Revell 1/48 PV-1 Ventura

KIT #: 85-5531
PRICE: $36.99 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Xtradecal 48-097 “Lockheed PV-1 Ventura”
Scale Aircraft Conversions white metal landing gear


             Developed as a follow-on design to the Hudson patrol bomber developed from the Lockheed Model 14 Electra, the Ventura was based on the Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar.  Uprated with two Pratt & Whitney R-2800s, the airplane first appeared in 1941, produced by Lockeed-Vega in Burbank.  Following the US entry into the war, the US Army Air Forces adopted it as the B-34 and B-37, and used it for anti-submarine patrol and for VIP transport.  The US Navy obtained control of the aircraft when the USAAF gave up responsibility for anti-submarine patrols in US coastal waters, re-designating it the PV-1.

            The RNZAF had first come into contact when 487 Squadron was issued Ventura Is in 1942, which were used in the medium-bombing role on the Channel Front.  487 was happy to give these up the following year for re-equipment with Mosquitos.  The RAF continued to use Venturas in the general reconnaissance and training role.

            In the Pacific, the RNZAF received PV-1 Venturas beginning in the summer of 1943, to be used as replacements for the war-weary Hudsons.  The first RNZAF Venturas arrived at Henderson Field in October 1943, where they were used for general reconnaissance, photo-reconnaissance, survivor patrols, and minelaying and bombing missions throughout the Solomons area. 

            One mission of note happened on Christmas Eve 1943, when NZ4509 piloted by Flying Officer Don Ayson, was attacked by nine Zeros over St.George's Channel while on an air-sea rescue mission, shooting down three confirmed plus two probables, while the rest were driven off by the defense.  Ayson and navigator W.N. Williams were awarded the DFC, while gunner Flight Sergeant G.E Hannah was awarded the DFM for their action. 

            Four RNZAF Venturas and four Japanese Zeros met in combat on January 28, 1944, the last aerial combat in the Solomons/Bismarcks area for the rest of the war.  The Venturas were employed as bombers by the RNZAF for the Rabaul campaign after the withdrawal of Japanese aerial defenses in early 1944, and continued to operate in that role in conjunction with US Marine PBJ Mitchell squadrons until the end of the war.    

            Following the war, most of the Ventura squadrons were quickly disbanded, with the aircraft replaced by Mosquitos in 1947.  All but two were sold off as scrap in 1948.


            The Ventura is the first all-new 1/48 aircraft kit from Revell-Monogram since the Do-217 in the late 1990s, and has engendered a lot of comment due to its low price and high value.  The kit comes on several sprues of grey plastic and one of clear plastic. Surface detail is scribed and a bit heavy, though nothing that detracts from the overall look once painted. Some critics have pointed out detail discrepancies, and the aftermarket has already come to the rescue of those determined to triple the price of their model with “corrections” to provide better propeller blade, more accurate cowlings and open cowl flaps.  A resin closed bomb bay is also available for those who cannot glue four pieces of plastic together.  As Peter Mossong says in his review of the kit at the RNZAF site, “for 95% of modelers who want a Ventura in their collection, what’s in the box will be just fine.”

             Afermarket decals may be more popular for those who want do have something without an octopus on it.  Xtradecals has been first out of the box with sheet 48-097, which provides markings for two different US Navy PV-1s, two different RNZAF aircraft, and one RAAF aircraft, in addition to markings for a Ventura I that will be useful when that version is released in the future.  Peter Mossong, who assisted with the decals, has noted that after the design was set, information became available that “Slippery Sam” was NZ4512, rather than NZ4511 as long thought.  Modelers for whom this is important can create the change with decals from their collections.


            Built out of the box, the Revell Ventura presents no difficulties however one wishes to do it.  Read the instructions, follow them, and all will be well.

             While some may think the cockpit could have more detail, what’s there is just fine once the canopy is in place, since not that much can actually be seen.  The turret is similar, in that the detail that can be seen inside is sufficient for most modelers.  The kit comes with the bomb bay designed to be open, but if one wishes to glue the doors shut it is not difficult; I found that doing this before gluing the fuselage halves together allowed me to get the parts fitted correctly more easily.

             While aftermarket engines are available for those who want them, what is provided in the kit looks just fine when fully assembled; I have never been able to understand why anyone worries about the rear of an engine since it cannot be seen once installed.

             The one thing that really does need correction is the propellers.  The props in the kit are based on those used by a restored aircraft in Canada, and are not the correct paddle shape for the operational aircraft.  I had extra paddle props from a Revell B-17F (which uses different props if you are doing it correctly), which only needed to be cut down by about a sixteenth of an inch and then reshaped.  Those without such props in their parts stash can get corrected propellers from Lone Star Models, Vector, or Squadron True Details. 


             After pre-shading the model, I painted it in the tri-color scheme using Tamiya flat White, Intermediate Blue and Field Blue (a better color than Tamiya’s “Sea Blue” in my opinion), which were “faded” as they would have been after exposure to tropic sunlight.  The RNZAF aircraft had their de-icer boots removed and overpainted with Sea Blue, which is how I did this model.

             The Xtradecals worked great. I replaced the yellow “4511" decal with “4512" out of the decal dungeon and also used a “2" to change the serial number.  My only real complaint is that the fuselage roundels appear to be too large from the photos at Peter Mossong’s site, and do not include the white bar used on New Zealand insignia in the combat zone.  I didn’t have any correct smaller roundels, but did use bars cut off US insignia decals in the dungeon.

            I weathered the model with exhaust stains, then attached the landing gear, props, and turret.


            I have to admit I was surprised to find the Ventura the subject of an injection-molded release from a mainstream kit manufacturer.  The airplane has previously been available in 1/48 as a vacuform from Koster Aero Enterprises and as a limited-run kit from Fonderies Miniatures.  I’m also surprised by all the hoorah over getting aftermarket “corrections” for a kit of what is really a very “second-line” airplane.  However, if I were to provide my list of “gotta do” aircraft for which kits do not exist, I am sure there are many who would be as surprised by some items on that list as I am by this kit.  That said, this is a competent model, easily built, and looks nice when done.  In this age of ever-increasing prices, it is a bargain for what one gets, and can be easily recommended to anyone of any skill level who finds the subject interesting.

Review kit courtesy of my wallet.

Tom Cleaver

March 2012

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