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Brickmania 2183 B-17G “Flying Fortress” WWII Heavy Bomber [Review] | The Brothers Brick

Brickmania 2183 B-17G "Flying Fortress" WWII Heavy Bomber [Review] | The Brothers Brick

We lately reviewed the brand new Brickmania F-4C Phantom II fighter package, however the Brickmania workforce has additionally simply restocked the huge B-17G WWII Heavy Bomber custom package, their largest LEGO plane package produced so far. This tradition package of the legendary “Flying Fortress” is constructed from three,074 LEGO items and consists of 10 custom-printed minifigures.

The packaging, directions, and sticker sheet

Official LEGO units have various field sizes based mostly on the variety of elements within the set, however Brickmania solely makes use of a couple of field sizes. Consequently, the B-17 is available in the identical measurement field because the Phantom II jet we just lately reviewed, with paintings highlighting the bomber and its crew on the entrance and a historic photograph and a give attention to working options on the again of the field.

However as a result of the field is identical measurement as different giant Brickmania units, the elements are packed in so tightly that we had hassle re-packing them after this photograph!

The spiral-bound instruction booklet reminds us of the massive booklet that comes with the united statesMillennium Falcon. Every web page consists of extra steps than the construct course of for official LEGO units, so the 88 giant pages within the Brickmania instruction booklet offer you a way of simply how large this tradition package is from the second you open the field.

The first web page of the instruction booklet highlights the service historical past of the real-world plane, whereas the top of the e-book showcases the LEGO mannequin’s numerous working options.

Brickmania prints their very own custom decals in-house, and the sticker sheet for the bomber consists of markings that depict the plane because it appeared in service within the European Theater with the US Military Air Corps (USAAC) throughout World Struggle II.

The construct

In contrast to most different Brickmania custom LEGO kits, the B-17’s elements do are available 5 numbered luggage, every with a number of unnumbered luggage inside. Provided that a lot of the elements are darkish or mild grey, the massive numbered luggage and smaller sub-bags have been an enormous aid.

Every of the luggage corresponds to a selected part of the plane, with the primary bag offering the elements for the nostril and its cockpit.

Instantly, it’s clear that that is no common LEGO package, even if all however the custom BrickArms items for the ten .50 caliber machine weapons are real LEGO (opposite to the “not LEGO” feedback these evaluations inevitably get from individuals who can’t be bothered to learn the articles themselves). As a result of the Brickmania B-17 has a totally detailed inside, the fuselage is constructed as a tube, with an outer pores and skin hooked up by way of brackets.

Though the markings on the aircraft’s exterior are completed with decals, all the inside particulars, from the cockpit dashboard and radio gear to the pilot and co-pilot’s seat cushion life preservers with “U.S. Air Corps” stencils are all custom-printed. Many of those printed particulars aren’t seen when the mannequin is full — consideration to element that may be skipped to scale back value in an official LEGO set.

The directions have you ever construct the crew into their stations inside the aircraft, leaving us apprehensive that they’d be troublesome to take away and add again in later. Nevertheless, all the inside sections have fuselage sections that pop off simply to permit removing of the minifigs. It’s truly fairly superb that the pilot and co-pilot can sit aspect by aspect, and that the navigator and bombardier (who operates the chin turret) match within the nostril.

As we famous earlier, the pores and skin is hooked up studs-out to the construction of the fuselage, with slopes and tiles yielding clean curves.

At first look, this open inside appears prefer it wouldn’t be very sturdy, however after the highest panels are added and overlying sections join throughout numerous segments, the fuselage is unbelievably robust.

The giant opening for the bomb bay (with its bomb racks and opening bomb bay doorways) signifies that the big, heavy LEGO wings aren’t immediately related to one another by means of the largely System-built fuselage. However by extending Technic liftarms into the fuselage and primarily making a box-like construction across the bomb bay, the Brickmania designers have achieved a trifecta of structural stability, design accuracy, and dealing options.

The completed mannequin

The Boeing B-17 heavy bomber first entered service with america Military Air Corps in 1938, and till manufacturing led to 1945, 12,731 plane have been produced. Over eight,000 of these have been the B-17G variant depicted by this Brickmania package. TBB Co-Founder Josh Wedin and I toured a totally restored B-17 (one of many final remaining airworthy Flying Fortresses) on the Seattle Museum of Flight a number of years in the past, so I can attest to the incredible accuracy of this tradition LEGO mannequin, each in its exterior shaping and inside element.

Seattle Museum of Flight Boeing B-17F “Boeing Bee” in flight over Puget Sound (photograph courtesy Seattle Fortress Bombers Restoration

When full, the Brickmania B-17 has a wingspan of three ft (91 cm) and the plane measures 25.5″ (65 cm) from nostril to tail. It’s simply plain big, its wingspan surpassing the 33″ (84 cm) size of the united statesFalcon. However, for the ten crew members crammed on both aspect of the bomb bay, the B-17 was a claustrophobic metallic tube.

The sheer scale of this LEGO mannequin is clear if you place a few minifigs close by, as you’ll be able to see on this photograph with a pair of minifigs inspecting the port wing.

Royal Air Drive Supermarine Spitfire fighters escorted USAAF Flying Fortresses on their first raid into occupied France in August 1942, so we thought we’d spotlight the Brickmania B-17’s scale with the Brickmania Spitfire Mk Vb (a stunning custom LEGO package in its personal proper).

From nostril to tail, the plane is absolutely detailed, with complicated curves achieved with inset sub-assemblies and brick-built canopies. Customized stickers give the nostril character, with a reclining Daniel Siskind on the left aspect of the nostril above lettering that claims “Sassy Siskind” and a row of bombs indicating the variety of missions that this fictional plane has accomplished. The chin turret rotates, as does the highest turret. Each function custom BrickArms .50 caliber machine gun parts.

The waist gunner positions additionally use BrickArms .50 caliber parts, with openings by way of which the gunners can spot enemy plane. This view additionally exhibits how Brickmania stickers are utilized throughout a number of LEGO parts, and even throughout stepped ranges on the mannequin’s floor. That is one thing we’d sometimes frown on for a daily LEGO set, nevertheless it’s impossible that you simply’re going to disassemble your Brickmania B-17, so an strategy extra just like plastic mannequin kits is sensible.

The ailerons on every wing flap up and down. LEGO doesn’t have each angle in wedge plates but, so some angles on the mannequin are achieved by stepping tiles and plates. This view accentuates the stepped angle, however from most angles the stepping works very nicely.

Equally, the elevators on the tailplane are moveable, as is the rudder on the vertical stabilizer.

The tail gunner place sits on the very rear of the plane, with a tiny cover. To offer entry to the minifig, the Brickmania package has a prime panel that swings out on hinges, and aspect panels that pop off. (On some actual B-17s, the rear gunner sat on a bicycle seat, and he must crawl via the slender tail to get to his station.)

The tail wheel could be raised and lowered with the small Technic gear on the proper aspect of the rear fuselage.

The fundamental touchdown gear could be indifferent manually, however there isn’t a mechanism to retract them into the engine compartments.

Probably the most unenviable crew positions on a B-17 is the decrease ball turret. When Josh and I toured the restored B-17, our information (a retired Boeing engineer) described how ball turret gunners must sit crouched contained in the turret during the mission, and their legs would go to sleep, requiring their crew-mates to carry them out on the finish of the mission — a horrific state of affairs if the plane was broken and the crew needed to bail out shortly, or worse if the touchdown gear fails…

“Sperry” sort ball turret used on B-17s (this historic photograph is from one on a B-24 Liberator bomber)

The LEGO ball turret doesn’t truly match a minifigure, although it does absolutely rotate in all instructions. The mechanism inserts up into the aircraft’s fuselage.

Because the ball turret and touchdown gear point out, the underside of the aircraft has all of the anticipated particulars. Because the wings are constructed totally studs-out on the Technic body, a lot of the wings’ undersides are additionally tiled, with delicate curves from inverted “baby bow” slopes on the wing’s vanguard.

The B-17’s bomb bay occupies the area behind the cockpit, between the wings. 4 brick-built bombs are hooked up to bomb racks that angle as much as the highest of the LEGO plane. On an actual B-17, getting from the radio station to the cockpit required strolling alongside a slender catwalk between the V-shaped bomb racks, and through our tour we sacrificed a wonderfully good LEGO T-shirt because it acquired hung up on the solenoids (neither Josh nor I are the dimensions of 19-year-old WWII airmen).

B-17 Bomb Bay

Photograph of an actual B-17 bomb bay by Rick Hawkinson

The bomb bay doorways open and near reveal the bombs on their racks. Nevertheless, the bombs themselves can’t actually be dropped — it will have been fascinating to see what sort of working perform Brickmania designers would have provide you with to drop and re-load the bombs (options that LEGO Star Wars designers have completed in units like 75172 Y-wing Starfighter from Rogue One and 75188 Resistance Bomber from The Final Jedi). In different phrases, the bombs are there so that you can take pleasure in as a element through the construct course of, however you in all probability gained’t be flipping your B-17 the wrong way up fairly often to get to them.

The Brickmania B-17’s stability can’t be understated. Images for a LEGO set evaluate can require some critical manhandling, and various inside connections and sub-assemblies popped off throughout our evaluation of the united statesMillennium Falcon final yr. Not so with this tradition LEGO package. Regardless of carting the plane from my place to Chris’s for images, flipping it over for underside photographs, spinning it this manner and that for element pictures, and even partially disassembling it to spotlight constructing methods, the Brickmania B-17 lived as much as the indestructible fame of its real-life counterpart.

It’s additionally remarkably balanced. Merely for the aim of images, we frequently construct small stands or jigs to carry a LEGO mannequin in place. Whereas we don’t advocate doing this for long-term show, the Brickmania B-17 virtually seems to drift when positioned on solely a pair of 1×2 clear column items.

One main distinction from LEGO’s UCS units is that the specification panel is printed — a welcome change from having to place an unlimited sticker.

The minifigs

The B-17G flew with a full crew complement of 10 officers and enlisted airmen. The Brickmania Flying Fortress consists of two similar units of 5 custom-printed minifigs — 5 officers and 5 enlisted airmen, differentiated solely by whether or not they’re sporting a leather-based helmet or an officer’s hat.

The torso and leg printing is equivalent on all ten minifigs, and makes use of digital printing to supply a textured, 3D feeling on each floor of the minifig. I discussed in our assessment of the F-Four Phantom that I personally want custom-printed parts created with pad printing like LEGO’s personal designs, however I wholeheartedly acknowledge that this can be a stylistic choice and never a touch upon high quality or sturdiness.

The printing extends proper across the minifig, together with arms and the again of the minifig’s legs.

Conclusions & suggestion

The Brickmania B-17G WWII Heavy Bomber custom package yields a stupendous mannequin not only for its general look and dealing options but in addition for the sheer engineering prowess necessitated by its large scale. We’ve in contrast numerous points of the package to the official LEGO Star Wars UCS Millennium Falcon a number of occasions all through this evaluation, and the comparability is completely apt (and never simply because they’re each grey flying machines with plenty of weapons bristling in all instructions). Each units are Premium, Status units with capital P’s.

At $1,750 for this Brickmania package, you would purchase two UCS Falcons, so this gained’t be an off-the-cuff buy for all however the somewhat well-to-do. It bears repeating, as we’ve famous in earlier Brickmania and different custom package evaluations, that the package maker sources their LEGO bricks on the open market identical to the remainder of us (there’s no particular program from LEGO for bulk elements for custom package makers), they usually should cowl a better proportion of the price for design and packaging. However as a deeply significant present for an individual or group with a connection to the real-life plane, or for the die-hard LEGO army collector, this tradition package is completely superb. (It’s additionally essential to notice that Brickmania has a frequent-buyer program that may instantly pay for itself even for those who’re simply buying this one set, they usually have frequent gross sales of as a lot as 30% off the custom kits of their stock.)

Whereas it’s definitely exhausting to put aside the price solely, when you can look previous the worth, the Brickmania B-17G brings collectively progressive constructing methods and remarkably sturdy development that leads to a completely beautiful completed mannequin. That is an LEGO plane mannequin that might look beautiful because the centerpiece of any LEGO World Warfare II show.


Brickmania is a Premier Sponsor of The Brothers Brick and despatched The Brothers Brick a replica of this set for assessment. Nevertheless, offering TBB with merchandise for assessment ensures neither protection nor constructive evaluations.


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