Monogram 1/72 SA-16B Albatross




$12.00 when last reissued


one option


Scott Van Aken


1995 reissue


The SA-16 was developed by Grumman for the USAF as an air/sea rescue aircraft to replace the SB-29s and OA-10s that were in use after the war. Though it only saw limited service in Korea, the Albatross (so named due its long wings) soon proved that it was well able to handle the task. Having amphibian capabilities was a major bonus to ensuring survival of aircrew whose plane when down in the ocean.

The success of the aircraft led both the Navy and the Coast Guard to purchase their own examples. The Coast Guard planes probably stayed in service longer than other US users. A civil version was also developed and used by several air lines for operations in the Caribbean and other island areas. Several foreign countries saw the benefit of this airplane and many were sold overseas. Some are still plying their trade while a couple of others are being flown in the US as warbirds.


This was one of the earlier Monogram kits to be produced, the date on the instructions being 1957. As was the norm, operating features were of paramount importance to the sale of a model kit. Models needed to do more than sit there; they had to have play value. In this case it is retractable landing gear as well as having a man in water mini-diorama so that the prospective modeler would have some scenarios to play out with his completed model.

Detailing is state of the art for the 1950s with lots of rivets. Control surfaces are engraved and well outlined. Detail in other areas are not that well done. Cockpit is a floor with two preseated crew members. No instrument panel, no control sticks. The nose well is non-existent to allow room for the retracting nose gear. Wheels are just approximations, being a bit too thin, but having room for the hot knife treatment on the axles so they will roll. There is considerable detail in the main gear wells, but also a few access holes. In addition to the retracting gear, the gear doors are also hinged so they can close after the gear is retracted. I can tell you from experience that this model will not float, rapidly sinking to the bottom of the tub....ocean when waterborne landings were attempted.

Instructions are just as they were in 1957 with lots of construction drawings and a written sequence as well. Many show the use of rubber bands to hold parts and petroleum jelly to lubricate hinges. A color finishing guide is provided for those who want to paint the wing tips. Decals are not bad, but are the older, thick Monogram variety. Despite this, I've had good luck with these decals in the past so they should work well. I only know of two aftermarket decal sheets for this kit and finding them will be a difficult task. Scale is close enough to 1/72 for most of us. I'm not sure what it really is, but again, it is close enough.


This is yet another case of 'want an SA-16 kit, then this is it' sort of deal. Anyone wanting to make this into a show model will have to do a LOT of work on it to bring the interior up to specs. Not to mention all the sanding and rescribing. Too much work for me! They are not that difficult to find as I see them at swap meets all the time. The astute will note that this kit is missing a prop. This kit was sealed prior to my opening it for this preview.  Fat chance of getting a replacement!

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