Martin PBM-5 Mariner by Revell

1/118 scale
Kit No. 00006
Cost: $14.00
Decals: One version, U.S. Navy, Patrol Squadron 50 (VP-50); printed in Italy for Revell GmbH & Co.
Comments: Engraved panel lines, raised rivet detail; Re-issue of Revell’s 1957 kit; new decals printed in Italy; includes display stand

History

The Martin PBM Mariner was a patrol bomber and flying boat of World War II and the early Cold War period. Taking its first flight on February 18, 1939, it was designed to complement the Consolidated PBY Catalina then in service. The Mariner entered U.S. Navy service in September 1940, and was soon actively engaged in the search for U-boats in the North Atlantic during a period of undeclared war at sea with Germany. Mariners were reportedly popular with aircrews for their ruggedness and internal comfort.

The PBM (Patrol Bomber, Martin) Mariner is one of the least known yet most successful patrol aircraft of World War II.
While the more famous Consolidated PBY Catalina was one of the most versatile maritime patrol aircraft of the conflict, by the end of the war, the larger, faster, and more capable PBM supplanted it in many of its roles. Although the Mariner entered service before the U.S. entry into the war, it was not until the final months of the conflict that there were sufficient numbers of them to replace the numerous but aging Catalinas.

The Mariner’s origins date to 1937 when the Glenn L. Martin Company designed a new twin-engined flying boat, the Model 162, to succeed its earlier Martin P3M and complement the PBY Catalina. It received an order for a single prototype XPBM-1 on 30 June 1937, followed by an initial production order for 21 PBM-1 aircraft on 28 December 1937.

To test the PBM’s layout, Martin built a scale flying model, the Martin 162A Tadpole Clipper, with a crew of one and powered by a single 120 hp (89 kW) Chevrolet engine; this was flown in December 1937. The first genuine PBM, the XPBM-1, flew on 18 February 1939. The aircraft was fitted with five gun turrets, and bomb bays in its engine nacelles. The gull wing was of cantilever design, and featured clean aerodynamics with an unbraced twin tail. The PBM-1 was equipped with retractable wing landing floats that were hinged outboard and retracted inwards to rest beneath the wing, with the floats’ keels just outboard of each of the engine nacelles. The PBM-3 had fixed floats, and the fuselage was three feet longer than that of the PBM-1.

The first PBM-1’s entered service with the U.S. Navy’s Patrol Squadron Fifty-Five (VP-55) on September 1, 1940. Before the U.S. formally entered the war, PBM’s were used together with PBY’s to carry out Neutrality Patrols over the North Atlantic, including operations from Iceland. These patrols were neutral in name only, for under the 1939 Neutrality Act, sales to belligerents were allowed if buyers could purchase arms or supplies in cash, and provide for their own transport (a provision which aided Britain more than Germany). In addition, after a U.S. freighter with goods bound for Britain was torpedoed by a German U-boat, President Roosevelt authorized the Navy to use force to defend American shipping. From March 1941 on, when the Lend-Lease Act took effect, opening the way for significant quantities of military supplies to flow to Britain, the U.S. and Germany, at sea at least, were in a state of undeclared war.

Martin Mariners thus took on a critical and growing role in protecting the sea lanes between the U.S. and Britain at a crucial stage of the war. Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and Adolf Hitler’s declaration of war on the United States four days later, PBM’s openly flew anti-submarine patrols, sinking their first German U-boat, U-158, on June 30, 1942. PBMs were responsible, wholly or in part, for sinking a total of ten U-boats during World War II. PBMs were also heavily used in the Pacific War, operating from bases in the Southwest Pacific, and later from Saipan, Okinawa, and finally Iwo Jima.

The United States Coast Guard acquired 27 Martin PBM-3 aircraft during the first half of 1943. In late 1944, the service acquired 41 PBM-5’s and more were delivered in the latter half of 1945. PBMs continued in service with the U.S. Navy following the end of World War II, flying long patrol missions during the Korean War.

Ten were still in service in 1955, and became the backbone of the long-range aerial search and rescue efforts of the Coast Guard in the early post-war years until supplanted by the P5M Marlin and the HU-16 Albatross in the mid-1950’s, with the last USN squadron equipped with the PBM, Patrol Squadron Fifty (VP-50), retiring them in July 1956. All were gone from the active Coast Guard inventory by 1958 (when the last example was released from CGAS San Diego and returned to the U.S. Navy). A total of 1,366 Mariners were built.

The Royal Netherlands Navy acquired 17 PBM-5A Mariners at the end of 1955 for service in Netherlands New Guinea. The PBM-5A was an amphibian with retractable landing gear. The engines were 2,100 hp (1,600 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34. After a series of crashes, the Dutch withdrew their remaining aircraft from use in December 1959.

Specifications (PBM-1):

Crew: Seven
Length: 79 ft 10 in (23.50 m)
Wingspan: 118 ft 0 in (36 m)
Height: 27 ft 6 in (5.33 m)
Wing area: 1,408 ft² (131 m²)
Empty weight: 33,175 lb (15,048 kg)
Loaded weight: 56,000 lb (25,425 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-2600-6 14-cylinder radial engines, 1,600 hp (1,194 kW) each

Performance:
Maximum speed: 178 kn (205 mph, 330 km/h)
Range: 2,600 nmi (3,000 mi, 4,800 km)
Service ceiling: 19,800 ft (6,040 m)
Rate of climb: 800 ft/min (4.1 m/s)

Armament:
Eight × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns (two each in nose, dorsal and tail turrets, one each in side blisters amidships)
4,000 lb (1,800 kg) of bombs or depth charges or 2 × Mark 13 torpedoes
Manufacturer: Martin Aircraft Co.
Dimensions:
Height: 27ft 6in.
Length: 79ft 12in.
Wingspan: 117ft 12in.

The Kit

The Martin Mariner is molded in medium blue and consists of 53 parts, including a dozen clear parts for the windscreen, machine gun turrets, and windows. One immediately noticeable and surprising feature, given the age of the kit mold, is the presence of engraved panel lines. While there are also raised panel lines and raised rivet detail, the engraved panel lines predominate, and speak to the degree of care and attention which Revell paid to the kit’s exterior detail, impressive for the 1950’s.

Beyond that, the kit is simple, as it has no interior of any kind, despite the four separately molded doors fore and aft, two on either side of the fuselage. The remaining feature of note is that of the bomb bays within the two engine nacelles, well aft of the engines. What appear to be four 1,000 lb. bombs (hard to be sure in this scale, but they are too long to be 500-pounders, and too short to be Mk. 13 torpedoes) are provided, and must be cemented into the nacelles in an area ordinarily reserved for landing gear on land-based aircraft. This bit of detail is combined with an option to depict the bomb bay doors open or closed.

The box art for Revell’s initial 1957 release of the Mariner.

The machine gun turrets look easy to assemble and are not especially detailed, which is not surprising given the age and scale of the kit. The engines bear the level of detail you’d expect on a kit of this vintage. Revell’s Mariner passes the eyeball test when compared to photos of the actual Mariner, right down to its gull wing and unique tail assembly. The decals do not appear to be copies of those originally issued in 1957, as they are printed in Italy specifically for Revell-Germany. They are appropriately thin and fully in register, with accurate color. The only potential drawback is that their finish is completely flat, which could lead to silvering, so special attention may be needed to ensure that an effective gloss coat is laid down both before and after decal application to attain a realistic look for the markings — and this will probably require sanding down those raised rivets!

Conclusion

Revell’s Martin Mariner should be as fun a weekend build as it was upon its initial release, not particularly challenging but still with a modicum of detail. Highly recommended.

References

  • Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II
  • www.wikipedia.org
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