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PBM-5A Mariner

Minicraft 1/72 PBM-5A Mariner Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2013 Manufacturer Minicraft
Subject PBM-5A Mariner Scale 1/72
Kit Number 11669 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice detailing throughout Cons Instructions are a bit vague
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $69.98

First Look

PBM-5A Mariner
PBM-5A Mariner
PBM-5A Mariner
PBM-5A Mariner
PBM-5A Mariner
PBM-5A Mariner

The Martin PBM Mariner was a flying boat patrol bomber that entered service with the US Navy before World War 2. The design evolved as operational experience was gained with the aircraft and over 1,300 were produced between 1937 and 1949. The PBM-5A was an amphibious version of the aircraft with retractable landing gear with 40 examples that were placed in service. The type was powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines producing 2,100 horsepower each. The aircraft could carry up to 4,000 pounds of bombs or depth charges, or two torpedoes.

I remember when Minicraft first announced their intent to produce the PBM Mariner in 1/72 scale. It took a little while, but here it is at long last. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. The surface detailing is finely scribed and the nicely done.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Very detailed flight deck with pilot, copilot, flight engineer, radio operator and radar operator stations plus observer
  • Positionable (movable) flaps
  • Positionable (movable) ailerons
  • Positionable (movable) elevators
  • Positionable (movable) rudders
  • Positionable landing gear
  • Positionable weapons bay doors
  • Beautifully detailed weapons bays
  • Positionable (movable) detailed turrets
  • Choice of dorsal radome or DF football
  • Choice of three-bladed or four-bladed propellers
  • Choice of open or closed cowl flaps

I've rated this kit for experienced modelers for several reasons:

  • Instructions are a bit vague on assembly order which can be critical at a few points
  • The fit of the model is excellent, but even the slightest ejector pin mark or sprue stub remnant can adversely affect the fit (very tight tolerances on this kit)
  • The wing assembly is critical in this build as we'll show in the quick-build to follow
  • Patience and lots of test-fitting will make the difference between success and frustration

As I mention above, I'll be posting a quick-build soon that will show the kit going together and discuss some of the points to watch for in assembly. The model is over halfway done and I keep finding myself back in front of the bench instead of finishing this write-up - it is a fun project!

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • PBM-5A, BuNo 59849, USN, 1945
  • PBM-5A, BuNo 59349, USN, 1947

This is what a new-tooled Minicraft kit looks like and it looks like it was worth the wait. This is clearly an example of how a CAD-designed kit comes into existence as the fit and engineering is very nice indeed.

For a look at our quick-build review of this kit, look here.

My sincere thanks to Minicraft Models for this review sample!