The Psychedelic Monster: Battle of Britain's B-25 Photo Ship

By Terry Moore

After watching the Movie Battle of Britain in the theatre (I stayed for 3 straight showings the day it premiered in Seattle at the 7th Avenue Theatre) I discovered that I suddenly had become very interested in movie airplanes. I found a book about the time the movie was released entitled Battle of Britain, the Making of a Film, by Leonard Mosley, which covered the production of the film. Amongst all the Spitfires, Hurricanes, "Heinkels", and "Messerschmitts" was this very brightly colored aircraft with the interesting nickname Psychedelic Monster. It was Jeff Hawke's B-25, and was utilized as the camera ship for the production. It's bright paint scheme was so that it could be seen easily as all the formations that were shot for the movie used the Monster as the point to fly to or from. All flying shots were planned well in advance and rehearsed in a hangar before any flying was done. The airplane had camera positions in the nose, the tail, the waist, and even a rig in the bomb bay that could be lowered to get even more shots, via remote control. On takeoff a fabric shield was placed over the nose camera position until after takeoff and was released when the aircraft was above "bug height".

I thought that a model of the Monster would be really different. Unfortunately, there was not enough information on the airplane at the time and my intent to build the Monster was delayed until very recently when I found another book about the production, Battle of Britain, the Movie, by Robert Rudhall. There were considerably more photos of the Monster, enough to allow me to build a model. So, 30 plus years later I was finally able to start my own Monster.

I used the Monogram B-25 as my basis for the Psychedelic Monster. It's an older, but decent kit. I removed the armor panel from the sides of the nose under the cockpit and modified the engine exhausts. Other than that and the mods required to make the movie airplane, the model was box stock. The clear nose camera position was a vacuformed copy of the nacelle end cap from the Polar Lights USS Enterprise star ship, attached to the nose and faired in with styrene and putty. I also opened up the tail gun position and added the wind deflector and extension from sheet styrene. The upper blisters were from a Monogram B-29, as was the 2nd football antenna.

The challenge for this model is the wild paint scheme. I assembled the model but left the wings off to make painting easier (it was!). I ended up using a variety of paint types. I painted the wings with Floquil white, Floquil yellow and Testors black. My choice of masking material is Tamiya tape, and to put it mildly, I used a bunch! The fuselage was painted with Modelmaster red, Tamiya white and green, and Alclad II for the forward fuselage. I had a friend create the movie logo on the nose in Illustrator and he kindly printed me a set on his ALPS printer as well.

After the decals were applied I glued the wings to the fuselage. Prior to painting I made sure that the fit was good enough so that no putty would be required. It was not. Due to the fragility of the landing gear(I broke the nose gear a few times) I decided not to add weight to the nose, so I put a crewman at the rear hatch and he is actually holding up the model. The last bit of detailing I did was to lightly draw over the raised panel lines with a sharp mechanical pencil, to bring some of the details out. I added exhaust streaks using pastel chalk. The only thing I did not add to the model were the Panavision movie cameras. I'll probably do that when someone produces a resin aftermarket set!

So, I finally have my Psychedelic Monster. I've also finished 2 Buchons and I have a Spitfire XIV on the bench that appeared in the movie. Now all I have to do is sacrifice a Tamiya Lanc for 2 engine nacelles so I can do one of the "Heinkel" bombers.

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