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"Painting 8th AF B-17s - How to Choose?" Topic

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Mako1129 Sep 2016 10:46 p.m. PST

I need to paint up a bunch of 1/600th scale B-17Fs and B-17Gs, but am a bit torn as to where to start.

Clearly, I'm overthinking this, as usual, but the military budget is limited, and I can't do all the squadrons.

Obviously, I need some early paint schemes for the B-17Fs, for the Schweinfurt/Regensburg Raids, so plain olive drab for some aircraft, but I love those red-tailed aircraft too.

For the B-17Gs, probably going to go with a mix of at least a few O.D. models, and then some plain metal ones too. I really like those yellow-tailed models.

Seems like the Hells Angels should be in the mix, perhaps, along with the 91st and other bomb groups.

So, any tips on how to choose which Bomber Groups and Squadrons for your forces?

Would be fun to do 18 – 24+ in all one scheme, but am thinking perhaps 9 of each, in multiple schemes might be better.



MacrossMartin30 Sep 2016 1:00 a.m. PST

I'd absolutely go the 'mixed allsorts' route. It would, I feel, give a better impression of the variety and sheer number of squadrons in a big raid, as well as conveying the chaos that sometimes prevailed over a target, and on the way home, as flak and fighter attacks broke up the formations.

When I'm able to get some proper painting done again (chemotherapy shakes will soon be a thing of the past – huzzah!) I'd like to go a couple of '17's for my Axis & Allies Air Force games. 1/100th scale makes a Fortress into an impressive centrepiece for an air combat game!

Fatman30 Sep 2016 1:28 a.m. PST

For our Schweinfurt PP Game I painted Fifty Four B-17F's all in the same scheme, God was I bored by the end of it!

We went with generic markings rather than any specific squadrons. Mainly because we do that with nearly all our aircraft in 1/600th.

Good luck with your project remember we want pictures!


Fatman30 Sep 2016 1:34 a.m. PST


Glad to hear that the chemotherapy is coming to an end. That stuff is nasty, but necessary.


Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2016 3:11 a.m. PST

I would go with 'Squadrons' of 9 models (painted in the same scheme) which will be close to historical TO&E's.

3 Squadrons in a "Group' so you will have 27 B-17's in 3 different paint schemes.

Sundance30 Sep 2016 4:12 a.m. PST

If you did a box of each (6 a/c), you could get 4 squadrons in 24 planes.

CPBelt30 Sep 2016 4:57 a.m. PST

Mako11, which rule set are you going to use? One of the Blue Sky games? I played a large game of that last weekend and had a blast, but it was 1/300 scale.

I'd go with Martin and Joe. It would also allow you to paint more of a scheme in the future as well. A very flexible approach without going batty painting so many of the same scheme at once.

Skarper30 Sep 2016 6:17 a.m. PST

I would start with painting 3 each in the scheme for the groups you like – either because of their history/exploits or just cos they look snazzy. Three is a nice number to paint at one go. You won't get bored and can get the fiddly bits right before you get cramp or eyestrain.

Then when you have about 21 a/c done start over from the beginning and build up to 6 a/c in a group.

It would be great if you could get up to about 60 a/c but I guess this is excessive, even in 1/600th.

A/C from different groups didn't usually fly in the same box formation [unless forming a mixed box] but if you have 20 odd a/c all with the same markings it will look drab.

Phil DAmato30 Sep 2016 7:20 a.m. PST

I do three plane groups. I look at squadron colors and decided which ones to paint.


Mako1130 Sep 2016 9:17 a.m. PST

Good to hear from you, Martin. Happy to hear you are nearing the end of your chemo treatments. I hope you get well soon.

Any progress on your Sci-Fi subs and rules for them?

Would love to hear about them, if so.

Thank you all for the feedback thus far, on my dilemma. I really appreciate it.

Lots to consider, and a number of good options.

I need to include some of the units for the first daylight raid on Berlin as well, by the 8th Air Force.

Researching now to see which units meet most, or all of the above, and perhaps some other interesting raids too, as well. I'm also checking out all of the snazzy paint schemes for some of the units, but obviously for the early raids, plain O.D. would be best for many, I suspect.

I really like the red-tails on the OD and aluminum planes. The unit with the big C, on a white triangle, with a bright red triangular border looks really neat, as do those with the bright yellow tails too.

6 and 9 unit formations in the same paint schemes sound best to me. 9 for the early to mid-war formations due to their v-shaped units I suspect, and 6 for the later, more compact bomber boxes.

I've got both B-17Fs and Gs, so getting 54 to 60 eventually is within the realm of possibility, eventually, and would look impressive on the tabletop. Since there was some overlap in the transition, I can use both without too much difficulty, I suspect.

Not sure on the rules, but the latest free set provided by Valerio here on TMP looks like a very good option for right now, since they're pretty simple, so would work well for a casual club game, and even for conventions.

There used to be a free, online set as well, for both raids on Berlin, and also for Ploesti, but I looked on-line and couldn't find them again. I had down-loaded them, but they were lost when my last PC died.

I think they were posted by a TMP member, who created them, and used them for 1/300th scale air battles, but the link for them I found no longer works (bloodinthesky.comPloestiIndex), sadly.

Would love to get a copy of both the Ploesti and Germany air rules again, if anyone has them still, or can provide a new link to them, since they looked to be quite good as well.

Now, of course, I want to do the Ploesti Raid too, in addition to RAF night raids over Europe.

It never ends, which is a good thing, I guess…….

Will keep me out of trouble, at the very least.

jowady30 Sep 2016 10:06 a.m. PST

Once Curtis Lemay invented the "Combat Box' the standard formation would be six bombers from each of the three squadrons in a Group, one squadron flying low, another in the middle and one high. Each Group had a letter and these were placed inside either a triangle or a square, denoting the Air Division (B-24s in their own Division used a circle). The Triangles and Squares were white with black letters on an OD a/c, the reverse on natural metal. Tail colors and various wing stripes were individual group markings and all aircraft within the group would have the same.

Early War bombers, "F"s and "E"s would generally be OD, some, like Memphis Belle would also have Dark Green "splotches" added. Some "E"s and maybe a few "F"s were painted with RAF Bomber schemes above (RAF colors Dark Green and Earth) but retained standard US Neutral Grey below. They didn't start wearing Group and Division markings until 1943.

With the advent of Natural Metal in 1944 you would sometimes see a B-17 that had been repaired using parts, such as wing panels, from an older OD B-17. In this case the parts were usually left in their original finish, they weren't stripped down to the bare metal. It was also quite common deep into 1944 to see a mix of Natural Metal and OD aircraft in the same group.

The above is for 8th AF, the Ploesti missions were carried out by (IIRC 12th AF (before it was broken up and the strategic elements were reorganized as )) 15th AF. I could be wrong about whether 12th AF was still in existence at the time of the earliest raid. Of course those were carried out by B-24s.

Mako1130 Sep 2016 4:21 p.m. PST

Yep, for Ploesti, but supposedly a number of B-24s were transferred from the 8th AF before the raid, and apparently quite a lot of them were still green, which is a plus for me.

I used to think most if not all were in desert sand or desert pink, but apparently, thankfully, that was not the case.

jowady30 Sep 2016 5:22 p.m. PST

12th AF was started with "donor" groups of both B-17s and 24s from the 8th AF. B-17s would be OD or OD with Dark Green.

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