Special Hobby 1/72 Northrop N-3PB

KIT #: SH 72299
PRICE: $25.00 or so
DECALS: Basically one options with several numbers
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with p.e. parts

The Northrop N-3PB Nomad was a single-engined American floatplane of the 1940s. Northrop developed the N-3PB as an export model based on the earlier Northrop A-17 design. A total of 24 were purchased by Norway, but were not delivered until after the Fall of Norway during the Second World War. Exiled Norwegian forces used them from 1941, operating from Iceland, for convoy escort, anti-submarine patrols, and training purposes from "Little Norway" in Canada. Within two years of delivery, the design was effectively obsolete in its combat role, and the remaining N-3PBs were replaced by larger aircraft in 1943.

In late February 1941, six production N-3PBs were flown to RCAF Station Patricia Bay, Vancouver Island in Canada, one of the Canadian winter bases of the Flyvåpnenes Treningsleir (FTL) Norwegian training bases known as "Little Norway". The N-3PB's service as an advanced trainer in Canada in the "Little Norway" summer base at Island Harbour, Toronto and winter bases along the western coast of Canada, was relatively brief and ended when it was determined that pilot and air crew graduates were to be integrated into RAF squadrons. Arrangements were made later in 1941 for the advanced flight training of Norwegian pilots to be carried out in RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force schools on types that better fit the transition to combat flying. Consequently, the three surviving N-3PBs were stored until shipped to Iceland in March 1942 on the steamer Delta.

This is one of the more modern Special Hobby kits in that it has an injected canopy and does not require resin to provide small parts. It does, however, still include a photo etch fret. This fret supplies the seat harnesses, some cockpit handles and such, as well as bits for the rudder assemblies. Note also that cables for the rudders need to be made from wire or stretched sprue. As a note, the parts image does not include the floats or beaching gear.

The cockpit is well appointed with controls fore and aft, seats with rudder pedals for the front as well as various bits and pieces to fit on the sidewalls. A center raised section with a DF antenna is included and while it probably wasn't used on these planes, a rear machine gun. There is also a ventral gun that drops down on a door which is installed near the end of the build. Again, I doubt it was fitted to these planes as they were used for training.  There are a number of small windows that are to be installed prior to closing the fuselage halves. A lower window behind the wing is also provided. This was to be used by the observer/gunner.

The wing is a single lower piece with upper halves and single piece tailplanes. Float pylons are two pieces with the floats being a single upper piece and a lower section. Each rudder assembly is six pieces, five of which are photo etch. The kit does provide beaching gear so one has to keep this in mind when building this portion of the kit.

An engine that is a forward half face is provided with the cowling split vertically. There is no prop shaft so one apparently just butt joins the prop to the engine face. Though the instructions show the prop with full black blades, period photos show a bare metal prop and only the back of the blades are black. The sole extant airframe does have black blades on both sides. Holes will have to drilled for the wing guns, but again, the planes in this boxing seem to be unarmed. The canopy appears to be quite nicely done with fairly prominent frame lines that will make masking much easier.

Instructions are typical for Special Hobby in that they are well done with a goodly amount of color. Gunze is the paint of choice. Markings are provided for three airplanes that differ only in aircraft number. The planes are in the standard maritime colors of extra dark sea grey/dark slate grey over sky, which means the two upper colors will be very close to each other. Deciphering where the demarcation lines are in the kit instructions is very difficult so I recommend scanning the page and doing some photo manipulation to make them more identifiable. The small sheet is nicely printed and should work very well with standard setting solutions.


According to Scalemates, two boxings of this kit were done in 2015. One with 330 Squadron markings and this one. There are canopy masks available for it, which should make that a less than arduous task. The end result will be a very nice model of a somewhat obscure aircraft, but one that did play a part in the war of the Atlantic.




December 2018

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