The B-25 series started life as a drawing board concept at North American Aviation, designated NA-40. Developed as a light bomber for the 'peacetime' Army Air Corps, the NA-40 was a twin-engine, twin-tailed aircraft that was competing for limited funding. The NA-40 was adopted, with some changes, as the B-25. The B-25 and B-25A were both procured in small numbers and used for training, as these aircraft were not configured with self-sealing fuel tanks and other combat necessities. The B-25B would be the first version that was combat-ready, and the RAF dubbed the aircraft as Mitchell Mk.I.
It didn't take the Army long to learn from the early Mitchells' combat experience. An improved design was ordered to incorporate more powerful versions of the Wright R-2600 engine, longer range fuel tanks, enlarged bomb bays, provisions for carriage of external weapons, and replacement of the 30 caliber machine guns with 50 caliber weapons. The ventral turret was eliminated in early production, but restored later. These new capabilities were integrated into the B-25C/D Mitchell, the first version to go into mass production. The differentiation between with C and D models were little more than the location of production - the C model was built in Inglewood, CA, while the D was built in Kansas City, MO.
The B-25C/D would also be the first version to be modified in the field for straffing duties. The nose was modified in some rather creative ways to house numerous .50 caliber machine guns inside the 'greenhouse', and additional gun packs installed on the outsides of the nose. These guns were fixed along the aircraft boresight and operated by the pilot. These straffers would play havoc with Japanese shipping and would inspire even more impressive gunships to be produced later by North American.
Accurate Miniatures has released the B-25C/D kit! Was it worth the wait? You bet! Sharing many of the same parts as their B-25B kit (as did the real aircraft), there are no lurking surprises here. The B-25B went together relatively easy (see our build-up review) and the few issues that did crop up have been addressed in some tooling modifications. I can hardly wait to try this one out!
As with the previous release, this kit is molded in light gray injection molded plastic, and sports finely engraved panel lines and details throughout. The parts are all flash-free and there are no injector pin marks in any visible locations. In fact, all of the B-25B parts are still in the kit. What is new is a tree that contains the new engine mounts and cowls, exhaust stacks, .50 caliber machine guns, external gun packs, and underwing bomb racks.
The kit still features a completely detailed interior, and while I thoroughly enjoyed detailing the inside of the kit, I was equally disappointed that little of that work was visible from the outside. Bear that in mind before you go hog wild inside your fuselage. This isn't a ding against Accurate Miniatures, quite the opposite. Kudos on them for the great work. But until they release the kit with a transparent fuselage (are you guys listening?), you simply can't see inside not enough windows.
And as with the previous release B-25B kit, the instructions are very thorough with clear diagrams and description on how to assemble your model. However, with all of the options in the kit and the variations between actual B-25C/Ds in the field, you'll want to have a few photos and references handy to properly configure your model.
I had heard some rumblings in the community about the accuracy of the engine cowlings in the B-25B kit. I was a little surprised at this, as I grabbed the cowls and embarked on a trip to visit several B-25s at the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, AZ, and the B-25 restoration mecca in Chino, CA. From what I can see, Accurate Miniatures got the cowls right. The new cowls for the C/D are just as nice too.
As you may have heard previously, Accurate Miniatures cancelled the release of their B-25G kit. Instead, they have offered the parts and decals as an upgrade kit for the B-25B or B-25C/D kits. The only thing that the conversion doesn't contain is the tree of clear parts. In fact, if you pre-ordered the B-25C/D kits directly from Accurate, they sent you a special edition B-25C/D kit that also contains the B-25G conversion and decals.
About those clear parts. As you can see in the photos, the early B-25B release had a smaller tree that had only the B-25B transparencies and some of the B-25C/D parts. In the later release of the B-25B, they provided the full set of transparencies for all three aircraft. The B-25G conversion assumes you have the later release of the B-25B or B-25C/D kit, so the transparencies are not required. If you have the early release of the B-25B (I have two), you'll need to contact Accurate Miniatures for the new parts.
One major improvement in the B-25C/D over the B-25B is the sheet of window masks. Some of the B-25B masks were too large for the windows. Not only was this corrected in the B-25C/D, they've also supplied masks to do the 'Dirty Dora' paint scheme. Good show!
With the variety of paint schemes and nose art available for the B-25C/D series, as exemplified by the great decals already issued by Aeromaster, it will be difficult to build only one of these aircraft. With the release of the B-25G conversion as well, you have some terrific options in store for your scale flightline. It is a shame that Accurate Miniatures isn't planning a B-25J to the same standards as their other Mitchells.
I can recommend these kits to anyone with better than beginner modeling skills. While I did receive the kit you are seeing here as a review sample (and my thanks to Accurate Miniatures for this!), I was one of the folks that pre-ordered two of the kits for my own flightline.
To help you along with your Mitchell projects, there are a few good titles to get you started: