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Army_Air_Force

B-17F Scrapping - Storage Depot 41, Kingman, AZ.

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I was looking around for a B-17 kit for a diorama.I was thinking of 1/72 scale, when I spotted a 1/48 scale kit for £16.00, cheaper than many 1/72 kits. I never build out of the box, I'm always looking to tell a story, and always looking for something different. The kit I found was the Revell one. It has little detail inside, but that just saves me sanding it all off to do it how I want.

 

b17boneyard001.jpg

 

The basic kit is fairly big ( for a plastic kit ), especially if added to a diorama base, but the plan I had for it would fix that. The thread title says it all - the end of the road for a surplus, obsolete B-17. Kingman, Walnut Ridge, Ontario Surplus Depot at Cal-Aero Field, and many other places all saw the same scene. This diorama could could be any one of those places.

 

b17boneyard005.jpg

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The basic diorama will be something along the lines of the two illustrations below, though the final layout and details may evolve as I work on the project.

b17boneyard002.jpg

b17boneyard003.jpg

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A lucky find was this 1930's Cletrac diecast model. While the size is 1/43 scale, it is close enough to 1/48 for me, with a little work!

 

b17boneyard004.jpg

 

Today, the first cuts were made. With the kits taped together, I propped it up as if on its wheels, to work out the angle the guillotine blade would slice through the airframe. As the airframe dropped to the ground after the first cut, it would change the angle of the next cut. One outer wing was removed and will probably be ommitted completely ( or be severely butchered in size ). The other was cut, but will form part of the diorama, freshly cut.

 

b17boneyard006.jpg

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The piece of lead balanced in the wing break represents the 5100 pound steel guillotine, which appears to be around 15 x 6 feet. I'll probably build the diorama with the guillotine in this position at the bottom of its travel, having just sliced the wing. I'll need to scratch build a brass jib for the Cletrac.

 

b17boneyard007.jpg

 

All the nacelles need cutting back to the firewall position, and firewall details built for each one. I'll need to replace at least the front of each exhaust with brass tube to leave a thin walled open end where the engine and collector ring have been removed.

 

b17boneyard008.jpg

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With the control cables severed and the jolt from the guillotine bouncing the tail around, the elevators would drop to their stops. The insides of the tailplanes were sanded to thin the plastic and the elevators then cut free with a scalpel.

 

b17boneyard009.jpg

 

The rudder was treated the same way.

 

b17boneyard010.jpg

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The tailwheel well needs work, as the hole is symmetrical, and it shouldn't be. The tailwheel leg and retract mechanism is going to be on view through the severed fuselage, and should make a nice detail.

 

b17boneyard011.jpg

 

All the fuselage skins were sanded to thin the walls where the sections have been cut. Once the stringers and formers are added, I'll work on the tearing of the skin and distortion of the stringers.

 

b17boneyard012.jpg

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The door was cut out of the rear fuselage. In a number of Kingman pictures, doors and windows are left open, possibly to reduce heat build up in the aircraft. So in addition to this door, I'll possibly open the front nose door and possibly the cockpit windows.

 

b17boneyard013.jpg

 

The front fuselage had the sides thinned out too, and as yet, I don't know about a ball turret. I have found no pictures of B-17's being cut up, only B-24's. There are plenty of pictures of B-17's in storage, with turrets and with turrets faired over ( whic probably happened in service ). I have pictures of B-24's being cut up, and they are missing their turrets, so at present, I'm undecided.

 

b17boneyard014.jpg

 

Anyway, that's how far I've got today. Considering my last build took three years, don't expect it done by Christmas, but I hope to try and speed up my build times!

Edited by Army_Air_Force

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That's a very clever idea and one that will require a lot of scratchbuilt details. I tip my hat to you for tackling this and will be following along. Good luck with this project.

 

Steve

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Because the rear fuselage is chopped just ahead of the tail wheel, I was going to have to improve the tail leg and mount to a more scale appearance as it would be clearly visible. I opted for soldering up and triangular upper leg assembly using a small wooden jig and a small screw to hold everything still.

 

b17boneyard015.jpg

 

For now I've kept the plastic lower leg, but this get replaced with metal. I haven't decided yet.

 

b17boneyard016.jpg

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The next job was to carefully solder the bracket where the retraction strut connects, and drill out the triangle frame for the pivot pins. It is seen here propped up in place.

 

b17boneyard017.jpg

 

I also started the fuselage former where the leg attaches. These two little jobs took around four hours last night.

 

b17boneyard018.jpg

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Some further progress today. Working out stringer positions.

 

b17boneyard019.jpg

 

Correcting the tail wheel well shape. It is asymmetric, not symmetrical as in the kit.

 

b17boneyard020.jpg

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The stringers and first former go in, glued to one side only. I need to assemble the complete tailwheel assembly and other formers before closing it up.

 

b17boneyard021.jpg

 

The end of play this evening. Three formers fitted, and the next needing the tailplane locating slots sanding out before it will fit.

 

b17boneyard022.jpg

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That is very cool! Sad to see those old veterans cut up and melted down. I've read about Depot 41...the amount of metals, engine oil and avgas that was recovered and sold is amazing. I've seen

the old C-5A's that I flew 41 years ago are going through the same fate at DM. Sad to see those that served their country so well be reduced to ingots.  

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On Friday, I made a push mould for the tailwheel housing, and moulded two housings, just in case!
 

b17boneyard023.jpg

 

Yesterday, wifey and daughter were out for most of the day, so I had a good few hours modelling. The last former, tailwheel housing and floor around the housing were added to the tail section. The floor hadn't fully hardened when this shot was taken, and so hasn't yet been trimmed flush with the formers. The tailwheel leg now has its retraction strut, part of which is styrene and glued into the fuselage, and part is a brass tube, soldered to the leg. As yet, the leg isn't fitted. I need to do some painting and making the canvas boot that goes around the forward part of the housing.

 

b17boneyard024.jpg

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Once the tailwheel leg and boot are fitted, it should nicely fill up the opening in the fuselage. 

 

b17boneyard025.jpg

 

While the rear section was drying, I began to add the stringers and formers to the waist area. The positions and spacings didn't quite work out 100% right due to the positions of the waist windows and door being slightly off, but it will do to bring the openings to life and is only a small part of the overall diorama.

 

b17boneyard026.jpg

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As with the rear section, I won't start working on the cut fuselage edges until further into the build of each section, as the thinned and twisted cuts will probably be fragile.

 

b17boneyard027.jpg

 

By the end of yesterday evening, the waist sections had their stringers, formers and, most of the gun mounts made. I plan to use some 1/32 or 1/64 plywood for the flooring, suitably snapped when the chopping blade has cut through, so floor support brackets will probably be the next job.

 

b17boneyard028.jpg

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Floor supports going in. Once fully hardened, they will all be trimmed to give a level floor.

 

b17boneyard029.jpg

 

The plywood floors still need cutting down a bit, but should look good, especially where the wood is snapped by the wreckers cutting blade.

 

b17boneyard030.jpg

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The waist gun mounts were a bit tricky. Some thin styrene was heated until soft and folded around a sheet of 2mm styrene to form an oversized 'U' cradle. It was then slowly carved down in size. The floors won't go in until further detailing and painting is done.

 

b17boneyard031.jpg

 

Yesterday, the rear fuselage and tail were given a dusting of silver.

 

b17boneyard032.jpg

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The original crew entry door was destroyed cutting out the opening in the fuselage, so I needed to scratch build one. Research showed the B-17F door different to the G, and a more complicated design. Standing around 3/4 inch tall, the door was a fiddly structure that has taken about 5 hours from forming the outer door skin, to attaching the inner skin.

 

b17boneyard033.jpg

 

b17boneyard034.jpg

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