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Conversion to Martin Mariner GR.1 (for Minicraft) 1:72

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Conversion to Martin Mariner GR.1 (for Minicraft)
1:72 Red Roo Models


It's not that well known, but during WWII, the RAF ordered 50 Mariners under lend-lease, which escalated to 100 of the PBM-3C model when the PBM-4 was cancelled. They began arriving for testing in the summer of 1943 with a total of 35 actually delivered, before it was realised that the Mariner was inferior in range and load carrying capacity to the older Sunderland that it was supposed to replace. By the end of 1943 524 Squadron were disbanded and the Mariners were handed back to the Americans for their use.

The Minicraft kit was reviewed at the end of 2013 here, and although a nice kit, it has a few shape issues that might concern the purists going for complete (as far as you ever can get) accuracy. This set includes both the adjustments to the basic kit to make it more accurate, and the changes to the configuration that mark it out as an RAF evaluation machine. It is a fairly complex "transkit" consisting of resin, metal parts, wire and decals, but you will also need to take a razor saw to your kit in order to complete the job. It is wisely stated on the box that it is suitable for intermediate and advanced modellers, and I think that's an accurate statement, to be fair.

The shape issues are a missing door for the pilot, and undersized rear fuselage, while the conversion includes deleting the landing gear in favour of beaching gear, earlier engines and cowlings, props, correct sized radome and other sensor fits peculiar to British use. It includes over 60 parts in various colours (including clear) and strengths of resin, three V-shaped lengths of fine wire, three cast brass parts and a small sheet of brass to use as in the build. The decals depict four aircraft and are bagged separately.

To complete this conversion/upgrade you need to have your wits about you, and concentrate when planning your course of action, which the instructions will help with, as they are arranged to correspond with the steps of the kit instructions. It might be best therefore to annotate the kit instructions with elements of the conversion to ensure you don't forget anything important, but choose a method that works for you – I'm not your mum!

First impressions are that it's a kit in its own right, and should result in a highly accurate depiction of the real thing, as I've seen some of the research material, and it is good stuff. The conversion instructions extend to 12 pages, and each section is covered with both pictures and copious written notes to guide you as far as possible to doing the job right.

Starboard pilot's door
Trace the provided paper template to something sturdy and scribe it onto the fuselage.


Wheel bay modifications – blank off the wheel bays with the supplied clear parts (which contain windows), back them up with the rough resin retaining slabs and fill any gaps, add a window on each side, and mask off the new windows.



Front ball-turret
Adapt the aperture to fit it later in the build and drill out holes for the barrels.
Tail Plane Installation
Three parts combine to raise the tail and rear turret about 3mm, requiring some filling and re-scribing to make good.


Rudder trim tab
using the supplied template, scribe its shape and remove one of the fairings from the port side.
Assembling the wings
Reduce the height of the inner bomb bay walls, carving and sanding to ensure a good fit of the parts once assembled.
Radar altimeter Antennae
Drill a hole under each engine nacelle and fit the brass parts.


Landing light glare shield & wing leading-edge tie-down rings
Add small piece of brass shim provided to protect the crew's night vision from the landing lights, and add a 1mm tie-down ring to the leading edge made from the supplied wire.
Floats & Struts
Add tie-down rings fore and aft, and remove cuffs to struts.
Engine modifications
A full set of diagrams are given to assist you with cutting the nacelle back 5mm, adding a plug and blanking plates to the top and bottom. A new engine and cowling is fitted, along with new props, air intakes and oil cooler ducts.


Beaching gear
Construct the tough black resin legs & make locating holes on the fuselage in line with the supplied drawings. Assemble and fit the new parts to the stern frame.


Glue the new part in place and add the RDF antenna, pitot head and radio antenna mast. A little bit of mould slip on the leading edge of my example means that some clean-up will be necessary.
Antenna cables
Using your own wire or invisible mending thread, attach two wires to the tops of the vertical tails, converging at the antenna mast on the radome. Two small wires rise from between the wings to meet these lines.

As the airframes weren't in charge for long, there wasn't really time for any differences in markings or schemes to creep in, so it's one scheme for all, of MAP Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey on the topside, with a high demarcation over white on the majority of the sides and undersides. A picture beneath the full-colour painting and decaling pages shows that the airframes weathered quickly in the harsh ocean air, so there's plenty of scope for adding some visual interest, but check your references to ensure you're getting it right.

From the box you can do one of the following fuselage codes:


Only JX110 carried the code letter A, and apart from their fuselage codes at the rear, all were painted identically. The decals are simple but well made, and the fuselage roundels have separate central red dots to avoid any issues with register, which always shows up most with off-centre roundel "bullseyes". There's a little too much carrier film around some of the codes and the big red A, but that's easy to trim down before application to avoid silvering. Colour density, registration and sharpness are up there with the best, so just trim the carrier film a little, and they should settle down nicely with some decal setting solution.

If you want to model an RAF bird, this is an essential set, and I can't speak too highly of the depth to which Ed and the guys have gone to in order to ease the way for us modellers. It can all seem quite daunting on the face of it though, but if you break it down into assemblies, it's all pretty straight forward, so is best approached on that basis. Take it slow and test fit parts a LOT, as is wise with any conversion, and it shouldn't be too taxing. The resin is for the most part of good quality, but my example has a few bubbles that will need to be repaired, but nothing that's going to beyond the skills of their target market.

Highly recommended to the experienced modeller.


Review sample courtesy of

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