Matchbox 1/72 PB4Y-2 Privateer Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||July 2007||Manufacturer||Matchbox|
|Kit Number||PK606||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Probably the only 1/72nd scale kit of a Privateer available. Three versions can be built from kit.||Cons||Raised panel lines may not please some modelers|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$30.00|
In 1943, following the success of the B-24/PB4Y-1 Liberator heavy bomber for over water patrols, the US Navy initiated an improved version specifically suited to their requirements. Three B-24D’s were converted to XPB4Y-2’s, and while retaining the B-24’s wings and landing gear, this new version had it’s fuselage lengthened by seven feet, a single fin and rudder, different engine nacelles, improved defensive armament and provision for the latest electronic detection and ECM equipment.
Some additional weight was offset by deleting engine superchargers, which were unnecessary for low altitude flying. Named “Privateer”, it entered service in the Pacific Theatre in August of 1944, undertaking long-range visual and electronics reconnaissance missions, attacking shipping and land targets, and air-sea rescue work. Privateers later served in the Korean War, and several were used by the French Navy in Indo-China and North Africa.
A total of 736 Privateers were delivered, serving with the USN and French Navy until 1962. Experience with the C-87 Liberator transports, designated RY-1 and RY-2 in US Navy service, led to production of a limited number of RY-3’s which incorporated many features of the Privateer airframe. Of 46 examples, built for the US Navy, 27 were diverted under lend-lease to the Royal Air Force as Liberator C.Mk.IX’s, though not all were delivered.
Matchbox produced this kit back in 1980. At least, that is the date on the instructions.. Other than this complete kit of a PB4Y-2, I have only ever seen a conversion set to make one over the years.
Matchbox kits are remembered by us old timers as usually being molded in all kinds of colors of plastic. If you did not paint them, they would wind up looking like a patchwork quilt. Although sometimes sparse on fine detail, often times they were more accurate in dimensions than offerings by other model companies of the same subjects.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a PB4Y-2 with a nude Indian squaw, wearing a headdress and the word “Redwing” on the nose. It is flying in cloud cover over a coastline. (this marking is one offered in the kit). It is an aircraft of VP-106, US Navy, Palawan, Philippines, May 1945. It is shown again, in profile on a side panel of the box. Two other side profiles appear there also. One is for a RY-3 (C.Mk.IX) nicknamed “Rockcliffe Ice Wagon”, operated by the R.C.A.F., Canada, 1948 (the kit can be built into this version with the alternate parts provided), the third version is a P4Y-2 Privateer, of the 28 Flotille, Aero Navale (France), Karouba, Bizerte, Tunisia, April 1958 (a third version that can be built with the kit).
Inside the box are two bright medium blue trees of parts, a jet black tree, a chalk white tree and a clear tree. Remember what I said earlier about patchwork quilt colors??
Strangely, Matchbox made a long narrow tray, up one edge of the box and rolled the instructions up into a tube and place them in this tray. I have never seen this done before.
The instructions consist of two large sheets, folded over in the center into four pages each.
The first sheet begins with the history of the Privateer in six languages, including English. This is followed by a black and white repeat of the box art.
The next two center pages of this sheet show three painting and marking options (already mentioned above). Each drawing is a 4-view. The last page has drawings of individual parts labeled with the colors that they should be painted before assembly. This is followed by decal application instructions and a list of Humbrol enamel paints suggested for decorating the kit.
The second sheet contains 19 assembly steps. Care should be taken reading these to get the right parts for the version you opt to build.
The US Navy “Redwing” version has all it’s weapons and turrets. The RY-3 has all weapons removed and there are alternate plugs and panels to fill the tail, waist and dorsal gun positions provided. The RY-3 also sports a different clear nose. The French version has the dorsal turrets removed but retains the nose and tail guns.
Bright blue letter A parts tree holds: fuselage halves, vertical tail halves, nose halves, solid nose and tail cones (for RY-3 version) some main gear door parts and propeller retaining washers (15 parts) Fuselage side windows are flashed over and will have to whittled open to do the RY-3.
Jet black letter B parts tree holds: the upper wing halves, the upper horizontal tail surfaces, the main wheels, turret parts, fuselage plug parts to blank off turret areas, pilot and co-pilot steering wheels, more landing gear parts etc. (33 parts). Panel lines on parts are all of the raised variety and well done. You either have to love or hate this. The fabric molding on the flaps is very nicely done and fuel filler caps on the wings are engraved and nicely done.
Letter C part tree is the chalk white one. It holds: the lower wing halves, propellers, lower horizontal tail surfaces, cockpit floor – instrument panel and center console, pilot and copilot seats, various electronics domes etc. (26 parts).
Letter D parts tree is the other bright blue one. It holds: alternate waist gun area panels (with or without guns), engine nacelles, motors, pilot & crew figures, guns, main landing gear oleo struts etc. (42 parts) The front parts of the engine nacelles in my kit had broken all off this tree and were floating around loose. This is because of the fact that none of the trees were cello bagged and they rubbed together in shipment.
The final part tree is letter E. It is the clear parts for cabin and fuselage windows and clear windows for the turrets and waist gun positions. (48 parts)
The final item in the kit is the decal sheet. It is very well printed and in total register, with a cover sheet to protect it’s face.
Although this kit is currently out of production, a quick look on the internet found several outfits that still had the kit in inventory and for sale.
The cockpit could perhaps use a little more detail to satisfy the super-detailers amongst us. However, I don’t know just how much you could ever see in there once the kit is built. Raised panel lines might prompt some to erase them and rescribe them. The pilot and crew figures are a little clunky looking too. This is more work than yours truly would care to do. As mentioned earlier, I think this is the ONLY 1/72nd kit around for the Privateer. I may be wrong.
Recommended to modelers with a little experience building multi-engined aircraft.