A commentator asked a few days ago about B-17 kits, so I thought I would put up some RCAF B-17 photos. It is so typically Canadian that RCAF would operated the most famous US bomber of World War Two as a mail plane, but that is exactly how 168 (Heavy Transport) Squadron out of RCAF Rockcliffe used the Flying Fortresses. The six aircraft fleet was a mix of second hand B-17Es and B-17Fs and were taken on strength as bombers with their armament removed painted in olive drab over neutral gray camouflage. The aircraft were modified in RCAF service to make them more useful mail planes and stripped back to natural metal.
This photo is purported to be the unloading of the first load of airmail flown by B-17 for Canadian soldiers in Foggia, Italy, December 30, 1943.
The caption for this photo states "Leading Aircraftman Freemantle paints a mailbag symbol to indicate another overseas mail flight completed by Boeing Fortress IIA aircraft 9202 of No.168(HT) Squadron, R.C.A.F., Rockcliffe, Ontario, May 9, 1944."
Finally we have one of the Forts after being stripped of paint and modified by the RCAF. (Photos courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)
Modeler's Note: There are three good choices for a 1/72 B-17. The old Hasegawa kit is nice, but probably not a bargain if purchased in a new Hasegawa box. It has raised panel lines and somewhat sparse detail, but still looks good. The early 90s Academy kit has better detail and recessed panel lines, but I understand there are some issues with wing dihedral. It sure looks nice in the box though. The recent Revell B-17G has stunning detail, but some odd mistakes with the height of the mid upper turret and the wing intakes. The biggest issue is the engraved trenches on the nose. Even I, as a fan of Matchbox kits, think something needs to be done to the panel lines...use the above photos to gage if you want to fill the trenches or not. I know I will!
If anybody's interested in the colours and markings of RCAF B-17s, find somebody in IPMS Canada with back copies of its RT magazine from the last half of 1970 or so, when a good article on this subject was published.
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