Building the Boeing B-29 Superfortress on a Scale 1:48

This image is in the public domain in the United States.

Several years ago, in 1996, I decided to build a Boeing B-29 Superfortress on a scale 1:48. I chose the Revell 1:48 B29 Superfortress. This airplane always impressed me since my childhood because of its large size, its massive engines and propellers, and its metallic finish.

I had in mind to make a few modifications to this plastic model airplane which included the following:

I had in mind to make a few modifications to this plastic model airplane which included the following:

  • Add aluminum foil to surface areas to make it more realistic.

  • Add internal illumination to help see the detailed interior.

  • Add working navigation lights using LEDs.

  • Change the tires that came with the kit to include tires that had a weight effect from the aircraft.

  • Add electric motors controlled by an external control box.

  • Add wire antennas.

How I built this model:

It took me about six months to complete the model. The first step was to build the internal components such as the cockpit, radio room, bomb compartment, etc. Then I proceeded to install the electronics such as LED bulbs and electric motors. I installed 7 LEDs: A flashing LED on the top of the tail, navigation LEDs on the two wings, another LED on the bottom of the fuselage, another LED on the front tire, and two LEDs for the illumination of the internal details. All the LEDs were glued to the plastic fuselage using a precision hot glue gun, making sure not to melt the plastic by using too much glue.

The electric motors were wired independently to allow individual control of each propeller (see the diagram shown below). I also used a precision hot glue gun to attach the motors and wires to the fuselage. I tested the lights and motors before sealing with glue all the plastic fuselage parts.

I painted the surface of the model using metallic and aluminum paint and I covered some areas of the model with thin aluminum foil using special glue for this purpose. I made some panels opaque by using a pencil eraser over the paint. The leading edge of the wings was painted black. I also added the radio antennas using fine metallic wire.

I built the control box using a component plastic box that I got at my local Radio Shack. Each engine had a switch, a variable resistor to control the speed and a digital numeric LED that indicated the engine number. A resistor can be added to each engine to reduce the voltage and prevent damage to the variable resistor. A 6 volts power supply can be used to power the engines or in lieu of four 1.5 Volts “AA” batteries. The control box also included switches for the internal lights and navigation lights.

Here is a short video demonstration of the model in action. From the video, you can see that some of the propellers are a little miss-aligned. I am planning to fix this issue in the near future by taking the propellers apart from the engine and reapply them to the motor shafts.

Below is the Circuit Diagram that I used to wire the 4 engines to a control box that I built from scratch. I used electric motors that I purchased at my local Radio Shack store back in 1996 (7.5VDC Micro Super High-Speed Motor). Nowadays you can get miniaturized components at different online stores and it is also possible to build wireless engine control boxes using components for remote control airplanes. That means, no wires from the model airplane to the engine control box.

Here are a few pictures of the finished model. These pictures were taken using a diorama setup. For those thinking about building this model on a scale 1:48; this is a massive model that will occupy a large space. Before you decide to build it, make sure you have enough space to display it. You may also want to consider building this model on a scale 1:72. Modern electronic component miniaturization will allow you to install miniature electric motors and LEDs to a 1:72 scale model of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

I hope I have inspired some of you to build a model like this that includes major modifications and adds another dimension of realism. Believe me, it was a lot of fun. Now I have in mind to build a model of the “PBY Catalina” and “Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress” making similar modifications. Until next time. – Oscar

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress:

The image is in the public domain in the United States.

The B-29 Superfortress was a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing. It was flown primarily by the United States toward the end of World War II and also during the Korean War. It was one of the largest aircraft to have seen service during World War II and a very advanced bomber for its time, with features such as a pressurized cabin, an electronic fire-control system, and a quartet of remote-controlled machine-gun turrets operated by the fire-control system in addition to its defensive tail gun installation.

The name “Superfortress” was derived from that of its well-known predecessor, the B-17 Flying Fortress. Although designed as a high-altitude strategic bomber, and initially used in this role against the Empire of Japan, these attacks proved to be disappointing; as a result, the B-29 became the primary aircraft used in the American firebombing campaign and was used extensively in low-altitude night-time incendiary bombing missions. One of the B-29’s final roles during World War II was carrying out the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Source: Wikipedia. Click here for more information about the B-29 Superfortress)