Author Topic: Imsjim - Strombecker B-17F Restoration  (Read 4563 times)

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lmsjim

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Imsjim - Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« on: September 30, 2008, 06:21:27 AM »
Here is another example of a restoration I am currently working on. This kit has been at the top of my list since I got back to building Strombecker kits. I believe it might have been the last one I had purchased and built back in 1955 or so before I fully switched completely to plastic kits. I remember I had a lot of trouble with it and could not understand why the dope I used to paint it grazed the plastic. Well I was only 12 or so but I remember that was very annoying at the time. I am not sure I even finished it after that. As I have worked on this kit I vaguely remember I had trouble with the wings also.

Although the plane was filthy, it had been in an attic for a number of years, most of the parts were there. The only missing items was the ball turret, rear machineguns and a fillet that went between the wings. As you can see from the photo it was not well built. I did manage to get a scan copy of the decals and instructions from a friend. What was not apparent on the eBay photos is the kid used brads to hold the top clear plastic canopy piece on. The hole in the center was not going to be a problem but he also drilled a hole in the radio operator's top window! And no it was not for a machinegun which could be mounted there. The other real problem is the rudder. It looked funny so when I compared it to the drawings I realized he had sanded it too much on the leading edge cutting the profile down.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1891

http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1892
The kid who built it must have used the kit glue since the plane almost fell apart.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1893

I first tackled the clear plastic parts since they were critical to the restoration. If I could not get them cleaned up the rest would be a waste of time. I tried some mild plastic paint remover but the paint (dope I think) would not even budge. I was then forced to sand the clear plastic parts. I started with 400 grit then switched to 1000 and finally 2000 grit. I got rid of most of the paint and smoothed up the scratches. I did remove all the paint on the windows.  I then used both Meguiar’s Clear Plastic Polish and Cleaner designed for cars and it did a pretty good job of clearing up the clear plastic parts. The main canopy was probably the hardest part because of the two holes in it. The one in the center I just filled with Green Stuff and sanded down. The rear one in the radio operator's window was another problem. I tried just filling it with Krystal Kleer but it just looked like a hole with clear stuff in it. I finally just carefully removed the whole window and made a new one out of some clear plastic I had in my parts box. This was then glued in. I am confident once painted it will look just like the original I hope. Also there were some small stress cracks on the inside of the front windows that I could not do anything about.

The nose piece was given the same treatment and it came out pretty clear considering how bad it was before I started. The tail gunner position is also clear and got the same treatment.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1881
After cleanup


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1882
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 05:13:02 AM by lmsjim »

lastvautour

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2008, 07:36:37 AM »
Impressive to say the least. I am very glad to have you participate in the group.

Lou

lmsjim

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2008, 09:11:49 AM »
Thanks Lou,

Here is part II.

I took the plane apart and started working on the tail since this was going to be the part that required the most work due to the bad sanding job. I first sanded all the paint I could off the rudder. This is when I discovered this was going to be a hard job since it took a lot of sanding to get the paint off.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1886

I then glued a couple of strips of basswood on to the forward edge of the rudder where I needed more surface. I used a lot of Green Stuff to fill in. I then sanded the whole thing down into a smooth edge.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1887

I then proceeded to sand off the rest of the old paint from the other kit parts.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1888

I then started reassembling the parts while also taking time to get the correct shapes since again this kit was really badly built before. This is when I really noticed the wood used in this kit is not near the normal quality of the early Strombecker kits. The parts seem a lot lighter telling me they must have used a different wood than western pine but no idea what. Another thing became apparent while reassembling was the milling of the parts was not up to the usual standards either. The slot for the rudder was not centered on the fuselage. Unfortunately I did not realize this at first. I just know I had a hard time figuring out why nothing wanted to align correctly. I actually had it completely assembled before I could tell what the real problem was. To correct this I cut the rudder off the fuselage with a razor saw and smoothed off the joints using more Green Stuff and then reglued the rudder on in the correct position. I used brass wire as locating pins.

The wings also took a lot of work to get mounted correctly but finally got them on. If my memory is right I think this was another area I had a lot of trouble with when I was building this kit as a kid.  It turned out you needed to trim the top of the two studs that go into the fuselage so they can mount high enough. The instructions failed to mention this little tidbit. I had to make a new fillet out of basswood to plug the gap between the wings. The kit was supposed to have one but since the original builder did not manage to get the wings on properly either I am sure he just threw it away.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1889

Fortunately for me the builder did not paint most of the plastic parts. This included the landing gears. I reassembled them and superglued them into the engine nacelles I then put Green Stuff over them to fill in the big holes around them.

The tail gunner position was another area I needed to fix early. The clear plastic piece that fits under the tail was cleaned up but the fit was bad. I first took a round object which was the same diameter as the fuselage and put some sandpaper around it and sanded the plastic piece so it would fit better. The other issue was the slot was a little too big. I first filed down the opening to level it and then glue a piece of basswood onto the top of the slot. This piece was then trimmed then sanded down to blend with the rudder.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1890

Finishing

After I finally got all the sanding and filling done I started by painted the wood parts with sanding sealer and sanding very good between coats. I continued to look for little nicks in the wood and filled them with Green Stuff. This was a real problem on the wingtips due to the poor wood Strombecker used on this kit and I had to putty these areas a couple of times. I ended up with about five coats of sanding sealer.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1883

I then sprayed the whole model with a Tamiya sky gray to help identify areas that needed more work. This took a while because several joints had too much putty in them but this was not obvious, at least to me, until I painted them so I could more easily see them. After these areas were touched up I sprayed the cockpit, nose, wheel wells, and tail gunner position with Tamiya olive drab.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1885

I then painted the top turret by hand including the gun with Tamiya flat aluminum and assembled it. I had to paint the turret first since it has to slip inside the top canopy piece before it is attached to the plane. The gun barrels were painted with gun metal silver. The top canopy and tail gunner’s pieces were glued on. I then very carefully filled in around the edges of both pieces with Green Stuff and sanded them down. I used more gray paint to check the seams. I was careful not to get any on the windows of course.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1884

more later

Jim
« Last Edit: October 08, 2008, 04:52:28 AM by lmsjim »

R.F.Bennett

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2008, 12:55:29 PM »
Could you post a copy of the assembly instructions and decals for our archives? If they need any work I can download them and clean them up later. Even though they don't have patterns the Strombecker assembly instruction can act as a good guide for someone making their own patterns or repairing another model. The decals can also be great for an exact restoration.
"The Dude Abides"

lmsjim

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2008, 03:44:39 AM »
Ray,
I can post the decals but not the instructions. The guy that got them for me Xerox them and they are way oversize. There were six sheets for each side and I had to tape them together. I can post the B-24 items though.

Jim

lmsjim

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2008, 09:07:02 AM »
Part III

The propellers were the only other things painted out of the plastic parts besides the clear parts. I cleaned off the paint and used the same plastic polish to clean them up as I did the clear parts.

I also had to figure out how to replace the ball turret. I purchased a small vacuform kit for the B-17 which had a ball turret in it. The turret of course was in two halves. I cut them out and then glued them together with superglue since plastic cement does not hold well on thin vacuform pieces. I made two disks out of thin styrene to reinforce the two sides. The gun barrels were made from brass wire. One real down side with vacuform is the definition of panel lines is always poor so the windows are not very pronounced. I thought about buying a complete plastic B-17 kit to get the turret but since I had noway of checking out the turret first this could be a waste, anyway the vacuform kit on cost $2.95.

The only other thing I needed was a second set of guns for the rear gunner. The ones that come in the top turret are the same so I just duplicated them. I used a round piece of styrene for the base and brass wire for the gun barrels. I drilled out holes in the rod and superglued the brass wires in. I could have used styrene rod for the guns but since these are the tail guns and very susceptible to getting damaged I thought it prudent to use wire.

The propeller tips were first sprayed with Tamiya yellow. I then taped off the tips and sprayed the rest of the props black. The two main tires centers were painted flat aluminum. As much as I hated to I had to hand paint the ball turret. It actually came out pretty good considering the panel lines were so poor. The engines were sprayed a dark aluminum.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1899

The decals are fine except for the insignia on the sheet. For some unknown reason Strombecker chose to use the postwar (Air Force) 1947 on markings instead of the Army Air Corps WWII version. Although I do not want to change anything on these kits this was just too much. So while I was cleaning up the sheet using Corel Paint I removed the red lines. The other odd thing is there are no provisions for the side widows for the waist gunners. I did very reluctantly let this one go.

I then printed the complete decal sheet on clear laser decal paper and the stars on white decal paper. These were then given two coats of sealant. An interesting note is the decals are clear so you could use them on an olive drab paint as well as aluminum.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1895


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1896

More to follow

Jim
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 09:10:20 AM by lmsjim »

lmsjim

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2008, 07:39:43 AM »
Continuing,

I sprayed the model with first Tamiya flat aluminum but decided I wanted to try the Tamiya Chrome Silver instead so the final two coats were of that paint. I then sprayed 3 coats of Future. I am now in the process of putting on the decals. For a model like this that takes me a couple of evenings.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1937


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1936

Jim

lmsjim

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2008, 04:37:25 AM »
Final I promise

I finally got all the decals on. I used Micro-Sol and Set. I then sprayed a couple more coats of Future to seal the decals and blend them into the model better. Next I removed all the frisket film that I had on the windows. This worked great with almost no cleanup required. I then added the tires, engines, propellers, and ball turret. Overall I am pretty happy with the results. I know this 100% better than my original effort back in 55.


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1940


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1939


http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/Gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1938

I did a little research and discovered that the markings at least the plane name “Yankee Doodle” , which was on the decal sheet, was in fact a real plane. It was assigned to the 12th Air Force, 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bomber Squadron. It was apparently based out of Tunisia and later Italy during World War II and used mostly in the Italian campaign. Although it must have spent a little time in England first. The only trouble was this B-17 was a B-17E not F. The 23 on the decals sheet reflect the tail number which they sometimes put the last two digits on the nose. In this case “Yankee Doodle” had the tail number of 19023 which is the tail number I used here.

I did manage to find a brief blurb on one famous mission the Yankee Doodle was on. On 17 August, 1942, 18 B-17E’s of the 97th, including Yankee Doodle, flown by Brigadier General Ira Eaker, were escorted by RAF Spitfires on the first USAAF raid over Europe, against railroad marshalling yards at Rouen-Sotteville in France. The operation was a success, with only minor damage to two aircraft.

lastvautour

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2008, 06:09:53 AM »
Excellent restoration Jim. I resolved some "Future" issues last night by applying it with a sponge. I recalled that our Drill Instructor in basic training was reported as using "Bravo" (predecessor to future) to attain a super shine on his boots. The rumour has it that he would soak a lint free cloth in the wax and wipe a thin coat over the entire boot. I tried this last night using a small sponge to apply future over a decal and Tah-Dah, it worked fine. Good enough that I managed to use scotch tape over a decal to line off an area to be painted. When I removed the tape the paint line was excellent and the decal remained in place.  More than one way to skin a cat!!! Again, your work is fantastic. Keep those photos and hints coming in.

Lou

lmsjim

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Re: Strombecker B-17F Restoration
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2008, 10:11:40 AM »
Lou,

Great to see you figured out a way to do it. I just always use an airbrush so I don't usually run into problems like that. I had to laugh about the drill instructor using floor wax on his boots. I use to be an Army Jumpmaster and we did the same thing to our jump boots. The only problem was it built up fast and getting it off was a pain. LOL

Thanks for the compliments.

Jim