Minicraft 1/72 B-24J Liberator






One Aircraft


Scott Van Aken


'The Dragon and His Tail'


Thought the B-24 saw plenty of action in Europe, it was in the Pacific theater where it was most appreciated. The B -17 was a fine, rugged aircraft; perfect for a short trip to Berlin, but it just did not have the kind of range needed to attack targets on isolated islands hundreds of miles from each other. 

The Allies decided to make Germany the main priority for the war effort, and so the Pacific theater was made secondary. Interestingly enough, the greater amount of fighting and materiel losses for the United States were in this 'secondary' theater. Once Lady Luck had played her hand several times in the Pacific during the first year of the war, the Allies were able to finally go on the offensive and slowly plod through the jungles and forests of the Western Pacific island chains. 

Part of that slow movement toward Japan was a strategic bombing campaign. While minimalist in comparison to what was going on in Europe, it was sufficient to keep the Japanese on the retreat and unable to be able to make a stand or mount an offensive. A large formation of B-24s might consist of 6 aircraft. Rarely were they much larger than that. A multiplicity of missions and lack of any really huge industrial targets until the last year of the Pacific war made these huge formations unneeded.

Though the B-29 finally took true strategic bombing to the Japanese homeland, it was the B-24 that paved the way. 


The 1/72 B-24 is not a kit that is often seen at shows or other venues. Much of the reason was the lack of a modern kit. Previously, all that was available was the elderly Airfix B-24J and the slightly newer Revell B-24D. Finally, in the mid 1990s,, Minicraft came to our rescue with a number of different kits. There have been B-24D's, H's and the J. Also a PB4Y-1, which is basically a B-24H with a Navy nose turret.

Minicraft has designed this kit in the usual 'multi-variants' method that is so common. That enables a base kit to be produced with the differences between versions on separate sprues, which are then placed into the box as needed. The detailing on the kit is really quite good as you can see by the image on the left. There was almost no flash on any parts and minimal problems with ejector pin marks. Most are in hidden areas so won't be seen. The clear bits are well done and it seems as if there are several different styles of nose/tail turret offered. I'm not conversant on the differences between the marques, but I'd be willing to bet that Minicraft has catered to some of those differences in this kit.

There is a full weapons load and the bomb bays are able to be displayed either open or closed; two sets of doors being supplied for this. The interior is quite adequate for the scale, a decal being provided for the instrument panel and seat harnesses. Those who want more detail will undoubtedly purchase one of the many etched brass sets that should be available for this kit. The waist gunners have a small platform and you have a choice of open or closed waist windows. You'll have to find a place to put nose weight as this kit WILL be a major tailsitter!

The instructions are more than adequate for the kit, though I do question some of the color callouts for the inside. The instructions state that everything inside is zinc chromate green. From studying other aircraft, I have found that often the bomb bays were aluminum and all but the cockpit/bombardiers station in yellow chromate. While that may not be true for the B-24, I'd suggest some research to be sure. There is only one decal option given, but what an option. The Dragon and His Tail is without a doubt one of the most incredible examples of fuselage art that was ever done in WWII. The decals are done by ScaleMaster and are quite good. They are in register and very nicely printed. The huge tail of the dragon is in several sections to make application easier. Period color photos show the colors to be different from what other decal sheets have portrayed over the years, so that is why there isn't any green in it! The aircraft itself is in overall bare metal so you can use the kit to perfect your natural metal finishes!!

Overall, it really looks like a very nice model and one that will surely be the center of attention with that huge decal art! If any of you have built a Minicraft B-24, I'd appreciate any info on it.


Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet!

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