Special Hobby 1/72 PV-2 Harpoon

KIT #: SH 72093
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Kevin Dolin
NOTES: Guide holes? We don’ need no steenking guide holes.

The roots of the PV-2 Harpoon go back to 1935 with the introduction of the famed Lockheed Model 10 Electra (Yes, that Electra). From that aircraft came the Model 14 Super Electra, Lockheed’s attempt to break into the passenger airline market. However, despite its excellent performance, it’s high operating costs and the advent of the larger and cheaper DC-3 forced a rethink at Lockheed, resulting in the longer Model 18 Lodestar. Enter the UK, looking for a support for their Anson. Lockheed sent them plans for a militarized Model 14 which quickly became the famed Hudson. As a replacement for the Hudson, Lockheed turned to the Model 18 and turned out what was basically a beefed up Hudson, with a similar layout, but larger and heavier, with a greater bomb load and armament and named it the Ventura. Both the USAAF and the USN were interested in this craft, but after receiving only 18 Venturas,  the Army agreed to turn over exclusive use of the Ventura to the Navy, designated as the PV-1. A major redesign of the Ventura resulted in the apogee of the line, the PV-2 Harpoon. which went into service in 1945.
While the Hudson and Ventura were adapted from airliners, the Harpoon’s redesign, albeit still based on the Model 18, was meant to meet the specific needs for the Navy to optimize it for the maritime reconnaissance role. It had larger tail surfaces to improve stability and an increased wing area for a substantial upgrade in load carrying capacity. This solved one of the major problems of the PV-1: its difficulty in taking off with a full fuel load. It first flew on Dec. 3, 1943, but structural problems with the wings delayed its introduction into service until March 1945 where it first served in the Aleutians. The Harpoon used the same engines as the Ventura, two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 air-cooled radials and being a much larger aircraft was thus some 40 mph slower than the Ventura, but its increased range, bomb load and an armament of two fixed 0.50-inch machine guns in the upper nose decking plus three fixed 0.50-inch machine guns in an undernose pack, two 0.50-inch machine guns in the dorsal turret, and two 0.50-inch machine guns in the rear ventral position more than made up for that. Eight 5-inch HVAR rockets could also be carried underneath the wings. Due to its late entrance, its combat use by the Navy was fairly brief, cut short by the end of the war in the Pacific. The Navy continued to use the Harpoon for several years after the war finally phasing it out of active service in August of 1948. However at one time, Harpoons equipped eleven VP squadrons with the Naval Reserve, being in that service for about eight more years.
The Harpoon turned out to be a thoroughly reliable and popular aircraft. Postwar, Harpoons served with a number of foreign air forces: Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, France and Portugal. Ironically, it was one of the first aircraft to equip the Kaijō Jieitai, the newly created Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in 1951. Other Harpoons were sold off as surplus for civilian uses ranging from luxury passenger planes to crop sprayers.
The kit comes in a sturdy top opening box. Inside is a large sticky sealing bag containing four grey sprues of hard plastic ― I left off one of the wing sprues as, except for a couple of small bits, it’s identical ― , four pieces of resin and the clear bits in their respective zip-lock bags and the decals in another sticky closing bag. The sprue gates are a bit thick for my taste and care will definitely be needed removing the tinier bits. All ejector marks are where you can’t see them, however those on the tail fins and horizontal stabilizer/elevators will need to be sanded or ground down. The highest is about a millimeter, so no major operation there. I saw no sink marks and very little flash. It looks like most of your seam scraping will be with the landing gear parts and some of the smaller parts. Expect some tedium here. You’ll also need to do some cleaning up in some of the clear parts openings. The clear parts look commendably thin and clear. There’s a bit of soft detail on the sidewalls of the cockpit, which consists of the floor, a control panel to be painted as there’s no decal for it, side-by-side control columns and yolk style grips. They are tiny; see above. The seats are pretty generic. A show of hands of those who think there is nothing in the way of seatbelts. There are two bulkheads behind the seats. There’s a set up for the ventral gunner and the clear parts give you the option of having the position open or closed, then a bulkhead to close off the space behind that position. The top turret just sits in its hole and can be left off during painting. No framing either. Yay! As is typical of these kits, everything is butt joined. (sigh) The box says there are PE parts in this kit. This is not true. None in the parts diagram nor in the instructions. For some reason this does not bother me. There are six resin parts: two nicely crafted engines and four tiny pieces for the engine air intakes.
The instructions have 16 steps on eight pages. There are a few head scratchers as to exactly some parts fit. You will, of course, not follow the directions as given. I don’t understand why they’d have you put antennas, pitot tubes and other easily knocked off bits on in the middle of a build. There are two sets of noses, one of which you don’t use. Here again, however, they have you do something I think is stupid. They’d have you assemble the nose pieces first, then attach that to the fuselage. Don’t do this. Glue each piece to it respective side, properly lined up and you will have a much happier modeling experience. Ask me how I know.
There is also a beautiful color insert showing all the camouflage schemes. The color call-outs are all in Gunze-Sangyo Hobby Color/Mr. Color. The first two are identical as are the latter two. Schemes A and B are Glossy Sea Blue on the top of the fuselage, horizontal stabs, the wings and the cowlings. The sides and tail fins are Intermediate Blue. The underside is a white that is called Grand Prix White (H21/C69 FS17875). Schemes C and D are overall Glossy Sea Blue with an orange fuselage band at the turret area. All have glossy white noses.
A is Harpoon No. 24, unknown BuNo., VPB-139, Attu Island, Aleutian Islands, March 1945, flown by Alfred “Fritz” Daniel.
B is Z101, BuNo. 37101, VPB-142, NAS Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii, April 1945. The aircraft was transferred to VPB-153. It crashed during a night mission on May 5th, 1945 with the loss of the entire crew.
C is L 180, BuNo. 37365, VP-772, NAS Los Alamitos, California. This aircraft had the upper nose guns removed and the openings faired over.
D is UP 179, unknown BuNo., NAS St. Louis, Missouri, 1950.
The decals are by Aviprint and look good to me. They’re not that dark. I darkened the scan so you could see the white numerals.

As to any discrepancies in shape or size, I really don’t know and don’t particularly care as I’m building it for me. I’ll let the AMS crowd handle that. I just wish Special Hobby and others of that ilk would grasp the concept of guide holes, slots and tabs. Yes, yes. I know. Using those modeling skills and all that, but still... Anyway, with a wing span is 12½”/31.75 cm and the length 8⅔”/22 cm even in 1/72 this will build into a large and striking model. As a native St. Louisan, I’m pret-ty sure I know which one I’m going to build. It may even be my first build article. Stay tuned.

Kevin Dolin

July 2017

Copyright ModelingMadness.com

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page     Back to the Review Index Page     Back to the Previews Index Page