1/72 Academy PBY Catalina

by Kyle Williams



Continuing your theme of building for others, I thought this recent build might fit in nicely...

A co-worker asked me to build a model of the PBY-5 her father-in-law flew in WWII. He flew with VPB-63 on sub-hunting missions around the Gibraltar Straits. My initial research indicated that this squadron flew MAD equipped 'cats painted in the N. Atlantic scheme of White and Dark Grey. After her family inquired subtly (it was to be a surprise) to ask for details, he told them he flew in a blue PBY-5A. I guessed that he flew with them earlier in the war, so I went with the blue-grey over Lt. Grey and kept the a/c clean. The kit unfortunately did not come with depth charges so I left the underwing armament off. I chose to detail the waist positions and mount it on a plaque with a Photoshop enhanced map I generated from different art found online and elsewhere.

The Academy kit is nice and fairly well detailed. A super detailer could go nuts with it. As with all kits, there are a few areas that need to be corrected. The cockpit is minimal, and the airplane controls look clunky. You can hardly see inside, so I guess it's o.k. I chopped up ground crew from Hasegawa's Modern Ground crew set to provide pilots and a waist gunner. I added the whitecap to the gunner's head with putty.

The guns were detailed with ammo boxes, scrap plastic and tiny floral wire. I also added the life raft in the back of the compartment made from glue soaked tissue and made a chemical toilet from a chunk of sprue. The walkpath through the compartment must be made to attach straight, not at an angle as the instructions show.

I also added a navigator's table behind the cockpit with a map on top although, like many of the details it's hard to see. The overhead throttles in the cockpit are also there...really, I promise!

The fit is good, with the main clean-up being along the long wing. I chose to build and paint the fuselage and wing separately, this way I wouldn't encounter overspray problems.

The kit is molded in black plastic, and so I built-up color slowly towards the panel lines to add depth to the color. As you can see with the wing top, it really breaks up a monochromatic scheme. I used Polly-S acrylic paints, starting with a base color and gradually adding more white to each coat. After it was finished, I liked to finish so well, I elected to pass on a wash to bring out the detail. I weathered with pastels, and light dustings of Lt. grey paint thinned to tone back the decals and simulate the exhaust stains. Pastels were also used to enhance the hinge lines of control surfaces and accent panel lines.

I enjoyed building it, and hope that the gentleman I built it for enjoys it as well.


Photos and text by Kyle Williams