HK Models | 1/32 B-25J “Strafer”
Reviewed by Brian Leitch
Hong Kong Models B-25J “Strafer”
Accessory/kit #: HKM 32 01E02
Kit type: Injection w/ 514 parts x1 decal sheet x1 b&w instruction manual x1 PE fret
Where to buy: Your local hobby shop & Pacific Coast Models, Inc.
Manufacturer's website: hk-models.com
PACKAGING & CONTENTS
The kit is large, & with a wing span of 643mm and a length: 547.7mm, as you would expect it comes in a LARGE box. I’m not going to spend a great deal of time on the parts this kit shares with its glass nosed brother, as they have been reviewed quite a bit, but instead will concentrate on the differences with the strafer kit. I will however, point out some things HKM continued to both do right, and miss on the strafer.
HMK did a good job here sending out a sturdy model box, and admittedly the box is quite colorful and eye-catching and would be hard to miss in a vendor show type setting:
HKM also include a nice profile of the soon-to-be-released H version and some CAD drawings:
However, in this reviewer’s opinion, colorful and eye-catching do not necessarily mean good. While colorful, the box art IMHO could be SO, SO much better. The image of the strafer on the front is very evidently super-imposed, as well as the props, with a blurry background set in.
Although box are it not critical in any way to how good or bad a kit is done, I don’t know about you guys, but I love it, when its good. There is really something that makes a kit feel extra special when it has some killer artwork on the front of the box.
I think HKM listened to some grumbling since the glass nose version of this kit has the same (let face it) lame box art, and have given the forthcoming B-17 a potentially WAY better looking container:
Only time will tell if the flying fort gets better box art or not.
The interior of this kit is packaged pretty damn tight, but quite securely, and under the color cover we find an interior horizontally opening box, the reveals the well packed Mitchell:
Packed to the point, that you best make sure your tucking the fuse sprues back beneath their little protective cardboard lip:
HKM also includes a (for me at least) sometimes overlooked nice touch, and that’s re-sealable sprue bags. No clue why more manufacturers don’t do this. It makes it so much easier to keep things nice but still fondle some plastic:
The main kit parts are shared with the HMK glass nosed B-25 J which all have the common trait, of exquisitely delicate rivets abounding, and straight, nice recessed panel lines that are not too deep or over done:
The fuse also shares its very securely fitting wing locking mechanism:
Sprue “T” has most of the various strafer nose parts on it, and is main dedicated sprue with all the strafer specific parts included:
The parts are very well molded and crisp. Things like the little vent holes for the .50s are also opened up and appropriately thin:
HK also gives you the center supporting structure to hold all of the .50s in their respectively correct positions, along with the inner side liner if one wanted to pose the gun doors open:
The .50 ammo belts however are not depicted...or at least not anywhere for the 8 nose mounted .50s that I can find.
Of course we also have the main difference between this kit and the glass nose which is sprue “U” (SPRUE ME?, no SPRUE “U”...model humor):
However, if you need a sprue number to identify that part, you might want to seriously think about choosing another kit to build.
The gun nose is also well molded, all holes represented decently with only minimal clean up:
My copy however did have just a couple of the delicate rows of rivets sub-molded, but nothing a rivet wheel and some elbow grease can’t fix:
The strafer only comes with the main canopy glass, and obliviously did not have the extra tree with the unused bomber glass parts. The canopy glass is etched for paint in the right spots, and my example was very clear and distortion free:
HK also does a nice job with the exhaust, although I would have liked to see them even a bit more hollowed out than they are currently:
Although the kit is really phenomenal, I feel compelled to be honest, and nit-pick at least a couple of things.
First up is the not so bad, which for me is the injector marks on the interior. I completely understand there are going to be some, but grinding off raised ones like this would be a real P.I.T.A if you want to do a full interior, although I’m not sure how much will be visible in the end:
The next things are the push-rods. The instructions clearly show (and HKM gives you) 2 sets per cylinder head, on the bountiful sprue “O”:
The issue here is you cant just leave the erroneous set out, or the engine does not set as far forward as it needs to, to get prop clearance, and set in the cowl properly. What should be done, is just to chop off the push-rods from the OOB push-rod ring, and install the ring without the extra set. For those who are not opening up the engine cowls, this should be a satisfactory solution. For those who are opening up the engine cowls, you may need to find another solution, since the empty ring will possibly be very visible from the side.
The last of my fairly minor gripes is the continued miss on the props. There are 6 blades, and they set very prominently out there, as in all big twins, so their very evident “wiffal ball bat” shape stands out quite distinctly:
There are several after market sets out there that can address this, one being from Harold of AMS resin.
DECALS & INSTRUCTIONS
The kit comes with large black & white 13 & ½ inch X 9 & ½ inch instructions that are fairly clear and show most of what is needed without too much confusion. There is a color call-out, and a nice sprue breakdown:
The decals the come with the kit look to be a bit thick and shiny, but seem in good register. The Indian heads for the vertical tails and the stars and stripes also seem useable if you chose. The decals come on a single sheet protected by a cellophane sheet that I personally would remove and replace with some wax paper. The cellophane sheet is quite clingy, and could damage the decals if left for an extended period:
There are some known areas the let the strafer down in the same way they let the glass nose B-25 down, like the prop shape, lack of governors, weirdly positioned cyclone plug ring, erroneous sets of cyclone push-rods, lack-luster decals & box art, and engine cowl ring openings that are potentially a tad small.
These things are in my book, minor annoyances that most any modeler with intermediate skills could correct. Some of the things that HKM got right were great internal packaging, subtle panel line and rivet detail, just the right amount of interior details, accurate outlines, and a very decent price point for the amount of plastic you get in this kit.
This kit on the whole is quite spectacular, and on a 1 – 10 scale w/ 10 being perfect and 1 being useless, I'd give the HKM B-25J a solid 8.5.
REVIEW SAMPLE COURTESY OF PACIFIC COAST MODELS.
© Brian Leitch 2013
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This review was published on Sunday, January 27 2013; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016