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Best B-29 Model Kit?


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Hey All,

 

While I'm normally a 1/48 scale airplane modeler, I'm interested in what is considered the 'best' B-29 model kit, regardless of scale.  I know a B-29 in 1/48 would have to be huge, but I would consider one in that scale if that kit is the 'best', the best being, to me, the best fit, and the most accurate.  Thoughts?

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There don't seem to be a lot of choices.

1/144: Minicraft and Fujimi. Reviews I found rate Fujimi much better, but presently hard to find.

1/72: Academy and Airfix. Academy is widely reputed the better of the two, and it's the most modern of any B-29 kit.

1/48: Monogram/Revell. Dates from 1977, just about the same time as their B-17, so if you know that kit, it's going to be the same kind of build only bigger. Reviews mention numerous fit problems and shape discrepancy between the fuselage and forward clear section to go along with a lot of nice interior detail. Raised panel lines.

 

Having never owned any of these kits, I won't pretend to offer an opinion of the overall best kit; but from what I've read, I wouldn't be surprised if it were Academy.

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My opinion is to concur.  a 1/48 B-29 is HUGE.  Like three feet in wingspan.  Seeing as there is no one kit overshadowing all others, I suggest obtaining the Academy kit and set out on this Sisyphian task. I think there's good reasons why all the other manufacturers took a pass.  

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As a die-hard 1/72 builder I'm admittedly biased, but I would concur that overall the Academy kit is the best of the lot.  Just as much interior detail as the Monogram 1/48 offering, but a more manageable size.  Plus it has engraved panel lines and good fit.  That's not to say it's perfect.   Academy completely omitted the prominent turbosupercharger cooling gills on the engine nacelles.  These could either be laboriously scribed, or you could use the panels included in the (rather expensive) Eduard PE set.  Academy also doesn't include gunsights for the sighting blisters (but included one for the tail gunner.)  I don't think there is an aftermarket fix for that.  Also, there are panel lines above the cockpit to represent the in-flight refueling doors not seen on wartime B-29s (because Academy used the same fuselage halves for their B-50, which did have in-flight refueling capability.)  Fortunately that's a simple matter of a little filling and sanding.  

 

While the Monogram kit doesn't have the above issues, I have heard that it has does have some fit problems, and it's got less refined, raised panel lines..both a legacy of It's age.  It was state-of-the-art when initially released.  It's also bloody huge!  Still, I'd put it a close second to Academy.  

 

The Airfix 1/72 B-29 is one of their better efforts, and makes a decent-looking replica, but it has nowhere near the level of detail as the Academy or Monogram kits.

 

In 1/144, the Academy kit is a re-pop of the old Crown molding.  Crude, inaccurately shaped, and best forgotten.  The Fujimi kit is very nice, although expensive and hard to find.  The only real issue is the oddly-chunky propeller hubs and lack of engine detail, but I believe Brengun does (or did) resin replacements.  

 

There have been other B-29s over the years in various oddball scales, and while they might be decent "desktop" models, none could be seriously considered "best."

 

SN

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Minecraft has recently updated and improved its B-29 kit with new, more extensive decals and new tooled clear parts.

https://www.2modeler.com/minicraft-rb-29-kit-review.html

 

(Read the entire review...it includes photos of the Minicraft's CEO's built B-29 kit collection and a look at building a YC-97 by combining The KC-97 and B-29 kits).

 

The bad news, they didn't fix the undersize vertical stabilizer. 

Some people don't seem to mind it, but if you are an expert modeler, I hear it's an easy fix.

The review shows how to fix it as well as the prop hub issue. 

Basically, the quality is what you would expect from a kit of its age.

 

At any rate, even if you build another 1/144 B-29, you might want this kit for the decals. However, if the Fujimi kit is as hard to come by as people say,it's pretty much academic if you want (or have space for only) a 1/144 model.

Edited by JohnEB
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I was going to reply to this but others pretty much beat me to it! I was going to say that "best" really depends on how much display space you have. It looks like probably your best option in terms of quality, accuracy, availability, and size is the 1/72 Academy kit. When it comes to the Monogram model (and all of the others for that matter) finding one of the older boxings from the 70s or 80s is your best bet for negating some of the fit issues. I recently got the 1/48 B-25, now in the Revell box. The molds haven't aged well and many of the parts need extensive cleanup and tweaking to fit right. The older boxing on the other hand is much more sharply molded. I'm sure that the same would go for the B-29.

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THANKS, gentlemen!  I appreciate your opinions.  Unfortunately, as some of you have said, there is no state-of-the-art B-29 model kit out there today.  Maybe, with so many new manufacturers coming out, and more and more kits coming to market, we'll see something better.  I'm voting for a 1/72 scale, due to size.  I have a hard enough time finding space for my 1/48 P-38!!! 🙂

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I was curious as to what your definition of "best" was.  What are you looking for?  For me, just about all my builds are 1/48.  Having said that, I absolutely love the Monogram B-29.  It's big, lots of room for detailing and, best of all, it looked absolutely stunning when I foiled my last Superfortress kit.  So, for me, that met my definition of "best".  All the "flaws" in the Monogram kit are easily overcome with a bit of patience and care.  The fit is really good and I've had single and two-engined aircraft kits that used more filler than what I used on the Monogram B-29.  

 

One thing I'd like to mention:  The main (or "upper"?) portion of the greenhouse canopy did require some clamping for me to get a good fit.  I dipped my canopy in Future and then superglued it to the fuselage.  I then sanded the seams to blend everything in.  I polished the canopy and applied a brushed-on coating of Future to restore the clarity.  I had never ever done this with a canopy before and it came out looking crystal clear with just a few minutes of work.  The forward, or "nose, portion of the canopy fit perfectly with zero sanding or fixing needed.

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4 hours ago, Gwen Phoenix said:

Did "Bockscar" have the Hamilton Standard non-cuffed screws? Or was it "Enola Gay"?

If memory serves me  right, neither of them did. I think that part of the mods that were done to B-29s in the 509th were the cuffed, reversible props.

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Ah, thanks, Chris.

So much for those beautiful HS screws that I got in the super update set by Flightline Engineering then...

I was told Kits World might be releasing a 1/48th scale decal sheet for the atomic bombers.

Will need to get the Silverplate conversion set by Resin2Detail as well.

Cheers,

 

Gwen

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  • 2 weeks later...

The 1/48 Monogram B-29 fuselage is asymmetrically moulded, hence the ill-fitting clear parts. The same brand B-17G is a miracle of perfection in comparison to the abomination that is the Monogram 1/48 Superfortress... In the recent re-pop they tried to fix the fact half of the 16 exhausts were missing, with comical results. Prop hubs on the Hamiltons are literally 1:32 scale egg plane stuff. The Curtiss blades are woefully skinny. Even as a ceiling hanger it needs tons of help, resin cowls, squadron canopies and the turrets removed. Best advice I can give is never load it with weight, and build a gear up camo version to hang from the start. Better advice is to run away.

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14 hours ago, Gwen Phoenix said:

 

Sorry, Robertson; but wasn't this same statement from you proven wrong time and time again?

 

 In your dreams maybe?

 

 One way to see how the right fuselage side was re-ground is that the wingroot stubs were not...: They stick out the correct 3 mm (6 inches) on the left, but only about 1.5 mm on the right side... The stubs suggest the kit is intended be a B-29A, but it is over one feet short in the needed extra 1 foot span. (The wingroot stubs, and associated vastly different wing attachment, are what increases the span of the B-29A 1 foot over the B-29)

 

In fact the Monogram kit is at least 3 mm short in span even for a regular B-29, and 9 mm short over the necessary A for Silverplates, not to mention the lack of the 12-15 foot long underwing fairing that tried blending the radically different B-29A wing attachment.

 

  Near the nose ("cheek" area), another big re-grind on the right side occurred (unless it is just a worsening of the same wingroot re-grind): You can see it in that the Monogram main clear part itself is symmetrical (they did their job, although the canopy is lacking the front 2-3 front rows of completely flat inset panes: Corrected on the Falcon/Squadron!), and, being symmetrical, the clear part will not fit well the asymmetrical kit fuselage...

 

  The funny thing is everyone complains about the badly fitting glass, without ever pointing out the cause. Not that the kit would be accurate, since not only is the glass missing the flat panes, but the nose cone diameter is way too large at plus 3 mm in diameter, which on a circle this small makes a huge difference... 

 

  Then there is the tilting tailfin, though to be fair I did see builds where this was improved. In the tapering portion of the fuselage is a missing 6 mm of length, bringing the kit to 98 feet instead of the correct 99...

 

  This does not even touch on the worst part of Monogram's B-29, the engines, exhausts and cowling, not to mention wingtips with wrong airfoil, not flattened on bottom. AND the lack of frise ailerons...

 

  In case you say the Monogram B-17G has the same symmetrically bulged underwing airfoil, well... That is CORRECT 1930s practice, and it is, as far as I know, the ONLY B-17G kit to get this right, including over the dreadful recent HK!

 

  The Monogram 1975 B-17G is so close to perfect, it hard to believe the B-29 came from the same company.

 

 

Edited by Robertson
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