Cutting Edge 1/48 PB4Y-2 Privateer Major Conversion First Look
By Fotios Rouch
|Date of Review||December 2005||Manufacturer||Cutting Edge|
|Subject||PB4Y-2 Privateer Major Conversion||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||CEC48500||Primary Media||Resin|
|Pros||Almost a complete kit in itself - uses either Monogram 1/48 B-24D or B-24J kits||Cons|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||OOP|
The PBY4-2 is the navy version of the Liberator. The Navy did not have a need for a high flying aircraft so the superchargers were dropped and the engines were changed to normally aspirated 1350 hp Pratt and Whitney R-1830-94. The typical look of the Liberator engines changed since the oil cooler scoops were positioned above and below the nacelle instead of left and right. What the Navy also needed was enhanced aerodynamic stability at low altitudes. This was achieved by replacing the double tail of the original design with a single tail fin and rudder design which changed the overall height of the aircraft to 29 feet 1 5/8 inches. In addition, the Navy added a flight engineer's station to help reduce pilot fatigue on long patrols and this necessitated a seven-foot extension to the forward fuselage.
Defensively, the Privateer got a huge armament boost and now it carried two Martin A-3 power turrets on the dorsal spine, one ERCO 250 ball turret on the nose, one standard Consolidated A-6B turret on the tail and one ERCO 250 teardrop-shaped waist blister on each side! Operational Privateers were full of bumps and bulges under the fuselage and nose housing air-to-surface radar and radar countermeasure antennas. Depending on the mission they could carry radar intercept receivers and communications intercept receiver jammers.
Eight JATO units (two ahead of the bomb bay and two behind on each side) could also be fitted. The JATO units were not used in the active squadrons but there are pictures showing Privateers taking off with their help.
660 PB4Y-2s were ordered, followed a year later by an order for a second batch of 710 machines. The last Privateer was delivered in October 1945. The Privateer entered Navy service during the late summer of 1944.
The Privateer was used exclusively in the Pacific theatre in WW 2 for patrol missions during the latter stages of the Pacific war flying up to 16-hour missions. The Navy Privateers also performed search and destroy missions against sea and land targets, enemy radar and navigation stations, troop ships, and other targets of opportunity. The Privateers also located downed airmen and coordinated rescue operations.
After the end of WWII six Navy squadrons continued to fly the Privateer. Some Navy Privateers were used for ELINT operations during the early years of the Cold War with the Soviet Union with documented loses to Soviet fighters. The Privateer also flew patrols during the Korean War. Numerous Navy Privateers were converted to meteorological research variants, photo reconnaissance, antisubmarine search and target drone variants.
In 1950, 22 PB4Y-2S Privateers were provided to France's Aeronautique Navale. They served with Flotille 6F, 8F, and 28F, and saw action at Tan Son Nhut in French Indochina in November of 1950 as well as North Africa during the Algerian war of independence. Lastly, the French Privateers flew missions during the Suez crisis in 1956. The last French Privateers were scrapped in early 1961 after the French got the P2V-6 Neptune in service.
The Chinese Nationalist Air Force received 38 PB4Y-2s between May 1952 and June 1956.
The Honduran Air Force used three Privateers as transporters all the way to early 1970s.
Brazil operated a Privateer in the early sixties. Mexico operated one as well.
A number of Privateers were converted to the fire bombers. The engines were replaced by more powerful 1700-hp Wright R-2600 Cyclones. Several firefighting Privateers were operated by Hawkins and Powers Aviation in Wyoming.
Meteor productions announced the Privateer earlier in 2005 and showed officially the first samples in resin during the Atlanta Nationals.
I have to say that I have seen and certainly own a fair number of full resin kits and resin conversions. When I first laid my eyes on the sample I was not thrilled. I was told by Dave that this was just a quickly made prototype. I guess I just was not sure that Meteor could carry through such a huge project having never done anything so large before. Resin casting of such monsters is not an easy job you know. Then the various modeling forums started bad mouthing the project because Meteor was late in delivering.
How wrong everybody was! Dave and the gang slowly and steadily were filling back orders and were getting the job done with a high quality product. Two days ago my sample came in a huge FedEx box. In a few nano-seconds the box was opened up and I was diving into the kit contents! What a revelation that was!
The kit I was holding in my hands had only but a passing resemblance to the review sample in Atlanta! This thing was beautifully and cleanly molded in the nice high quality gray resin mix that Meteor favors. This strong resin Cutting Edge products are done in is very important. The huge fuselage halves are straight and very rigid. I have some full resin models of the same general dimensions done by other companies that use cheaper resin and it shows when you try to work with them. So, one big bravo on the resin choice and the molding job.
Good resin reproduction is nothing though if the master is junk. This master is a thing of beauty and elegance. I personally know of only three other makers (one in Russia, one in Italy and one in the US that can produce such big masters with such a level of detail and elegance). I guess this maker must make for the #4 favorite maker in my list!
I consider this as being a practically complete model. Opening the box will drown you in a sea of gray resin packaged in three big bags with a separate bag for the clear resin, a separate bag for the metal parts, a bag for the decals and the color multipage instructions and of course the mandatory card of Black Magic masks! I bet the masks will be very handy considering the vast clear resin expanses!
The modeler needs to provide a Monogram B-24 for the main wings and some other details. The modeler can choose to scribe the raised plastic panel lines on the wings to match the nicely scribed panel lines on the conversion fuselage.
Some items will need attention.
You have to cut off the propeller blades from their hubs and use the provided resin blades in their place.
You have to perform surgery to remove the plastic engine nacelles, plug the gaps with resin flat surfaces and attach the resin nacelles in their places. The resin tail fin needs also some attention in order to properly separate it from its pouring stub without damaging the leading edge contours. Doable stuff, but you need to know what you are doing. The instructions will get you there if you are patient and take your time.
Something that caught my attention early one is the very nice surface detail on the control surfaces for the elevators and the rudder. Superbly done. I would also like to make a note of the beautiful ERCO turrets provided in the kit. All of them look nice and detailed. The metal landing gear is not just a simple reproduction of the plastic parts because it contains fine hydraulic line detail.
The kit also includes a nice set of decals for several US Navy Privateers and a French Aeronavale aircraft. Take a guess which one I'm building! The set is rounded out with a set of Black Magic masks to help with the painting of the model.
So is it all worth it? You bet it is. I like the kit. I love the work done on this master. Full of accuracy and elegance. I fully recommend it to the modelers that want something exclusive and have the cash for it.
Boy, I am starting to see an Aeronavale Privateer ready to land in my display case in the near future!
Many thanks go to Dave and the Meteor Productions team for this beautiful review sample. I sure hope this is the beginning of a line of more similar projects!