Author Topic: 1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G  (Read 2207 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G
« on: November 15, 2015, 08:38:47 PM »
The Boeing B-17 is perhaps one of the most famous bombers that ever flew. Its unique, pugnacious look is instantly recognizable.



Some of the more well-versed will remember the earlier progenitor, the enormous XB-15.



However, completely forgotten today is the aircraft that came of the XB-15 design work which took to the sky first, the XYB-17 of 1934.





While gutting out the various problems of giant-ism the XB-15 presented, it occurred to Boeing engineers that maybe smaller was better. They downsized the plans and improved streamlining, both which it was hoped would aid mass-production should the Air Corps offer a contract.



The new bomber was powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet 9 cylinder radial engines attractively enclosed in tight NACA cowlings designed from the latest wind-tunnel test data. The prototype was built under wraps and under the cover of the XB-15 project. As an off-the books, off-cycle appropriation funded development, it would be officially known as the XYB-17.



A drizzly, foggy early April day was used for roll-out and initial flight as this was also the first engine run-up of the ginormous XB-15 which was happening on the other end of Boeing Field so the press and public would be suitably distracted.





The smaller, but still big-for-its-day bomber took off like a homesick angel as the crowd gathered way at the far side of the airfield ooohhed and awwed as the massive XB-15's engines came loudly to life. Shrouded in the mist miles away, the XYB-17 performed like a champ, setting a new, unofficial time-to-altitude record for multi-engine aircraft.



The report by an Air Corps officer riding along on the test flight was glowing and the XYB-17 was secretly flown at high altitude to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio for further testing. It was here that the gremlins struck. Sticky gust locks prevented the XYB-17 from completing the test program and the Air Corps was also balking at the expense of XYB-17's vast expanse of perspex.



Boeing broke down the XYB-17 into its component parts and shipped it by rail back to Seattle to fix the gust lock problem and the Air Corps eventually purchased it for further evaluation. Unfortunately, by this time the XB-17 had successfully flown so the XYB-17 would shortly disappear in ignominy.



Its sole claim to fame besides leading to the B-17 would be the brief press it got flying relief to the snow-bound during the terrible blizzards of 1936 in the inter-mountain west.



At this point, photos and newsreel footage of early B-17s were ubiquitous and the public easily confused the XYB-17 with its more famous younger brothers. The XYB-17 flew as a research platform and long-range special transport until withdrawn from service and stress-tested to destruction in early 1942. All that exists today is this desk model from the 1939 Woolworth's catalog, mis-labeled as "America's Flying Fortress the Boeing B-17".



Brian da Basher




« Last Edit: November 15, 2015, 09:21:08 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: 1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 09:05:42 PM »
This all began when I picked up the newly-reworked 1/144 Minicraft B-17G on the cheap a while back.



You'd think smaller kits like this would be a snap, but this baby is a little challenging, especially if you want to modify it into an earlier version. As the sprues show, after you chop off the fin and rudder, you have to deal with the fairing and hole for the nose turret.



After I realized the engines and cowlings from a 1/144 Eduard Ju-52 were a good fit (even if I put the cowls on backwards), I was off to the races. I got very lucky filling in both gaps and modified a horiz. stab. from a 1/48 Piper Cup to serve as the new fin and rudder. Blisters were swiped from a 1/144 Betty.





A drop-tank half was used for the ventral "bathtub" blister. I ended up dropping the model after these shots were taken and the new fin and rudder snapped off. When I reattached it, I accidentally put it a little further forward, but I like to think it links the XYB-17 to earlier bombers with fatter tails like the B-9.





Here's a close-up of that bathtub after everything was finished. It's a bit hard to make out in the other shots.



The model was brush painted by hand in acrylics, including those pesky rudder stripes.



Decals are a mix from spares, but the 95th Squadron emblems are from the Matchbox P-12.



In my fevered imagination, the 95th transitioned from ground attack to bombers a bit earlier than has been widely reported.





I had a lot of fun (and a fair bit of frustration) on this project which it took me the better part of a month to put together as time has been severely limited lately.





Even though the Minicraft B-17G is a fairly rough kit by modern standards, I think it has a lot of potential to take it in a different direction. A tip o' the pin to Bill for suggesting I keep the Ju-52 props as being more period appropriate. Thanks, amigo!





I hope you enjoyed the XYB-17 and reading a little more forgotten history.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 10:52:15 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Frank3k

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Re: 1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2015, 03:21:02 AM »
Awesome! At first I wondered where you'd found a 1/144 B-10! The colors look great and I love the engines; they really look the part.

Offline Scooterman

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Re: 1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2015, 08:45:17 AM »
Brian, that is one of my most favorite builds I've seen from you.  Looks the part, the motors, mods and paint.  Just excellent my 'burgh Brother! :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: 1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2015, 11:16:13 AM »
Nice work Brian! I have to admit I was wondering which kit you'd painted in a USAAC scheme, rather than a B-17-based bash! Bravo!
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Offline ysi_maniac

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Re: 1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2015, 05:09:35 PM »
Simple, effective. I like it. :) :) :icon_alabanza:

Offline The Big Gimper

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Re: 1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2015, 07:01:44 PM »
Great kit mash-up Brian for a winning finish.
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Offline Tophe

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Re: 1/144 Boeing XYB-17 from the Minicraft B-17G
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2015, 12:54:56 AM »
Usually I dislike Bombers :icon_sueno: but... I like the transformation you made for an old-style look :)