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