1/72 PBY-5 Catalina

Gallery Article by Konley Kelley on May 6 2009



In May 24, 1941 the German Battleship Bismarck struck a mighty blow to the Royal Navy and the British people with the destruction of the HMS Hood.

With minor damage from the battle, the Bismarck sailed towards the safety of a French port undetected having slipped away from her pursuers.

On May 26, in an amazing bit of luck, a Royal Navy PBY Catalina flying boat found the Bismarck. The PBY fell under intense anti-aircraft fire but returned safely. On board the PBY serving as co-pilot was 26-year old American, Ensign Leonard B. “Tuck” Smith. Although the U.S. Congress permitted the lending of materials and aircraft to the British, Ensign Smith’s contribution was a wartime secret.

With the Bismarck’s position now known, the HMS Ark Royal launched Swordfish torpedo planes which crippled the Bismarck and led to her destruction by British warships.

The Model:
I’ve been fascinated with the Bismarck story and have built scale and 3D models of the ships and aircraft involved. I picked up a Revell 1:72 PBY-5 with markings for the Catalina that found the Bismarck.

The kit was pretty basic but a fun build. It was hard to find a good reference as to how the PBY was camouflaged. The resource I based my PBY was a profile found in the PBY Walkaround book from Squadron Signal publications.

I painted the upper surfaces Dark Green and Intermediate Blue. I painted the lower surfaces Camouflage Grey.

I haven’t had any luck finding Future Floor Polish. It does wonders preventing decals from silvering. I was bummed about the decals silvering on this model.

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I weathered the model with pastels and finished it with dulcote.

In my library, I have signed copy of Robert Ballard’s fascinating book about the discovery of the wreck of the Bismarck. The book includes a painting of the Ensign Smith’s PBY spotting the Bismarck. I sought to replicate this scene using my Tamiya 1:350 Bismarck and some Photoshop.

I also created the scene in 3D using my 3D PBY and 3D Bismarck models. I already had a posed PBY from my 3D “Enemy Carriers!” image at the Battle of Midway. I changed the texture map on the 3D PBY to match camo of the PBY that found the Bismarck. I call this Virtual Airbrushing (smile).

For more images of my scale and 3D models from the Bismarck story see http://www.shortfuse3d.com or you can e-mail me.

Konley Kelley

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Photos and text © by Konley Kelley