.  

The instruction booklet should be no surprise to anyone who has built an Accurate Miniature’s kit before. The instruction booklet is 24 pages in length, I did say this was a booklet. The booklet contains construction tips, a model paint reference chart, 19-step assembly process, and a decal placement section. The paint reference chart is especially handy as it not only gives the Federal Standard number, but also cross-references the Model Master, Humbrol, Gunze Sangyo (Aqueous), Gunze Sangyo (Mr. Color), and Xtra Color paint lines. The 19 step assembly process is based on the process the crew at Accurate Miniatures used when they built over 100 kits, to find the easiest and best way to build this kit. Painting, detail painting, and assembly tips are given throughout the assembly process. The decal placement section shows a four-view drawing of the aircraft and also shows the nose markings specific to six of the sixteen Doolittle Raiders. 

A bag containing brass weights is also included. The brass weights come in four different sizes that are to be strategically placed in the forward area of the cockpit, in front of, and along side, the instrument panel. This is a very nice addition provided by Accurate Miniatures. Now the modeler won’t have to guess where and how much weight will be needed to keep the Doolittle Raider on its tri-cycle landing gear. Thank you Accurate Miniatures!  

A recent trend in modeling is the use of vinyl canopy masks. This “new tool” not only cuts down on the time that is required for masking greenhouses, but it also provides a mask that is specifically made for that model’s canopies. Accurate Miniatures now provides the modeler with vinyl canopy masks. Yet another nice addition by this cutting edge manufacturer. (As a side note, Bill Bosworth states in his online build, that the observation window masks are a tad oversize. He recommends cutting them into quarters and to overlap them when placing them. The online build can be found at: http://www.accurateminiatures.com/b25_build.htm)  

The sprue of clear parts is contained in their own bag. The sprue contains the canopy greenhouse, bombardier greenhouse, observation windows, upper machine gun turret, wing lights, instrument panel, and two different clear tail cones. The difference between the two tail cones is that one has the holes molded in for the fake machine gun barrels that the Doolittle Raiders had modified, and the plain tail cone if the modeler wishes not to make a Doolittle Raider. 

My example contains the parts that will be included in the future B-25G release as numerous clear sprues for the B-25B kits were rejected due to quality control issues. Even though the parts are separately bagged, I did find a few scratches, but they aren’t anything a dip in Future won’t take care of.

The decal sheet is also separately bagged. Tail markings for all 16 B-25B Doolittle Raiders are included. The modeler will also find nose markings for 6 of the Doolittle Raiders as well as the national insignias, red propeller warning band, lap belts, and U.S. Army markings. The decal for the instrument panel is provided in two versions. One decal is printed with the instruments facing out, and the other is reversed. There is even a decal for a Life magazine (I guess the aircrews needed something to read on that long flight.). I could find no registration problems. All of the colors for “Ruptured Duck” line up perfectly.

A fold out after action report is also included for this model of the historic raid. The after action report is reproduced exactly as how LTC Doolittle wrote it. Not only does it outline the objectives of the raid, and any contingency plans, but it also includes what happened to each and every aircrew, and their fate. 
   
Overall, there are over 198 parts, decals for all 16 Doolittle Raid aircraft, vinyl masks for the canopies, brass weight, an after-action report. There has been much discussion about the delays related to the delayed release of this kit, and of the high retail price. But when you take into account the amount of detail, the reported good fit by modelers already building the kit, and the added bonus of manufacturer included weight and vinyl masks, I think this kit is a bargain, in my opinion. I was impressed by the built-up example that Bill Bosworth had at the 1998 IPMS National Convention, and knew the wait would be worth it. I can’t wait for the B-25C/D, and the B-25G. There will surely be a few of these kits on contest tables in the future. Until next time, Happy Modeling and Basics First! (Okay, so who’s going to build a 1/48th scale CV-8?)

Bradley D. Chun

 

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Photos and text © by Bradley D. Chun

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