Nostalgic Kit Review: Koster Aero Enterprises 1/48 PB4Y-2 Privateer Vacu-formed Conversion Kit

For a long time, if you wanted to build a 1/48 Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, Bill Koster’s vacu-formed conversion kit for the Monogram B-24 kit was the only game in town.

Bill passed away on September 13, 2020, after a battle with cancer at the age of 91. Bill worked for several decades as a kit designer for Revell-Monogram. After his retirement, he founded Koster Aero Enterprises through which he produced and sold vacu-formed kits and conversion sets for aircraft that the mainline model manufacturers ignored. Bill was a great ambassador for our hobby and was liked by all who met him.

I have purchased a couple of Bill’s B-24 turret sets over the years, and I was fortunate to purchase the PB4Y-2 Privateer conversion kit at an estate sale recently.

Koster Aero Enterprise

As you can see from the instructions below, the conversion kit uses the fuselage center section (bomb bay area), wings, landing gear, propellers, and cockpit pieces from the Revell-Monogram kit. Either the B-24D or the B-24J version of the Revell-Monogram kit will work for this conversion.

Koster Aero Enterprises
Koster Aero Enterprises

It appears that the main conversion pieces were formed using .050 to .060 mm thick plastic sheets. An inspection of these parts reveals a very good uniform thickness was maintained during the vacu-forming process.

Koster Aero Enterprises

These parts will be fairly sturdy during the process of removing them from their respective sheets, and during the construction process.

Koster Aero Enterprises

While you cannot see them from the photos, Bill also incorporated some very nice recessed panel lines on the fuselage pieces.

Koster Aero Enterprises

While the photo below does not do the vacu-formed clear parts justice, the parts are without distortion; pretty much crystal clear. For the most part, they are thick enough, and therefore sturdy, to withstand the process of removing them from the sheet. The exception is the two main parts for the A-6 gun turrets. Because of their height, the plastic on top gets fairly thin and are prone to being damaged easily. Care is needed when removing them.

Koster Aero Enterprises

The front of the cowls, engines, and gun turret parts are cast in resin. They are beautifully cast with a minimal amount of clean-up. Because the interiors of the gun turrets will visible due to the quality of the vacu-formed clear parts, the resin parts provide a base for super detailed turrets.

Koster Aero Enterprises

The conversion kit also comes with white metal parts as shown below. As you can tell, the 50 caliber machine gun barrels are very malleable and hard to get perfectly straight. The solution to this problem is to replace the barrels with the really nice brass barrels from Master Models, or to replace the entire machine guns with Eduard’s resin Browning M-2 machine guns.

Koster Aero Enterprises

Last, but not least, Bill included decals for four aircraft. They are very nice, in register, and provide three nose art options. The PB4Y-2 provided a large canvas for great nose art. National insignia are not included, so you will have to get them from other sheets or use masks.

Koster Aero Enterprises

Since this conversion kit is no longer in production, they are hard to come by. They do show up on eBay periodically, but not very often. I was fortunate to pick this one up at an estate sale. I have never attempted a vacu-formed conversion kit, so this should be an interesting project.

Stayed tuned as I will be reviewing a full resin 1/48 PB4Y-2 kit from Wilde Sau Resin, and 1/48 PB4Y-2 decal sheets from Cutting Edge/Pyn-Up Decals (now the Fine Art of Decals).