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Old Feb 09, 2013, 10:32 PM
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Foamie B-17 Scale Build Thread - "Texas Raiders"

Starmax 79" B-17G "Texas Raiders" - Scale Updates



The near 80" Starmax B-17G is a great kit to modify into a great scale warbird - easily and within a relatively low budget.

Modifications include:
  • Crew placement (using Dollar Store Army Figures)
  • Custom Paint
  • Updated Cowls
  • New Top Turret, Ball Turret, Chin Turret, Tail Turret
  • Weathering
  • Wheel Updates, including Support Struts
  • Machine Guns
  • Antenna
  • Hidden Tail Linkages (Rudder and Elevator)
  • Single Piece Wing
  • Wiring Harness
  • Transport Box


The Starmax kit has some of the better scale form factor aspects and minimizes much of the fabrication required to bring some of the other Forts up to par. That's not to say Starmax didn't miss some key areas (those cowls and the R2D2 Top Turret?) - but the limited panel depth and overall outline are fairly good. Most enhancements are extremely simple and low cost and greatly add to the overall appearance of the bird.

I couldn't pass up building "TR" (Texas Raiders) from the CAF - 381st Bombardment Grp (Heavy), 533rd Bomb Squadron. Plus, ole' Shep Payne's classic diorama of the crashed "Lady in Pink" was a 381st ship.

Let's do this:
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Old Feb 09, 2013, 11:02 PM
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The Office

I was a bit taken back by the sheer size of the components and needed to make special arrangements in the shop to make sure hangar rash didn't eat the bird up before the field.

Let's start in the office:

1) A capable crew was quickly needed to fill the "ghost ship" look of the cockpit. Went on ebay and purchased the 5 inch Green Army Men and did some hacking. Changed heads and poses to get 4 key figures: Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombadier, Tail Gunner. Around $3-$5.

Created pilot caps out of depron foam and painted accordingly. Left "flak" helmets on Bombadier and Tail Gunner

2) Remove canopy frame and perspex nose. Chisel out nose foam to create the illusion of a thin wall - otherwise when looking in the nose, the sidewalls of foam look about 10" thick (scale).

3) Paint cockpit and back of nose black to create depth. Paint nose floor/walls zinc chromate (Quick tip - Sage Green Acrylic Craft Paint)

I used acrylic modeling paste (I use Liquitex) to hide fuse seam lines - remember plastic model building? Same concept.
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Old Feb 09, 2013, 11:41 PM
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Painting

This bird is big and for projects of this size, I like to use spray paint cans whenever possible (aka rattle cans here in the south) as the airbrush takes far too long and leverages too small of a paint reservoir. Many of the big box retailers (H Depot and WallyWorld) carry a great line of camo, matte finish colors. I chose an Olive Drab for the topsides and a simple can of gray primer for the bottom (of course red for the tail surfaces and wingtips). I'm not too worried about exact color matching as I'll enhance the colors with the airbrush later.

As with many of the other Starmax/FMS/etc. kits, many come with descent insignia/decals already in place. I couldn't lift these without tearing them apart, so to save some time, I did the following.

- Decals you want to keep from the original paintscheme (i.e. - stars/bars, wing insignia, etc), spray over with an acrylic fixative (not harsh clear enamels) or mix 1:1 parts white glue and water and paint over the decals to secure them. Once dry, mask with painter's purple masking tape (NOT blue or plain masking tape). It takes time to follow curves and cut complex shapes, but beats having to create new insignia when possible. If you're lucky, sometimes you can even lift the decals and re-attach. These Starmax decals are permanently adhered, so masking was the preferred alternative.

Purple Tape: http://twicsy.com/i/QmBFf

Key Tip:

- I blacked out all other windows on the aircraft to create depth. Peeking into a white foam interior is not optimal and the kit begins to look like a real aircraft with this simple trick. I use a sign printer roll of vinyl (black) and cut sizes to cover over the hole in the foam inside the fuse where the windows are located - not on the actual window. The vinyl is adhesive backed so just peel and stick.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 07:27 AM
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Cowls and Turrets

I pointed my attention to the most glaring issues with this kit: cowls and turrets

There are many other inaccuracies including cheek and waist window placement but with the flying season fast approaching, I focused the effort on the more significant issues:

Cowls - overall shape needs correction

Top Turret - too small and looks more like the head of R2D2 - "These aren't the turrets you're looking for."

Chin Turret - Much too large and wide. I attempted to rework the existing chin piece, but later threw it out for a completely new unit.

Ball Turret - This one isn't too bad and is workable. However, the window detail is incorrect and I started working up plans for a new one.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 08:11 AM
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Cowls

I added the 3 3/4" B-17 Cowls from ParkFlyer Plastics - very good outline and includes a simulated Wright 1820 engine. Highly recommended -

I backed out the 2 screws holding the original cowl and used them to secure the ParkFlyer version. The most time was spent cutting in between each cylinder to allow cooling for the motors.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 08:36 AM
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Engine Photos - TR

Here are a couple of behind the scenes photos of TR during routine engine maintenance.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 08:37 AM
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This will be one nice looking B17 when you get finished
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 08:43 AM
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Top Turret

"Bugman Jeff" here on RCG has created some great vacuum-formed turrets for this kit - for both the top and ball turrets.

To simplify the process, Jeff kept the size of the top turret in line with the smaller kit turret. I opted to vacuum up my own version as I'm not married to the original kit lines.

Positive Mold:

I created a positive mold by gluing discs of depron together to build up the shape. I chucked the entire assembly in the drill press and sanded them smooth. Sand a rounded bevel to the shape and then sand down the flattened front "face" of the turret.

Fiberglass:

To stiffen the shape, I dropped a quick piece of 3/4 oz fiberglass cloth and used foam safe CA glue to adhere. No need going through epoxy for this small part. Then I filled the weave with black artist's gesso.

PETG:

I like PETG plastic for vacuum forming and only buy clear so I can make windows or paint for other parts. For this part, I used 12" square sheets and created a frame out of scrap lumber. Staple the sheet to the frame.

Mold:

I didn't acutally vacuum form this part as its not necessary. I simply mounted the foam mold into a vice, heated the PETG over the stove burner and quickly pushed the frame down over the mold.

Frame:

I don't bother molding the frame into the mold as the edges look too soft. Instead, I use adhesive-based Aluminum/Foil Tape (for HVAC) spray painted the same color as the fuse, then trimmed, and applied. I love this stuff as its thin, pliable, and takes paint well.

The clear plastic was glued to a depron foam base with Pica RC56 glue (canopy glue) and then secured at 6 points with small head sewing pins. I use these often with foamies to tightly secure components to foam.
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Last edited by Comstock; Feb 14, 2013 at 07:34 PM.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 08:45 AM
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Thanks Spaceshuttle 1 - It's been a great kit to start from. Stay tuned...
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 09:07 AM
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Ball Turret

The kit ball turret is actually one of the more descent components included with the kit. However, Bugman's work is far surperior and I opted to go with his part instead.

- The kit supplied guns, although include the holes from the cooling shrowd, are far too chunky and look like mini howitzers.

- I replaced all the kit machine guns with lengths of aluminum tubing with a slightly larger aluminum ring on each barrel.

- To secure the new ball turret better, I cut some blocks from the kits foam packing box to widen the base.

- Again used canopy glue and sewing pins to secure the ball turret.
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Last edited by Comstock; Feb 10, 2013 at 09:16 AM.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 09:15 AM
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Chin Turret

I attempted to keep the kit's chin turret, but once again, the shape was all wrong and I gave up on reworking it.

For the new chin assembly, I glued a small stack of depron discs together, sanded to shape and wrapped in fiberglass with CA. Very similar to the mold for the top turret, except the mold became the part.

Next, it was coated in 2 coats of artist's Gesso and sanded between coats. Painted with gray and used some old pushrod wires to secure the guns.

The black stripes are made with electrical tape cut to shape. Simple, but it should look fine for standoff purposes.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 09:29 AM
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Cheyenne Tail Gun

Tail gun position - unfortunately is prone to all kinds of bumping and transport damage.

I opted to make the aluminum guns removable and to do this, put some "snakey" bends into a pushrod armature. Just enough bends to allow the guns to slide on and off snugly. They also travel up and down so they can be positioned for safer travel.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 09:50 AM
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Decals

Needed to get some custom decals put together.

Some folks have a real challenge using decal paper in their inkjet printers and one of the issues often is that decal paper does have a shelf life. I picked up some new sheets from MicroMark (both clear and white backing).

For the decals of "Texas Raiders" nose art and the bomb markings, I add an olive green background in the digital file to blend the decal into the kit's paint so I don't have to cut out each bomb individually.

Once printed, use Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic (or similar) to set the decals after printing. http://www.krylon.com/products/crystal_clear_acrylic/

Takes about 20 minutes to dry. Then apply with water and spray once more with the Acrylic spray to secure to airframe.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 10:59 AM
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heres mine,,i used 1/18 bbi pilots as crew,,i also rounded / smoothed the top of the canopy /cockpit frame & lowered the height of the front windows,,.added some wipers from a 1/18 toy car,.,.hope you like,
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 11:19 AM
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Love it! The wipers are a great addition - also, the rivet lines and the airbrushing is superb!! Wish we were closer for some formation flying. Go ahead and share more!
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