By: Brad Perry
Model photos: Milton Bell
I've wanted a good 1/48 scale model kit of the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura for several decades so when Revell released its new kit back in January of this year I was very happy. I've finally reduced my backlog on the workbench enough to start building this great kit and I'm having lots of fun.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the buzz the kit precipitated on the usual suspect modeling forums, and grateful as well. there were of course some of the typical nit-picks and off-the-cuff misstatements, but there were also numerous valuable posts in which enthusiasts shared details from PV-1 technical manuals so that modelers (like me) could add or improve detail to this already great kit.
I believe Revell's 1/48 PV-1 Ventura is the best value in scale for 2012 at $36.98. The PV-1 is a relatively large twin engined subject. Most other new multi engined kits in this scale cost much more. The Revell kit has abbreviated interior detail, but it has few windows, other than the cockpit, which allow the viewer to see inside anyway. Revell was probably able to cut development cost by omitting most interior detail. There are some parts in the box not used which indicate that a future release will feature the earlier conventional bomber nose. Even with the lack of interior detail, I stand by my earlier "best value" statement as even some single engine models cost twice as much (see Great Wall Hobby TBD Devastator).
|True Details 1/48 PV-1 prop with correct fat prob blades (Photo: Squadron.com)|
I have chosen to do some additional modifications to my kit. I'll be using kit decals and chose the second option on the sheet which is the aircraft commanded by Lt. Butch Mason of VB-135. This squadron operated from Casco Field on Attu Island in the Aleutians chain (Check it out on Google Maps. Hasn't changed much since WW2). I discovered that VB-135 had modified its aircraft in order to perform night photo reconnaissance and attack over the Japanese Kurile Islands. I decided to perform these same modifications to my model to make it more accurate. I have focused my efforts on the nose, cockpit, and bomb bay, plus some small external changes. I found a description of these modifications in the long out of print book Empire Express which discusses the history of USN PV-1 squadrons in the Aleutians during World War 2.
|Scratch built K-19 camera, photo flash trigger unit, and camera mount seen through bombardier's window.|
|Back view of K-19 and photo flash trigger which also shows nose interior structure.|
|Stock kit bomb bay painted and weathered.|
|Bomb bay with scratch built fuel tank dry fit.|
I next turned my attention to the bomb bay. VB-135 installed an extra fuel tank in the rear section of the bomb bay. I found diagrams of the installation on line (Hyperscale.com) and scratch built the tank. To replicate the tank, I laminated .080" Evergreen sheet to approximately the correct depth. I made a sanding template to reflect the correct profile of the tank and sanded the laminated slab to shape. I glued on plastic strip to represent stiffeners, and then primed and painted. If you make a tank be sure that it doesn't fit too tightly against the bulkheads. You have to leave room for the bomb bay door actuators which share the space. I've also made a new bomb rack for the forward bomb bay to reconfigure it to accommodate three 500 lb. bombs.
|Cockpit module with modified crew bulkhead.|
|Kit seats with Eduard color seat belts.|
|Detail added to rear instrument panel and cabin bulkhead.|
|Scratch built radio operator station behind crew bulkhead.|
|Starboard and rear bulkhead detail of R/O station.|
|Port R/O station.|
Now that I had everything in the fuselage, it was time to assemble the the major model components. Fit of the parts is very good. Wings and tail surfaces almost snap in place, and alignment is easy. Minimal self-inflicted seem filling and finish sanding will be required. I've dry mounted the engine nacelles to the wing and their fit is almost perfect with virtually no gaps or steps. I'll glue them in place after installing the main landing gear struts. I'm very impressed as this area has often been problematic on other kits. Now my Ventura is taking shape.
|Great fit of nacelle to wing (Dry fit).|
|Kit engines with added detail in progress.|
This wraps up part one. Stay tuned for part two where I'll paint and finish this project.
Special thanks to Milton Bell for taking the great photos for this blog.