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Mike

Cessna O-2A Skymaster (48290) 1:48

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Cessna O-2A Skymaster (48290)

1:48 ICM via Hannants Ltd.

 

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The O-2A Skymaster replaced the equally well-loved O-1 Bird-dog in the Observation role, adding Psy-Ops and light attack by the fitting additional equipment.  It was developed from Cessna’s Type 337 Super Skymaster, and had additional windows in the pilot's side added to improve vision, the superfluous rear seats were replaced with racks of equipment including military radio gear, and hard-points were added under the wings.  The twin props at either end of the stubby airframe gave it an element of redundancy in case of enemy fire, which also necessitated the installation of foam into the fuel tanks to help reduce the likelihood of leaks and subsequent fires bringing down the aircraft.  With all the extra weight it was slower than the civilian version, but that was considered acceptable due to the crew and airframe protections it afforded.

 

Like the Bird-dog it replaced, it spent a lot of time in Vietnam where it was used extensively in the role of Forward Air Control (FAC) and designated O-2B (31 converted Type 337 airframes) with the installation of loudspeakers to attempt to psychologically batter the enemy with recorded messages and leaflet drops that clearly didn’t have much effect other than supplying them with toilet paper in hindsight.  Less than 200 were made in military form straight from the production line, and they continued service after Vietnam until the 80s, when some were sold on and others used in firefighting duties in the US, while others were flown in the nascent war against drugs in central America.

 

 

The Kit

This is a complete new tool from ICM, and I’m personally very happy to see it, as I have a soft-spot for the Skymaster after building an old Airfix Dogfight Double with a Mig-15 in 1:72 as a kid.  There have been kits in 1:48 before, but nothing that could be called truly modern for a long time, so I doubt I’m alone.  We’ve had a bigger scale kit within the last year, but this is the one for me and all those 1:48 modellers out there.  It arrives in a modest-sized top-opening box with ICM’s usual captive inner flap, with two large sprues that fit snugly within the tray in their foil bag.  Within that bag is a set of clear parts, and hidden inside the instruction booklet (which has a new more modern design) is the smallish decal sheet for the four decal options.

 

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Construction begins with the equipment racks in the aft fuselage, which are built up onto the bulkhead, then the fuselage halves are prepped with clear windows from the inside, plus an insert at the rear.  The top surface of the engine is made up with exhausts and the front fairing that supports the prop axle, which is inserted but not glued.  Under this the nose landing-gear bay is fitted with a firewall bulkhead that has the twin rudder pedals inserted before it is mounted into the starboard fuselage half.  With those assemblies out of the way, the cockpit fittings are begun.  The seats for the pilots have two U-shaped supports and a single piece back each, then the seats and instrument panel (with decals for instruments) with moulded-in centre console and control yokes added are offered up to the spartan cockpit floor, which slides under the already inserted electronics rack.  The port fuselage half is decorated with a couple of M16 rifles and an arm-rest, then is joined with the other half taking care to insert at least 10 grams of nose-weight before you do.  The aft fuselage has a complex shape that is moulded as a separate insert and is ready for a two-blade prop thanks to its axle and backstop part, and has two moulded-in exhausts under it.  The nose gear leg was trapped in the wheel bay during assembly, and the two out-rigger main legs are a single C-shaped part that is trapped in a groove in the fuselage with a set of additional panels over it, making for a strong join, although some enterprising soul will probably make a metal one.  Up front the big curved windscreen has a small instrument fitted into a hole in the middle, then is glued in place and the front prop is glued carefully to the axle if you want to leave it spinning.

 

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The wings are a single-span part on the top, and has the majority of the roof of the fuselage moulded-in, plus two top windows inserted from inside before fitting.  The engine intake is made up from three parts including a separate lip, and fits to the aft of the roof, butting up against the rest of the fairing moulded into the fuselage, with a towel-rail and a small forest of blade antennae attached to the various depressions left for them.  The wing undersides are attached after the booms are made up, and you should drill out the flashed-over holes for the pylons if you plan on fitting them.  The booms are joined by the wide elevator that is made up of three parts including a poseable flying surface.  The two booms are also two parts, and also have separate rudders, which are each single mouldings and can be posed as you see fit.  The instructions show the elevator glued to the booms before they are attached to the wings, but this is probably best done at the same time to ensure a good fit and correct alignment, then the lower wing panels mentioned earlier are glued in, trapping the sponson ends between the surfaces.   Front gear door, ailerons and wing bracing struts with their fairings are next, then the main wheels, more antennae, and two raised trunks that run along the main fuselage underside are all fitted in place, plus the four identical pylons if you wish, along with their anti-sway braces.  You have a choice of using four rocket pods on all pylons, or rocket pods on the outer stations and SUU-11/A Minigun Pods on the inner pylons.

 

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The last page of the instructions show the placement of the masks that you are given a printed template for on the page, so you can make masks by placing the tape over the relevant template and either marking the tape and cut it later, or cut it in situ.  It’s up to you whether you use the templates, but they’re there if you do.

 

 

Markings

There are four decal options from the box, and three of them are the more usual white/grey scheme that most people know.  The last option is an all-black airframe, which gives the aircraft a more sinister look.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

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No unit details or timescale is given on the profiles, but you get full four view pictures and can use the tail-codes if you want to find out a little more about your choice of aircraft.  The decal printers are anonymous, but they are in good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  The instrument panel decals are also very crisp and clear.

 

 

Conclusion

Finally a modern tooling of this important little aircraft with crisp detail, restrained panel lines, some good decal options and quality clear parts.  It should prompt a number of decal options from the aftermarket arena very soon, and I wouldn’t doubt that they’ve started working on that already.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd.

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Review sample courtesy of

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Great review Mike,looks like a very nice kit.

That Airfix Dogfight Double you remember was even more one sided that you thought, it was a Mig-21 not the Mig-15!

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Looks very nice Mike.  Wrong scale for me, but nice nonetheless.  Thanks for the review!

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1 hour ago, modelling minion said:

Great review Mike,looks like a very nice kit.

That Airfix Dogfight Double you remember was even more one sided that you thought, it was a Mig-21 not the Mig-15!

Ah - in my defence, it was a long time ago :S

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Looks like they are leaving it open to different models. Separate wingtips, and separate twin booms.
Maybe a Reims 337?

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13 hours ago, sinistervampire319 said:

Looks like they are leaving it open to different models.

There's a US Navy one coming, that's for certain :)

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Great review Mike!  Mine arrived this week too and I was equally as impressed!

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Looks good but i really hope we get metal/brass undercarriage legs as those plastic ones don't look the strongest.

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6 hours ago, mungo1974 said:

Looks good but i really hope we get metal/brass undercarriage legs as those plastic ones don't look the strongest.

Maybe one for @Ali62 to consider?

 

Julien

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Posted (edited)
On 7/18/2020 at 5:42 AM, mungo1974 said:

Looks good but i really hope we get metal/brass undercarriage legs as those plastic ones don't look the strongest.

Already in hand, watch this space in the next week or so for news.

 

cheers Ali

Edited by Ali62
Correction

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On 19/07/2020 at 09:08, Ali62 said:

Already in hand, watch this space in the next week or so for news.

 

cheers Ali

Good one.

I remember building the old Testors kit and having the undercarriage buckle on it. 

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Ali kindly sent me a set to look over, so I'll do a comparative review shortly :)

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You can find my review of the brass gear legs here:

 

 

I'd say it's pretty much mandatory if you want to keep the model from sagging - the kit gear is one flaw in an otherwise excellent kit.

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