Profile Photo
Tom Cleaver
887 articles

1/72 Hasegawa SP-5B Marlin

March 17, 2013 · in Uncategorized · · 12 · 2.1K

This model is special to me, because I actually flew in the real one several times "back in the day." "Seashell-5" (her call sign) was with VP-40 for most of her career. I most particularly remember the most interesting mission the ever participated in: support for the California Academy of Sciences expedition to the Galapagos Islands in January-February 1964, the largest scientific expedition to visit the islands since Darwin and the Beagle, with the USS Pine Island (AV-12). Back in those days, there were a total of 3,000 people living on two of the islands, the rest being exactly the same as they were when Darwin first saw them (including a tortoise on one island that had actually met Darwin, with the date "1832" carved in its shell by a crewman). Being around scientists who knew what they were looking at and more than willing to give a solid answer to a question, I got a first-hand education in what Darwin had seen that provided the material for his exposition of Evolution, something I have never forgotten. What you get today in an "environmental cruise" in one of those floating hotels is not the same (not to mention those cruises have inflicted severe ecological damage to the islands and surrounding ocean, 5,000 humans in one place being a disaster just getting rid of the waste).

The model was purchased unbuilt at an estate sale a few years ago. Sadly, the decals had yellowed over the years, and no amount of time hanging in a sunny window cured them completely, but there are no other decals available - I used national insignia from the decal box, since hadn't learned the proper dimensions of US insignia back in 1972 when this was released. The raised panel detail is actually quite accurate-looking for the SP-5B. Fit is 70s-problematic, but test-fitting and modification gets things together OK. The model is painted "Light Seaplane Grey," a color closer to USN "Haze Grey" than to the Light Gull Grey (Tamiya Sky Grey with a touch of blue) so often used on models of USN patrol planes.

I'm sure those hours spent in an un-soundproofed airplane with two R-3350s 10 feet to either side have more than a bit to do with my sometimes having to say "huh?" to people when I don't hear everything just said.

Reader reactions:

6 additional images. Click to enlarge.

12 responses

  1. I love it. Who says ugly airplanes aren't beautiful. I am with you on the hearing. If it wasn't the artillery, small arms, and demolitions, it was Rock & Roll. Adios, Larry.

  2. Always good to hear about a personal connection with a model of any type. I'm guessing even in 1/72nd this is a pretty big model.

  3. Beautiful job yet again Tom. The fact that you flew in these I think make the model all that much more special. Outstanding!

  4. "The model was purchased unbuilt at an estate sale a few years ago"
    This is what I love about modeling...finding a orphaned model and bring back to a loving home. If the kit gets reissued it will be with a new set of decals ...perhaps some resin and a new label slapped onto it. Something like collectors edition with a price tag of 80.00dollars. So this is a win,win situation and a great story to boot.
    Two thumbs up.

  5. That "headline" photo threw me for a looked almost like a pink or mauve color until I looked more closely at the additional pics - THEN it appeared to be more of a gray. Must've just been the lighting or sumthin'.

  6. Great build and story Tom, I love flying boats makes me want to build my Hasegawa Shin Meiwa PS 1!

  7. Nice one Tom...Great story! ~MP

  8. Hey Tom,

    This is a stretch, but I thought I’d give it a shot. I have been researching and looking for a model or model kit of the SP-5B Marlin flown by the VP-40 squadron. This was one of the planes, probably his favorite, that my father, Preston Glenn Smith, Jr., flew while in the Navy. Unfortunately, we lost my dad in January. My oldest nephew was quite close to his grandpa whose namesake he bears and is fascinated with flying...he has wanted from a very young age to be a pilot when he grows up, just like Granddad. He is registered to attend the flight camp at the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, FL in June, where the actual aircraft that my father flew is on display. It’s fairly uncertain whether or not he will still be attending that camp at this point and he’s quite disappointed. Hopefully it will work out and he will be able to go. So, although there’s nothing that could take the place of that experience, I have been looking for something meaningful and unique that is relevant to my Dad’s love and passion for aviation that I can give my nephew for his upcoming 16th birthday, hence why I’ve been researching naval aircraft model airplanes. My knowledge about model airplanes and kits is minimal to say the least, but it’s obvious that there is a vast range in quality and historical accuracy and I’d really like to find an authentic one...a keepsake, rather than a chintzy toy...but I keep running into walls. So, to get to my point, I am wondering if you can provide me with some guidance as to where I might have success finding a similar model to the one you have posted about. I appreciate any suggestions! Like I said, I know this is extremely random and definitely a long shot, but you never know. I apologize for bothering you and for the lengthy post! I eagerly look forward to hearing from you!

    Kindest regards,

    Colleen Smith

    • Colleen:

      Hopefully you will get this response. You can find the kit being sold from previous owners on eBay. Google "Hasegawa 1/72 SP-5B Marlin" the prices aren't bad.


Leave a Reply