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World War II
Discuss WWII and the era directly before and after the war from 1935-1949.
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1/48 B-17F Build - 303rd BGs Luscious Lady
Redhand
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Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 - 02:11 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Um, guys, I thought I pointed this out: The fuel caps are not visible on the B-17. They are recessed. You only see an access door.



In this illustration, you can see the access panel removed (this changed to a hinged one as shown in the previous photo) and then the cap itself connected by the chain:




You did and I tried to use the proper phraseology this time by referring to them as "the Eduard covers to the fuel filler caps." "Access doors" would have been a better word choice.

Thanks again, Karl.
padawan_82
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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 12:15 AM UTC
Wow this keeps getting better and better amazing workmanship a truly stunning build
ColinEdm
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Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019 - 12:56 AM UTC
Just spent some time catching up on this, can only say wow, what an amazingly detailed build, this is on a whole 'nother level! Kudos gents.
Redhand
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Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019 - 05:17 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Just spent some time catching up on this, can only say wow, what an amazingly detailed build, this is on a whole 'nother level! Kudos gents.



Many thanks! I consider this a team effort involving me, HG and Karl Hauffe as an indispensable technical advisor. We couldn't "get it right" without Karl. As for HG: one of the best modelers I have ever seen, bar none.

I am grateful that my front-end enthusiasm/obsession with the fuselage interior has rubbed off on these two fellow modelers (and friends).

Brian
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Posted: Saturday, November 02, 2019 - 06:28 AM UTC
SUPERCHARGERS


After finishing the Stbd. wing, H.G. decided to detail the superchargers. Made sense to me.

By detailing I mean weathering to achieve a look consistent with what we think Luscious Lady looked like about halfway through her 33 recorded missions, during the August-October 1943 period between the First and Second Schweinfurt missions.

Luscious Lady #42-5081
B-17F 427BS (GN-V)
Assigned: 15 Feb 1943
Fate: to Italy 07 Jul 1944
Missions: 33

(Info Courtesy http://www.303rdbg.com/ground-nose.html)

There are very few historical color photos showing supercharger weathering on B-17s during the war itself, so we had to look at contemporary "warbirds" for some guidance, even though we can't be sure that these photos accurately depict the condition of this equipment in active service. (To be honest, I don't know if there is a single B-17 flying today that actually has functional superchargers. I tend to doubt it frankly since I don't think any of these aircraft fly high enough to require their use for efficient engine functioning.)

Here are a few photos showing various weathering patterns on restored aircraft.










What is really interesting to me is the "copper" color in these pictures.

I wasn't sure how HG was going to approach this until he told me that he needed the proper paints. One thing I have to say about him, he certainly knows a thing or two about the right paints and tools!

So we waited until what's below arrived in his mail.



He then started on some test shots.









Soon I started seeing teaser shots like this.



Note the earth tone paints on the cardboard to the right.

Soon I started seeing progressive detailing like this.









And yes, if you are wondering, these are the resin Verlinden aftermarket parts with some metal (the blades for the circular supercharger "bucket.")



If you're wondering how H.G. achieved these remarkable effects, here's what he wrote:


Quoted Text

These are sprayed with gold then misted with copper then totally dried for 20 hours. Then soot gets rubbed in, then rust and soot and finally off white pigment gets dusted on. In some places I rubbed a bit off.

The cap is polished aluminum over a grey primer then soot and rust pigment are built up to look burnt or scorched. I take it you're happy with this look?



To which I responded, "What's not to like?"
Joel_W
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Posted: Saturday, November 02, 2019 - 07:40 AM UTC
Brian,
Once again I'm just speechless. So HG is not only an Alien builder far beyond the abilities of even the best mortal men, but his weathering skills are at the same level.

Joel
GazzaS
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Posted: Saturday, November 02, 2019 - 08:21 AM UTC
Brilliant!
Redhand
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Posted: Saturday, November 09, 2019 - 12:40 PM UTC
PROP DEPARTMENT

From the superchargers, we are moving to the propellers.

The plan is not to paint four look-alikes, but as with the engines to see what's out there in historical photos, and to replicate the real things. So, each prop will have its own special look.

In mid-1943 the propeller domes, which housed the feathering hydraulic mechanism for the prop blades, were painted black -- unlike later versions of the aircraft whose prop hubs were natural metal. Some two-part castings that held the blades were painted black; others were left in a dull, metal casting finish.

All the period pictures that follow are from the 303rd Bomb Group website, which is well worth a look at http://www.303rdbg.com/. (The webmaster's father was the first pilot of the 303rd's famous B-17G "Thunderbird.")

See http://www.303rdbg.com/thunderbird/index.html.

So, let's look at some of the props H.G. will be replicating.

We'll start with one of the real props from "Luscious Lady," on the #3 engine.



Notice the bare metal prop hub and the painted dome with a natural metal bolt and depression at the front. Note also the partially worn-off Hamilton Standard logo on the bottom blade and the discoloration on the blade itself, as well as the relatively narrow yellow prop blade tips. You can also see a hint of wear on the leading edge of the upper right blade near the hub.


Here are two other views of #3 prop offering different details (assuming it's the same one, which I think it is.)



The wear on the leading edge in the above photo is quite noticeable.



The engine maintenance picture above shows no prop on #4 engine, so we've elected to install an almost factory-fresh one. Here's a (nearly?) new prop on the 303rd's signature ship, "Hell's Angels," on 10 October 1943.



Note the factory stenciling perpendicular to the blade edge on the bottom blade.




The bare metal edges on the outer blades' leading and trailing edges, together with the darker leading edges in the photos above of "Hell's Angels" and "Jersey Bounce Jr." are a design curiosity. H.G. will replicate this, but we'll have to do some more research to figure out what's going on here from a propeller design standpoint.

Karl, do you know what the story is on this?

H.G. will do one prop with a paint-worn dome. He'll replicate this one.



Again, note the badly worn Ham. Std. logo. BTW, you couldn't pay me to pose on a prop hub as this gent is, especially at my advanced age. (Older but wiser?)

One thing that's not in evidence in any of these 1943 pictures are blade stencils that run parallel to the blade edges, so you won't see anything like that on this build.

The next post will feature the beginning of H.G.'s work on the props we are using.

Redhand
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Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2019 - 01:38 PM UTC
PROPELLER CONSTRUCTION

We are using the excellent Ultracast resin props for the B-17F. Here is H.G.'s jig to get the blade angles right.




Here's a full prop properly aligned.




Four complete.




A wind farm, including a TBM-3 Prop for another project.





And two primed with a liquid mask for the bolt and cavity at the tip of the prop dome:




And here we see the beginnings of the yellow prop tips.



I'm told there will be MANY coats before we get just the right yellow tint on the tips.
Redhand
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Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2019 - 11:52 AM UTC
MORE PROP RESEARCH AND WORK

A couple of posts ago I wrote this:


Quoted Text

The bare metal edges on the outer blades' leading and trailing edges, together with the darker leading edges in the photos above of "Hell's Angels" and "Jersey Bounce Jr." are a design curiosity. H.G. will replicate this, but we'll have to do some more research to figure out what's going on here from a propeller design standpoint.



We've looked into it and have some answers.

Hamilton Standard props had a deicer system that ran along the propeller leading edges. The blades had heating elements that ran from the prop hub along the blade edges. They were sealed with rubber, which accounts for the color difference on the blades. See the below photo. [Note Karl's corrections in the next post].



I purchased a Ham. Std. Prop tech manual on e-Bay to learn more about this.



We also have clear evidence of the pattern. Check this photo out from the Roger Freeman collection.



The photo caption when the picture appeared on the back cover of Freeman's Mighty Eighth War Manual reads:



Of course, what's interesting is that the prop deicer boots have been removed from #2 propeller, showing us by their absence exactly where they were.

Such an oddity! I've never seen this before, though Karl advises that the deicer systems on the props were removed as unnecessary, in much the same way the deicer boots and the wing and tail leading edges were removed.

We won't replicate this removal, but the picture does show where the boots were located on the blades.

One final picture, from a restored aircraft, shows that even the rubber on the blade edges was prone to be worn away with use.




While I have been looking into this, H.G. has been doing more preliminary work on the props.





More to follow, of course!
KPHB17FE
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 01:03 AM UTC
The B-17 had a prop deicing system but it was not electric. This system sent an alcohol mixture out to the prop leading edges. The rubber on the leading edges may (I stress MAY) have been there to help guide the deicing fluid. I have seen such a thing on some aircraft and the boot would have small grooves in it. I do not know for a fact that this is what we are seeing here. If it is, it was not common. May have been tried for a bit and then not bothered with again. There were electric systems but I do not recall seeing any on WWII aircraft. Sorry if I confused you. The system used on the B-17 (and B-24 and others) consisted of a tank of alcohol which was pumped to the props and a slinger ring on each prop. There was a small tube which directed the mixture to each blade. This system was usually deactivated on the combat aircraft because who wants 20 gallons of flammable alcohol in an airplane that is being shot at?




Here you can see the tubes that sprayed the alcohol on the blades. But you can also see there are no rubber boots on the leading edges:

Redhand
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 01:22 AM UTC
Thank you so much for the corrections, Karl. For me "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

It's remarkable how complex these systems were! And, I'm learning new things about the B-17 every day this project goes forward.

It looks to me like "boots" isn't the right word: was there rubber there at all? What I do see is a color difference in the B&W pictures along the leading edges of the props.
KPHB17FE
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 02:05 AM UTC
Like I said, it is possible there was a rubber boot (for lack of a better term) but it was only there to direct the flow of the alcohol. I have seen something like that on airplanes just not B-17's. It is too consistent in the photos you have to be anything like paint. Like so many things, it may have been tried and then abandoned as not worth the expense and effort.

Just to expand on the little details on these things, here is an illustration of the slinger ring:

Joel_W
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 02:23 AM UTC
Brian,
Even I am just amazed at the information of and small details that you've uncovered. It's just mind blowing.

My 1st thought is that the system in theory would most likely help to prevent prop icing issues, but at the same time, the freezing air flow and ice particles with in it, would surely damage those boots in no time flat.

My personal feelings is that since the system was most likely not used much nor maintained, just a slight fading if any of the flat black prop color, would be more then enough for modeling purposes. Especially since you're not modeling a museum presentation piece.

Joel
Redhand
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 02:24 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Like I said, it is possible there was a rubber boot (for lack of a better term) but it was only there to direct the flow of the alcohol. I have seen something like that on airplanes just not B-17's. It is too consistent in the photos you have to be anything like paint. Like so many things, it may have been tried and then abandoned as not worth the expense and effort.




Thanks again, Karl! Fascinating stuff. It looks like mid-1943 was a time of considerable experimentation with the props, though in fairness we can assume that all the aircraft's systems were subject to constant review and corrections to adjust to combat conditions throughout the war.

BTW, that large alcohol tank under the radioman's floor must have created quite a pucker factor in those crewmen when it was filled. Fine for peacetime, but like sitting on a bomb in war!
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 02:47 AM UTC

BTW, that large alcohol tank under the radioman's floor must have created quite a pucker factor in those crewmen when it was filled. Fine for peacetime, but like sitting on a bomb in war![/quote]

Yes, that is exactly why it was removed from combat aircraft. Same thing with the "putt putt" generator. A little two stroke engine with a small gas tank? Would you want that little bomb sitting next to you? Again, those things were removed once they arrived at their station and usually mounted on a little rolling cart of some sort. That was how the airplanes were powered during preflight and maintenance work.
Redhand
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 02:51 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Brian,
Even I am just amazed at the information of and small details that you've uncovered. It's just mind blowing.

My 1st thought is that the system in theory would most likely help to prevent prop icing issues, but at the same time, the freezing air flow and ice particles with in it, would surely damage those boots in no time flat.

My personal feelings is that since the system was most likely not used much nor maintained, just a slight fading if any of the flat black prop color, would be more then enough for modeling purposes. Especially since you're not modeling a museum presentation piece.

Joel



Well, I know we're "close enough for government work" on the basic paint schemes, but in H.G. I'm working with a perfectionist whom I'm trying to get the best info available. At this point, we're attempting a build that will rank among the best out there, anywhere, of the B-17 in 1/48.

The other driver for me is simply to learn more about the aircraft. It is remarkable how much I didn't know about the B-17 when I started this project, despite having written a book about it in combat, etc. etc. I really like that the blog has content also touching on the evolution of the aircraft systems over time.

One small preview of what lies ahead after H.G. finishes the port wing is his plan for the fuselage. He's going to completely re-do my scribing to bring it up to the standard we see on the wings, and completely scratch build the ball turret interior. We're going to position that with the door open and positioned off to the side.

Other possibilities will include opening the cockpit windows (no really, after my prior failed attempts to do this) and doing some corrections on the exterior windows in the nose and radio room to make them flush with the aircraft skin. That also is well beyond my skill set.

This stuff keeps me sane while trying to cope with the demands of my "day job."

KPHB17FE
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 03:07 AM UTC
[quote]
Quoted Text



This stuff keeps me sane while trying to cope with the demands of my "day job."




I HIGHLY recommend retirement !!!
Joel_W
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 04:03 AM UTC
[quote]
Quoted Text


Quoted Text



This stuff keeps me sane while trying to cope with the demands of my "day job."




I HIGHLY recommend retirement !!!



Karl,
did that, and it's now like everyday is a vacation day. Still, plenty of home stress as the Honey To Do list just keeps on getting longer by the day.

Joel
Redhand
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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 09:36 AM UTC
[quote]
Quoted Text


Quoted Text



This stuff keeps me sane while trying to cope with the demands of my "day job."




I HIGHLY recommend retirement !!!



If only I could!
Redhand
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Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 03:58 PM UTC
STILL MORE PROP RESEARCH AND WORK

I mentioned before that I was buying an old (1947) Hamilton Standard Maintenance Manual to learn more about the B-17's propeller deicing equipment.



I had earlier expressed the incorrect opinion that the B-17's props had an electric thermal deicing system. Karl corrected me and showed that the system the B-17s had involved spray of alcohol fluid across the blade surfaces.

The manual arrived today and I learned that electric deicer systems did exist but they came after the B-17 system. The manual I got was for an electrical deicer system, but it did have some helpful pictures and text illustrating some of the differences between the two systems.

Here's the problem.



And here, about midway through is a description of the system installed on the B-17.



And here's a fine depiction of the external visual differences between the fluid deicer system and the electric one.



Finally, here's a brief description of the electric system.



Meantime, H.G. has been doing more prep work on the kit props.





More photos soon!
KPHB17FE
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Posted: Friday, November 22, 2019 - 05:33 AM UTC
That looks like an interesting manual, handy to have! I just noticed something reading back a bit. You mention building an interior for the ball (I can help, I have a manual). But you also mention setting the door off to the side. The door did not release (at least, not easily) so when it is open it is still attached. Browse through some ball turret photos and you will see that the door is just laid back on the ground.





Redhand
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Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2019 - 01:46 AM UTC

Quoted Text

That looks like an interesting manual, handy to have! I just noticed something reading back a bit. You mention building an interior for the ball (I can help, I have a manual). But you also mention setting the door off to the side. The door did not release (at least, not easily) so when it is open it is still attached. Browse through some ball turret photos and you will see that the door is just laid back on the ground.




That manual will help, and I will scan and pdf the prop deicing system manual to you.

What I meant re the ball turret was to position it at something like a 70-degree angle off the centerline with the door open as in the photos so that people can easily look into the turret interior.

Later,

Brian

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Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2019 - 04:14 PM UTC
ON TO "THE BODY."

We were last discussing props. At a certain point in the work, HG advised me that he wanted to put them aside for the time being. Fair enough, there are "other things to do" on the build. He said he wanted to start working on the fuselage, in an email string called "The Body."

The title of the string has a resonance he didn't realize, because "The Body" was a fictional B-17F that caused me to become (more) curious about the Eighth Air Force bomber crew experience in World War II.


The aircraft was the mount of the crew in John Hersey's


which first came out in 1959. I absolutely devoured it as an Air Force kid back in 1961-62. The contrast between the reality that the novel sought to depict and what I was writing about in Half a Wing was one of the stated reasons why I wrote the book to begin with.

But I digress. Let's just say that I was very interested to see how HG would approach re-doing the scribing I did on "Luscious Lady."

You will recall from the last photos I took before shipping the model to Alberta that the fuselage was heavily covered with Tamiya gray primer. It isn't anymore. Systematically, he is taking it down to "bare metal plastic," in another tour de force of his talents.

I have many pictures to share but will start with a few from the tail, and work my way forward in later posts.



This shows the start of the work on the vertical stabilizer.

You can see that there are some rough spots, to say the least. When asked what this was



HG said that the 1970s vintage plastic began to crystallize and crack here due to either overheating and cooling or UV light. He is correcting it with some special filler that he says will "bite into" the plastic and replace it.



This is way above my labor grade!

Much more progress has been made on the horizontal stabilizers.

Here is what they look like (more or less) when he started







And in reviewing the work he discovered something that I hadn't noticed, which is not on the model.



With a bit of photo research from yours truly





it is now, though it still is a bit hard to see.


What is clear to admire is the detail work on the stabilizers themselves.

Without rivets.



With rivets.



If you are wondering why they are silver vs. OD it's because I used the better-looking tail parts from a Monogram B-17G kit.



More to follow tomorrow as we literally move forward.