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JohnnyK

Building Revell's 1/48 B-29

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I finished Revell's 1/48  B-29 last year. It is an impressive model when finished, but it also has a number of challenges. I thought that I would share my experience with this kit. 

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This is a very large model when finished. That's me, looking totally exhausted from building this model. The finished model has a wingspan of 34", a length of 25" and weighs in at 2 1/2 pounds. The majority of that weight is added weight in the nose of the plane to prevent it from being a tail sitter. I built the 1/48 P-47 three years ago. That was my first airplane finished in Bare Metal Foil.

The B-29 model has a number of irritating challenges:

  • The nose greenhouse is a different shape than the fuselage.
  • The model needs a lot of weight upfront to prevent it from being a tail sitter.
  • The exhaust pipes look terrible and are incorrect.
  • The joints at the nacelles between the top and bottom parts of the main wings are a real pain to fix
  • The main wings are warped
  • The joint between the nacelles and engine cowls is poorly engineered
  • The bomb bay doors are engineered to only be in the open position. There are no mounting tabs provided to glue them in the closed position.

However, I have good solutions to all of the above. If you have one of these models stashed away, or if you planing on purchasing one of these, I recommend that you build one. The results are worth the extra work.  Let's get started with the cockpit:

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The flight deck is visible through the large greenhouse, so I purchased an upgrade kit from Eduards.

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Photos of B-29's indicate that the flight deck was painted in a verity of colors; black, gray, aluminum and green. I chose to paint the flight deck Tamiya  Cockpit Green. The seats were painted Testors' Leather and the molded-in seatbelts were painted tan. The Eduard gauges are a big improvement over the molded-in gauges. I used a silver pencil to highlight the edges of the bombsite and the instrument pods.

When the cockpit was finished, I moved onto the wings.

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I painted the fabric covered areas of the horizontal stabilizer Testors' Metallic Aluminum.  After the paint dried I sealed it with Testors' Metallic Sealer. A little bit of dry brushing with flat black brought out just a little of the fabric's texture. The remainder of the wing was finished in Bare Metal Foil and rivets were added. On to the main wing and problems.

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Upon dry fitting the main wings together I noticed that the joint at the nacelles was HUGE!! I removed that material marked in read and the joint was greatly improved.

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The large main wings were noticeably warped. Warped wings would ruin the final appearance of the model, so a solution was necessary. I needed something very straight and very stiff to straighten the wings so I figured that I could use my old architect's scale. The triangular shape of the scale ensures that it would remain straight once it was clamped to the wing. I glued the two parts of the wing together and used clamps and rubber bands to hold the wing together. 

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Success!!!! The wing ended up straight as an arrow. 

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The joint at the nacelle disappeared after a little filler and sanding.

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This is a photo of the main wing of a B-29. The flap (aileron?) was a painted fabric.  The center section of the wing was an alloy that need to be painted to prevent corrosion. 

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Testors' Metallic Aluminum was used to paint the main wings of my model in the same manner as the real airplane. 

More problems with the wings to follow.

 

 

 

 

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I'll put the wings aside for a while and work on the landing gear.

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I didn't like the way the kit's tires and wheels looked, so I purchased resin tires and wheels.

 

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The landing gear was painted aluminum with a light weathering. I added wires to simulate the brake lines and highlighted the bolts at the joints with brass paint. The piping may not be 100% correct, but it adds some "bling" to the landing gear.

 

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All three landing gear are finished. The wheels are not glued to the gear at this time. I did not glue the wheels to the glue until the model was finished to make sure that the flattened area of the tires were flat on the ground.

 

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Johnny , hats off to you that’s a big vintage kit..........what was the year it came out, I know I’ve always coveted one......

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Salute, Johnny!  Great job!

 

Gaz

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21 hours ago, Bomber_County said:

Johnny , hats off to you that’s a big vintage kit..........what was the year it came out, I know I’ve always coveted one......

I really like the vintage bomber kits produced by Monogram/Revell. According to Scalemates, the last time Monogram did a new tooling of the B-29 was 1977. Since then the kit has been reboxed with new decals eight times. Revell included new props and two atomic bombs with my kit. My kit was dated 2004.

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One more thing about this kit. I purchased it two years for $30.00 US. I looked on eBay and the price jumped threefold, sometimes more. Amazon has some for $145.00 US.

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Time to do the engines.

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This is a photo of a B-29 engine. I decided to add some "bling" to my model's engine by adding the copper colored fuel lines.

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First I painted the engine aluminum. Then I dry brushed the cylinder with black and painted the pushrod covers black. Thin copper wire was cut and bent to simulate the copper colored fuel lines. Holes were drilled in the cylinder heads and fuel manifold. The copper wires were glued in place using super glue.

 

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This is a photo of how the appearance of the engines evolved.

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The front edge of the cowlings were painted Testors' Metallic Aluminum which was buffed to a high gloss and sealed with Testors' Sealer. I highlighted the space between the cooling flaps with black.

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The remainder of the cowling was finished in Bare Metal Foil and rivets were added. The grain in the foil was added with a single swipe of 0000 steel wool.

 

 

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I built this as a kid, so it's memory lane for me!

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...I remember doing this kit, the Liberator, B-25 and Hustler when I was - if memory serves me correctly - when I was about 14 (I am now 50), and still remember putting them together. Over the years I have contemplated having another go at some of them now that I am older and have the skills and experience to do these projects the justice they deserve. Many thanks Johnny for this blast from the past - I'll follow this project with keen interest.

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This brings back memories, would love to do a B-29 again. I remember as a kid I painted it with a Sticky things with hairs on the end, straight out of Humbrol 11 tin.

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What a very nice build, I only ever built the Airfix 1/72 version and thought that was big but the 1/48 is certainly massive.

Love the bare metal foil treatment.

Cees

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How big do you think a 1/32 scale would be in wingspan (and wing warp prevention) ?. You certainly see how long and narrow those wings were. I never realised, unless I'm wrong, that the ailerons, for such an advanced craft, were still fabric covered? 

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A few years ago I was walking through my favorite big-box craft store, Hobby Lobby, and I saw this huge box in the model airplane area. It was Revell's 1/48 B-29. I had to have it, so I used my 40% off coupon and bought it. I remember building a B-29 in the mid 1950's. I don't remember if it was an Aurora (1/76 scale) or a Revell (1/133 scale) kit. It was pretty big so it was probably the Aurora kit. Both of those kits are really odd scales. I remember reading somewhere that those kits were "box scale" kits. The scale of the model was determined so that it would fit into a box of predetermined dimensions. I think  that the same size box was used for the B-17, B-24 and B-29. I did not paint the finished plane because all I had were those small Testors'  square bottles of paint and a paintbrush. My, how things have changed.

Following are some links to B-29 models from the 1950's.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-1954-AURORA-BOEING-B-29-SUPERFORTRESS-1-76-w-RARE-CEMENT-REPR-DECALS/223062744883?epid=1322001483&hash=item33ef935f33:g:-xUAAOSwWTRWxMKw

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/193921-revell-h-208-98-boeing-b-29-giant-superfortress

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-aurora-boeing-29-1924213020

 

The ailerons, flaps, rudder, etc. were all made of fabric. I guess to save weight or expensive aluminum. On the Revell kit, these surfaces have a quasi-fabric texture on them. It's a little over textured so I gave them a light sanding before I painted them.

 

 

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Nice work. This is also a trip down nostalgia lane for me, although I did not go beyond the Airfix 1/72 kit, size-wise...

A small comment : what you call fuel lines are in fact the ignition wires, connected to the spark plugs. There were two spark plugs per cylinder, so, on the R-3350, that makes 72 wires overall :)

Hubert

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You are probably correct regarding the ignition wires. Those would be too small in diameter to be fuel lines.

One thing that I noticed after I finished the kit is that not very much of the engine is visible due the cowling and the props. No wonder that the engines had overheating problems.

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Since we had so much fun dealing with the warped wings and that nasty joint in the nacelles, lets have some fun dealing with the nose weights.

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A lot of weight will need to be added to the front of the plane. I intend to add solid weight blocks under the flight deck and lead shot behind the flight deck in that area outlined in blue.

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Using epoxy, I added solid weights under the flight deck. However, this will be no where enough to pull the nose down.

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I dry assembled the airplane with blue tape and added lead shot into a plastic bag placed behind the flight deck until the tail came up and the nose went down. I added additional weight for good measure.

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I wired the bag in place and painted the front of the bag black since it is visible through the flight engineer's window.

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A problem arose in that the weights are visible through the opening in the flight deck's bulkhead. I found a photo looking back from the nose of the plane through the bulkhead. I cut the area of the photo at the opening and glued it to cardstock. I glued the photo behind the opening in the bulkhead. Now the weights are no longer visible.

 

 

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Utilizing a photo of the real interior is simple and ingenuous idea. Bravo!   

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Thanks. The best thing about these types of forums is the ability to share "out of the box' solutions with fellow modelers.

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Time to assemble the fuselage, add rivets and finish it in Bare Metal Foil.

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This is the fuselage directly out of the box. Note the raised panel seams and the lack of rivets.

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Normally I add rivets after the model has been foiled. This time I experimented with adding rivets before adding the foil. Bare Metal Foil is thin enough for the rivets to show through. 

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I use a set of rivet wheels by RB Productions to make rivets. I cut my old high school lettering templet into smaller pieces to help guide the rivet wheel. The flexible plastic works great going around curved surfaces.

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Normally I join both halves of the fuselage before adding foil. However, This model's fuselage is so round that is difficult to hold it steady when adding foil, so I added foil to the sides before joining the halves together. A couple of clamps and some tape was all that was needed to hold the fuselage halves together while the glue dried. TAKE NOTE: Those gunner domes are glued to the fuselage from the inside of the model. Make sure that they are securely glued in place before gluing the fuselage halves together. If you accidently push one of the domes into the fuselage there will be no way to reglue it in place! After the glue dried it was time to cleanup the long seam in the fuselage with filler, sanding, filler, sanding, filler and more sanding. I am sure that you know what I am getting at. Note how far the gunner domes extend from the fuselage. Don't accidently push on them.

 

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Johnny,

    I really like you added surface detail to your B-29.   I embarked upon a similar project a few years ago.  I built a stand to hold the entire aircraft at chest height.  I wasn't happy with how the canopy framing looked foiled, so I embarked on trying to make a real aluminum frame for it using a hammer and homemade dies.  It never came to fruition and I gradually lost interest with each failure.  Here is a link to it.

https://aeroscale.kitmaker.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=244807&ord=&page=9

I used sponges and nylon hose to hold the model to the stand.  It made working on the big beast much easier.

 

Gaz

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2 hours ago, GazzaS said:

Johnny,

    I really like you added surface detail to your B-29.   I embarked upon a similar project a few years ago.  I built a stand to hold the entire aircraft at chest height.  I wasn't happy with how the canopy framing looked foiled, so I embarked on trying to make a real aluminum frame for it using a hammer and homemade dies.  It never came to fruition and I gradually lost interest with each failure.  Here is a link to it.

https://aeroscale.kitmaker.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=244807&ord=&page=9

I used sponges and nylon hose to hold the model to the stand.  It made working on the big beast much easier.

 

Gaz

I just visited your link. DUDE!!!!! I can't believe that you tried to make the frame of the greenhouse out of a sheet of aluminum??? Even I wouldn't try that! I used Eduard pre-cut masks for the greenhouse. Trying to paint the greenhouse frame by hand would be a nightmare :wallbash:

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The shape of the greenhouse does not match up with the shape of the fuselage. Heating the greenhouse with a hairdryer solved that problem. I think it looks pretty good. Maybe the rivets in the frame are a bit too large, but it's okay. It's nice that interior of the flight deck is visible.

I agree with you regarding how difficult it is to work on the fuselage after it is assembled. Those long wing spars make it impossible to roll the model onto its side. I kind of solved the problem by placing the fuselage on a block of foam. That way I could place the fuselage onto the edge of the foam and  roll the fuselage on its side. It would have been impossible to foil the sides of the fuselage otherwise.

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Johnny,

    I wanted the clean look of the windscreen that is 0n the actual bird.  Neither foil nor paint worked, so I went whole hog, so to speak.

This is what I was after:

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Anyway...you're doing great!

 

Gaz

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