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B17-G early production

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HKM B17G early production 1:48 scale Part no. 01F001

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I’m going to skip the history on this one because i don’t think there is anyone out there who doesn’t know the B17 and this is the first of HKM’s 1:48 scale kits.

 

The B17 needs no introduction to most modellers and I’m sure we’ve all built one at some point, I personally have built the old Airfix 1:72 kit about 3 times as a kid and then to my mind the vastly superior Matchbox kit a couple of times too. And most model large model companies have produced this kit and of the more recent tools we have everything from the early models from Academy, up to Airfix and Revell releasing new tool G’s (including an RAF mk.iii) and Revell and Academy having an F model in the line up as well. The strange thing is if you wanted to build a larger scale B17 you had two choices; The ancient (but still reasonable) Revell Monogram F (another Memphis Belle anyone?) or G, or go the whole hog and spend megabucks (well over £300.00) on the HKM B17 F or G in 1/32 so the market could do with a new tool 1/48 B17. And here it is. Now at first glance I saw the prospective price and thought Hmm its a “bit pricey” but I dread to think what would have happened if Tamiya or Hasegawa released this kit bearing in mind that Tamiya charge north of £40.00 for a 1/48 BF109. We are now in the realms where model companies know its not kids that buy these kits and therefore decide that they don’t have to be pocket money prices (at least its not model railways it would probably be another 0 on the price) so the question is, is this an improvement over the other 1/48 heavy bombers; Spoiler alert so long as it’s reasonably accurate it will be. Due to the age of the other heavies out there, the only thing close to a modern tooling 4 engined heavy is probably the Trumpeter Focke Wulf Condor which is a cracking kit at the same price point. 

 

This will be the second HKM kit I will have built if I ever get the Mojo Back, with the first being the Mosquito which had its fair share of critics but I loved the engineering and to me was a brilliant kit which was great fun to build. So lets have a look in the box and see what we get 

 

The box 

A standard Lid and tray type box which is corrugated at the bottom and heavy single ply on Top with some lovely artwork of American Beauty unloading over a target somewhere whilst being bracketed by flak. The Box says B17 series so lets hope there will be a late model G and maybe an F as well please HKM?

Inside the box are 10 grey sprues and then because they are not on sprues, the wings and fuselage parts. There are 3 clear sprues, a small Photoetch Brass fret for seat belts and grills, a decal sheet with two choices and finally an A4 instruction book. 

 

Fuselage

The fuselage is moulded in six pieces the main halves which have no sprue as such, but they look like they were on a sprue then cut off at the bottom of the fuselage so will need some careful sanding to clean up. The rest of the fuselage is surrounded by multiple sprue nubs from a multipoint injection moulded tool. This is impressive and allows for a smoother flow of material into the mould keeping flash and sink marks to a minimum and I’m happy to report that there are no flash or sink marks present on the sample i have, this is great because the whole airframe is covered in really fine recessed rivets and panel lines all over, there is no oil-canning as seems to be the vogue with modern large scale kits but to be honest I don’t like the effect. These two haves would be suitable to produce an E, F or G (early) model (A late model G will need the waist gun on the starboard side moving further forward whether this will be a new fuselage half or a very well concealed insert into the existing half). The reason for this is the nose section and Tail Gun section are moulded separately but others are not included in this kit. The access hatches and bomb bays are moulded separately so doors can be posed open to show some of the interior details present. The rudder is moulded as part of the fin so if you want to pose it offset you’ll need to partake in some surgery. Talking of interior details there is a large amount of ribbing detail on show, I am however worried about how much of this will be on show (more on this later). The fuselage has what look like very positive locating pins and so long as they are lined up correctly there should be no problem with alignment (bear in mind there is a hell of a lot of stuff to go in there so dry fitting will be the order of the day) this brings me to the nose section, Moulded so that the join is along panel lines, and this has the fairing for the chin turret moulded in as well as the angled forward cheek gun mounts offset for better room for the navigator and bomb aimer (sorry Bombadier). Finally there is the tail section and on here there is the early model tail gun with the guns mounted on a pin around a canvas bag, Not the later Cheyanne turret that was fitted to later model B17G’s so be careful and check your references if you use aftermarket decals.

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The Wings 

The wings are bagged both halves together and to be honest i can’t see where the plastic comes into the mould, there are absolutely no sprue marks at all on either wing section, this means they will need no cleaning up at all, take note other manufacturers this is what you can do if you want to charge money for a kit. The inside faces of the wings are ribbed and have again substantial locating pins and sockets this means the whole set up is very very rigid ( i wish the Revell UHU had those ribs it would have helped no end) and I have tried fitting these together and they line up perfectly and will need very little cleaning up there are inserts for exhausts on the nacelles to allow for different versions and there is a very substantial locating socket for the undercarriage legs. There are some ejector pin marks where the flaps sit that will need a little cleaning up (not much and the flaps can be deployed down (again check refs I’m not sure how many were parked up flaps down) again the ailerons are moulded as part of the wing so can’t be positioned but there are some nice gaps cut at either end to allow for gaps. 

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Sprue D 

On sprue D are the tailplanes, again very nicely detailed and i really can’t find any fault with the exterior surface detail on this kit it really is sublime, again the elevators are moulded as part of the tailplanes, also there are the bomb bay doors and the internal bomb racks for the centre of the bomb bay. The Bomb bay doors are nicely detailed. With lots of ribbing detail. And the lattice work on the central bomb bay stantion is very well done. Then we have the pilot and co-pilot seats, these are a 4 part set up with the back armour built in, these will look great under a coat of paint, (I’m not going there with the correct colour for B17 interiors as i don’t need that drama in my life). Finally on here there is floor and rear bulkhead for the radio room.with a nicely engraved door, I would have liked to have seen a separate door here but hey ho. 

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Sprue E

More interior parts and the top section of the fuselage, I think this may be so you can show all of that interior off that this part is separate. I will look to see how good a fit this bit is before I decide whether to fit this permanently or not but one thing is for sure here there is no seam to clean up going down the middle of the fuselage here. On this sprue  also are the bulkheads that go either side of the bomb bay. Then the side panels for the bombay and the radio room as well as the gang ways for the waist and tail guns. Then there are the radios, now these look fantastic and will respond well to a coat of paint as will the details of the bomb bay. There are also the ammunition boxes for the waist guns, these fit high up beside the waist windows forward. Curiously there are no ammunititon belts here I’m guessing that they can be seen but I’m not sure. So i will reserve judgement until I start building the kit. Then there are the sidepanels for the cockpit and the floor, the floor has a throttle quadrant built in and this looks pretty good but will benefit from some throttle levers as they will be quite visible. Finally the cockpit side panels which have the big yellow oxygen bottles moulded in intrgrally. Masking these to paint them will be a challenge but I’m not a fan of using 15 parts where one will do. But these parts are going to need careful painting. Finally on here there is the ball turret parts including the turret ring and mounting frame, this again looks really good. 

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Sprue F 

Flaps, nicely moulded with lots of detail and a few ejector pin marks. And also the main undercarriage parts are on here too, and again this is an example of what HKM do really well, the undercarriage is an example of how you can produce a really detailed set up with as few parts as possible. The mounts for the undercarriage legs are nice and substantial and a great example of their tooling abilities. The same applies to the wheels with great tread detail and wheel detail is about as good as you are going to get, this includes resin parts. The wheel bays have some great wire and pipe detail moulded in, well done HKM. also worthy of not here are the exhausts and turbo chargers which are nicely hollowed out at the end and worth no need for replacements here. 

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Sprue G

Guns and bombs, there are six 500lb bombs in two halves and all of the machine guns. Of note are the machine guns, both .30 Cal and .50 Cal are here and the breach detail is lovely and then the barrels which are all moulded separately (no breaking them off during painting, a fantastic thing and really makes a difference.) the tail wheel assembly is here as is various seats for the navigator, radio operator and bombadier. There is also the crew access doors for both the front and rear of the aircraft, this again will show off all of that lovely detail. Finally we have the engines, now these won’t be seen behoind the cowls so don’t need to be exquisitely detailed and im sure the aftermarket boys will have some resin ones out soon. Me, I will probably put in an ignition harness and leave it at that the cowl flaps are moulded open and are nice and thin. Then we have the control columns which look nice, finally there are a range of aerials on this sprue as well. 

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Sprue H 

This sprue contains specific parts for the G nose section, so instrument panel, bulkhead and gun turret are on here and I have to say I was wondering whether the zip detail was going to be included on the gun turret and I’m not disappointed. There is a back to the instrument panel that will benefit from a few wires coming out of the instruments and a decal sheet is being provided for the dials there is also a nicely moulded Norden bomb sight included as well as the various other instruments that will be seen through the huge blister on the front of the aircraft. This will look great so take your time on this area. 

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Sprue N 

I know N but thats how im opening the bags, don’t judge me ok? Cowlings and Propellers, these are correct for the B17G and the props have some lovely bolt detail on them and will look great painted up. The cowls have nice engraved panel lines on them too. 

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Sprue L 

These are the parts for the early tail turret, which is the canvas end piece and the spigot pin and sight for the guns, which then brings me to….

Sprue J 

Top turret Parts now this will be visible through the cockpit glass so needs to look just right and yes it does everything is there. 

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Clear Parts 

Sprue T 

This is the nose blister and at this point its very well protected being both in a plasctic bag and having a piece of film over it as well, and that said HK’s clear parts have always been fantastic. There are small but well moulded rivets as well as the opening section. 

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Sprue U 

This is the canopy for the tail turret and again very well moulded, I would say flawless. The parts are crystal clear and beautifully thin. 

Sprue W 

Various windows on here including the waist gun windows, the framing on all of this is very well defined which will make masking a breeze. The cheek windows had me thrown for a moment there but again this is great as are the landing lights etc. 

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Sprue V 

The remainder of the clear parts are here, the ball turret clear parts are on here and again the break down of this should make building and painting a breeze. The cover screen for the radio room is clear and will show off the radio room perfectly. There are three different turret tops for the top turret but only one is relevant for this kit so be careful to select the correct one. The cockpit windscreen is a one piece section with two separate sections for the roof lights. 

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Photo Etch 

On the thin PE fret there are seat belts for the pilot and co-pilot seats, grills for the engines and spoilers for the radio room windows and the waist gun windows. The Brass is very thin and will work into shape perfectly. 

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Decals 

The decals are printed by Cartograf so no worries about how they will perform, they are in perfect register and will look great, there are two decal options, but there are countless options out there for B17-G’s so you are kind of spoilt but again check references before buying a set you can’t use, but I would have no hesitation in using these one to be honest. 

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The options are 

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B-17G-15-BO s/n 42-31353 LG-Q “Queenie” 322nd BS / 91st Bomb Group at Bassingbourn in spring 1944 painted olive drab over neutral grey with nose art.

 

B-17G-40-VE s/n 42-98008 25-G “American Beauty” 84th BS / 486th Bomb Group at Sudbury Summer 1944 in natural metal with silver doped flying surfaces.

 

Instructions 

An A3 instruction booklet, drawn in black and white, CAD drawings with 40 steps to the build sequence, the instructions are nicely clear and easy to follow with a sprue and decal map as well as a decal placement and painting guide, this is also in black and white, the paint call outs are for AK, Tamiya nd gunze Paint as well as just the colours themselves, the thing with B-17’s will be the interior colours so check the references for your particular aircraft.   

 

Conclusion, 

Well i can say that this one will be close to the top of the build pile, because I want to build a B17 mainly, the surface detail is sublime on this kit particularly the exterior, I have to say probably the best surface detail I have seen. Then we come to the interior, and I’m not going to say its bad because it isn’t, when you look at the cockpit it’s going to be difficult to see through the windows to see anything too closely because the windows are small but i have seen some quite scathing comments about the interior detail of this kit and yes I would like to have seen a bit more detail in areas like the cockpit, for example some throttle levers would be nice but not beyond the most difficult thing to do. I will be building this out of the box because that’s what I want to do and we’ll see how good it is but for my money I would have no problem with it, but others will have issues and that’s their choice. 

My original question was how does this compare? And I would say it’s an unfair comparison against the Old Revell/Monogram Kit so i wont be comparing them, then there is the Tamiya Lancaster, again unfair some will say but Tamiya (or should I say The Hobby Company) are selling this at roughly the same price but to me this kit is 40+ years old so not a fair comparison.  Then there is the Trumpeter Condor and this is perhaps the closest comparison and this is a comparable kit and the HK B-17 edges it on exterior detail. I’m looking forward to building this 

 

Verdict 

Recommended 

 

My thanks to Hong Kong Models for the review sample 



 

 

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I'll never buy it (too expensive & too big) but it looks a fantastic kit. I still have difficulty believing that people are whinging about it. I'm frequently amazed at the scope and quality of the kits that are available to us these days and yet some gits go on as if the manufacturers have kicked their dog, if a rivet or two is out of line.

It does me head in. :wallbash:

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To be fair Mark I agree but there are a couple of bits that I wish they had done a bit more, but then that's modelling for you these days 

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Thanks for the review, it looks fantastic to my eyes. I don't have a problem with the level of interior detail, plenty good enough for me. It leaves scope for the after market and scratch builder boys and must be miles better than what is already available (some people are never happy though).

Obviously it's going to be a big beast and that can be off putting but the engineering looks like it shouldn't be a difficult build, I await your WIP to see if I'm right. I could see me having a go at one of these at some point and I am seriously considering getting some in stock now that I've seen this.

Duncan B

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On 14/01/2020 at 15:27, BlackMike Models said:

Thanks for the review, it looks fantastic to my eyes. I don't have a problem with the level of interior detail, plenty good enough for me. It leaves scope for the after market and scratch builder boys and must be miles better than what is already available (some people are never happy though).

Obviously it's going to be a big beast and that can be off putting but the engineering looks like it shouldn't be a difficult build, I await your WIP to see if I'm right. I could see me having a go at one of these at some point and I am seriously considering getting some in stock now that I've seen this.

Duncan B

Duncan I've just sent you fb message re b17

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