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Victoria Cross Crew: 1/48th Revell PBY-5A Catalina / Canso

This 1/48th Monogram / Revell PBY-5 series kit is considered to be the best of the type in any scale. The level of detail is good as are the recessed panel lines and raised surface detail. The size of the kit may be surprizing as for a 'twin' it will require as much display space as the 4-engine heavies.

Notable Kit Features:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit and flight deck with moulded in seat harnesses

  • Observer/waist gunner area has positionable guns and side blisters

  • Option to build landing gear up or down with weighted main wheels

  • Observation and twin-gun nose turrets provided

  • Wing floats can be built down or retracted

  • Above wing radar provided

  • 6-Wisker and 4-Wisker underwing antennas provided

Build Inspiration:

Around where I live there is a flying example of this historic PBY-5A Canso aircraft (based at Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum). Their example is done up in the markings of a plane that was lost in combat during WWII, piloted by David Hornell. Based out of Iceland, the RCAF crew sunk German submarine U-1225 while on patrol June 24, 1944 in the North Atlantic, however the aircraft was mortally hit on the attack run (burning off an engine) and crashed into the ocean immediately afterwards.

The crew managed to deploy a single dinghy post crash and had to rotate in and out of the boat (due to lack of room for everyone) until they were rescued 21 hours later. Unfortunately two of the crew had died by this point and Hornell died shortly after rescue. David Hornell was posthumously awarded The Victoria Cross for this day's action. Given the significance of this event I thought it appropriate to have this 162 RCAF Squadron aircraft in my collection.

A photo of the PBY-5 Canso crew taken in Iceland (David Hornell is second from the right - slightly behind the crew).

Heads-Up Report:

  • There are a few different versions of the PBY-5 Catalina / Canso types of flying boat, so select the most appropriate kit for the version you want to build (This kit has the retractable gear however Monogram / Revell also did the pure flying boat version complete with beaching gear.)

  • Antenna placements also varied by aircraft so check your references.

  • When the instructions call for 50g of weight and point to 4 places they more mean put 50g of weight in EACH of these places (this model is a serious tail sitter!)

  • Make sure you get strong fuselage, gear and wing component glue joins as this is a large kit with a bit of weight to her

  • The tail is reportedly off by a bit - Belcher Bits did a replacement tail if you chose to correct this. (I didn't bother)

  • Mooring rope and other details are moulded into the kit (you may want to remove this and DIY with these details)

Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • I removed some of the gunners position detail as I believe these were observation posts and not armed in my chosen version

  • I picked up Arrow Graphics decal set D-39-48 which depicted the RCAF "Mary K" aircraft and came with some helpful information about its configuration

  • The version of the aircraft I was building had the 5-Whisker transmitting antennas under both wings as well as 5-Whisker transmitting antennas mounted on the forward fuselage. I built replicas of these antennas using styrene for the mounts and steel needles for the antennas (with not great, but passable results)

  • The 4-Whisker antennas were not used on this aircraft

  • The "Mary K" aircraft also had four 2-Whisker receiver antennas on each side of the nose which were scratch built in similar fashion

  • The pitot tube was a kinked style as opposed to the straight version supplied so this was also scratch built

End Result:

The Atlantic Coastal Command paint scheme for this aircraft is white based... and let me tell you that is A LOT of white coverage (which tends not to cover well). Onwards I trudged using a flat white paint as flat paints are best for coverage and eventually got the weathered white look I was seeking. The Dark Sea Gray / Dark Slate Gray camouflage was then painted on the upper side of the wing and tail. I diverged from the instructions here and did not camouflage the forward nose or cowls as the reference photo I had suggested otherwise. Black de-icer boots were painted on the wing and tail areas. Propeller hubs were painted silver as opposed to the suggested black, again based on the reference photos I had. When completed I find this scheme to be one of the most attractive WWII camouflage types. Additional weathering was done with touch up spots, exhaust streaks and panel washes.

The After-Build Report:

If you have the display space, (26" or 66 cm wingspan) this is an impressive kit to have in your collection. The level of detail provided in the box is very nice and will get you a great looking model. Possibly because of the kit size, you can sometimes find these PBY-5s at very reasonable cost. (Did I mention I bought the flying boat version as well - Canadians flew these in the Pacific and I felt I had to get a representative from both oceans in my collection.) You can always hang these kits on the wall or from the ceiling... or maybe in the garage or shed. :)

Additional details can always be added to produce a real show stopper of a build. For an example of this art form, check out Jorge Roberto Wolf's Catalina at this link: PBY-5A Catalina- Revell-Monogram -1/48 (

Completed build #198 - December 2016 using the 1/48th scale Monogram/Revell #04507 kit.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

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2 Kommentare

David Johnston
David Johnston
28. Feb. 2023

Great looking Canso, well done! I just found an example of this kit at an IPMS club meeting and I have the Aviaeology decals which include Hornell's aircraft. It certainly is a big bugger!!

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02. Apr. 2023
Antwort an

David, Thanks for your comment, much appreciated. The PBY-5 certainly is big and I bought another so I can build a RCAF version from the Burma theater of operations. I will eventually find space for it I guess. :) Good luck with your build!

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