Big Boeing Bombers
Boeing B-17B – Boeing B-29A – Boeing WB-47B
Can there be anyone in the world with even the slightest interest in aviation who doesn’t know the word ‘Boeing’. Up until the mid 1930s it was known mainly for its fighters including the F4B, P-12 and P-26. However, from the mid 1930s it began specializing in large aircraft such as its airliners and its bombers, starting with the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, followed by the B-29 Superfortress, B-47 Stratojet and the B-52 Stratofortress. Today let’s look at the first three of these bombers (the B-52 Stratofortress is so big that we couldn’t fit it into the picture with the other three).
Boeing B-17B in 1/72 by Academy
This aircraft is among the most well known aircraft of Worls War 2. In all, almost 13,000 B-17 were manufactured and most saw action in the European Theatre of Operations in strategic bombing of German military and industrial targets, The B-17B was a pre war version of the aircraft and the first to enter serial production. Thirty-nine were made from July 1939 before and began entering service in October 1939. None were used in combat during the war and the final one was retired in 1946.
There are a vast number of kits of the B-17, most of them the later B-17F and B-17G models I leave it up to you to sort out which you think is the best because modellers have preferences about what features of a kit the like most. There is, however, only one kit of the Boeing B-17B, first published by Academy in 1996. I thought it was an excellent kit with some crisp detain that went together with little argument and looks very nice in a polished metal finish. I could find no reviews of this kit but the Academy B-17C and B-17D kits are more or less the same thing and they are very well regarded in Modelling Madness with an in-box review of B-17C which shows you what you get in the box and a build review which is very positive.
Boeing B-29A in 1/72 by Airfix
This aircraft was one of the largest to fly during World War 2. Design work began in the late 1930s to create a bomber that could carry a good bomb load over long ranges that would be needed for a war in the Pacific. The prototype made its first flight in September 1942, they began entering service in May 1944 and just under 4,000 were manufactured. They were perhaps the most complex weapon manufactured during the war. They were used exclusively in the war against Japan, flying at first from bases in China and later from island bases in the Pacific Ocean. They were also used to drop the two Atomic bombs on Japan that led to the end of the war.
When it comes to the B-29 there are only two kits, though they have appeared in many different boxes over the years. First was the Airfix kit first published in 1966 and much later came the Academy kit first published in 1991. I made this model using the Airfix mainy because it was given to me by a friend. It is not a great kit and I deliberatly painted it in the Drab Olive scheme flown on early B-29 to camouflage the inaccuracies and other problems with this kit. It is hard to find any comments on the interweb about this kit which suggests that not many people have made it. There is a nice build review on You Tube which comments that it was a ‘challenging’ build and the result was ‘not too bad’. On the other hand the Academy kit is said to be an improvement on the Airfix kit and definitely the better option according to Internet Modeler and Cyber Modeler Online. Perhaps the only reason to buy the Airfix kit is because you can pick one up very cheaply at a swap meet.
Boeing WB-47B in 1/72 by Minicraft/Hasegawa
Planning for this aircraft began in 1943 to make use of the newly invented jet engine. German research into swept wings was incorporated into the design from 1945. The first one flew in December 1947, they began entering service in June 1951 and just over 2,000 were made. Their primary role was to attack targets in the Soviet Union with atomic weapons and they remained in service as strategic bombers until 1965 by which time they had been replaced by more capable aircraft such as the Boeing B-52. They continued to serve in other roles including weather reconnaissance with one WB-47B and a number of B-47Es converted to that role.
There is only one kit of the B-47 available in any version. It was first published by Hasegawa in 1966 and has since been reboxed by other companies including Frog, Minicraft and AMT. The kit itself is for a B-47E and the only other version is the Minicraft/Hasegawa kit which says it is a B-47E but has decals for a WB-47 and, using the aircraft registration as a guide, the only WB-47B. This means that a certain amount of modification is needed to turn this kit into that aircraft. But if you want to make a standard B-47E this is generally considered an adequate kit, given its age, according to Modelling Madness and Hyperscale which adds that it is a labour of love that probably needs aftermarket additions to bring it up to a modern standard.