Kit Review: Atlantis Models 1/92 B-24J (2024)

SUMMARY: Ancient kit, but better than you'd expect. The low price seals the deal.

As an acknowledgment that this is not a state-of-the-art kit, Atlantis set the retail price at only $21.99. Other manufacturers circa 2019 would probably charge $30 or more to re-release this kit, but to debut an item at this low price is impressive. With this in mind, it is a perfect kit for a newer modeler who wishes to build their skills on an inexpensive subject. Atlantis has an agreement to retail some of their kits at Hobby Lobby, a nationwide craft store chain in the USA, and this is where I picked up H218, “B24J Liberator Bomber.” Using a discount coupon put the cost comparable, adjusting for inflation, to a price range that would have been easily affordable using a little paper route money or weekly allowance back in the day.

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Kudos to Atlantis for using the original Revell box art. But what color is it? Plastic color and built-ups on the box suggest desert-tan, but the box art appears green to me.

I couldn’t resist starting the kit once I saw the contents, so this is more of an in-progress review as opposed to out-of-box. I’ll update this article as the build proceeds. Initially, I was going to slap it together as a fast-review/fun-build. But the kit can actually be built into a pretty nice model, so I will take my time.

It is customary for a model kit review to include a history of the subject. But since we’re Dem Brudders and not particularly normal, I’m including some info about our personal connection to the B-24 at the end of the article. After all, you came to this page to read about building the model, not to get a history of the B-24.

If you’d prefer, you can check out the Wikipedia article on the B-24 here first. It’s much better than what I could write anyway. We focus a bit more on the history of the kit itself.Atlantis’ B-24J is basically a re-issue of Revell’s classic Buffalo Bill version of the kit that first appeared in 1954. Revell’s early aircraft kits were all “box scale,” meaning that they fit a standard box, which by the way, was a fair bit smaller than the box that Atlantis is using. A later issue of the kit by Revell has also been released by Atlantis; B-24J Liberator Pacific Raider, features different box art and decals.

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The Plastic. Even at a listed scale of 1/92, this is a pretty good-sized model when completed at nine inches (nearly 23 cm) in length with a wingspan of 14-1/4" (36 cm)

The kit plastic is a unique color. I’d describe it as Muted Mustard. It’s kind of close to a North-Africa desert camo color that’s maybe a little too yellow. I chose to build mine in olive-drab green.That’s what the box art suggests. My research doesn’t come up with B-24J’s in desert-sand colors, at least wholly operated by the USAAF. The “D” was seen much more commonly in that scheme (B-24D’s "Strawberry Bitch" and "Lady Be Good" come to mind). Plus, the Buffalo Bill nose art appears to be fictional. Kit plastic is on the soft side and easily sanded and shaped.

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Even if you have previous releases of this kit, you'll want to buy the Atlantis version just to get these decals. The insigniasare slightly wonky (original art) with the stars appearing just a tad too small for the bars. But it's easy to find alternative insignias from other kits or aftermarket decal sets.

Revell came out with a completely new 1/72 B-24D kit in about 1964. Detailing for that kit was a bit more refined, as Revell’s tooling staff had taken full advantage of their experience releasing many kits in the late 1950’s during which they perfected their craft. Models of that era are iconic today for their intricate detail. This earlier B-24J kit is a little less advanced than that standard. But that’s not to say it can’t be built into a nice model, and it’s important that the buyer understand that they are not getting the later B-24 kit, which is the earlier “D” variant of the B-24. Just remember that the older kit is actually the later B-24 "J" variant.

The Atlantis kit, all made in the USA, had less flash and sinkholes than I expected to find. Either they’ve cleaned up the mold, or it has aged better than average. The most apparent issue the modeler will notice upon opening the kit is a molding defect that makes the right-side vertical stabilizer appear to have a scalloped trailing edge. This is very easy to fix and I hope that no potential builder passes on the kit because of this minor defect, which may be related to a slightly warped or damaged mold. Perhaps this is the reason that the original Revell declined to reissue the kit in a number of decades.

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The glass (or, to be technically correct, the Plexiglass). Clearly vintage plastic.

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Don't freak out regarding the scalloped stabilizer. It's so easy to fix.

To fix the scalloped tailpiece, I stretched some kit sprue, and glued a piece to the one end of the scalloped trailing edge. After letting that dry, I carefully curved the stretched sprue over the scallops, carefully gluing it to the tall points of the scallops until they were all covered. I used small strips of masking tape to hold the thin sprue piece in place, being careful not to get liquid cement near the tape.

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One of these days we'll have a "basics" page on the site, but for now, if you haven't tried sprue-stretching, it's a simple skill. It's easiest over a candle. The chili can is a safety measure. The sprue is held about an inch above the flame for a few seconds. When you can turn it like a crank...

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Move the sprue away from the flame (in this picture, taken by my dear sweet wife, it appears to be over the flame, but it is actually a couple inches above and forward of the flame). Give the sprue a pull until it is the diameter you want. If it breaks, try again/keep experimenting. Reward yourself with a bowl of delicious canned chili after you're done.

Once this has set and the tape is removed, the modeler can use their favorite medium to fill the small openings remaining; some kind of putty, epoxy, or CYA (“super glue”) will generally be used. I decided to shave a small pile of sprue onto a piece of cardboard, and mixed it up with Testor’s liquid cement to make a slurry of melted plastic. This was spread into the openings with a toothpick. This method must allow some extra time or elevated temperature to bake out the glue solvent; simply putting the treated kit piece in my hot garage for a day or two (it’s late summer as I begin this kit) did the trick. Other than the prep time and dry-time, this fix took just a few minutes! Much of the satisfaction we get from scale model building is improving what comes out of the box. Again, I must reiterate that the issue with this piece does not need to dissuade anybody from purchasing the kit since it is so easy to fix.

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First, tack-glue the end of the sprue as shown. Let the glue dry for a bit.

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Gradually glue the sprue "string" along the trailing edge of the stabilizer, using tape to secure it along the way. Don't let the glue brush touch the tape, or it will run along the tape and etch the surface under the tape.

Like most model airplane kits of the era, this one has its share of rivets. One unique quirk of these rivets is that they sit tall! I’d recommend sanding them down just a tad to make them less prominent. They’d have to be a couple inches tall in-scale. There’s no ignoring that this is a vintage kit, which is why I plan to leave them there, although toned down just a bit. 320 or 400 grit wet-sandpaper worked great.

There are a few minor items to consider to help parts fit. On wings and fuselage joining surfaces, there are some round pin ejector marks that should be scraped or sanded off. Like most models, and especially vintage kits like this, parts should be test-fitted carefully before gluing.

Interior details include a co*ckpit piece with some center console detail, but no instrument panel. Two identical pilots molded to their seats appear to be the same fellows included in the 1/64 B-25 kit, except pantographed a little smaller than those guys. The detailing on the figures and seats is an early version of that which made Revell legendary in the modeling community originally.

Note that the co*ckpit piece can be installed through the windscreen opening after gluing the fuselage together. I plan on gluing the fuselage together first, and then gluing detail parts such as the gun turrets on after the fact. I’ll lose the moving-parts feature this way, but it will simplify handling and painting model parts without the turrets on the model.

Like the fuselage, the wing parts need some cleanup prior to gluing. Wingtip pieces are fractionally thinner than the assembled wings. I thinned the wing half joining surfaces prior to gluing where they join the wingtips slightly to improve the wingtip seam. Wing trailing edges are a tad on the thick side.

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After filling the gaps. Before sanding. Just a few minutes of your time...

I sanded the wings down just a little at the gluing surfaces. Thinning them more would have improved the trailing edge appearance, but a thinner wing might have created more of a gap where the wings join the fuselage. Fit there, by the way, was pretty good; it looks like only a small amount of putty might be needed at the wing joint to produce a contest-quality model. For a fun-build, the minor gap might not even matter.

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Note both vertical stabilizers after cleanup and installation on the model. A glossy-gray primer shows any flaws. To be honest, I can't even remember which one had the scalloped edge. And repairing it just wasn't that hard.

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Overall, I’m pretty impressed with general fit of all parts considering the age of the kit—it’s actually about old enough to begin claiming Social Security retirement benefits (that happens at age 65 nowadays in the USA). How many products can you name that are that old that are still relevant in their unmodified form in our fast-evolving world.

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Stabilizer surfaces have round ejector pin stubs that you'll want to trim off. A single-edge razor blade or #11 X-Acto knife works great for this.

I found a handful of minor sinkholes and some ejector pin rounds that need to be filled. The amount is less than what you’d normally find with such an old kit.

Landing gear wheels attach to struts on a long axle-post that was intended to be heated with a hot knife into a nail-head sort of affair. In theory, this allows the wheels to roll. This was a tall order for us to do well as kids, as it is tricky to get the knife the right temperature to do the job correctly. I plan to eschew this feature by cutting the post flush with the wheel hub and simply gluing it on. I’ll flatten the tire with a file in a nod to realism. Props fit pretty loose in their holes. To avoid them drooping crookedly, I plan on gluing them in place. I'm not losing sleep if the wheels and props don't turn.

Engine faces are an admittedly weak point of the kit, with a simple depression instead of an open cowling with an engine piece or two as you'd see in later kits. The 1/72 B-24D kit at least had engine faces molded into the cowlings. With the four-blade props throwing shade on the opening anyway, it’s not glaringly noticeable.

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Update: The model has been painted and weathered using the "salt chip" method. Paint is glossy, so it will accept the decals without unsightly silvering, or trapped air under the decal.

Decals are crisp and in-register. The artwork appears to be the same as the original release; that is to say simplified with no detail markings, but quality-wise, they look to be high-end grade. Considering its already low MSRP, this asset solidifies the kit as a how-do-they-do-it bargain.

Another nice perk is the clear stand, formerly known as the “Revelling Stand.” Atlantis has added their name to it, so I'll throw down the gauntlet and officially dub it the “Atlantising Stand.”

If a modeler wishes to build the model gear-up for an in-flight display using the stand, it’s a simple matter even though the instructions don’t mention that it can easily be done. Wheels can simply be glued flat in their wells after all painting is complete. The strut hole will have to be filled. Forward gear doors can easily be glued flat in the shallow gear well. There is no recessed strut area in the wing bottom, which is more of an accuracy liability for the model displayed on its landing gear. I'm going to build my model so it sits on its landing gear and will save the stand for some other project.

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Here's box art for the first release of Revell's B-24D from 1964. This was a completely different kit than the 1/92 B-24J, subject of this review. The "J" was a later variant with the nose turret. Note that the "D" has an all-plexiglass nose.

I’d recommend this kit to all modelers. Beginners ought to have a little experience, perhaps with a newer glue-kit or two. Correcting the scalloped stabilizer will help the beginner advance to intermediate-level modeling. The target audience here is probably the nostalgic modeler, but the low price ought to provide an enticement to a youngster who wants to take a break from video games by engaging in a creative exercise. For the modeler trying to complete a collection of Revell’s early aircraft models, this kit is essential!

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We had a beloved uncle, Al Summerhays, who flew B-24’s over Third Reich Germany during World War II. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. At his funeral in 1992, his family related a story that we’d like to share with you. Uncle Al, who married our father’s sister, was five years older than our father, and entered the war earlier than our father did. At age 23 when the war began, Uncle Al eventually achieved the rank of Captain in the USAAF.

As you might well imagine, dropping bombs from a B-24 over Germany in WWII was extremely hazardous. A religious man, Uncle Al was known for gathering his crew together for a prayer prior to departure. During one mission, a superior officer, not part of the regular crew, came along on the bomb run as an observer. Prior to the flight, he ridiculed Al for praying with his crew. The mission was harrowing, with the plane being shot up badly, and it barely made it back to the base. Upon departing the plane, the officer again berated Al for the prayer, which he deemed to be a futile effort, considering events of the flight. Uncle Al, who was well known for speaking his mind, retorted, “Well, you made it back here, didn’t you.”

Regarding additional history of the B-24, we have posted a feature article on Yo Yo, an ETO B-24J. Brudder Dick redecorated a 1/24 diecast B-24J for an acquaintance, whose father served on the aircraft, along with Senator George McGovern during WWII. The story includes some never-before-published personal accounts about the B-24 and details about a most unique modeling project.

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Stay tuned! Brudder Dick will show you how to make a model of this airplane...

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...from this 1/48 scale diecast model!


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Kit Review: Atlantis Models 1/92 B-24J (2024)
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