Friends Mike Laible and Herman Burton, from Seabrook, Texas, collaborated to build this beautiful 1/9-scale B-24J from Don Smith Plans. Mike agreed to build the fuselage and tail feathers while Herman constructed the wing. The model spans 146 inches, weighs 53 pounds dry, and is powered by four O.S. Alpha series 110 four-stroke engines swinging 15 x 7 three-blade propellers.
The model sports Century Jet Models landing gear and Glennis Aircraft wheels and brakes. The team made many changes to the original design to increase the scale fidelity of the model. The plans call for fully sheeted rudders, elevators and ailerons, whereas the full-scale airplane had cloth-covered control surfaces.
The plans were altered and cloth covering was applied to these control surfaces. Each aileron changed from a simple, sheeted surface to one with 19 exposed ribs on each side that prominently show underneath the cloth covering. The rudders and elevators also required additional components such as a faux trim tab.
Some of the other items include 15,000 rivets, panel lines, full crew complement to include period flying suits and hardware, handmade seats, instrument panels, gauges, oxygen bottles, operating bomb doors and bomb release, .50 caliber Browning machine guns, and belts of ammunition.
As on the full-scale airplane, the belly turret and the tarmac jacks that extend down behind the turret retract into the fuselage. These are air operated and mechanically linked to each other. The nose turret and top turret also have azimuth and horizontal movement via a servo for added realism.
To aid in transport, the empennage is removable as are the delicate turrets, to avoid hangar rash. The B-24J was painted using Klass Kote epoxy paint, with dry-ink transfers from Aeroloft for the markings.
After researching numerous sources, Herman and Mike found an airplane that started flying during the war but did not have any nose art and was only called 395E, after its tail number. After one particularly devastating flight over Germany in 1943, it sustained much battle damage and was able to barely make it safely back to England.
Because of its miraculous return, the crew named the airplane Homeward Angel. Homeward Angel flew with the 466th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. The aircraft completed 231 missions during 1943-1944.
This was the aircraft Herman and Mike chose, hoping the same good luck the World War II crew had experienced would accompany them on their flights. The first test flight of Herman and Mike’s B-24J appropriately took place at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
The model flew magnificently. A YouTube video can be found at the link listed in “Sources.” The entire project took 1,800 hours throughout a two-year period. Herman says that the build-team concept can save much time.
Enjoy building scale projects. They are rewarding, and plenty of fun.
Very nice work, Herman and Mike!
The next two photos are of Gene Oshrin’s version of the Akutan or Koga’s Zero, constructed from a Byron Originals kit. The model spans 88 inches with a length of 78 inches and is painted in US markings for flight testing.
The full-scale aircraft was found mainly intact in July of 1942 on Akutan Island in the Aleutians after it flipped over during an emergency landing while piloted by Petty Officer First Class Tadayoshi Koga. The aircraft had participated in the attack on Midway Island a month earlier when it was damaged by ground fire. It was repaired and extensively flight tested to determine its capabilities and weaknesses, dispelling the myth of its invincibility.
Byron Godberson, the man behind Byron Originals, was a unique, talented individual. During World War II, he served as a paratrooper in the Pacific Theater and is credited with more than 50 patents to his name.
In 1976 he founded Byron Originals to produce a quality line of large-scale models and accessories. To demonstrate his products, he established Byron’s Aviation Expo in 1982. Some of the airshows included a simulated attack on Pearl Harbor and featured aerial dogfights using a number of his company’s designs.
The airshow became so popular that thousands came to see it.
That’s all for now. See you in June.