Nighttime Nemesis

Building HobbyBoss' P-61 Black Widow - Customer Build & Guest Post by Rick Cockrum

I recently shared with Jef at Squadron workbench my build of the BIG 1/32 scale Hobby boss  P-61B Black Widow. At over 740 pieces, this was the most ambitious project I have ever attempted. And without question, this big bird challenged my skills.

Still, colorful language used during the month and a half project, and determination brought it to a successful conclusion. And Jef kindly asked me to do a write up for the blog. I was honored to say yes.

Before I chronicle the build, a brief history of-me. At 61, I am an average modeler, at best. Beyond decals, my idea of aftermarket parts is my spares box and simple scratch building. I’ve been building since I was a kid and possess a moderate level of building skills.

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Now, to the kit. It looks fantastic when you first open the box. At over 740 pieces, it’s a complicated build. NOT for any 14 year old of today, unless they happen to be an engineering prodigy.

It includes a 20 millimeter cannon shell’s worth of nose weight that definitely keeps it from being a tail sitter. It also includes a set of white metal landing gear, as well as(why?), a plastic set and the standard vinyl tires.

There are two frets of OK photo etch parts included. The decal markings are way lacking, and too incorrect for such a high cost-average $150-$160-kit.

Go with, preferably an Eagle decals set. And the red wing-walk lines included with the kit decals aren’t even remotely similar to the widows. Go with good quality trim tape for them. The surface detail is well done, and very fine. So be prepared for some re-scribing of panel lines around fill and sand areas. The cockpit, and particularly the R/O’s station in the rear of the crew nacelle are well appointed, and are probably the best aspect of this big kit.

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And now, the build. The instruction manual is somewhat vague in spots, and is virtually devoid of color call outs throughout.  I used reference photos of the aircraft, and the instruction manual from my 1/48 scale Revell P-61 to combat this.

The assembly takes place in 40 steps, and as usual, starts with the cockpit. This, and the RO station are very well done, with two exceptions. First, the instrument panel. It is represented as a single clear part, and a basic instrument decal! Not even a film for the instruments? Really! And second is the seat belts.

The PE ones HB included will look good in my aforementioned 48 scale Revell P-61 when I build it. But for this one, I went with the excellent Eduard seat belt set with good results. The kit itself, by the nose, and the main landing gear doors represents actually, a P-61A. As to the actual build-it was a challenge.

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The cockpit and RO station went together well. Then the problems started. Once I tried to close up the crew/weapon nacelle, it refused to do so without brute force and overnight clamping.

I build my models, unless they’re in some sort of maintenance diorama, closed up and looking like they’re just getting ready to take off and go kill something, or they’ve just come back from same.

So there came my next problem. The doors and panels around the cannon bay refused to line up with the cannon barrels, nor correctly fit in anyway. I ended up cutting the barrels off the cannons.

Then after several hours of sanding filing and cutting in the door/panel mounting area, followed by brute force, a lot of gorilla super glue gel, I fought everything into being mostly properly aligned. I then cemented the cannon barrel ends back into the ports. Then came the engines, the booms, the wings, and more problems!

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The engines are kits in themselves. However, they won’t fit in the engine nacelles when fully assembled-at all! Now the valve rockers around each row of cylinders in the engines are separate parts, and the Pratt and Whitney R2800s look beautiful when finished.

But in order to get them to seat in the cowlings, I had to cut all the valve rockers off the front row of cylinders, and brute force was still required to get them seated in the cowlings.

And then came trying to put this whole beast together. And a quarter of a tube of squadron filler later, that job was done.

There were gaps at the wing roots, the rear stabilizer to boom, and the wing to boom that required a good deal of filling and sanding. I corrected the nose to a b by sanding away all the details, then added a 1/8 inch thick strip styrene spacer to get it to the correct extended nose length of the b.

I left the main landing gear doors uncorrected for now. One other inaccuracy are the prop blades. They represent a P-61c or F-15 reporter variant of the aircraft.

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For those building this kit who want total accuracy, Quick boost makes a corrected prop set for the b. But I went with the props supplied. Know this readers, as the average modeler I will forever be, I am more than satisfied with the result even though it’s full of flaws, and, the requisite cat hairs that my feline supervisors always add to my models.

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The figures used are the Zoukei mura ‘briefing set’ intended for their mustang. They are really nice.

In conclusion, for the $150-$160 price tag, Hobby boss could have done a little better. But, with proper work, and cussing, it does build into a nice looking though massive model at just over a two feet wingspan, and 18” length. So, there you have it fellow modelers. Even with all the issues (SOME of which were probably MY fault), I have no regrets about adding it to my gallery. Buuuuuuttttttttt-WHERE am I going to put it? Happy modeling.

Rick Cockrum

Note From Squadron: An Amazon order just wiped us out of this kit…Call us at 1-877-414-0434 to place this kit on backorder as we will be getting this again!

 

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