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North American B-25J in Detail

n by Robert Karr


During the Second World War, the B-25 served in every corner of the world. First flying in 1940, almost 10,000 were built by the time production ended in late 1945. Appearing in many different versions, the most numerous were the C/D and the J. The J is featured in this photo essay. From 1981 to 1995 I photographed at least four B-25s at air shows and museums in California, at various times of the day and year (accounting for the sometimes less-than-perfect exposure).

The pictures were chosen with modelers in mind so rather than alot of overall shots what we see here is details of specific areas of the airplane - undercarriage, engines, and so forth. Some areas to watch out for when using these pictures for modeling purposes are the over-the-cowl air scoop and the exhaust system. Aside from the wartime modifications, many of the modern restorations incorporate the U.S.A.F.'s training mods installed in the 1950s.

North American B-25 J

Since there are many photographs, the material has been divided into sections presented below.

Painting by the author

Fuselage nose and offensive armament

Cabin interior

Bomb bay

Landing gear

Wing and engines

Control surfaces

Kits of the B-25

A few words on some of the many B-25 kits on the market through the years:

  • Monogram-ProModeler B-25 H/J 1/48. Buy it!

  • Revell B-25 B/C/D 1/48. Mid-60's vintage kit, not bad. Engines a touch too small, detail a little crude but the main problem is that the fuselage is just too tall and generally oversize to match the great wings.

  • Monogram Snap-Tite 1/72. More for the younger modeler but actually quite accurate and has the rear fuselage contours right for the pre-H B-25.

  • Testors/Italeri 1/72. Two kits- one the C/D, the other H/J. The C/D kit is accurate and well detailed AND has the correct narrow rear fuselage. The H/J really goofed because there is more to making a late model B-25 than merely moving the turret up front. The most important thing they failed to take into account is the fact that the earlier airplanes had a more tapered rear fuselage 7" ( in the side view) narrower( or less tall). In 1/72 this is only about 2.2mm but it really does alter the whole "feel" and look of the model. Because of this the early B-25s appeared much more lean and sleek.

  • Airfix 1/72 kit. An old standard, not bad, lots of detail - and lots of rivets.Personally, I like lots of rivets if they are in the correct places because I can sand them down until just a trace remains and this gives the model a more realistic texture. Even in a flush-riveted WWII-era airplane, one could see where the rivets were.

  • A final word about a sentimental favorite- the ancient Revell odd-scale B-25. In and out of production, sometimes hard to find, sometimes not. Molded in something like 1/64, it's crude, has questionable outlines and detail but I think it's the most appealing kit for kids, even more so than the modern SnapTite- bigger than 1/72, easy to build, a kid can make this model and really have something to show for his effort and we need to cultivate a new crop of young model builders so the hobby doesn't die out!

Robert Karr is a modeler and an artist who produces consistantly fine work in 2 and 3 dimensions. His work can be viewed on the web by visiting Robert's web site Aviation Art by Robert Karr (Ed.)


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