Monogram 1/48 PBY-5
111 Air-Sea Rescue Flight, RAAF

1/48 Monogram PBY-5 Catalina

by Ray Seppala

(Courtesy RAAF Museum Website)

The prototype XPBY-1 first flew in 1935 and the PBY-1 entered United States Navy service in 1936. Progressive developments followed, and in 1939 the PBY-4 appeared with large blister gun-turrets on the fuselage sides. In 1940, the PBY-5 version was ordered for the RAAF as the Catalina, a name derived from the island near the consolidated factory at San Diego. The flying-boat was already familiar in Australia, as P.G. Taylor had used the civilian PBY, named 'Guba', in 1939 to survey the alternative Indian Ocean route.

RAAF Catalinas were ferried across the Pacific by a combination of Qantas and RAAF crews and the first aircraft, A24-1, was accepted on 5 February 1941, and the last, A24-386, on 3 September 1945. In all, 168 Catalinas operated under the following serials: A24-1/114, A24-200/206, A24-300/309, and A24-350/386. These aircraft include Mks I and II (PBY-5 flying boats), Mk III (PBY-5A amphibians) and the high-tail, radome-fitted Mk IV and Mk VI (Boeing-built PB2B-1, -2). One exception was A24-28 which arrived on 5 June 1942 as a Dutch East Indies PBY-3 with sliding gun-panels, and was modified to PBY-5 standard with blister-turrets in 1944.

With their long range and endurance, the Catalinas established an impressive war record and operated with Nos 11, 20, 42, 43 Squadrons, Nos 6 and 8 Communications Units, and Nos 111, 112, 113 Air-Sea Rescue Flights.

Post war, one PBY-5A was attached to the Aeronautical Research and Development Unit for Jet-Assisted Take-Off experiments, and in 1951, A24-385 was modified as 'Frigate Bird II' for Sir Gordon Taylor's South American survey flight.

Finally, in 1952, the last Catalinas departed from RAAF Base Rathmines, which had been their main base for 12 years.

The build

The model consists of  124 pieces grey and clear pieces, instructions and decals for a USN aircraft, The model when completed has a wingspan of 67cm and is 41cm in length, one big model when finished!.

The kits is nicely detailed, the interior has plenty to keep the OOB builder happy but has the potential to be detailed to those who want to go the whole hog. The clear parts while a little on the thick side allow any detail work to be seen, some minor fit issues exist with these which are discussed later. Exterior detail is also well represented with recessed panel lines and rivets and nicely depicted fabric covered control surfaces. I had read that the kit also had huge ejector pin marks on the fuselage interior, mine was no different. Thankfully they are in places where they could not be seen after assembly.

Construction was a straight forward and progresses in logical steps for a model this size, the fit is excellent. I built and painted the interior first as per the instructions, the interior colour is recommend as olive drab, but after applying it looked too dark so I repainted it with a Model Master Interior Green. I picked out the moulded on seat belts with a light tan colour. I then tried a wash of black to bring out the detail. After this I dry brushed the floors and walkways, doors and bulkheads by dry brushing with silver. The fuselage went together very well, panel lines matched up beautifully across the fuselage halves. Very small amounts of filler were used near the blisters.  The pontoons were the fiddliest part trying to correctly locate the support and retraction framework and glue them while keeping them all aligned. I glued the wings to the fuselage before painting, which in hindsight was not a good idea as it was difficult to handle while painting. The cockpit glazing had a small gap in the front which was fared in with Testors clear glue. The waist blisters did not fit flush to the fuselage and were again faired in with Testors clear cement.  The waist guns were added at this point and one was posed with an open blister. The beaching gear was assembled and painted separately. One strut had a broken locating pin, so I replaced it with a brass pin. The depth charges were not used so I filled the holes in the wings for the racks.

The aircraft I was modelling had a twin gun turret in the nose which is usually associated with later PBY-5A variants; I used the kit’s single gun mount for the build. I suspect this aircraft was one of a number of PBY-5s de-modified by the RAAF to PBY-5 standard to save weight and increase range on longer missions. The modification involved removing the landing gear, plugging the holes and making provision for beaching gear.


The model was painted in a medium blue/black scheme of A24-91 ‘Sea Hawk’ of 111ASR Flight. It was paint medium blue and black with some exhaust stains dry brushed on to the wings.  I use an old Aussie decal sheet for the markings [recently re-released, for review see HERE - DJH]. The decals went on well without a problem after I brushed some future on the area the decal would sit. The whole model was flat coated after decals were applied.

In all a simple build which was hampered by a few minor mishaps which extended the build time. A highly recommended kit for those that like BIG! quarter scale subjects.

This site is owned by David Harvey

All material is Copyright © 2003-2020 and may only be reproduced for personal use.
Please contact the Editor for permission to use any material on this site for any purpose other than private use.

Contact: Editor - Aussie Modeller