Wednesday, July 26

In-Boxed: B-17 E/F Flying Fortress from Hong Kong Models - or - "Lukas has a big job on his hands..."

We have been keeping Lukas' powder dry for many – far too many weeks he might say –  in showing you his progress of HK Models new B-17 E/F kit in massive 32nd scale build. Now the kit is well underway - three-quarters complete, we thought we would make him do a quick “In-boxed” article to show you what you get for your money. Let's quickly have a look at what's in the box first before he builds it up for you all.

In-Boxed: B-17 E/F Flying Fortress
from Hong Kong Models
1/32nd scale
Model Number# HK01E05
The kit features 44 sprues
A resin casting ammo tracks
Photo-Etch parts on two sheets
Three markings on two decal sheets
Large format instructions included.
3.2kg weight - 989mm wide and 709mm long!
Price:¥31,920/ USD $281.95/ €266.15 from Hobbylink Japan
After about two months constant asking, bothering and annoying Adam about what is an update on B-17 there was finally message from him that box itself is waiting at the post office, ready and waiting for me. I picked it up as soon as I possibly could because after all that time planning how I was going to build it in my mind I couldn’t wait to see it in flesh - and then a very large box showed up...

At once it was obvious that the size of the box was both promising and intimidating at the same time, and not to mention the weight – 3.2 kilogrammes - what isn't in this box? So the review that we are looking at today is what you get for your cash and as a side note - how I am planning to tackle this “baby.” I would say I need to start thinking about refurbishing my entire apartment to fit it all in.
We have already seen a review build of the HK Models B-17G version (link here). I intend to give you my first impression on what has changed and what has been improved/fixed from the original G model boxing. I will then address whatever might occur during the forthcoming build itself.
A cross-section of the B-17G model in our review...
The Kit Features and differences from the original B-17G boxing from Hong Kong Models:
-Three Optional Nose Sections, each with own decal, including the “Memphis Belle”
-New Tooling Nose Sections
-Amazing Interior Detail
-B-17 E/F Bulkhead
-New B-17 E/F Cockpit
-2 New Roof Turrets – Sperry Type A-1A w/ Type 6 Dome
-New Roof Turret – Sperry Type A-1A w/ Type 1 Dome
-New Under Belly Sperry Ball Turret
-New Tooling Sperry Style 1 Upper Turret Dome. (This is the same turret on the “Swamp Ghost”!)
-New Tooled Parts for Type A-1A Upper Turret interior and Style 1 Upper Turret Dome.
-New Fuselage with E Waist Gun Bay and Entrance Detail
-New Tooling Tail Gun Section
-New Wings with separate Flaps 
-New Tooling Engine Cowlings and New Blades for the B-17E/F Variants

The box is massive, and the weight of it surprised me when I picked it up. I would say that you would be inclined to take advantage of a local hobby shop or maybe a free shipping event to get yours from your favourite online model retailer.

The sprue map of what is inside the kit box.
The forty-four sprues, instructions, decals P/E et all come in a tough box with each of the sprues taken care of in a safe plastic bag. It was well known/announced that sprues will be similar to its original release with some updates and re-worked parts. 
Simple and straight forward and black and white - all you need and not much more. You get basic information on what you built with some parts and it definitely gives me feeling that whatever I am building isn’t as big as it is in reality. It looks tiny on the instruction page and then, when you cut it out of the sprue there is a certain level of surprise - and I like that. 
 The instructions include the way to mount this kit flush to the wall with the stand included - it certainly is one way to show of the kit and save on shelf space!
Also love the extra spread sheet with paints to be used (Gunze, Tamiya and AK interactive chart) so I don’t need to cut it out to hang it right front of me. Handy solution.
OK on to the plastic...

Sprues A+B
Not a regular sprue as much as a large hunk of plastic, Sprue A represents the right half of the B-17 fuselage and Sprue B is the left side.
Some of the rivets will need to be recovered but it is only a few of them (mainly around the bottom part of wing joints) and others slightly disappearing next to bottom seam line. That is most likely given by the pushing technology to its limits in this scale. 
Considering that even one-half of fuselage contains as much plastic as all of the other builds I did this year I think that’s quite impressive. Comparing right part of the fuselage on G version to E/F you will notice that rear side door are now made as a separate piece of plastic and can be left open(V2).
 Both of theses halves have a decent number of ejector pin marks on inner sides of the fuselage, but since only very little be visible I don’t see the reason for disappointment. If you are an interior freak (like myself) you will have to go through quite painful procedure how to get rid of them. Most exciting is outside section which surface is very nicely done and riveted. 
Sprue Aa
The tail gunner position is to be build up out of this piece of plastic except for the clear part (that one can be found on sprue Kk)
Some thin/ small ejector marks in here - not that anything will ever be seen once it is closed up...
Sprue Bb
The nose cone interior detailing, ammo boxes and electrical equipment is here along with the waist gunners position and window frame.
Wing half sprues - C,D,E,F
There are four parts that you will need to put the wings together and level of surface detail is matching the one on the fuselage. 
After I did some dry fitting straight out of the box (cleaning just the most obvious pieces and not doing any sanding) I was able to put wing together and with a little bit of patience, a knife and sanding tools, it will hopefully go together well. 
As a person who only read about their G version before I know about their idea about attaching wing but that (and its quality) I will describe when I reach that part of the build. Rivets are very clean across entire wing but there will be probably some recovery needed on some of them. Mainly around engines gondolas. With this size most impressive thing to me is that there are no sinking marks on any of these big parts I could spot.

Sprue Cc
Here we have the parts for the top turret and the mount of the radio operator's gun

Sprue Dd
instrument panel for this version, there is also another one on Hh frame but I didn’t manage to find it on instructions so the conclusion is that this one is from G version. Geez, I said Gee a lot and I am not even in the half of this.

Sprue Ee
you get two frames marked as Ee but they are both different. One is for first marking option - E and second one for other two - F version. On top of it you will get 3 different glass houses on the front so you will get limitless possibility on configuration… handy if you are what-if fan…
The interior - a few ejector pin marks to cover over - a technique which ill show you in the build.
Sprue Ff
Parts of (many) machine guns for the .30 & .50 cal self-defence for the turrets is here
Sprue G
is the one out of eight clear sprues that come with this kit. This contains the main part of the bottom ball turret and glasshouse for the main cockpit. All these parts are very clean, didn’t find any scratches and can’t see any distortions.
Sprue Gg
Mount for Navigator's guns

Sprue H+I
These are two identical frames that are mirrored and each contains parts for undercarriage on the right respectively left wing plus other parts that are separated by the position on aircraft itself. This also contains turbochargers. Undercarriage wiring is present, and although some might like to add their own this is a good start

Sprue Hh
As mentioned with Dd part this is representing other instrument panel configuration and according to instructions not used on these versions

Sprue J (X4)
you get 4 of this sprue. These have the engine, parts to attach outwards engines and wheels. Yes, you get two spare wheels. Each wheel is made out of two halves which give you a room for using after market resin. Again, I will address this as I get to the part of the build. 
Pushrods for the very detailed engines make it only an ignition harness that will be needed to make this - you may, however, go for the Eduard Engine set that I might try in this instance.

You can also find all parts for building propellers for F version including engine covers. Frame with propellers and covers for E version are in frame Li (you get two of those).
Oxygen bottles are included on this sprue.
Sprue K
has parts for back gunner station including guns and parts for waste gunners area.

Sprue Kk
Second frame with clear parts. Again, very clean, no scratches and no distortion. Parts from here are used to make nose parts insides little less hidden. Compare to rest of the fuselage quite bit will be (hopefully) visible and therefore crisp and shiny windows help to enhance any additional details in the nose. Also glass house for rear gunner.
Sprue L
here you find parts that separate bomb bay and crew compartment. Even as I am writing this I think about how much detail I will want to add inside of this beast considering almost nothing will be visible when closed later on.

Sprue Li
Cowlings and propeller blades for E version. You get two of these (six blades and two cowlings)

Sprue Ll
Radio operator gun windows and waist gunners windows to close both sides. Very clear indeed.

Sprue M
Main parts for bomb bay. As with other internal parts plenty of room for improving and pumping this place up or simply leave it as it is since the majority of it will be hidden by bombs(if you use them). You can see the slight sink marks on the outside of the bombay doors here, maybe a little bit of surface work needed on these two.
Sprue Mm
Clear parts for F version nose. As clear as other clear parts.
Sprue N
Sides of the bomb bay and two half for building VOP part. the two horizontal tail sections are here also
Sprue Nn, Oo,Pp
Three different glass noses - one for each marking and all made out of, for a change - superb clear plastic.
Sprue O
More parts for crew compartment, side of pilots area and area directly behind them. Aldo the brackets for the wings that can be removed are on this sprue.

Sprue P
Bombs and gun barrels. these bombs have their attachment holes int he wrong places, just like the "G" kit - the points should be on the same alignment as the fins - straight up and down, and not at the 45-degree angle. The barrels will do - although some might go for the very expensive metal barrel on all of those guns that protrude from the flying fortress.
Sprue Q
Wall hanger numbered Q is possibly one of the most mysterious things in this build - why would you use that part on the wall after you build it all marked with letter Q? On more “serious approach I like the idea but for me as someone who is ranting and can only use those sticky hooks out of the question solution. I would simply not sleep well knowing that all my work hangs on double sided sticky tape. If you have a wall you can actually drill into just imagine how great would that wall looks in future with other big bombers hanging next to each other. The answer is to make sure this is screwed to the wall securely and out of hands, paws and anything eles that might have the height to touch it on the wall.
Sprue Qq
Q1 is both sided and with Dd2 will create panel between nose part and rest of the aircraft. Again, great start for extra detailing. I will definitely add some wires from the other side of the instrument panel.
Sprue R & S
Parts for its horizontal controls.
Sprue Rr
This is the tiny frame to hold guns at the front of Memphis Belle aircraft.
Sprue T
The top of the fuselage section that covers from the vertical tail onwards to the glazed nose. This covers also the radio operator and top gunner's sections. It is detailed with fine rivets and nicely detailed panel lines. the fact that the joints are in the place of the aluminium panels makes this an easy construction and no sanding mess for the modeller.
Sprue Tt
This sprue is the frame for the clear parts for the top turret to sit in. Fairly simple and detailed with rivet holes.
Sprue U & V
parts for flaps will require a bit of clean up and V2 part is gonna make it for rear gunners access to his position. We will add to the flaps with the extensive Eduard set in this build.
Sprue Uu
The remainder of the clear parts to finish top turret. These parts simply sit inside the frames of the turret and we can say from test fitting these parts they fit well
Sprue Vv
Other parts only to be used on Memphis Belle -  these are the blanks which fill the turret skins.
Sprue W,X,Y,Z
Aileron parts - loooong aren't they?  these fit over the tabs on the wings to make posable control surfaces.
Resin parts
14 Ammo belts on 5 blocks looking very sharp and save little bit of time and cash in case you would want to replace them

PE parts
Two seat belts sets for pilots and cover for wings air intakes.

Printed by Cartograf and on 3 separated sheets which each sheet contains decals for each version and other smaller stuff (instrument panels, small signs, propeller signs etc) are spread across all three sheets. As far as I remember quality and application of Cartograf decals these have been trouble free to use. 
 Even though I will definitely use all tiny decals I most likely get masks for spraying insignias. I feel that with masks in these scales I can adjust shading while spraying them.
Markings are included for three different aircraft:
B-17F "Memphis Belle" (Memphis Belle movie version Nose Art also included!)
B-17F "Knockout Dropper"
B-17E "Chief Seattle"
I will stay away from judging this kit based on accuracy. To my eye, as a person who will be building this and new to this subject, it will definitely look like B-17. Level detail is again up to modellers themselves I, however, think it is a very good start for whichever way you decide to do it. I can see many versions even of a way how to display this - cut out side and super detailing inside is one of them, stripping some engine covers and detailing some engine(s), adding some wires to insides or some aftermarket is another. I will go by closer to later option. 
I am also sure that we will see many more aftermarket decal options in very near future for those not satisfied with three markings included in this box. Having said that, I will be building “Knockout Dropper” for it's not so well known appearance but I am almost certain that all hardcore B-17 fans will be more than satisfied as we could hear voices for “Memphis Belle” well before release date. If you have room in your cabinet or you are willing to sacrifice some wall decoration and love big scales this one surely will be great kit whatever way you decide to finish this.

Part II of this build will be coming very soon when we focus on the Pilot & co-pilot's section of the aircraft... Stay Tuned.
Lukas Kasuba

Thank you to HK Models to sending this box to me to review and to build it – more to come over the next few weeks