Academy 1/72 PBY-5A 'Black Cat'
KIT #: 12487
PRICE: $24.68
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2009 release


The Consolidated PBY Catalina, also known as the Canso in Canadian service, is an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind and the last active military PBYs were not retired from service until the 1980s. As of 2014, nearly 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.


Academy has been one of the few companies to offer a Catalina in 1/72 scale. Prior to this, I believe Airfix and Revell were pretty much it, with both of those kits being developments of the 1960s/70s. Academy did a whole range of Catalinas in the 1990s, much to the delight of fans. This one is release of about ten years back.

Naturally, the kit is molded in black and personally, I despise colored plastic as it simply makes building a bit more difficult. We will be painting the model black anyway so why not do us a favor and mold it in a nice grey.

Considering the size of the completed model, there really are not a ton of parts. Of the six sprues, two are dedicated to the wings and one to the clear bits.

Interestingly, the instructions have you start by building up each of the main landing gears and well along with the inner machine gun positions. To be honest, I would see if you could attach the main gear components after painting and it appears that might be the case. the cockpit is fairly well appointed for the scale and includes a decal for the main instrument panel. You are provided a catwalk for the gunner's area and two nose gun options. The one shown on the box art is a later war addition along with the upper fuselage radome. If using the kit decals, it seems one would want the later stuff. Note that the early version will have the dipole antennas  and while the instructions show these as a butt join, I'd drill some holes for that.

After installing all the inside bits and the nose gear well, the fuselage halves can be closed. No indication of nose weight is provided but I can assure you it will take quite a bit.  One will also need to decide on opening holes on the lower wing center section for the bombs (no racks provided) and the long fuel dump tubes. Engines are a front face and you are provided full cowlings and a separate prop hub for the three blade props.

The outer wing sections are built separately from the center section and you have a choice of the floats raised or lowered. Check your photos on this one as often when the plane was on its wheels, the floats were up. There are differences in the carb intakes as well as some other small bits between the early and late versions so you will need to make a choice fairly early. The early version also has the yagi antenna under the wing and again, this appears to be a butt join so I'd drill a hole for these

Instructions are nicely done and provide generic interior and exterior color information. A color mfg chart is provided with several brands. Black Cats were not all that glamorously marked, consisting of little more than numbers and insignia. Such is the case with this one. These aircraft were an overall matte black and tended to weather rather badly. 


Undoubtedly the best kit of this aircraft in this scale, it should build into a very nice model. I've seen a number of completed kits on the net and the one thing I find surprising is that so many have built this exact one. If you find the kit markings dull (and they are), there are others out there.

January 2019

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