Administrators James H Posted September 15, 2013 Administrators Share Posted September 15, 2013 1:32 PBY-5A Catalina 'Limited Edition' HPHCatalogue # 320012LAvailable from HPH for 600 Euros When this dropped onto the doormat this morning, the first thing I thought was 'yes'! After opening the lid, and spending some time looking through what has to be the single most complex and detailed kit, the second thought I had was 'where do I even begin with this review?' To say it was a daunting task would be a serious misuse of that that statement. 'Just look at all of those parts' and then, 'I need to photograph all of this!'. There's certainly no doubt that whether you're reviewing this, building it, or both, you have a long term project here that needs to be treat with a certain degree of respect. Hauling that lid off the box (again), and delving inwards, let us take a look at what has been a serious labour of love for HPH, and possibly one of the most complicated articles I've ever had to write. HPH's not-insubstantial box is separated internally into compartments, with the top section containing the full length fuselage halves. Below this, another compartment holds the three main wing panels and a couple of bags of resin components, whilst another compartment below this one contains two boxes of carefully prepared and wrapped clear resin parts, and strangely enough, a Belgian 'flight chocolate', in a period wrapper! To the left of these lower compartments is yet another sectioned area, stuffed full of more resin parts, and a ziplock back containing some decals, masks, seatbelts, masks, and a CD which is where you'll find your instruction manual in PDF format, plus a folder with the instructions in JPG format. I'll include a few images from this manual in this review. They certainly will get your mouth watering. All resin components are also supplied in ziplock bags, and the various compartments are stuffed with protective bubble-wrap plastic, and the major components are generously wrapped too. As well as all of the above, it goes without saying that there is a smattering of photo etch in this kit too. Three photo etch frets, produced by Eduard, are included. All are nickel plated, and one is also colour printed. Despite how well HPH have packaged this amazing kit, the PE frets are placed inside the rear of the HGW-produced seatbelt pack, and this package lacks any real stiffeners to protect the parts. Until this is built, I'll add these before carefully packing away. Now, onto that impressive fuselage. This is impressive in both size and how HPH have executed its construction. Externally, the whole fuselage is highly detailed, exhibiting a superb overall finish, supplemented by fine panel lines, an amount of raised panelling, some very subtle riveting and neatly scribed access ports. All glazing apertures are already removed, and no real need for any major clean-up can be seen. Internally, all the former and stringer positions are pre-scribed. If the interior looks a little bare, it's because YOU will need to add the stringer detail yourself, which is supplied on the various resin sheets that are supplied. That in itself will be an undertaking that you shouldn't take lightly, but when complete, will look simply amazing. Some internal stringer work is completed for you, and this resides in the tail area. The only real reason for this being here is just in case you happen to glimpse it through the lower gunner position, or perhaps through the lightening holed in the tail post. That's pretty indicative of the level of detail that is very normal with this kit. Get used to that, and the whole project comes into view a little more clearly. The fuselage is actually of fibreglass construction, and overall it has a very light grey appearance, which is almost white in hue. This sort of acts as a primer, allowing you to check the surface for defects, due to the shiny finish. Being fibreglass too, the parts should be very strong. There are a few feint surface scratched in this coating, but these should be easy to micromesh away. The tailplane joint indicated that this is a butt-joint connection, and you will be advised to perhaps aid this joint by pinning the tailplane to the fuse with thick wire, or metal pins. In fact, looking at the instructions at this moment, this is what they do suggest. The rudder is also provided as a separate part too. When you take a look at the wing sections, you'll seen get a real sense of the size of this beast. I hope you have a large house in which to display this one, or you're contemplating an extension. HPH have broken the wing down into three sections; the centre section incorporating the two rear engine nacelles, and the two outboard wing panels, starting from where the trailing edge tapers to the wingtip. The wings are also of fibreglass construction, and for such a large surface area, they are relatively light in weight. The wing panels also come pre-built, as in the upper and lower wings are already joined, complete with the aileron inserts already cut out (with the gap protected with rigid foam slips), and the outboard wing float retraction points also provided as box inserts which sit behind a resin wing tip rib. How to join these sections though? Luckily, HPH realise that these connections need to be strong, and have created a rigid steel pin location point in each mating face. The pins are supplied in a separate bag, and as you'll see from my mock up image with a wooden rule, this model is no shrinking violet. Even though the wing connection points are very good, these will be covered by a metal strip to the rear, and plastic strip along the remaining joint, rendering the seam totally invisible. Some leading edge seams will need to be eradicated, and any detail lost will need to be replaced, but this doesn't look an onerous job. Surface detail is again excellent, with the same standard of riveting, raised panelling, access port scribing, and all highlighted by the soft white/grey finish imparted by the fibreglass process. Engine rear nacelles look absolutely terrific, with superb panel detail. This is actually supplemented with a little photo etch panelling too. Anyone for resin? - Kilograms of the stuff! HPH state on their website, that this kit contains 'thousands resin parts'. You can probably see from that statement that I can in no way photograph all of this resin. That would be seriously frightening, but I will photograph the various bags and contents, and of course, we'll take a look at some of that key detail and describe the various constructional areas as well as look at those all-important clear parts. That sound ok? Phew, I'm pleased about that! The manual starts by taking you through the seat assemblies, and those which contain the HGW-made seatbelt set. You will notice from the manual that this section also contains drawings for some crew assemblies that you will have to complete later in the construction. That's ok, just keep referring back, and don't forget to add that detail later. After these initial drawings within the manual, the actual construction begins with all stages being supplied in photographic form. For such a detailed model, this is a very welcome bonus, and goes a long way to rid those various stages of any ambiguity that can arise from CAD or line drawings. After all, if it fits in the photo, then it must fit, right? That's a main assumption here. KIT PARTS Before we can rip into detail, you need to insert the various transparent windows into the hull. The instructions say you need to perhaps make a few small adjustments before fitting. Once these are in situ, you should mask them off with the vinyl masks supplied with the kit. Then just as you're settling into a sedate pace, you then enter the second stage of construction: Interior Assembly – ribs, bulkheads and longitudinal strips You have your work cut out here. Looking inside the hull halves, you'll see many scribed lines. These are the location points into which you'll affix the many bulkheads, frames, stringers and longerons that go to produce that characteristic Catalina hull. The stringers themselves are cast onto a series of sheets, complete with their angles shape and riveting. You'll need to measure, cut, trim and carefully apply these so that you don't waste too much. I'm not sure how much spare that HPH have supplied, so err on the side of caution. Where frames exist, these are again cast on sheets, and you can check the part/profile out against the parts list to ensure you get the part you need. Onto those amazing looking bulkheads. HPH have cast the main bulkheads in that same sheet casting pattern, and the forward and rear of these are separate parts, so you much carefully align these, preferably with slow setting CA gel, so that you make no mistake. This is actually a clever way to do the casting, as there are no blocks to remove, and the multi-part assembly will give some rigidity. The bulkheads are simply amazing to look at, as you'll see from the photos in this review. All doorways, plumbing, junction boxes etc are superbly mastered and cast crisply. Certainly no issues over quality in the slightest. You will also need to construct the large wheel bays at this stage too at this stage. Again, dripping with detail. There are some colour call-outs for this kits interior, but the instructions do recommend a few books at the very end of the publication, and you would be well-advised to take note and purchase at least one of them, and preferably the Squadron 'Walkaround' book, which should provide you with all the information you need to get a very accurate portrayal of how to work that interior (and exterior) to its max. After forking out 600 Euros on a kit, surely another 30 Euros for a book won't be a problem. 3 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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