November 2014

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

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Selected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:

Between 2009 and 2015, I have set myself a general modelling theme based on selected 70th Anniversaries from WW2.

As the Allies continue their advance in Europe, eyes turn to the Pacific Theatre.

7 Nov 1944 - US President Franklin D Roosevelt is re-elected, the first (and so far only) US President to serve for a 4th term in office.

12 Nov – RAF Lancaster bombers flying from RAF Lossiemouth finally sink the German Battleship Tirpitz in her Norwegian Fjord lair.

22 Nov - The British Pacific Fleet is established in Sydney, to fight alongside the US Navy in the Pacific.

27 Nov – Following an accident, the RAF Fauld ammunition depot in Staffordshire explodes, killing 75 people and leaving a crater nearly a mile across and 400ft deep.  It is one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history and the largest on UK soil.

29 Nov – US Submarine USS Archerfish torpedoes and sinks the Japanese super-carrier Shinano, the largest ship ever sunk by a submarine.

Boeing B-29A Superfortress

Joltin Josie, the Pacific Pioneer
1498th Bomb Group, 873rd Squadron US Army Air Force

Saipan, Mariannas, November 1944.

Airfix 1/72

The first B-29 to enter the Pacific Theatre in World War II was given the name "Joltin Josie, the Pacific Pioneer".

Josie arrived in the Marianas on the 12th of October, 1944 with General Haywood S. Hansell in the pilot seat and Major Jack Catton - the aircraft commander - in the co-pilot's position. Hansell headed the XXI Bomber Command. Catton was a flight leader of the 873rd squadron in the 498th Bomb Group. The 497th, 498th, 399th and the 500th Bomb Groups and their associated organization made up the 73rd Bomb Wing.

After some 400 hours flying and 24 missions over Japan, during which Josie never suffered an abort and always hit the primary target, Major Catton was transferred to General LeMay's Headquarters. Captain Wilson C. Currier took over as aircraft commander.

Josie was lost on the first mission following Major Catton's departure. Immediately after taking off on 1 April 1945, she crashed into Magicienne Bay (also known as Laulau Bay) and exploded on impact. There were no survivors.

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Background Image: Poppy on Salisbury Plain.  


This particular Airfix kit has been a bit of a nemesis for me in the past. Its the only kit in over 45 years of modelling that I can remember giving up on, although to be fair I must have been about 8 or 9 years old at the time.  Bits of it still appear in the dark corners of my spares box from time to time.  

So here I am 40+ years later, giving it a try again, using the excuse of my WW2 70th Anniversaries theme.  This particular kit was purchased secondhand last year and seems to be a fairly crisp mould from the 1970s, and although many of the parts were off the sprues (why do people do that?), Only one part was missing, a main wheel half, that was quickly replaced by one cloned in Milliput putty.  

Have a look at my "Friends & Allies" pages for some other US aircraft models

The kit comes with a fair amount of interior detail, but some surprising omissions, including the very prominent (and important) bomb sight, as well as instrument side panels.  These were scratched up using some sprue, along with some bright red throttle sticks., All based on the many B-29 interior pictures to be found on the internet.

For the most part, fit was better than I expected, but that is not saying much.  Just like my younger self, I found joining the two fuselage halves quite challenging, resulting in some difficult filling.  The sheer size of the kit slightly overwhelmed my cramped “computer-desk” modelling station. The worst area of fit by far was the engine nacelles, which had huge steps between upper and lower wing halves, with equally poor fitting cowlings on top.

Airfix kindly supply a ladder to use as a prop, since the kit is definitely a tail sitter, however the prop is slightly too short, leaving the front wheel hanging a few scale feet up in the air!

Overall, this is a kit that is definitely past its time, but one that, for me, reawakened some of the boyhood enthusiasm with which I tackled its predecessor all those decades ago!  And this time I beat it!!!!!!