Memorial Day tribute to a fallen family member. Monogram 1/48 B-25 J ”Stuff”

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  • Louis Gardner said 11 months, 4 weeks ago:

    Here’s another build that I have been wanting to do for several years. I took it as a sign to get it in gear and do something about it, when my fellow friend Rob Anderson posted up his latest vintage Monogram B-25 G score………. Plus I have been in contact with several others about specific information on a family member that we lost during WW2.

    Tommy was my Dad’s Cousin.

    There is no better time than the present.

    His name was Staff Sgt. Thomas Bricen, and he was a top turret gunner in B-25 bombers. He flew with the 445th Bomb Squadron, 321st Bomb Group and flew 58 missions from Corsica.

    Sadly he and his entire crew perished on October 3rd, 1944 over Italy. Their plane, which was a B-25 J-1, serial number 43-27753, (named “Evora”) took a direct hit from an 88 MM Flak gun over the target during the actual bomb run. The plane was hit on the Port side engine, which immediately caught fire. The plane dropped from formation and a few seconds later, the wing fell off. The plane spiraled downwards, now blazing even more furiously. Only one parachute was observed, but it was on fire too, and it failed causing the crewman suspended below it to plunge to his death. This was probably a blessing in disguise, as the crewman’s clothes were on fire. It was presumed the parachute was one of the gunners from the crew, most likely the tail gunner.

    Here’s a photo of Tommy. He is sitting on top of a B-25 next to a top turret.

    The 445th crews didn’t have a “regularly” assigned plane that they flew in. Instead, they flew missions in what was available. I have been doing some research over the past few years now, and have compiled a list of planes that Tommy flew in.

    He flew at least two missions in “Stuff”, tail number “07” serial number 43-27680.

    He may have flown more missions in this plane, but I have yet to finish reading all of the unit’s combat journal. However there are some dates that no entries were made, so it’s “incomplete”.

    So far the dates I have Tommy listed as a crew member in this plane are May 26th, 1944, and June 5th, 1944.

    Once I saw that bombshell decals had a set of decals for various B-25’s that operated from Corsica, I had to get my hands on a set…………..

    Here’s the monogram kit I’ll be starting with.

    and some of the reference materials I have on hand. These are both very good books.

    and this one comes with a great set of decals too, in three scales, 1/32, 1/48, and 1/72………….

    So in typical “Iron Werks” fashion, there may end up being a few B-25’s built…………

    But first I need to finish up some loose ends with a few other kits that are currently on the work bench.

    I wanted to get this one posted today, as a remembrance for Tommy……….. Freedom isn’t free. Here’s proof.

    Please stay tuned.

    and as per usual, “comments are encouraged”.

  • Craig Abrahamson said 11 months, 4 weeks ago:

    We know your tribute build will be outstanding as usual, my friend.

  • Louis Gardner said 11 months, 4 weeks ago:

    Thanks Craig !!! I have been doing a lot of research for this, on and off again for several years. I plan on giving the whole story once the building is done. Tommy flew in many different planes with the 445th.

    We also lost another family member in B-25’s during the War. He was a pilot, named Thomas Smith and flew with the 42nd Bomb Group, 100th Bomb Squadron from the Philippines. If I can ever find a set of decals for a plane that he flew in, I’ll do another tribute build……………

  • Louis Gardner said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Wow !!!! Time has flown by……………. Where did it go ???

    It’s hard to believe it has been 11 months since I posted anything here. Sad really……………. especially since the Group Build has ended.

    I have set myself a deadline to get this build done. I want to have it completed and the article posted about Tommy on October 3rd. This will be the 75th anniversary of his last mission. I think it will be a fitting tribute to him and his crew…………

    However, things happened today. I finally got around to doing some work on this one. And I made a lot of good progress…………….

    I removed all of the larger parts from the plastic trees and started prepping them for assembly. The engine nacelles were glued together.

    The stabilizer and rudder assemblies were completed.

    Here I just test fit them together to see how things look.

    The upper and lower wing halves were glued together.

    and the nacelles were test fit into the lower wing. I will have to make some sort of a spreader bar to help eliminate this gap that is present on each side.

    I have been doing some research on various colors used on the B-25. I found a great source that spelled out the colors used on various parts of the real life “1 to 1 scale” airframe as it was being built by North American. They called for a “Yellow Green” Zinc Chromate color on a lot of various components. Here’s a wartime color picture that I found online. It shows an engine being installed. Judging on the colors used, I’m going to “guess” this is a “D” model.

    Notice the “yellow green” ZC.

    Here you can see other B-25’s on the assembly line. These are the earlier versions that had the upper turret mounted on the rear of the fuselage.

    This next picture shows B-25’s, this time they are a later mark, such as a H or J model, since the upper turret is now located just behind the cockpit. Notice the different shade of Yellow Green present in various places.

    I sprayed the interior of the fuselage using Tamiya XF-4 “Yellow-Green”. This is only the first step. There will be other colors in various compartments.

    I will be using “Dull Dark Green” in the pilots cockpit, and a color to represent “Natural Aluminum” in the bomb bay area.

    The waist gunner positions will remain in the Yellow Green.

    The color is not appearing as it actually looks due to the lighting when I took these pictures. It actually looks very similar to the original color present in the wartime color photo.

    Various other parts were also sprayed in the same color.

    Here is a photo showing the larger parts that are glued together, along with the basic fuselage halves.

    I know the “Nose Art” GB has ended. I just want to carry on with this one. It has a special meaning for me, and I’m sorry I didn’t get it done in time.

    as usual,
    “Comments are encouraged”.

    PS: These photos have been automatically cropped as they were posted. Hopefully this bug will be taken care of soon.

    Good night.

  • David Mills said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    A nice project and tribute Louis!
    The photos are great despite the cropping, love the production line shots and all that zinc cromate!

  • Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 6 days ago:

    Thanks David @davem

    for the kind words………………. I have another installment ready to go. I managed to spray on some other interior colors. Please stay tuned.

  • Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 6 days ago:

    Starting with the cockpit. I sprayed on a color to replicate “Dull Dark Green”. This color was used on the crew compartment exclusively, along with the anti glare panel on top of the instruments.

    If you look close, you will see that I posed the seats offset a little. This was typically done when the plane was parked. The seats would slide fore and aft. This helped the pilot and co pilot to get in and out of the plane.

    I then sprayed the nose gear well using Model Master “Aluminum Plate” non buffing Metallizer. You can see how the wheel well is directly under the “Co” pilots feet.

    The rear bulkhead was left in Yellow Green ZC,

    as was the front section that will become part of the Bombardier / Nose gunner station.

    The bombardier nose section will get the floor painted to look like plywood, or I might do something else. I’ve been thinking about using some very thing balsa wood 1/64″ and staining it. I might do the same thing for the floor of the crawl space / tunnel just below the pilots feet. These flat areas were actually made of plywood on the real B-25. Sometimes they were painted to match the surroundings, while other times they were left as natural wood.

    This next picture shows the basic colors used before the detail painting begins.

    The cockpit side walls were also painted in “Dull Dark Green”, and the interior of the Bomb Bay was painted in Aluminum Plate, the same color used for the nose gear well.

    This picture shows how the cockpit fits into the fuselage. This is only a temporary thing and these parts have not been permanently installed.

    You can also see the anti glare panel is now “Dull Dark Green”

    The bomb bay parts were assembled and the basic painting of Aluminum Plate was done to this area.

    Here’s how they were also test fit into the fuselage:

    Various smaller details still need to be painted. You can see a lot of the details located just under the upper turret.

    The bomb bay doors were sprayed “Aluminum Plate” on the inside.

    as were the inside of the cowlings.

    and the underside of the wings where the engine nacelles will be located. The landing gear bays were left in “Natural Metal” on the real planes.

    So I gave the inside of the Nacelles a quick spray too. Not much will be visible in here once it’s all assembled.

    The propeller hubs were sprayed using the same color………….

    as were the wheel hubs.

    and the cylinders of the engines.

    The landing gear struts were sprayed too…………..

    as were the main gear door insides.

    The Instrument panels and various consoles nearby will get painted black. Then all of the little details will have to be painted. Once this is done, I can start assembling the fuselage together.

    These older Monogram kits have a lot of details built into them. They were cutting edge back when they were first released. Ahhhhhhh the memories of childhood, and building many Monogram kits way back then……………

    As always,
    Comments are encouraged.

    Thanks for looking.

  • Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 3 days ago:

    Today I managed to get a little work done on the cockpit and interior of the B-25. Here are some pictures………………..

    I painted and installed the waist gunner’s seats. The seat belt harness is molded into the part.

    Some little details were painted on the fuselage sidewalls of the cockpit area.

    Details were taken care of in the cockpit as well. The control wheels will get a little more work before installing the completed cockpit assembly.

    I used some thin balsa wood to replicate the wooden floor. On some of these planes this area was painted in the surrounding color. However it was not a requirement to apply a coating on the wooden floor. So I chose to model this using real wood. Once I had the wood trimmed to size, I stained it using “Min Wax” wood stain.

    This area will probably not be all that visible once assembled. But here’s a good look at the crawl through space for the Bombardier / Nose Gunner’s Station.

    Notice how the color looks different under a different light source. Here it looks more like a green than a yellow.

    As usual,
    Comments are encouraged.
    Thanks for stopping by…………

  • david leigh-smith said 2 weeks, 3 days ago:

    “Comments are encouraged”… how about brilliant, interesting, instructive, beautifully shot, skilful, with a lovely personal touch.

    Bravo, Louis, bravo.

  • Paul Barber said 2 weeks, 3 days ago:

    Loving the wooden inserts Louis, and really enjoying catching up on this. Already hooked!

  • Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Hello Gentlemen !!!! @dirtylittlefokker @yellow10

    I sincerely appreciate the kind words.

    I need to clarify one thing about the wooden floors……………….. On some of the restored B-25’s that I have been inside, they floor tunnel was left “as is” with a metal surface. Some of these were painted in a shade of green, and others were simply an aluminum color / unpainted metal.

    Here’s a picture that I took from inside a B-25 that shows the tunnel. You will notice that it is in a natural unpainted state of bare aluminum.

    Yet I have also seen some with plywood covering this area. The plywood was also painted green to match the interior.

    So it’s anyone’s best guess as to what it was when these planes were delivered from the factory. I chose to build this one using wood for several reasons……………

    I happen to like how it looks being the first and most obvious reason. Secondly, it adds some detail as it’s not all a shade of green.

    The interior of this older Monogram B-25 is not very accurate in some ways, yet in other ways it looks pretty decent. This is especially true when you consider this kit originated in the early 1980’s, with the first version Monogram released was a B-25H with a cannon nose. It appeared around 1977 or so.

    I looked at some of my Accurate Miniatures B-25 kits in the stash and they have some great looking details.

    But for the cost involved, and since most of this interior detail will be hard to see once the fuselage is glued together, this “golden oldie” from Monogram is still a hard one to beat.

    I wanted to perfect the “wooden floor” look for an upcoming B-17G “”A Bit -O- Lace” and B-24J “A Dragon and it’s Tail”. Both of these planned future builds are also the older Monogram 1/48 kits, and will be finished in Bare Metal Foil.

    So please stay tuned for these two……………….

  • Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Today I got a little more done on “Stuff”…………….. Please follow along and I’ll explain.

    This plane will be a dedicated “Tail sitter” without some weights added to change the center of gravity. I had an idea after looking at the Accurate Miniatures B-25’s in the stash. They came with metal inserts that slid along the nose wheel tunnel provided in the kit. This was a nice touch……….

    Since this one is going to be a Glass Nosed version, I don’t have much room for weight in the nose.
    So I took a cue from the AM B-25’s…………

    I had these metal weights to use in my AMT A-20 Havoc kit that currently resides on the “shelf of doom”. These are sold for use in pine wood derby cars. This is not your typical “soft” lead material. I tried to cut some of the weights with side cutter pliers, and even used a hack saw with a metal cutting blade……………. It has to be some sort of galvanized steel, as it is very hard to cut. The weights will break apart from the brick, with some force along the seams.

    The flat weights also have a two sided tape included……….. nice.

    Here you can see the flat weights opened and broken apart for use.

    I have some round weights too. I’ll add some of these inside the engine nacelles just behind the engines. Hopefully this will be enough to keep the tail from dragging………. like an alligator. (a little “Florida” humor there).

    The flat weights fit very nicely behind the crawl through tunnel to the Bombardier’s position. I stacked as many as I could in there.

    Then I gave it a test fit………………… I was happy with the results, so I glued the cockpit in place. This effectively trapped the weights in position. The double sided tape will keep things in place.

    I wanted to go this route, as I have read where it’s bad to use CA glue and lead. The two don’t mix very well. It supposedly starts a chemical reaction that causes the lead to start turning into a powder that expands. It continues to expand for quite a long while and can crack open seams.

    I have never tried this, so I can’t vouch for it first hand. Everything you read on the internet is true right ???? 🙂

    A little touch up paint along the bulkhead where it meets the sidewall, and this should be good to go.

    I’ll test fit the fuselage with the wings and tail surfaces taped in position to determine how much more weight will be needed.

    As always,
    “Comments are encouraged.”

  • Paul Barber said 2 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Thanks for the update, Louis – fantastic detailing. Impressive throughout in terms of interior – especially the IPs! I guess knowing this plane so well must help! The use of weights is ingenious, too. The family link to this build makes it exceptionally poignant. It will be a real labour of love I am sure. That said I am also quite excited to hear that one of these will be getting your bare metal foil treatment at a later point – that will be quite something to see, too!

  • Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 1 day ago:

    You’re quite welcome Paul. @yellow10

    This build has a special meaning for me for obvious reasons. I am planning on building up another one fairly soon. Ironically, our family lost Two members in B-25’s during the War. Besides this Tommy, with the last name of Bricen, the other family member was a pilot flying with the 100th Bomb Squadron, 42nd Bomb Group (known as the “Crusaders”) from the Philippines.

    Both of these men were sons from two different sisters of my Grandfather. My Grandpa came form a large family and had many siblings.

    His first name was also Thomas. 1st Lt. Thomas V. Smith. This “other Tommy” was also killed in a “J” model B-25.

    They never recovered his body or anyone from his crew. All they found was wreckage debris and an oil slick where they hit the water. This “Tommy” and his crew all still remain at the bottom of the Sulu Sea not far from Palawan. Our family placed a headstone in his remembrance in the family cemetery in Pennsylvania.

    He was lost on Sunday morning, April 8th, 1945. The unit commander was also killed in the crash. The Unit Commander was the Pilot in Command at the time the crash occurred. It was a training mission…………and going from memory, there were 4 or more pilots on board at the time.

    I hope to have a model of his plane done by next April and if things go as planned, I’ll post it up here on Imodeler. Unfortunately so far I have not found any pictures of his plane, but I do have a general idea as to how it looked. So I will probably just build it without any nose art, and simply go with the serial number on the rudder / fin assembly and a “Crusader’s” tail emblem. Something like this one here. These are actual planes from his unit at the time he was killed.

    The B-25’s really look good in a natural metal finish. They just pop !!!

    Thanks for the comments……………. Here’s another posting showing today’s progress.

  • Louis Gardner said 2 weeks, 1 day ago:

    Tonight I got some more work done on the B-25 “Stuff”……………..

    The small details were painted on the bomb bay center section.

    Then the small details inside the fuselage were given the same treatment.

    Once I was happy with the results, I glued the bomb bay into position. The interior is starting to look a little “busy” now………….

    This next photo will give you an idea as to how this is shaping up.

    In order to keep the bomb bay tight against the “Starboard” half of the fuselage, I placed the other fuselage half against it and clamped things together.

    This clamp will come off tomorrow morning after everything has had sufficient time to dry.

    Then I will separate the fuselage haves, since they are not glued together. The I have a little more detail work to do inside the bomb bay, add the radios, and complete the tail gunner’s position.

    Then I can permanently glue the fuselage together……………

    I did a quick mock up to check on the nose weights. More will have to be added inside the engine nacelles ahead of the main gear…………….. If not, this one will drag it’s back side.

    As usual,
    Comments are encouraged.

    Thanks for looking and have a good night.

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