1/72 Academy Catalina, A24-307 RB-P, 20 SQN RAAF

by Nick Dixon


I am most grateful to David Edwards for passing this conversion to me to do a build review for this site, however if you are considering buying it and don’t have the time to read this first, BUY IY NOW! It’s excellent.

The Conversion

If you have seen Grahams ‘out of box review’ in the review section you will be familiar with the contents, which are all crisply moulded in tan coloured resin. A replacement fin, tail planes, nose, DF fairing, front guns, rudder post plug, and 4 fish tail exhausts are included, together with a large and extensive decal sheet which covers 5 subjects.

The inclusion of the nose fairing is a nice touch by Gary at Red Roo as none of the decal options actually use this piece. No doubt there are a great many colour schemes which can be produced using this part. I am fairly sure decal sheets exist for civilian operated P2B-2s. It could also be used on standard PBY-5 or 5a kits to produce both civil and military variants.

The instructions take the form of 14 pages of A4, all of the kit bashing steps are covered with actual photographs of the work involved, and I think this is a great way of doing this as it gives you a real image of what is required.

Getting started

Here is my first tip which I know everyone will ignore because we’re all guilty of it. Read the instructions first! It pays dividends with this conversion. It does just about fall together which, as conversions go is good but if you keep to the instructions there are no real pitfalls at all. Filling will be kept to a minimum if (unlike me) you are careful not to be to over enthusiastic with your cleaning up of the resin parts particularly the fin and rudder.

Having detailed the interior to your tastes the kit bashing will start. I restricted my detail work to the area under the waist gunner’s canopiesas Academy has only provided the most rudimentary detail. I also replaced the very basic kit pilots seats with replacements from an Eduard set I had. I don’t claim it to be 100% accurate but under the canopies it looks the part.

The first job to get out of the way is the removal and replacement of the PBY-5 fin and rudder. It is very important here to be very careful on how much plastic you remove because if you get it right you greatly reduce the amount of filler needed.

This pictures below show the right side under the elevators where most filler was needed as well as the left; the difference in the amount of filler needed is probably down to my over enthusiastic cleaning up of the resin before fitting!

Right hand side
Left hand side
Right hand side
Rudder assembly

Now you can almost carry on as per the kit instructions until it comes to the fitting of the exhausts. These are real nice and delicately to scale and I for one am glad to see Gary now retailing them separately, I shall be getting some for a future Sunderland conversion, as well as other RAAF Catalina’s I plan to build. For a review of the exhausts go HERE.

Once these are in place the conversion is just about complete it remains to finish and paint the model as normal. I think most modellers who have built the Academy Catalina have found it easier to paint before attaching the wing to the hull and I am no different. The model was brush painted with 3 thin coats of Humbrol 33 black. This produced an overall satisfactory finish that I was happy with. I painted the exhausts my own preferred mix of gun metal and rust. Then 3 coats of Johnson’s Klear/Future and then to decaling.

the exhausts, radome and DF ‘bullet in place during painting
the full model during final painting before decaling

The decals

Nothing more needs to be said about Gary’s decals, they are superb! All laid down on my model with just water, no setting solutions of any kind, no silvering just perfect. I chose A24-307 RB-P of 20 Sqd.

Model is shown above after decals have been applied and a final matt coat applied.

After decaling the final details such as the gunner’s transparencies are fitted. I have used the kit transparencies for now suitably painted to better replicate the originals, eventually I intend to replace them with Squadron/Falcon products. I then applied a coat of Humbrol Matt coat to the model leaving the planning surfaces and wing tip floats glossy to replicate the anti corrosion coating of the originals. A little weathering was applied, I was sparing with this as all the photo’s I have of these P2B-2’s show them to be (for flying boats) quite clean, apart from some damage to the paint work at water level and exhaust staining, probably because they were relatively new.


So there we are, my model won’t win any competitions but I’m happy with it and after all isn’t that what modelling is all about having fun building kits? One of the things I judge a kit/conversion on is whether I would make it again, in this case that’s an emphatic yes!

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