Portuguese SB-17G; (Conversion from B-17G)
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1/72 Portuguese SB-17G
The B-17G was the final version of the Flying Fortress, incorporating all changes made to its predecessor, the B-17F. Many B-17Gs were converted for other missions such as cargo hauling, engine testing and reconnaissance. Initially designated SB-17G, a number of B-17Gs were also converted for search-and-rescue duties and weather missions, later to be redesignated B-17H.
B-17s were still used in the Pacific later in the war, however, mainly in the search and rescue role. A number of B-17Gs, redesignated B-17Hs and later SB-17Gs, were used in the Pacific during the final year of the war to carry and drop lifeboats to stranded bomber crews who had been shot down or crashed at sea. These aircraft were nicknamed Dumbos and remained in service for many years after the end of World War II.
Work on using B-17s to carry airborne lifeboats had begun in 1943, but they entered service in the European theatre only in February 1945. About 130 B-17s were converted to the air-sea rescue role, at first designated B-17H and later SB-17G. For this role, a large radome for an S-band AN/APS-20 search radar was fitted underneath the fuselage and additional internal fuel tanks were added for longer range.
By early 1950's the USA sold four SB-17 to Portugal to be used in the Azores archipelago in the SaR role. They soon became relegate to weather missions as the UH-19 proved more efficient.
One of the Portuguese pilots that flew those mission (both on the SB-17 as on the UH-19) was Commander Peixoto Rodrigues. His sons gave me the grateful honour of build their father aircraft, providing me a lot of photographs and even his flight logbook.
The challenge was immense, and failure was not an option, I had to build a nice model: Alea jacta est
Having decided on the scale (1/72), it remains to choose a suitable kit. My option went to the (then) new Airfix. The kit as a new tool and seemed well engineered. Sure, it was a simple G, not an SB, but I would do all the scratch and modifications needed.
As we decided to build the plane that the Commander Peixoto Rodrigues flew on the 3rd of January, 1954 from Lajes, Azores to Sal, Cape Verde, plate number had to be 7404 (from his logbook).
Building and painting
As always, I started on the cockpit and other interior compartments, scratching some detail although nothing will be seen when closed. On this stage I also removed all the gun towers and prepare her to be an SB.
Having the fuselage closed, primed it in gloss black in order to prepare it to the aluminium coat.
At this point I have to say that the kit is really well engineered as it is possible to build and paint the fuselage and the wings separately, gluing them only at the end.
Having no decals for this national version, I decided to home-print my own and paint all that I could.
It was masking time ?but, at the end, it worth!
After all the aluminium paint I decided to make the rivets. Quite crazy at this time, but I was hoping to benefit from the black primer. It was a long shot, but yes, it turned out ok!
Having the paint done, it was time for fixing the landing gears (which have nice detail, by the way), gloss coating and applying the few decals that were not painted. After that I applied just a subtle weathering as this was not a war bird.
Using lots of photo references and technical drawings from the net, all the antennas and radar radome was reproduced.
The build ended with the wings fixed and light coat of semi-gloss over the white section of the fuselage and an extra matt over the anti-glare panel as well as small details like some dust pigments on the tyres.
At last it was time to stretch some cable to the antenas and fixing the propelers.
It was a nice kit to build, with a lot of research work, conversion and the build itself.
Some 80 well spent hours 🙂
Hope you like,