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1/32nd scale B-29 Superfortress

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I've been a 'lurker' on this site for a while, and have finally decided to take the plunge and join the forums.


This is a project I have been working on for close to a year now - it's the old ID Models (now Tigger) 1/32nd scale Boeing B-29 Superfortress in glorious 1/32nd scale. 


I am an experienced vacform builder (in fact I don't build much else besides) and have built quite a few challenging vacs over the years. I have battled with Combat Models' 1/32nd scale B-17 and B-24, as well as the ID Models' 1/32nd Lancaster which I built as a tribute to my great uncle who was killed in this aircraft in 1944:






(I wonder if HK Models will release on of these...?  ;) )


After having the opportunity of getting inside the CAF's "Fifi" at the Thunder Over Michigan Airshow in 2012, I decided that was the inspiration I needed to get cracking on what is a monster of a kit:




I had been mulling over a choice of colour scheme in which to finish this build, and in the end settled on the "Kee Bird", made famous by the failed recovery attempt from the Greenland ice by Darryl Greenmayer and his team in 1994. Anyone who has seen 'B-29 - Frozen in Time' will know how heart-wrenching this story is, and I just couldn't resist doing my own small tribute to such a wonderful plane.


The colour scheme isn't bad too! (pictures used for illustrative purposes only)






As I'm well into this build, I will post my work retrospectively, and show you the work needed to build a kit such as this. Sadly, vacform modelling seems to be a dying art, but I'm hoping to inspire a few of you on here to give one a go! They're really not that hard, but be prepared to do a fair bit of scratch building along the way...


Stand by for further updates  :)



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So this is what you start with... not much apart from some very accurate shapes to use as your canvass. The 'small' parts are the Monogram 1/48th scale B-29 which I used as a guide throughout the construction process:






My kit was an unwanted part of someone's stash and was devoid of tail feathers, so some spare Combat Models B-17 stabilisers stood in nicely:




Cowlings were basic but perfectly workable:





My transparencies were also missing so I got in touch with John 'Tigger' Wilkes and he molded me a new set:




And that's it! No interior, landing gear, engines, props... but that's where the fun in a build such as this is... improvisation, overcoming problems and a fair bit of head scratching! Decals are also non-existent so that was another headache!



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As with any vacform build, the first task is remove the parts from the backing sheet. I simply score around the part, break it free from the surrounding plastic and then sand off any excess until the parts are the correct depth.


Here is the fuselage after this process; the rudder was removed as I would be scratch-building my own at a later stage (yes the ruler is 12"/30cm!):




And alongside its smaller Monogram cousin:




The next task was to remove the glazed areas. I did intend to use the new transparencies I had from John, but was nervous about getting a decent join to the fuselage. Also, B-29s had flat window panels and the kit part was curved, so instead I decided to cut out each window individually, add some framing and then drop in clear acetate panels at the end of the build.


Initially I drew each window on following some plans, drilled the corners and cut each one out:




As careful as I was, this left some unevenness so I added a frame from Evergreen strip - this had the bonus of adding the curved corners to each window:




When the process was finished (which took close to a week) the result was pleasing;




I then removed the bomb-bay doors (as I planned to display them open) the nose wheel bay doors and rear blisters:




It was then time to begin some work on the internals - first up was the main bulkheads:









For these I used 2mm plastic card as it is very strong and adds considerable strength to a build such as this.

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Once the bulkheads were done I could start adding details. Unfortunately this would all have to be done from scratch as there is no interior supplied with the kit. With builds such as these you have to have references galore, and after careful studying of them I began work.


The forward area of the flight deck is very visible through all that glazing so I had to add every detail:











These details were all made from Evergreen strip, plastic card, bits and bobs from the spares box and Milliput. It takes many hours, but it is most satisfying!


The rear crew area would not be as visible as the big blisters distort everything, so I just covered the basics here:




The crew tunnel was made from plastic piping of the correct diameter and detailed with Evergreen strip. This also had the advantage of being nice and strong and holding everything together:






The tail gunner's windows were then removed and the interior detailed also:






Not every detail is perfect or 100% accurate, but it looks ok and you have to draw the line somewhere...


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The next job was the main spar. Being such a large model, this has to be rather substantial in order to support its own weight. Helpfully, there is a basic spar provided in the kit, but this was strengthened considerably using more 2mm plastic:




Apertures were then cut into the fuselage sides and the alignment was checked and checked again:




The central spar box which would be visible in the open bomb bay was then detailed:






It was then painted in aluminium, and put to one side for installation later:






I then had to tackle the pressure bulkheads. These were done with half a ping-pong ball and some plastic card, along with more of my trusty Evergreen:








Then it was on to the bomb-bay itself...


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The interior of the bays were lined with this plastic card to additional strength, and then the ribs and stringers were added to the interior of the bays:






I spent many further hours making the bomb-racks as well as the strengthening strips along with their numerous lightening holes:




When the detailing was done, the whole bay area was given a coat of aluminium:




And the crew areas some dull green to represent the insulation padding found on the real aircraft:




Everything was given a final test fit before the rest of the interior was painted:




Forward crew area:






And the rear:






It would soon be time to join the fuselage halves...

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It looks like Dave's crown of 'biggest model' (HK B-17) is now lost!


What a great project, with some of the best scratch build work I've seen. Thank you VERY much for sharing this with us. Really can't wait to see this progress. What are you going to use for the undercarriage?

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Before joining the fuselage halves I added some detail to the nose-wheel bay roof, as this would be hard to access once the fuselage was buttoned up:




A serious amount of lead was added to the nose:




And then the fuselage halves were joined. This was a long and slow process of gluing a small section, checking the alignment, gluing some more etc until the whole fuselage was perfectly straight. I also built the framework for the clear nose piece at this point from more Evergreen strip:






Then it was filling time!


For projects such as this I use P38 car body filler. It dries quickly and sands beautifully and is ideal for scribing. It doesn't shrink either so makes life alot easier. It does stink though, so if you don't want to get in trouble with her indoors it's best to use it in the shed!






After everything has been left to cure for a good few days, the whole model was rubbed down and then scribed - which took an age! The Monogram and Academy kits were used as a guide, as well as many plans etc that I had as resources. The she was given a coat of primer to check for any imperfections:




I also added the tail turret fairing for the guns, made the fabric covering from Milliput and inserted a couple of Airies gun breaches ready for the barrels later on in the build:




The fuselage was then as complete as it needed to be at this point. 


That's enough from me tonight, so I'll add the build of the wings at some point in the near future  :)


Thanks for stopping by,





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It looks like Dave's crown of 'biggest model' (HK B-17) is now lost!


What a great project, with some of the best scratch build work I've seen. Thank you VERY much for sharing this with us. Really can't wait to see this progress. What are you going to use for the undercarriage?

Many thanks for your kind words...


Yes, having built a Combat Models B-17 in 1/32nd scale it's a mere tiddler in comparison  ;)


The undercarriage was scratch-built... stay tuned for further updates and you'll see how I got on!



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Fantastic job.

Always would try my hands on a Vac but never did it.

Afraid maybe ....

What would be a good, simple first Vacu in 1/32?

Thank you for your answer.




Thank you Jamme...


Tigger Models has a large selection of 1/32nd scale vacs, but they are all as basic as you see here. 


The holy grail of 1/32nd scale vacform are kits are by Echelon (EE Lightning and Hawker Hunter) but both are hard to find and cost serious amounts of money when they do appear.


My honest advice would be to have a go at cheap, old vacforms and build up your skills, and then move on to something you want to make a really good job of! My first efforts were appalling, but they taught me the basic skills and what not to do!


Some of the best vacforms on the market now are by Dynavector and Welsh Models. They are not cheap but go together as well as an injection molded kit once you've removed them from the backing sheet and are great kits.


The key is don't be afraid to have a go, take your time and above all enjoy it! 



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Guest styrenedemon



I'm having mixed feeling about you joining up. On the plus side I get to look at this amazing work and drool...on the bad side...I get to look at this amazing work and feel rather inadequate in comparison to my "skills."


I'd love to see the B-24

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Thank you for the warm welcome and kind comment everyone!


Here's some more pictures and information regarding my B-29 build - this time how I tackled the wings...


The first task was to remove the wings from the backing sheet using my usual method of scoring around the parts and breaking them free, then finishing them off with some good old fashioned sanding, with special care being taken along the trailing edges to get them nice and thin.


I then taped them together for a test fit - and then the sheer size of this thing really starts to hit home... here is the B-29 along side a 1/48th scale B-17 to serve as a useful comparison:




Then, once again using the Monogram kit as a guide, the fist job was to remove the main landing gear bays:




Further test fitting ensured that the main spars ran through the rear of the bays, as the landing gear would be attached to the spars later as on the real aircraft:






The wheel bays were then boxed in and I began scratch-building and adding the basic internal structures:






I took special care ensuring each was perfectly symmetrical and identical:




When this was completed I spent a good few evenings scribing all the surface detail on to the wings. It is much easier to do this whilst they are in their component parts!




The various vents and openings on the nacelles were also added at this point, as well as other prominent surface details:






The wing halves were then joined, filled and then I could think about joining them to the fuselage...

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That is mightily impressive Thomas. I followed this on HS but don't visit there as frequent as I used to, so it's good to see it appear here. The paint scheme you picked is very promising and I can't wait to see more progress. It might take you a lot of time but every second spend is well worth it. Phenomenal work!

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The fit of the wings was fine on the upper surfaces:




But the lowers were a little more problematical:




Once the wings were securely slid over their spars and allowed to dry for 48 hours, I began filling the gaps with plastic shims from the left over backing plastic:




Car body filler was then applied, and the surfaces sanded and micro-meshed:






My attention then turned to the stabilisers. As my kit items were missing, I turned to spare set of Combat Models' B-17 stabilisers I had lurking, and modified them accordingly:




Even these are huge, being well over 12" in span:




Once I was satisfied with them I added a wooden spar and attached them to the fuselage, with more P38 filler being used to blend them in nicely:




After re-scribing the detail lost in filling and sanding, they came out well:




And at last the model was structurally complete and the back of the build broken:






A cold one to celebrate... and another useful size comparison!




Next my attention would turn to the landing gear...

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The landing gear has to be scratch-built as there is none supplied with the kit, and unfortunately no after-market company has felt the need to produce any for the B-29 in 1/32nd scale... but that would spoil the fun anyway  ;)


Therefore, the tools of the trade were some solid wooden dowel for the core of the legs to support the substantial weight of the model, some plastic tubing of varying thicknesses and the trusty Monogram landing gear to guide me:  




Each leg had it's basic structure built from the tubing etc. and the other details such as the oleos were made from plastic card. The B-29 experts amongst you will spot that my axles run through the leg, but on the actual aircraft they sat forward on the leg. I was worried about attaching them securely enough and the model collapsing under its own weight, so went for the safer, but not necessarily accurate option. I hope you can forgive me!




I then drilled the main spars to attach the legs securely with their characteristic forward rake:




The retraction gear was then made by raiding the spares box (old F-14 parts of all things!) and sprue:




The nose gear was a similar scratch-built affair, and I've made it steerable to pose it in different directions:




Again the retraction struts were made from sprue and the like, with the wheel hubs coming from spare modified Trumpeter P-38 Lightning wheels:




I sourced the main wheels from Jerry Rutman, who had produced a set for the ID Models B-17, and seeing as the B-17 and B-29 had identical main wheels, this was the ideal solution:




I then painted and weathered the scratch-built landing gear, and I must say I was pretty pleased with the outcome:




The finished gear was then put to one side for installation after painting.


That's it for now; in the next update I'll show you how I tackled the engines and their cowlings.


Your feedback is always welcome, both positive as well as some constructive criticism!  :)






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I'm having mixed feeling about you joining up. On the plus side I get to look at this amazing work and drool...on the bad side...I get to look at this amazing work and feel rather inadequate in comparison to my "skills."


I'd love to see the B-24


Thank you for the warm welcome.


There is a link to my B-24 here over on LSP: http://www.largescaleplanes.com/Photostory/TomProbert/b24j/b24j.php


I didn't do a full WIP back when I built this, but the article gives you the general idea. This was a Combat Models vac and was much the same work as you're seeing with the B-29.


This model now resides in an aviation museum at the old RAF Bungay, and my model depicts a Lib based there in WWII.

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  • 2 weeks later...


I've got to hand it to my friend you certainly know your way around a vacuform kit. Outstanding B-29 project with just as outstanding details. I'm truly impressed!

Highest Regards,

Gregory Jouette

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