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).

Kit News: Lone Star Models’ 1/48 Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer (48723)

One plane that has been neglected by the mainstream injection molded model manufacturers is the Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer. Patrol bombers tend not to get a lot of love. While I often see the PB4Y-2 on a lot of modelers’ informal “wish lists” of kits they would like to see manufactured, that interest has not translated in a new injection molded kit being released.

This is not to say that a kit of PB4Y-2 has never been released. Matchbox released a PB4Y-2 in 1/72 scale way back in 1980. Revell reissued the kit in 2009, but the kit is seriously lacking by today’s standards.

After market manufacturers have stepped into to fill that void. Since Monogram’s release of its 1/48 scale Consolidated B-24J Liberator in 1976, several after market vacuform and resin manufacturers (Attic Aircraft, Concise Models & Graphics, Cutting Edge Modelworks, Koster Aero Enterprises, Wilde Sau Resin) have produced conversion parts to convert the Monogram B-24 kit into a PB4Y-2 Privateer. I have seen some really nice PB4Y-2 builds converted from the Monogram B-24 kit.

Mike West of Lone Star Models recently announced the upcoming release of a 1/48 scale full resin kit of the PB4Y-2 Privateer, with white metal parts, metal main landing gear struts, vacuformed clear pieces, and a large decal sheet. The price of the kit is listed at $290.00 which does not appear to be out of line since it is an all resin 1/48 scale four engine bomber.

Lone Star Models

Below are pictures from Lone Star Models’ website showing some of the resin, white metal and vacuformed kit pieces.

Lone Star Models
Lone Star Models
Lone Star Models

I have purchased several resin products from Lone Star Models over the years and have been impressed with the level of detail and the quality of casting.

If you are contemplating purchasing this kit, there are few things you need to know. First, Lone Star Models is a one man operation. Mike West does all of the product development, casting, order processing, and shipping. Because of a high demand for his products, he has to periodically shut off ordering on his website so that he can catch up with casting, processing, and shipping orders. If you are expecting a quick turnaround after ordering this kit, you might be disappointed.

Second, from time to time, this kit will not be available to order on Lone Star Model’s website (https://lonestarmodels.com/). As I am drafting this post, the kit is listed as “Out of Stock”, which means that Mike has sold the stock he has on hand. Once he has built back up his stock, it will become available to purchase. This is just one of the ways Mike has had to resort to so he does not fall too far behind. If you want to order this kit, you just have to be patient.

Since the kit has not actually been released yet, there have not been any on-line reviews as of yet.

A Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer kit has been on the top of my “wish list” for the last decade, and I have not seen any indication that any of the mainstream model manufacturers (Eduard, Hasegawa, Revell, Tamiya etc . . .) are even contemplating producing a PB4Y-2 in the foreseeable future. This may be a modeler’s only option for a complete kit for quite some time.