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Tuesday, 01 May 2012 17:56

Boeing B.24D

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Maquette et photos de Gabriele Luciani


A few of history...

During second world war, many enemy warcrafts was captured by Regia Aeronautica, the Italian air force: the same warcrafts was generally used for evaluation, always previous to be repainted with italian national markings, usually over the original camouflage. The biggest prey was the Consolidated B-24 D 1-CO “Liberator” s/n 41-23659, nicknamed “Blonde Bomber II”, originally based at Bengasi airfield (Libia).

This B.24 was used by the “Pyramiders” squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, (formed by mixed anglo-american crews ) of 47th Bomb Wing, a formation of 15th Air Force. The 20/02/1943 after a bombing mission again Napoli, “Blonde Bomber II” landed at Pachino, a small airfiled near Siracusa, in Sicilia : his pilot, the Lt. Dan Story, as soon as the sun was setting, deviated from the just course and, thinking to be on Malta, looked switch the boundary’s light of airfield, while was shooting some signal coloured rockets. Story thinked also to see the same rockets shooted according the password used by allies during the same day ! After the war, this pilot referred that his warcraft was hit at one engines by italian anti aircraft guns during the bombing mission over Naples and so, he have resolved to go to Malta, but from the pictures does immediately after the landing of same warcraft at Pachino, the engines do not present any traces of damage and the propellers do not appear to be feathred...

The landing was not all happy because the Blonde Bomber II come out from runway, felled into the mud... Immediately, italian soldiers surrounded the “Liberator” and one only volley of machine gun persuaded the crew to rush down from the warcraft, leaving it intact. In the following days, this B.24 was pulled out from the mud, and repainted with the national italian insignia over the previos USAAF/RAF insignia : the nickname on the right side and the pin-up girl painted on the port side of the front of fuselage remained unchanged as the camouflage, in “desert pink” and neutral gray.

After some attempts of pilot of Comando Aeronautica Sicilia, the 24/02/1943 arrived at Pachino some members of Centro sperimentale (Test centre) of Regia Aeronautica of Guidonia (near Rome). Few days were necessary for these brave men to understand the piloting of the B.24, and on 04/03/1943, Captain Giovanni Raina, using the rests of american fuel into the tanks of warplane, flew Blonde Bomber II at Fontanarossa airfield, near Catania : the italian gasoline was too stronger for the allied tanks (at least the italian gasoline may consumed them) and in Fontanarossa airfield there was germany gasoline. From here, on 06/03/1943, always Cap. Raina landed to Guidonia : during the months of march, april and may of 1943, the B.24 was used intensively by the Centro Sperimentale for a number series of test and the first days of june was transferred to Foligno airfield, near Perugia.

On 19/06/1943, on demand of Luftwaffe, Blonde Bomber II was transferred in Germany at Rechlin test centre for same evaluations : after some days, a german ferry crew , with awareness, leaded the B.24 to end on a special runway appointed to testing undercarriages...for rupture of the same undercarriages !!! The fragile front undercarriage of B.24 broke and Blonde Bomber II so remained in german hands...

Modelling the Blonde Bomber II

Until the early 1990s, the only way to reproduce a B.24 D in 1/72 scale was the use of old Revell kit : luckily, from 1992, there is a very good kit from the Academy-Minicraft, really the best on the market. That firm produce a series of models of B.24 D, with different decals : one of this, the cat. Number 2135 (named “Nose art B-24D") is just devoted to the Blonder Bomber II, before the use by Regia Aeronautica !

This kit capture fairly good the aircraft lines and the details are very acceptable : the panel of fuselage and of the wings are all engraved in a good thin way. The best (but also the simple) manner to release the kit is to close the bomb bay doors and the two windows of the guns in fuselage: Academy give some pieces fot the interiors but these are only a good base for go into details.. However when the Blonde Bomber was used by italians, it was never used for bombing missions and so, is it right to eliminate the bombs and the arm-racks, to utilise the bulkheads and the floors, also to give more solidity to the model.

The cockpit, the forward layer position and the rear turret are sufficient : the thick sash of the windows leaves no many things to see at the interiors... Only the guns are bad and if possible it's better to replace them with an after-market details set. During the assembling it is necessary to pay attention to the connection between the central fuselage and the forward part of fuselage : Academy produce also the kit of B.24 J, and not only the wings are common to both the models, but also the three quarters of the fuselage. If you make right the things, it is not necessary to use the putty and you can avoid to erase some of the beautiful injection panels. Blonde Bomber II have not the forward landing gear panels; there was only two forward 12,7 mm guns (one on the left and one central) and the two big pitot.

Unfortunately, the transparent pieces (for the cockpit and forward layer position) are almost big for the pertinent quarters. Before to close the main fuselage, please remember to add an ballast if you want that your model of B.24 will not to sit on his tail !!! Joking aside, the instruction set of the kits (at least with a clear style) do not remember this important particular...No problem for the wings assembly and the connection between wings and fuselage is very good and strong .

Camouflage and markings

As others Liberator of 98th and 376th Bomber Groups, the Blonde Bomber II leave the factory with the top surfaces in Sand 49 (F.S. 30279-) and under surface in neutral grey 43 (F.S. 36173-Humbrol 156) but after the operational use, the sand 49 was easy ruined by the hot Sun of African desert. That colour undergoes change into the quaint “Desert Pink” (F.S. 30213) : for my model I used an old but precise paint of Gloy firm, the A 333 (ANA 616), but an another paint will be now the Humbrol 250 or Xtracolor X-32. The others details of this B.24 are in the same colour of the U.S.A.A.F. warcrafts : interior in F.S. 34151, structures of landing gear in silver, propeller and edges of wings and tails in black. The nickname and the pin up are in the decals of Academy: these are the only subjects, with the internal tail fin, that you can use from that decals set if you want to release the model with italian markings. For these latter you must use for the wings four roundels with the tree “fasci” on white background (use the four roundels of Italeri 1/72 kit of Caproni Ca 313/314; however the roundels have 18 mm of diameter); on the fuselage you must paint the typical white band of italian warcrafts, used always from 1941 (in 1/72 scale is large about 27 mm; there was behind wings between the first window and the machine-gunner slot; also on the tails you must paint the (also this typical italian) white cross: large about 5 mm (always in 1/72 scale) and overpaint part of serial number.


Building Blonde Bomber II from Academy kit you can make a funny modelling but you can also take two birds with one broad pen : you can release one particular B.24 D and also a four-engined bomber of the Regia Aeronautica, the only one until the new P.108 of Special Hobby...

Read 22449 times Last modified on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 18:01