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PBY-5A Catalina – Black Cats VP-81 ‘Nite Life’ – New Georgia 1944

November 15, 2013 in Aviation

This is the 1/48 Monogram kit, purchased as the -10A post-WWII Rescue version. I thought a colourful scheme of internediate blue-over-white finishes, with bright red and yellow bands, would make a big impression as a scheme.

When I opened the box I found it had all the parts for the wartime -5A – choice of nose blister turret between the -10A and -5A, gunned-up fuselage blisters, etc. It was only the kit’s decals that restricted it to the Rescue version.

On reflection, I thought the only sensible thing to do was to build a Black Cat. I found a (rare) set of Yellowhammer decals which provided 2 BC choices, and I decided on CDR Eugene Rankin’s “Nite Life.” The national insignias are printed with a pinkish, faded look, in keeping with the Black Cat’s familiar worn appearance, where harsh Pacific conditions soon wore away the matte black to reveal some of the original camo.

This is a big model, with a wingspan just over 60cm (two feet), probably comparable to a B-17 in the scale. It was front-weighted to keep it upright, and I decided early-on that the kit undercarriage was unsuitable for the weight long-term. I replaced it with a Scale Aircraft Conversions set, and futher detailed the u/c bays, cockpit and gun blisters with Eduard etch and minor miscellaneous scratchbuild.

The Monogram tail unit is known for being too wide a chord, which gives it a clumsy look when viewed flowing out of the graceful narrow section of rear fuselage. I replaced this with the resin correction offered by Belcher Bits (After waiting five months for its production availability from BB in Canada, I sourced it same-day at Aviation Megastore in Holland.).

The black finish is in fact three different blacks – Humbrol matte black, Tamiya Nato black, and a Games workshop shade. A light touch of Intermediate blue was dusted in to replicate wear, and the rope section moulded into the nose was removed and a section of fibre ‘rope’ set in its place, and then extended to rest coiled on the display base. Rust powders were applied in appropriate areas

11 additional images. Click to enlarge

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16 responses to PBY-5A Catalina – Black Cats VP-81 ‘Nite Life’ – New Georgia 1944

  1. Great Cat, very impressive. The weathering is also spot on.

  2. Sweet job, great interpetation of the paint finish under the Pacific envoirmental conditions. I wish I had upgraded my PBY with better landing gear, Monogram’s plastic is flimsy. Very nice effort and a different look for the “Cat”.

  3. This is one bird you do not see modeled all that much, but when you do, it always looks spectacular. Very nice job all round.

  4. Very nice job, Rob….I like it.

  5. That is one very nice Catalina!!! Awesome job, very nice weathering!

  6. Now that is slick. Love the weathering, looks real Pacific beat. Great build of a mean-looking machine.

  7. very nice job Ron shes a beaut I also have one in the stash but I have one built as well who supplys the after market landing gear? looks fantastic

  8. Very nice, Ron. I hope you dremeled out that BB tail unit. I didn’t on mine, and ended up putting weight everywhere I could! Interestingly, the Monogram gear is strong enough to take that, since the model has been sitting on its gear for going on 8 years now. Did mine as Jack Reid’s Midway airplane from VP-44 – first to spot the Japanese. I sure agree with you it’s a nice kit, and it always amazes me how it was on modeler’s “want lists” for years, then when Monogram brought it out it became a shelf-sitter. Oh well, more fools they to listen to “modeler’s wants.”

  9. Nicely done Ron. I built one of these kits when first came out in the 3-tone color scheme. What a fun kit it was to build, too bad more people don’t try it.

  10. Outstanding build, Rob! Your weathering is suberbly done.

  11. Great job on a spectacular plane!

  12. I have built two, one in Atlantic Scheme, and enjoyed them both. I thought the True Details resin added a lot to the cockpit, but I never heard about the tail chord issue. My last one will be a -6 with the tall tail in vacuform, so I might get one right in the long run.

    Still, yours is an inspiration to get on it!!

  13. I got one in my unbuilt model kits collection which has more than 50!

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