There are plenty of 4 engine bombers with their respective variants that were used during the Second World War, but none more significant and well recognized than the Boeing B-17, The Flying Fortress. Up to this day, this is still the most famous and most respected bomber that was used in the war, despite claims made from the Brits with their Avro Lancaster, and the historians with their howl about the Boeing B-29.
Nope. The Flying Fortress is still The King when people start to talk about bombers both – in real life and in scale. And even though on the modeling market we recently saw 32nd scale Liberator, two new Lancasters and promises for even more, news about B-17 being released in any scale is always….well, news!
Quarter scale is dominated by few companies, and everybody were surprised when HK Models announced a Boeing B-17 in 48th. That is probably because they already have a 32nd scale options. And nothing to show for when it comes down to 48th. So why scaling down? Well, maybe there are fans waiting for that. Or maybe, HK Models are more ambitious that we thought and are aiming at the mighty quarter scale. But nothing is more important than the end result. So what did we get? Let’s see:
The box that the first HK Models’ 48th scale kit comes in is surprisingly small. Light too. It features superb boxart, but not so attractive price-tag. It is also made in a nice and presentable way, so you might be tempted to buy the kit even without thinking what you are getting inside. After all, this is not the first 48th scale kit of the Flying Fortress on the market. Its greatest advantage is, that is the newest. That is not bad, considering there are plenty new-coming modelers, from younger generations, that will consider this the base line for their modeling experience. Maybe HK Models are aiming towards them. To set a new standard. But that are just our thoughts here, nothing more.
The sheet is printed on a very nice quality paper and is surprisingly thick. That comes from the weight of the sheets mostly, not because of the many steps included inside. There is always a let-down in one way or another with kits produced in China. You have to remember – this is not Tamiya. For HK Models especially, that is nothing new, and here it comes with the fact that this kit, with its price tag has nothing better to show, than black and white instruction sheet.
Many argued about this issue, which was mentioned more than once in regards to HK Models, but this is beyond any doubt – a very nasty surprise. It could’ve been far better, at least for the “color” profiles, which are lacking color here. There are some mistakes with the colors guide description, but that is nothing compared to the previous statement.
Other than that, the steps are clearly depicted and easy to follow, even though the engineering is a bit over-done. That is a pleasing fact for many of course, and can be seen from opposing perspectives. A matter of personal preference, one might say. Some like it more tricky, while others prefer straight-forward builds. Unfortunately, when it comes down to newly released Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, this is the only one we have currently.
Overall the plastic is with good quality. There are not weak spots or big sink marks at first glance, mostly pleasant experience once you get to open the box. Some questionable attachment points here and there. It is light gray, spread out throughout a decent number of sprues, with some details very well thought out, and others not that much. Again, typical modern Chinese quality.
Surface details are superb, with countless rivets and nice panel lines mostly, however it is not yet clear how accurate that is. HK Models pay a lot of attention to the surface details and here you can tell from the first glimpse. Of course, for those who want to improve, there will be always the re-scribing and re-riveting option, but what we saw from the beginning is pretty pleasing.
Shape-wise, the kit already received some comments and according to Boeing B-17 modeling experts, there might be some accuracy-issues embedded. That can be said for any other kit as well, but since HK Models need to prove their place on the market and this is their first 48th scale tooling, they should thread lightly. A noisy slap from the fans won’t be a good start. Those potential inaccuracies are still unconfirmed though.
The kit is only weeks from its official release and many are still waiting for their orders at the time of this review, so we are far from a firm conclusion. Even if there are weak spots, in time either aftermarket, or ingenuity of the modelers will solve those in no time. There are no perfect scale model kits. That goes for all scales and manufacturers. Most definitely for HK Models and many of the newcomers on the market.
Oh, and let’s not forget there is an interior too! That’s right. For such a thick bird, that was kinda mandatory if you think of it that way. And HK Models did a very nice job with that too, as seen on the pictures. Detailing is pretty neat and some very tricky things were polished, implying that real modelers were involved into the design process from the get go. Latter one is always a wise decision, because if you get models made by modelers, you are always sure that the questions that you might have are responded to. At least to some extent.
Clear Parts, Decals & PE
HK Models did a great job with the clears. They look very nice and well designed all-around. Transparency is not perfect, but is not bad either. The only real criticism on the transparency is in regards to the turrets. However, they are small and round, which creates self-explanatory problems. Overall, the clear parts are pretty nice with this Boeing B-17 release.
Decals seem to be a bit dark on the colors, however this is different for everyone’s eye perception and cannot be treated as an issue. The film is thin and barely visible around the edges of the decal. They create nice first impression, however Boeing B-17 in 48th scale is still rather large and masks are always better for the insignia. Despite that, mask sets cannot cover the nose art of the aircraft 99% of the time and the decals come as a great tool for solving this problem. So still, they are important and we think that HK Models did good on that end too.
Photo-etch does not worth commenting much. It is small sheet and is not an overly complex one per se. You can judge from the pictures, but we strongly believe that aftermarket companies will hit this weakness very hard, which is always good for modelers. Neither of the parts included in the OOB set is unique and irreplaceable. On the contrary. Any photo-etch aftermarket company can do better on those.
It could’ve been better. Especially with that price-tag. As mentioned before, they are depicted in black and white, which is, for lack of a better word, a shame. Another letdown with the options included is the fact that there are only two available. But one man’s failure can be another man’s triumph, so let’s give it to the aftermarket companies with the chance that they’ll get with that. There are hundreds of options in regards to the early Boeing B-17Gs and even though some will look alike, still the nose-art will be important factor. At DN Models, a new line of masks sets for the B-17s in 48th scale is emerging as well. There will be couple of sets and luckily, they will fit more than just this HK Models release.
And speaking of that, what is the potential
of this Boeing B-17? Maybe the label on the box, stating “series” is a strong enough hint.
Well, looking at the 32nd scale line that HK Models already offers, it won’t be much of a surprise if we see it duplicated in 48th. The Flying Fortress has enough potential to be a very good seller in any scale. In many possible options too. Besides, the fact that the quarter scale variant is significantly less space demanding, true fans will most likely go for more than one kit. Especially if they are happy with the potential upcoming releases. Who knows, HK Models might even go smaller.
It is too early to conclude about the first quarter scale line attempt made from HK Models. However, we can share our conclusion about this particular kit. It is not bad, although it is very far from perfect. Its price tag is demanding too. Maybe because it is the first of the line. Maybe because it is new tooling. Or maybe, HK Models are just testing out the market. It is certain that they can afford it. What is the real reason though, only HKM can tell.
The kit has the potential to be turned into a beautiful 48th scale representation of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and that is enough for many. Plenty actually. After all, modeling for some people is improving the base kit by adding this and that, in attempt to make it perfect. It is good to have such kit in that scale and in new tooling in 2019. Better late than never!
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was, is and always will be a legend. So no matter how many small glitches this kit might show, it’ll still be a great option. It is recommended for any B-17 fan and one thing we can promise: its tooling and general approach is quite modern. In the end, you will enjoy it!