HK Models B-25J, 1/48th Scale, Kit No. 01F008
By Phillip Friddell on 25th Feb 2023
It’s been a long time coming, this one; decades, to be precise. The late and heavily lamented Monogram Models did a B-25H/J kit back in the mid-70s and issued it as three separate variants of the basic airframe. The primordial glass-nose bomber, the 8-gun strafer, and the 75mm cannon-armed versions of the Mitchell were all released to an eagerly awaiting public and were, for a great many years, the only game in town if you wanted a B-25 of any variety for your 1/48th scale collection. Not only was it the gold standard for the type, it was the only standard for it as well, regardless of variant. That said, it was also a kit known to be somewhat finicky to build and modelers had (and still have) been asking for something a bit more user friendly for years. HK sort-of came to the rescue, B-25 wise, several years ago with their very own family of Mitchells but they were released in 1/32nd scale and were far larger and significantly more expensive than many modelers were willing to deal with. The hue and cry quickly went out across the land: If only HK would release their outstanding B-25 kits in 1/48th scale. If only…
Then again, sometimes good things actually do come to those who wait! HK heard the call and recently released a somewhat simplified but no less accurate edition of their superb 1/32nd scale late B-25J “bomber” in 1/48th scale with the promise of a hard-nose J strafer and a cannon-armed B-25H still to come. Hot Dog!
So, you might well ask yourself, just how good are those new whiz-bang Mitchells? We could sum that one up with a simple phrase: They’re good. They’re really good. In point of fact they’re good enough to finally provide a replacement for the venerable Monogram kit.
For starters, this newest kit on the block is accurate, or at least accurate enough, and it’s properly and finely detailed, albeit with some odd omissions that we’ll discuss in a moment. It’s considerably easier to build than the primordial Monogram offering. It’s intelligently designed and engineered, and is a kit that’s meant to be built, not stashed away in a closet waiting for a someday that will never come.
We mentioned the kit’s accuracy a moment ago and we have to tell you it’s there. The look, the “sit”, the detail, is all there in polystyrene. Not only is it a B-25 Mitchell it is, for the moment anyway, the B-25 Mitchell in 1/48th scale, regardless of variant.
With that out of the way, let’s briefly discuss what’s in the box. There’s the basic airframe, of course, which features an adequate interior that honestly is nothing to write home about, but since The Usual Suspects will surely be issuing aftermarket in profusion for this kit that’s not an issue. You can see quite a bit of the cockpit and inside the nose, however, through those crystal-clear transparencies so a bit of additional work in the office will produce a significant improvement for the completed model. That’s the bad news, kit-wise. Everything else is probably even better than what you might wish for unless you chose to criticize the engines which, it must be said, are somewhat simplified. They’re also somewhat hidden in those deep cowlings so they aren’t much of a problem at all.
Once you get past those basics you’ll discover two glass noses, one standard bomber nose and one that’s been modified to accept a 5-gun strafer modification. The package guns and their blast shields are separate components so the nose can be configured with or without them, and there’s a cover for the dorsal turret should your tastes run to a post-War aircraft, or one of those modified during the conflict to operate sans turret. HK have also included a fair representation of the marker beacon antenna fairing that lives beside the nose wheel well and which was a fairly standard fixture on SouthWest Pacific-based Mitchells. There are two different types of bullet deflectors for the upper fuselage aft of the dorsal turret and that goofy looking “clothesline” antenna that lives down next to the radio compass fairing has its stanchions included with the kit.
It’s an easy model to build, construction-wise, although you’ll need to pay attention to the instructions as you go along. Everything fits, and assembly is linear. Some modeling experience will be helpful, of course, but it’s a kit that any competent modeler can use to recreate an excellent replica. We say this fairly often around here but if something doesn’t fit properly it’s probably caused by operator error rather than any failing of the kit. Take your time, think about what you’re doing, and enjoy the model.
This is probably a good time to mention the kit’s decals. They’re well done and work as decent decals should. They’re accurate for the two airplanes represented (“Cactus Kitten” from the 501st BS/345th BG as flown out of Tacloban in early 1945 and “She’s Engaged” from the 380th BS/310th BG operated near Naples, also during 1945) and should go on without drama should you choose to use them; the national insignia, 345th BG emblem and stenciling on our review copy are from that sheet, for what it’s worth. Being somewhat prickly in nature we didn’t care for either of the kit offerings, however, and chose instead to model “Grand Slam” from the 500th BS/345th BG as used during the unit’s somewhat disastrous late-war attacks on the Saigon area. The markings came from LionHeart’s consignment bin and allowed us to build an airplane a bit different from the norm. You pays your money…
Let’s do a quick and dirty summary then. We like this kit, and we like it a lot. The simplified interior is a bit of a letdown but it’s a minor thing at best, and we don’t much care for the detailing on the model’s tires either—think AMT A-20 here and you’ll understand what we mean by that. The gun barrels are done as individual components that are inserted into the machine gun receivers and you’ll either like that l lot or you won’t like it at all. The exhaust stacks aren’t hollowed out, but that’s only an issue if you happen to be looking at them from directly behind—they weren’t an issue for us but your mileage may vary on that one. Something that does bother us a bit is the fact that only one kind of ordnance is provided with the kit, a basic load of 500 lb GP bombs, and the Mitchell could carry so much more than that. Of all those things the only one we truly dislike are the tires and we’re convinced that there’s probably aftermarket already waiting in the wings to address that “issue”.
Finally, let’s take a minute and put a legend to rest. Comparisons with this kit and Monogram’s classic 1/48th B-25H and J are inevitable. That kit was, and is, a good one and not nearly as difficult to deal with as some of the internet pundits might suggest. It can be a bit difficult to build for those lacking time in the saddle while its engineering, while groundbreaking in the mid-1970s, is now somewhat dated. It’s still more than capable of producing an entirely viable model up to and including right now this minute, but given the choice we would go with HK’s far more contemporary offering each and every time, simply because it offers a substantial amount of gain for virtually no pain. The HK model looks the part, it’s essentially accurate, and it’s an easy builder. The king is dead. Long live The King!