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Testors OV-10 Bronco 1/48

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OV-10A Bronco

Testors 1:48


The Bronco was initially planned as a light attack, long loiter time aircraft with a span of 20ft that could operate from roads close to the combat zone, however it materialised with a much longer span of 40ft and heavier due to the specifications including avionics and ejection seats limiting its use to airfields. The twin boom aircraft first flew in 1965 and was destined to become a light armed reconnaissance & forward air control aircraft with the US Navy, Airforce and Marines. The need was bread out of the Cessna O-1 & O-2 becoming obsolete due to the limited performance. The requirement needed a two seat two engined aircraft that could carry over 2000lb of payload, 6 paratroopers or stretchers, high G tolerance and have a 350mph capability whilst being able to have a good loiter performance and STOL capability. The Marines were the first to take the OV-10 into service as a forward air controller operating in both night and day missions. Whilst the Bronco is most known for its operations in Vietnam, it also served in later conflicts as late on as the Gulf war where it received its last losses in US service before retiring in 1995. The USAF started to receive it's Bronco's in 1968 and was primarily used as forward air controllers. This was a varied role in itself, using smoke laying methods as well as later using laser target designators. Development also led to it carrying its own ground attack armament including rockets, machine guns and bombs to support ground movements. As well as a fairly small part played with the US Navy, seven export contracts were made, a few of which are still in service today with Venezuela. These included Germany, Columbia and Indonesia. Whilst it was an effective aircraft, it suffered from being underpowered, an issue that led to several aircraft being lost where it couldn't out climb the terrain. The Bronco has also seen non-military use in the war on drugs in South America as well as operating as a fire fighter. More recently, Boeing were looking into a new variant known as the OV-10X in 2009 as a modernised forward air control variant with the latest glass cockpit technology. There had been export interest in the possibility, however I'm unable to find any more news about how that proposal progressed.

The kit

If you're wanting to build a Bronco in 1/48, then you have a 'Hobsons Choice'. This is the old Italeri / Testors kit re-released. On opening the box, you're presented with the parts all wrapped up in a light grade polythene bag along with the instructions. On the front of the instructions is a poor image of the completed kit which does nothing to market the kit, it looks like a poor copy of a poor copy. On opening the instructions, you're hit with how basic the kit is, the instructions are very straight forwards. On a good note, there are written instructions that offer assembly tips such as painting options for some of the detail and in what order to paint them, something that you don't normally see in kits. Onto the sprues. My first impression is of the early Airfix kits. The kit is moulded in light grey plastic. Detail is very basic and the surfaces of the fuselage and wings are covered in heavy rivets with a mixture of raised and recessed panel / moveable surfaces. The main issues with the aircraft are widely known. The tail booms are too close to the fuselage and not accurately shaped. To correct this will require some extensive surgery to add extension pieces to the inner wings and of course the tailplane which joins the two tail booms. I guess for most builders this isn't an option that they'd be confident of undertaking. The remaining choices are either to live with this or to see if you can get hold of an out-of-production Paragon correction kit (review HERE) although I think you'd be lucky. The correction kit also addresses the cockpit or lack of with a resin replacement. With such a large greenhouse over the office, the kit cockpit is very sparse comprising a tub with side panels, seat and a decal only option for the panel, so you may want to add some scratch building to give it a makeover. Assembly starts with fitting the cockpit tub and nose wheel to the fuselage. This is either going to be a very fast affair if you build out of the box or very much longer if you don't. With the fuselage done, the sponsons housing machine guns and hard points are fitted to the underneath. The tail booms are another quick affair with the main undercarriage sandwiched inside the two halves on each side.





With the wing assembled, it's fitted to the top of the fuselage and the tail booms and tail plane fitted into place. The remaining detail such as undercarriage doors and various antennas are fitted. Another observation is that there are no part numbers on the sprues. They are either on the parts or not at all. In the case of the undercarriage doors, they are on the inside surface which means you will need to sand them off. 4 iron bombs are supplied that fit onto the sponsons. Despite the chunkiness of the plastic in general, the fins on the bombs are quite thin.



Despite the very basic appearance of the grey sprues, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the clear parts. These are quite refined and very little distortion. Now this could be a problem if you've not added some extra detail to the cockpit interior as it will be very much on show ! The canopy is moulded in three parts giving you the ability to have it open, however if you keep it closed, care will need to be taken joining the three parts without getting glue on the clear parts.


The decals

Scale master decals appear to be very nice. There's little in the way of colour due to the schemes supplied, but they are printed very sharply. The squadron emblems are very fine indeed and the stencil lettering can be read despite the very small size. The two schemes are:

Aircraft 155483 - US Marine Corps - experimental paint scheme used on an OV-10D

USAAF - 27th Tactical Air Support Squadron, George AFB, California




This is a very basic kit that's showing its age where the main sprues are concerned. It's comparable to the early Airfix kits in terms of its simplicity and surface detailing, although the clear parts and the decals are rather nice. It's a great beginner's kit, but if accuracy is important, most notably the tail boom positions, then you have some decisions to make as discussed in the review. If you really have to build a Bronco, then it's your only choice in town. For this reason, we should congratulate Testors, they have a niche and if the demand is there, then credit to them for supplying the need.

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Thanks Woody, that's useful and interesting, will bookmark it for reference. I have this kit, together with the Paragon Designs a/m set, and a book by one of the FAC pilots who flew the type on FAC ops in Vietnam, with a few photos. One day I'll get around to building it.


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I suppose if you were feeling wealthy, you could buy a couple of kits and take chunks out of one's wings and tail surfaces to insert into the other? How badly off is it?


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The review Mike did below best answers the question, might be an option though :)http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=39143

An option yes but try to find one! Then there is how much will your wallet suffers to pay for one. I am confident though with all the new tool kits coming out here and there you might see a new one.

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