FINISHED! Pictures on Page 3
While the prices of off-the-shelf ARF's are fantastic, especially when there's a Nitroplanes sale going on, the thought of flying around the same plane as everyone else completely turned me off.
I picked up the Airfield B-25 "Panchito" ARF, the silver kit, while it was on sale, but refused to fly it "as is".
After a bit of research I found out that the Navy purchased and flew B-25's during WWII. Since I'm currently a Naval Flight Officer, this route quickly became the obvious choice.
The PBJ-1 was a navalized version of the USAAF B-25. It had its origin in a deal cut in mid-1942 between the Navy and the USAAF. As part of the deal, 50 B-25Cs and 152 B-25Ds were transferred to the Navy from the USAAF. The bombers carried Navy serial numbers beginning with 34998. The first PBJ-1s arrived in February 1943. They were used by Marine Corps pilots, beginning with VMB-413. Many of them were equipped with a search radar with a retractable radome fitted in place of the ventral turret.
The PBJs were operated almost exclusively by the Marine Corps as land-based bombers. Their primary mission was the long range interdiction of enemy shipping that was trying to run the blockade which was strangling Japan. Many of the PBJ-1C and D versions carried a rather ugly, bulbous antenna for an APS-3 search radar sticking out of the upper part of the transparent nose. On the PBJ-1H and J, the APS-3 search radar antenna was usually housed inside a ventral or wingtip radome. Some PBJ-1Js had their top turrets removed to save weight, especially toward the end of the war when Japanese fighters had become relatively scarce.
THE TEARDOWN AND REBUILD
The PBJ's typically came in a tri-colored paint scheme. White bottoms, light sea blue mid section, and a darker navy blue on the top. This was just what I was looking for to set my kit apart from the others.
I started by removing all of the "Panchito" Decals and the red stripes.
The Stars stayed, since they were still standard on all PBJ's.
I removed all of the clear plastic parts, except for the upper and rear gun turrets, so it would be easier to mask for paint, and it also made accessing the interior gunner sections a piece of cake. While I was in there I removed the nose, waist, and tail gunners, since a little reading indicated that they were not present in the windows during takeoff and landing. This added a little bit to the "scale" appearance of the model while on static display, and it was a good excuse to get rid of the hideous characters.
Before prepping for paint, I decided to do some functionality improvements. I cut away some foam in the nacelles to allow for more cooling airflow through the motor and esc.
I also added some light ply spar supports where the wings meet. I'll constantly be removing wings for transport, and I knew the EPO around the spar holes would quickly become deformed and weak. This will keep the wings solid when installed, and save the foam from any deformation when man-handling them on and off.
First I cut and sanded the pieces so they would fit nicely where the wings join. Next I drilled holes the size of the fiberglass spars... snug enough to maintain a good fit, but loose enough to keep things sliding easily.
Finally, I traced the layout of each piece in place inside the fuselage, and used my dremel tool to sand away enough foam so each piece of wood sits flush.
Final assembly, pieces epoxied into place. Fit is perfect, and works as I had hoped!
ON TO PAINT
As I stated earlier, most of the plastic pieces were removed to make masking easier. Since the interior was wide open, I decided to give it a drab green paint job to make it a bit more realistic. Mid gunners and nose gunner sections were painted. I'm clearly not going for true scale... just something slightly better than off the shelf.
Next I used standard blue painters masking tape to mask off all of the windows, the stars and stripes decals, as well as all openings in the nacelles where overspray may me an issue.
If I had to do this again, I wouldn't use the blue masking tape. The layers of acrylic had made the tape very rigid and difficult to peel off the plastic windows.
I primered only what I thought was necessary: all plastic pieces, as well as the few parts that had other than silver paint; the matte green sections on the nose as well as on each nacelle. I didn't want to add unecessary weight by priming the entire plane. The acrylic I was going to use stuck nicely to the EPO and didn't show any signs of flaking.
I primered the plastic parts separately, then glued them back on to the fuselage for final assembly before paint.
First layer was the white bottom. Since going with a pure white paint wouldn't be too realistic, I mixed in a small amount of black and got a nice light grey.
I used my Iwata Eclipse airbrush to lay the paint down, and once the paint was thinned properly, it did a fairly good job, though that airbrush wasn't really meant to cover this much realestate.
There was a lot of overspray of white, but it'll all be covered up by the darker blues.
Next part was figuring out the right mix of blues for the mid fuse and upper fuse shades.
I purchased this bottle of cheap craft acrylic at Michaels - "Sterling Blue". This stuff is CRAZY thick out of the bottle, and I needed to reduce it at least 50/50 w/ water before it was sprayable.
It looked to be about as close to the actual shade as I could find. A little testing on paper and I had my mixes figured out. I split the sterling blue into separate containers and mixed up the lighter mid section by adding some teal, and the darker section by adding some royal blue and black. Looks good!
Now that the hard part is done, things go pretty quickly...
Mid Section sprayed
Upper Section Painted
Some touchups were required along the way, naturally, but the finished product turned out great I think.
"PACIFIC PRINCESS" is born
Now it's time to give this bird an identity. During my research into Navy and Marine PBJ's I found a few that had nose art interesting enough to be a part of my project, but "Pacific Princess" caught my eye I guess you could say...
Now here's where I depart from the "scale and correct" pattern and allow myself a little artistic freedom. The true Pacific Princess was an Airforce owned and operated B-25, with a silver/aluminum finish. It was one of the original Mitchells to partake in the Doolittle raid, and It's still flying today. There are pictures of a blue Princess, but I don't believe this to be the original. I decided to combine my Navy PBJ and the Pacific Princess' name and make it my own.
Callie Graphics does an excellent job creating vinyl graphics for just about anything you can think of, though they primarily serve the RC community. I had her print out some P.P. nose art and kill count decals to the correct scale for this model. She had them in the mail and at my doorstep within a few days. Highly Recommended!
That's all I have for now, just wanted to get a healthy start on this thread before I go ahead and finish the project.
PAINTING IS NOT DONE!! I'll apply the decals, and then lay in some reduced blacks and browns to give the panel lines some depth, as well as the smoke and oil trails behind the nacelles. Then, A coat of water based polyurethane to protect the paint and decals, electronics hooked up, control surfaces and motor testing, and final assembly.
Thanks for the interest. Check back soon for updates!