For the past 25 or so years I have made a habit of collecting interesting old model kits – usually WW II ships and aircraft. In many cases, they're old models that I either built or wanted to build growing up, and are available for a fraction of the price of a new kit at hobby stores, which often carry estate collections of old models like this. Single engine aircraft in 1/72 scale are $4-6, and larger ones $9-17.
One that I've had for a while is one of the 1962 issue 1/72 scale Revell B-17 Flying Fortress carrying the markings of the famous Memphis Belle, which was one of the first B-17s to return from 25 successful missions over Europe in May 1943. It was the subject of a wartime documentary, and then a 1990 Hollywood film. The Belle herself eventually ended up on display in Memphis, and I saw her there in 1997. Some years later she was moved to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Kansas and is undergoing a restoration which is expected to be complete in 2018.
When I decided to start finishing some of these old kits last year, I put the B-17 on the short list once I had some of the carrier aircraft out of the way, and started work in earnest a couple of weeks ago.
The Revell kit came out in 1962, and the decals were so old I decided to get aftermarket ones that were at least somewhat more accurate, and I spent several weeks looking at different options for a B-17F (an opposed to the G, which had a chin turret) before deciding to go ahead with the kit as the Belle.
Now the kit pales in comparison to the new Airfix B-17G or the Revell 2010 retool – I consulted the instruction sheet for that kit for some painting tips and was astonished at the additional detail that's in it. But it's not the kit I remember from growing up (fuselage gaps and all) so I was glad to build the old version. At some point I might pick up the new Airfix 17G (with the chin turret) and model it in bare metal finish, but that's down the road, especially since even in its reorganized state the display cabinet really doesn't have room for duplicate heavy bombers.
A note on the paint scheme.
By the spring of 1943 the U.S.A.A.F. had began adding an overlay of paint splotches in Medium Green to the bombers' Olive Drab upper surfaces. They were mainly intended to break up the outline of the wings I understand. I remember the first time I saw this was on the actual Belle in 1997 and I was horrified at the random Kelly green splotches on the olive fuselage and wings – completely uncoordinated colors. So when it came time to add mine, I mixed a little olive drab in with the medium green to attempt to blend the colors at least a little. The camouflage still seems to be to be entirely underscale for the aircraft, and looks particularly awful on a small model – more like amateur hour in a Cub Scout model painting exercise. But it is accurate to the era and to the Belle.