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George R Blair Jr
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Special Hobby 1/48 Martin Model 167F-A.3 (Maryland)

I was recently reading about the hunt for the battleship Bismarck during WW2, and came across an interesting connection between this plane and the final demise of the warship. The was never used by the USAAF, but was sold to the French just prior to WW2. About 90 of the planes had been delivered before France fell, and the rest were diverted to the British. Most of these bombers were used by the RAF, but three of them were given to the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) for their use. When the British learned that the Bismarck was in a Norwegian fjord, they feared that the battleship was getting ready to break out into the North Atlantic. The FAA began regular reconnaissance flights to keep tabs on the battleship. It was this aircraft, serial AR720, that discovered that the Bismarck had left the fjord, presumably bound for the Atlantic. This discovery led to the actions that eventually destroyed the Bismarck. I thought it would be a cool idea to build a model of AR720. It turns out that there is very little information about these planes, with even fewer photographs available. So, a lot of this build was guess-work. One of the other cool things about these bombers is that they had foward-firing machine guns in the wings. A British pilot named Warburton achieved ace status using the Maryland. Pretty cool.

For those of you who have built kits before, you know there were some challenges to completing this kit. But the completion of this unusual plane was worth the extra effort required to build the model. If you are interested in the nuts and bolt of this build, there is a blow-by-blow description in the Work-in-Progress Group section. All of the decals used on AR720 came from my box of spare decals.

I am glad to be done with this kit, although the problems encountered are certainly not beyond the expertise of any modeler. Before I tackle another Special Hobby kit I think I will build a few kits that have things like locating tabs, everything fits, and has parts that aren't warped. :o)

9 additional images. Click to enlarge.

35 responses

  1. A very fine job on an aircraft not seen modeled to often. I knew about the Maryland but not the narrative about the Bismark siting. I also didn't know about the guns in the wings. Looks great! @gblair.

  2. She's a beauty George! I like seeing unusual subjects modeled and this one was worth the wait!

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Robert (@roofrat) and Jaime (@jetmex). I think having machine guns in the wings might help with the pilot's frustration at not being able to fight back against intercepting fighters.

  4. Great result for all that hard work.

  5. Turned out great George!

  6. The guns in the wings are because the original design was for a USAAC attack bomber (competed with the A-20 unsuccessfully).

    Great work, George. A triumph of skill and tenacity over plastic.

  7. What a wonderful model, George @gblair!
    And what a cool plane the Maryland is!
    It takes skills to tackle those "limited run" kits, let alone to deliver an excellent result, like you did.
    I had the pleasure to follow along your build, and I enjoyed every part of it.

  8. Great job on this George. I've got this kit in the stash and plan on doing a French machine.

  9. 🙂 ... Greetings ... 🙂 :
    Your perseverance can be seen in this fine build of a not very much observed model George.

  10. A really great model and a pleasure to look at! Congratulations and my greatest respect for this masterly result!

  11. This Maryland came out fantastic. @gblair
    It was great to follow your building thread, I learned a lot while reading your progress.
    Nice detail is the metal bar preventing the gunner from hitting the tail.

    • Great eyes, John (@JohnB). The parts associated with the machine guns are ultra-small. Along with the part you mentioned, both the pilot and the rear gunner have photoetch gun sights that are very small. I was amazed I got them on the plane without them disappearing in the carpet. I actually dropped one of the pieces on the cat (She sometimes sleeps on my feet when I work) and I had to brush her to find the part.

  12. Hi George. This sure is a fantastic looking Maryland. I have this kit in the stash and looking at your Maryland I shall definitely endeavor to build it soon. The SAAF also used the Maryland in action against the Italians and Germans in North Africa. It was later replaced by the Douglas Boston, Martin Baltimore and Marauder bombers in SAAF service.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  13. George, it was a real pleasure to follow this build. Well done!

  14. Well done George, your patience and perseverance surely paid off on this fine looking model.

  15. George you've proven that mind over matter can be accomplished in making a Special Hobby kit...special. Nothing short of professional . My only niggle is that I can't see it in person.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Two thumbs up.

    You have my vote for model of the month.

  16. Thanks everyone for the kind words. I'm not sure if my younger self could have built this kit. I would have gotten frustrated and abandoned it at several places in the build.

    Dale (@dtravis) and Morne (@mornem): This build was actually fairly fun, even with all of the fit problems. I had been forewarned about Special Hobby kits, so I was expecting some problems. My biggest problem was melting the forward canopy when I was trying to bend it into shape. As it came in the kit, it was about 1/4 inch too wide. The glass is very thin and the soft plastic doesn't do well in hot water (ask me how I know). The South African paint scheme is very attractive and I think the one I would do if I were to build this plane again. The French plane is also attractive, but with a fairly complex camouflage scheme.

  17. George, @gblair
    This is an outstanding build in all aspects. I like everything about it, and if we still had the "Model of the Month" as Stephen mentioned, this one would definitely get my vote too. It was very enjoyable and educational to watch your plane come to life in the build journal. Now that it's done, do you have any other builds planned for us ? I would personally go for something relatively simple after winning the fight with this one. I'm thinking something like a newer Tamiya kit...

    Your article taught me a few things too, which is good, as I always like to learn new things about our history. Our good friend David Thomas gave me a 1/48 scale Monogram PBY Catalina, along with the markings for the plane that found the Bismark after contact was lost. This PBY was credited with finding the ship just before she was sunk. I promised to build it for him and started a build journal here on Imodeler, but that's as far as it went. I do plan on getting it finished, but I have to finish what I have started before I can get back the the Catalina... Here's a link to the build log if you're interested.

    You did a fantastic job with your Maryland, and I pressed the "liked" button too. Stay safe my friend.

  18. Thanks, Louis (@lgardner). I appreciate your comments. I remember your PBY article, but I lost track of it. Have you finished it?

    I have watched two movies recently that have renewed my interest in that early period of WW2: the first was the latest version of Midway, and the second was Greyhound with Tom Hanks. I am currently mulling the idea of building the planes used in the Battle of Midway with appropriate markings.

    Next, I would like to build something for either the Korean War group or the Desert Storm group. For Desert Storm, I am thinking about a C-141B, and for Korea, either a RF-80 or (I cringe when I say this) a Valom RB-45C.

    • The PBY is still sitting idle in the box. But it’s going to take center stage once I complete some of the current projects. As far as the choices you have made for future group build projects I would probably pick the C-141 Desert Storm subject. I don’t know too much about the other one. Since our Korean War group build is going to last 3 years, you will have time to build both. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for us next.

  19. Great job. I finished mine years ago and went through the same as you. Lol. It's worth it. We won't be seeing any other released anytime soon.
    Great work.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

    • Great camouflage on your French version, Paul (@paulwoodyvanacker). I am glad I built this kit, and I had fun building it, but I am not in too much of a hurry to build another Special Hobby kit.

      • Thanks mate. I nearly did the same colours as yours but went the French captured British instead. So many options, but one is enough. Lol.
        They're worth doing cause of the subject matter. I've done many. The hardest by far was the Fiat Br20 but the end result was very worth it.

  20. Congratulations George !
    Great skill and patience to overcome the hurdles, and the result was well worth it !
    Looking forward to your next project

  21. Thanks everyone for the nice comments. It was a fun to build, if you overlook the canopy I melted in hot water trying to get it to fit. :o)

  22. George,

    I know zero about the Maryland but what you've relayed in this article, and really found the background interesting. That said, a lovely job on a c**p kit- paint ing, decals tasing all lovely!

  23. Excellent! I'm even more motivated now to pull out my Maryland and take a run at it! Looks fantastic. I know what you mean about short-run kits, but in the end I'm always glad I tackled the unusual subject that generally isn't available anywhere else.

  24. Thanks Stan (@howardcgreen33) and Greg (@gkittinger). Looking forward to your Maryland build, Greg. Just don't be tempted to put your canopy in boiling water. :o)

  25. Beautiful work on your build, you put in a lot of work to make this look amazing!

  26. Thanks, Bob (@v1pro). This was definitely not a shake-and-bake kit, and it put a lot more gray in my hair. It was all worth it in the end.

  27. Wonderful, awesome job

  28. Thanks, Christopher (@chupajs). I am sure you faced many of the same challenges as I did building your Maryland. Looking forward to your next build.

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