Wednesday, January 15

Build Review: Brassin 1/32 B-17G gun set. - The usual suspects – but with better guns?

Today we review the motley crew of .50 calibre BRASSIN gun sets from Eduard for your HK models B-17. We put them into the kit to see how they fit – and how they look once installed in this beast, and most of all ask the question - do you need them?
B-17G guns
Kit #632026
“Brassin” Resin parts x 27
1 Photo Etch sheet x 24 parts
Download instructions here
Available from Eduard directly and their distributors Worldwide.

There is an argument  - and I think a fairly valid one at that – that all of the internal detailing modellers make on the massive new B-17G kit from HK models is lost to either the insides of transparencies or indeed locked away forever never to be seen again. For the completest or even the casual modeller this is a bit hard to swallow. Most beavering away anyway because they know that they will be happy knowing that it is “inside there – somewhere” Well Eduard have brought out this set of thirteen .50 calibre guns in their latest “Brassin” set which can be seen from inside AND outside – maybe we can have it both ways???
The machine guns supplied with the HK Models kit are OK but they are quite a focus point on this kit – I mean a “Flying Fortress” isn’t anything without decent guns is it? Some are OK with what comes in the box – but those wanting some more realistic barrels hanging out of their (US$250) pride and joy will opt for new barrels – we already have great metal barrels on the market from companies like Master -  but what about full gun resin replacements for each of the .50's on board?
The HK guns...
 And the supplied barrels - I think we can do better...

Enter Eduard and their BRASSIN range of resin replacements – these are cast in a very thins and detailed set of guns and their brackets in a grey and grey/black resin. Why these change colour on certain parts and barrels randomly I don’t know – and I suppose it doesn’t matter (– but I did look for a reason for a while.)
The resin on offer is bubble and flaw free - yes at some places it is really delicate because it is so thin. I would say be very careful with some long nose snips with the flat part to the “face” or working end of the resin and you will be fine. Even a sharp knife tends to bend and snap this resin so be careful!

The very tips of the barrels sometimes have a little “nipple” to cut off as well – you may see a few in these shots – they come off in a cinch. The barrels of the guns themselves really impressed me with these. They are as nice as metal barrels and though occasionally some are bent all you need is a bit of opposing pressure and they straighten up just nicely.
You get several incarnations of the .50 calibre aircraft gun in this release. Four parts each of the “R30” and “R31” .50 cal which is basically the left and right of the turret guns. These are pretty vanilla without handles, sights and firing buttons and braces. You also get the manually aimed .50 cal guns which have each of the two sights for each gun, the cocking handle for the left and right side mounted guns – they are numbered “R33(x2)” and “R32(x3peices)” you also get the mounting brackets and the pivot the barrel actually sits in. The perforated barrels look pretty nice on these once installed.

Here are all the guns turned to different angles so you can see the facets of them all round

The flexible gun mount is largely moulded in to the guns “R33(x2 Left)” and “R32(x3peices  - right)”
 And the turret mounted guns “R30” (x4 - left) and “R31” (x4 - right)
The cocking arms (left) and the pivoting mounts (right)
The frames for the mounts of these guns first the rear side fuselage gun frames
 And the radio operator's gun mount -  the right part sits inside the left and pivots
There is a Photo etched sheet included as well – it contains six crosshairs and six “pip” sights for the end of the barrels which have a little flat part to attach to the gun with superglue. There is as well twelve switches - two for each gun.

 Ahh the ol' Giant Penny Trick"

Now I have a test B-17 kit so I decided to stick them in it and see if these guns fit and how they looked.  I think I’ll take you through it starting at the front and working my way back and ill chat a little about the actual crew positions as well.

The B-17G “Flying fortress”:
The armament of the B-17G "Flying Fortress" had consisted five single manually operated .50cal machine guns as well as a Bendix chin turret, a top mounted dorsal turret and a ventral "ball" turret with two Browning .50 M2 machineguns each. The tail gunner controlled two more .50s as a sting in the tail.
The front was a weak point, however.  And so with the development of the B-17G version there was a Bendix Chin turret mechanically aimed as well as one or two more .50s installed in small "cheek" windows. In combat, the navigator was responsible for the left cheek gun and the bombardier operated Bendix chin turret guns in the B-17G. This turret in the B-17G is an electrically driven power turret which mounted two .50 calibre M-2 Machine Guns, equipped with recoil absorbing mechanisms, firing solenoids, and manual gun chargers.
Now I have to confess – my Bendix turret was already sealed up i was way beyond breaking it open – so I simply pulled out the existing barrels and cut off the ends of my .50’s from the Brassin set and slipped these in and voila! - The easiest fix ever. (notice the nipples in this that need to be snipped off (ouch)
If you were going to use the kit parts the instructions tell you to get the gun R30 and R31 guns ready and then insert them inside the chin turret as simply as you would the kit parts. This is ok – but with all of these guns the barrels are slightly larger than the kit pars so you will have to ream out the turret barrel holes a little. Otherwise this is an easy installation.

The Cheek .50Cals..
The nose “Cheek” machine .50's come with a full set up of  a Brassin gun with the full frame and pivoting receptacle for the gun to go in along cocking handle and the P/E crosshair sights and “pip” sight for the tip of the barrel plus the firing switch.
This all goes together very easily – and again you can use the pivot from the kit if you like – it just needs to be reamed out a little to fit the gun through. And don’t forget to put the “pip” sight on the end of the barrel AFTER you stick the gun thru the receptacle!

And you can see the body of the gun inside
Here the nose guns are - careful to put the aiming pip on after you stick the guns thru the cheek pivot! (I did forget once of course!)

The Dorsal turret of the B-17G is  a simple case of using the smaller, frameless R 31 & R30 guns without the frames and sights and placing them on the frame where the kit guns go.
These ones fit ok without incident and the turret was large enough to house them.

In the B-17G there was another single .50 cal that the Radio Operator manned from the radio room. - Here is the .50 in stowed position..
This single gun is again the full gun with frame from brassin moulded in to it. This sits on a pivot made from brassin as well just like the others. This installation isn’t as clear as it could be on the instructions though my slow old brain worked it out so you guys will have no problem.
Through the transparency you can see the whole gun with sight on top so this is a really good place to have something as nice as this to show off. The rest of the kite is so closed up this is one bit of improvement people will notice.

Two windows in the waist of the aircraft each accommodated a single .50 gun waist compartment gun
Staff sergeants manned the two left and right .50’s in the waist compartment guns which in this kit has the bracket, pivot and mount as well as the cradle and the .50 calibre M2’s complete with cocking handle, brass sights and switch.
After removing them from the  casting blocks these guns install just like the “cheek” blister guns, cocking handle, sights and switches installed, but these two guns sit on a frame of Brassin and then a pivot of the same which fits right into the side window.  Notice the support frame fits around the internal ribbing of the aircraft.
Here is mine in place– again it was a cinch to install – this view is from top down

The ball turret
was a cramped location, so the smallest crew member usually took this station; he was usually a staff sergeant as well. These cramped guns – far from what you might think - were the safest gunner positions as they took the least casualties during the WWII operations!
With the installation of these two guns it is a simple job. They fit into the sides of the Plexiglas again just like the originals. The two problems and they are only slight is that the transparencies need to be drilled out a little where the barrels go through. I had to cheat a little as well with the length of my gun being just that little too long. I snipped 2mm from the rear carrying handle of the gun to make it fit. I would say yes they are cramped these ball turrets!

The ball open so you can see the placement….
….And closed for effect.
Notice the enlarged (slightly) holes for the guns to fit thru..
The Tail turret – the loneliest position in this bird – was manned by a gunner who actually knelt down in quite a crippling position to man these two .50 cals. What an assignment – as if being right at the back all by yourself wasn’t bad enough.
These two guns – R30 & 31 (the two without the sights and extras) go simply onto where the kit parts go. Here they are in place without the airframe in the way.
Here they are with the tail put together around them – they look better than the original as there is a long bit of their muzzles showing – and the Eduard replacements look very good with perforated barrels showing out the back.

...So time to answer the questions I posed to myself at the start of this review –

Q/ Do they fit? A/Yes after some slight hollowing out of turret holes.
Q/ How do they look? A/ Great once installed – a marked update on the originals.
Q/ Do I need them? A/ No – but then again I need nothing really ‘cept food and water and some air – but YES I want to use these very much in the building of this kit.

Like I said earlier in this review you do not go and spend a few hundred on the “ultimate” kit for your workbench without having the best you can throw at it. These Brassin improvements on the kit guns are quite visible on the finished product so I would say yes – get them.

Adam Norenberg

Thank to Eduard for sending this out to review and put into our test B-17.