|KIT:||Revell 1/72 PBY Catalina|
|PRICE:||$all out of production|
In 1/72 scale PBY kits were issued by three manufacturers, Airfix, Revell and the last and best from Academy/Minicraft. Scott presented the Revell 1/72 PBY kits with Coast Guard decals some time ago, as I have three more boxings of this kit I would like to give a short rundown of these to show the differences. This might be more of historical nature with better kits now around, with the exception of the the PBY-6A kit, which is unique to Revell.
While the history of the PBY is covered in detail elsewhere, I will take a short look on the three Catalinas which served as prototypes for the three kits.
The first kit, the ‘PBY-5 Catalina II A’ (kit no. 4370, copyrighted 1988) features the flying boat version of the PBY. The first subversions of the PBY leading up to the –5 were all flying boats, with the main feature of the –5 being the waist gunner positions with blisters instead of a simple hatch. Many Catalinas were delivered to the RAF, where VA708 from the 209th Sqr made history on the 26th May 1941, when it sighted the German battleship Bismark in the Atlantic, leading to her ultimate destruction, this event is covered in the box art. Well, other sources give this machine as W8406, coded WQ-Z and being a Catalina I, as the Catalina II A is the amphibious variant.
This leads over to the next kit, the PBY-5A ‘BLACK CAT’ (kit no. H-211, copyrighted from 1968). With this variant a landing gear was fitted, resulting in an even more versatile machine. As the PBY was a slow aircraft, combat operations in the Pacific were switched to the nighttime, using an all black finish. Often the units switched between night-time attack and day-time rescue support duties.
The last kit shows the PBY-6A version (kit no. H-576, copyrighted from 1976), which featured a different, bigger tail than the PBY-5A. This was the last variant of the Catalina, 175 were produced. This special Catalina was used by the Cousteau Society, lead by Jaques-Yves Cousteau and his son Philippe. The Cousteaus were exploring the seas with their vessel ‘Calypso’, production many films and television series. The Catalina was acquired to carry out more work and was modified with diving platforms beneath the blisters and a special interior. As with many civil PBYs, a streamlined ‘clipper bow’ substituted the bow turret. Sadly, Philippe Cousteau was killed in 1979 piloting the Catalina on the river Tagus near Lisbon, where the aircraft nosed over during a high speed taxi run to check for leaks.
The kits are quite old now and covered with rivets and raised panel lines. Transparencies are thick and the interior is sparse. That said they are OK in outline and I like the representation of the fabric covered wing areas. The wing is quite big, it is divided in three section and should be supported internally.
Not much to say for the first two kits. The flying boat comes with beaching gears. A basic decal sheet gives the markings and some ‘V’ decals, which are meant to represent some zip-locks in the wing fabric. The ‘Black Cat’ kit comes in black plastic and has the landing gear added. Here my decals were damaged by moisture, but are also quite basic with just insignias and code numbers. No under wing stores are supplied for both of these kits, and the instructions only make mention of Revell’s colors.
Moving to the last kit, the Cousteau’s PBY kit has the correct different fuselage for the PBY-6A variant and also different horizontal tail surfaces. The small diving platforms below the side blisters are also included. A nice addition is a small boat (Zodiak) with two diver figures, also a nice set of markings for Cousteau´s aircraft are supplied. The instructions include outlined templates for the PBY and the Zodiak to make a ‘floating’ diorama, using the bottom of the kit box. Some small photos show the PBY at work, including one with the crew around a big dining table inside the hull, enjoying a tasty dinner! Well, never forget this was a French operation… The box side mentions the companion model to the PBY, a model of Cousteau’s ship Calypso, which was to smaller scale. As said, this Cousteau´s PBY is the only kit available for the PBY-6A variant, but there is a PBY-6A conversion available from Broplan.
To give a quick lock on other old 1/72 PBYs the Airfix kit may be mentioned, which is still offered. This is more toy-like than the Revell kit, with working surfaces and opening blisters. This kit has all of the wing covered with rivets, which is obviously wrong. Also to be mentioned, a 1/72 PBY was offered in a Matchbox box with Dutch (East Indies) markings. As this was after Revell took over Matchbox, I suspect the Revell kit inside this boxing, as they did with the P-70.
While these kits feature less detail than the newer Academy kits, they will result in an acceptable, simple model, at least one did for me. Be prepared that the Catalina even in 1/72 scale uses quite some space on the shelf, as it has about the same span as a B-17!
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has nearly 300,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page