The RCAF's Albatross

A Conversion of the 1/72 Monogram HU-16B

Gallery Article by Scott Hemsley


Photos by Andy Irving

During Grumman's production run for the HU-16B Albatross, 18 received the Wright R1820-82 engine, replacing the more common Wright R1820-76A or -76B engines.  Of this 18, 10 went to the Royal Canadian Air Force and the remaining 8, to the Japanese Self Defense Force. Visually, the cowlings appeared to be of a slightly larger diameter; there was a large external airscoop atop each cowling; a noticeable bulge in the side contour of the nacelle, appeared on each side of the nacelle and the number of exhaust stacks was reduced from 6 per side to a single stack per side. 

Also, the 'Albert' (as it affectionately known) utilized the sleeker 450 gal. auxiliary wing tanks, as opposed to the 150 gal. wing tanks, supplied in the kit.


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In a nutshell, I tried to bring this 30yr.old kit up to something approaching today's standards, beginning with the removal of the rivets, scribing a few panel lines according to references, filling of the trenches that indicate where masking should take place, replacing the molded crew seat/figure combo with a cockpit interior (kind of grew in scope to a full cockpit interior), replacement of the toy-like/overscale retractable landing gear (as much as possible), adding nose wheel well interior and other misc. exterior details. 

Regarding the new power plants, I used the engines/cowls from the Hasegawa Grumman Tracker and some Milliput to provide the more distinctive 'hump' to the upper nacelle profile.  The side bulges, referred to above, were vac'd from a fabricated master.  The nacelle 'ramp' for the exhausts was narrowed from the kit width by using sheet styrene, set at the approx. width/location, of the middle two kit exhausts.  Scoops are from the parts box, fronted by 'screens' also from the parts box (originally from the 1/72 Airfix Mosquito).

The wing tanks, originally came from Hasegawa's 1/72 F-102 Delta Dagger, with a 7mm constant diameter plug (found in a spare F-4 wing tank half). The diameter match between the two, is remarkable. 

Decals hail from the old Leading Edge sheet on the CSR-110 Albatross.  It also supplied the tri-phibian resin in the form of the outrigger and central skis.  According to a recent conversation with Dave Koss, he intends to re-print this sheet, within the year.  The only exception to the Leading Edge sheet, is the earlier Red Ensign on the fin. This originated from Arrow Graphics.  The day-glo in the SAR band came from Testor's Model Master's series II, FS28913, Fluorescent Red-Orange.  It's almost a perfect match for the inks used in the decal's 'RESCUE' and it's not translucent, thus greatly easing the spraying.  Of note for those not acquainted with RCAF finishes of the period: the Albatross was not natural metal, but rather sprayed aluminum.  I found that Polly Scale's Flat Aluminum replicates this, in appearance.

Scott Hemsley


Photos and text by Scott Hemsley