Matchbox 1/72 PB4Y-2 Privateer


PK 606


$15.00, in the mid-1980s


Three aircraft


Scott Van Aken




Probably the unsung units of the Pacific war were the Liberator patrol/bomber squadrons. They spent much of their time overseas flying endless patrol missions over vast expanses of water. Any bombing missions they had were usually flights that exceeded 12 hours in length. Navigation was paramount to good mission success and often planes left on missions only to just disappear without a trace. An interesting side note is that probably more G4M Betty bombers were destroyed after having met Navy Liberators mid-ocean than from any other source!

Fortunately, the B-24 was the perfect plane for the mission. It had very long range and was able to carry a goodly bomb load over that distance. However, it was an Army plane and not tailored specifically to Navy requirements. Though the Navy did install their own nose turret to the Liberator, what was needed was a big rework. Though the basic wings and fuselage remained the same, there were two waist gun positions reminiscent of the Catalina installed. In addition the twin tails went away to be replaced by a single very tall fin and rudder. This was to allow greater stability at low level where these planes operated. Since they flew most missions below 20,000 feet, the turbosuperchargers went away. What emerged was the Privateer.

It went into combat in 1944 and gradually replaced the older PB4Y-1 by war's end. Even after the war it soldiered on until replaced by other types like the P2V Neptune. It was also used by the French and later on as a fire bomber.



Well folks, it is a Matchbox kit. That means lots of colorful parts, relatively easy fit and mediocre detail. I say relatively as the plane can be quite fiddly to build. There are lots of small pieces and having a separate nose section doesn't really help. These kits were not designed for the dedicated enthusiast, but there is plenty of room for improvement by those types. It also is really the only game in town, assuming you can find a kit. The model has never been reissued since first coming on the market in 1983 and can command a rather high asking price.

In terms of options, there really are few. Basically you can build it as a PB4Y-2 or as an R3Y. The R3Y is really a cargo/transport version that has had all the armament removed and smooth fairings placed over the nose and tail where the turrets used to be. I built this kit over 15 years ago and can tell you that it is not a swift built. The trouble spots are the nose turret area and the installation of the side blisters. You also need a lot of nose weight to keep it from tail sitting.

Over the years, there have been a number of B-24 detail sets that would work just as well with the Privateer kit. There are also some aftermarket decals by White Wolf for this plane in case you don't want to do the kit version. The instructions are typical of Matchbox kits with many small construction steps and all painting information located at the back of the sheet. There are markings for three planes. A normal USN Privateer in the tri-color scheme from VPB-106 in the Philippines, an overall dark sea blue one from 28 Flotille in Tunisia in 1958 and the R3Y in Canadian markings circa 1948. This one is in overall metal finish.

Perhaps one of these days this kit will be reissued, but until now, best of luck with your search!

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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