Academy 1/72 PBM-5A Mariner
KIT #: ?
PRICE:  $60.00
DECALS:  Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Weir


The Martin PBM Mariner was designed as a stable mate to the immensely successful PBY Catalina. It is a large cantilever, gull winged, twin engine flying boat. The wing and tail surfaces required no external bracing like so many flying boats that preceded it making it highly aerodynamic.  The first PBM-1s entered service with the U.S. Navy in September of 1940 and subsequent models would serve with the U.S. up until about 1956. Other countries like Uruguay would operate them well into the 60s.
     The PBM-5 for which this kit is based on would herald in retractable landing gear making her one of if not the largest amphibious aircraft ever. For a piston, prop, twin engine bird this thing is a WHOPPER. With its deep fuselage and wingspan of 118 it dwarfs four engine bombers like the B-17 out spanning it by almost 15.
    Going to keep it brief at this point. Ive heard a rumor that a patron of this site who is far more qualified to write about the history of the PBM may be posting an article on this subject here at MM. Not to mention far more interesting.
      This is the first mainstream 1/72nd scale, injection molded kit of this aircraft that I am aware of. Revell released it back in the 50s in an oddball box scale that can still be found on eBay. This one is molded in light gray styrene. Molding is clean and flash free. The plastic is relatively soft not too unlike that of an AMT kit and the clear parts are good and transparent. There are markings for two aircraft printed by Cartograph and I found them to live up to the high standards of that company.
       As usual the interior was first up to bat. I painted the flight deck interior green and the rest of the insides chromate yellow. The myriad of windows were glued from the inside with Testors clear parts glue which if I were to guess is an acrylic polymer. I masked them on the outside before the fuselage halves were joined together just in case this clumsy oaf were to knock one or more of them out while pressing on them with the masking film. This method also allows you to put pressure on them from the inside.
       The engine nacelle bomb bays were also painted in chromate yellow. While there is no ordinance supplied in the kit I found the bomb bays well appointed and too nice to close up. All the frame work and spars are slightly fiddly but for the most part go together pretty well.
    Now we come to the part that seems to be giving modelers the most trouble which is joining the wing to the fuselage. After the wing assembly is complete youll notice they sag sadly downward way out of the line of proper dihedral. Do not fret. The wing sets in a recessed saddle on the fuselage. It is a TIGHT fit to say the least but not impossible. When you glue the top and bottom parts of the wing assembly together make sure the strips in the rear on each side that butt up into the saddle either are not cemented and float free of each other or what I did is to alligator clip them where they sit in line with each other top to bottom and then liquid cement them and let them dry thoughroly. There is a little light dome on top of the wing. I drilled a hole in the saddle directly underneath it to give the clear part more clearance. For a little more assurance of a proper fit I filed down the very top of the saddle a little for good measure. After a lot of dry fitting I laid down the liquid glue in the saddle where the wing would meet. Zippy ties in the front and back pull the wing into the fuselage and up into proper dihedral and liquid glue was then applied fairly generously around all the seams. I let this dry for a whole day before cutting the zippy ties. After this is all done there is a gap where the inner, lower part of the wing meets the fuselage that may need a little filler.
        A couple other issues I had with this build were self inflicted. The axle on the nose gear broke off somewhere in the construction and I had to fabricate a new one out of a T- shaped piece of sprue. Got a oleo strut from a P-38 kit. There are two triangular shaped doors that cover a glazing low on the bow. I chose to leave them in the open position. While moving one into place with a pair of tweezers the little booger shot out like a tidally wink never to be found again like so many other tiny parts before it. With the other one I was able to use it as a pattern to cut new ones out of sheet styrene.  A couple of led fishing sinkers were set on top of the nose gear wheel well through the nose turret opening and glued down with epoxy to make her sit on her nose instead of her tail.
       The last problem with the kit involved shoe horning the front turret into the nose. Its a little easier if you put the turret carriage in first and then the ball to follow. I actually filed down part of the rear of the ball glazing to give it a little more clearance.
         First step in painting was to pre-shade the panel lines. The camouflage colors are Tamiya lacquers for which Ive been toying with as of late. The yellow chrome is Testors enamel. I usually leave subtle traces of panel shading. Navy aircraft often look really dirty {as do many of the Mariner photos of them in service} so I went heavier with the pre-shading on this project. After decals and a gloss coat over the whole thing it gets a wash of Raw Umber oil paint followed by dull coat. Once again the decals are superb and laid down perfectly.
      I havent seen a new worthwhile kit from this company since they had Academy in front of their own name. That is until now. I really enjoyed this build and have to give Minicraft a big SALUTE for choosing a bold, important and overlooked subject thats really not rooted in the safe money as far as models go. Its got a few issues as do a lot of kits out there but nothing that cannot be overcome with a little patience and dry fitting. With an 18 wingspan it is large even in 1/72nd scale. And since its not something one sees everyday if ever in the scale modeling universe she makes for a real conversation piece. As someone said on a facebook page,You just gotta love old clunky flying boats! Id have to say Minicraft has a big beautiful winner here with their Mariner. Hope to see earlier versions of the PBM in the future or maybe even the Mars. That baby would come in with just over a 33 wingspan in 1/72nd

Scott Weir

 December 2013

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