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Thomas Probert
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HK Models B-17G ‘Aluminium Overcast’

October 4, 2015 · in Aviation · · 23 · 3.9K

I've been working on this project on and off for the last year or so, and finally applied the finishing touches this weekend.

The kit needs no introduction and was for the second time, a joy to build. Having seen a few of these kits made up as war-beaten WWII aircraft, I wanted to do something a little different, and thus decided to build this version as a modern day warbird. Most preserved Forts in natural metal gleam like a mirror - something that terrified me, so I went instead for the Experimental Aircraft Association's 'Aluminum Overcast' which is operated from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which is actually painted silver rather than being in NMF.

Being a Vega block 105 aircraft, she never saw combat, as it was actually built too late to see service in WWII, and instead went straight to the boneyard as 'surplus' before being bought in 1946 by Universal Aviation for aerial mapping purposes. It was sold again in 1947, this time as a cargo hauler which required numerous modifications, before once again taking on the role of aerial mapping platform in 1949, spending 12 years in the Middle East. By 1966 another sale ensued and the was used as a chemical sprayer back in the US, before its final role which began in 1966 as an aerial tanker and fire bomber. After retirement from this role in 1988, she was purchased by the 'B-17s around the World Foundation' and subsequently donated to the EAA, where a thorough restoration to WWII configuration began. She's been touring the US since 1994, and proudly wears the colours of 398th BG which flew from Nuthampstead during the war.

Although she's 95% authentic in comparison to her WWII counterparts, she does carry a full, modern avionics suite, as well as extra passenger seats in the rear fuselage, radio room and flightdeck for those lucky enough to enjoy a flight in her. The upper turret is just a dome with dummy barrels fitted to improve access to the flightdeck, but the ball turret is fully operational.

I carried out the simple modifications to the HK kit to bring it up to 'warbird' status by scratch-building the passenger seats, removing and filling the radome on the top of the nose compartment, adding the modern aerials seen on the aircraft and leaving out the top turret mechanism. Armour plate was removed from the pilots' seats, and the flightdeck oxygen system was also removed. I painted the interior olive green as the original, as unlike her wartime sisters she's painted internally. Wooden floors and ammo boxes were recreated using the superb HGW decals, and a final touch was a scratch-built rear access door and entry step as well as a ladder stored in the bomb-bay as often seen when these Forts are on tour. Decals came from KitsWorld, and paints were automotive acrylics.

Boeing B-17G-105-VE s/n 44-85740, civil reg. N5017N 'Aluminum Overcast'

Reader reactions:
12  Awesome

16 additional images. Click to enlarge.

23 responses

  1. Another Probert masterpiece. I just want to know how much the home addition cost for storing all these huge 1/32 masterpieces - B-29, Halifax, two of these, etc. I don't even want to think how crazy you're going to go when H-K releases the Lancaster in January. 🙂

  2. Beautifully done, sir...workmanship beyond my skill level. Better use high strength monofilament line when ya - I assume - hang 'em up. LOL

    • They all live in the attic, Craig. I have some industrial racking installed in the eves. Room is getting tight up there now though, and I still have a 1/32nd Stirling and Sunderland to add to the collection!

      • I seem to remember that HK provided a wall mount in the kit. Is this so? (And if yes, how sturdy is it actually?) It would be a nice way to display them without taking up a lot of square footage in the house or relegating them to the attic.

  3. Big bird !

    Nice paint and build.

  4. very nice build, great work.

  5. Really great looking model Thomas! I like the subject you have chosen.
    California Steve

  6. Amazing job, well done! Would so love to have the space to justify having one of these...

  7. Nicely done. Great detail.

  8. Very nice build and very attractive scheme. Good modeling Thomas.

  9. Very nice model. At OSH in 2003 I woke up to the Aluminum Overcast making its first landing of the day from taking passengers on sightseeing flights. You really captured the feel of the pane.

  10. Lovely model Thomas. Did I read you right? You've done two of these?
    I guess that's the double garage gone then! Seriously; a great model.

    • Yes, Tony - this is my second. The B-17 is my favourite aircraft of all time and I just can't resist them! If HK release an early G, then an F, and an E... I can see myself in the divorce courts!

  11. Impressive, very good painting !

  12. I think these cone with wall mounts? Interesting take on the subject, and finely modelled.

  13. Wow, just wow, I don't know what else to say, but I'm reminded of a guy who built himself a full size catamaran at home and then found that it was too big to manoeuvre down his road to launch it...

  14. Thomas, I'm awed by your build. Superb craftsmanship in every respect.

  15. Great looking fortress. And a fun choice of subjects! I'm with you - I avoid NMF whenever possible!

  16. Many, many thanks for the kind comments, folks. You kind words and critique of the model are very much appreciated.


  17. Very beautiful! Congratulation! I built a Fortress some years ago in 1:72 but in that small scale that was huge comparing to my other builts 🙂 I mean this bird must be really BIG! 🙂

  18. Great project Thomas. I wish I had the space to build them this big!

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