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OV-10A Bronco US Attack Aircraft (48300) 1:48


Mike
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OV-10A Bronco US Attack Aircraft (48300)

1:48 ICM via Hannants

 

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The Bronco was conceived as a light attack, long loiter aircraft of modest size, enabling it to operate from roads close to the combat zone. As so often seems the case, the final design turned out to be much larger and heavier due to the requirements of the avionics and ejection seats, thus limiting its use to conventional airfields. The twin boom aircraft first flew in 1965 and was destined to serve with the US Navy, Airforce and Marines as a replacement for the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog & O-2 Skymaster. The Marines were the first to take the OV-10 into service as a forward air controller platform operating both night and day missions. Whilst the Bronco is best known for its operations in Vietnam, it also served in later conflicts as late as the Gulf War before being retired from US service in 1995. The USAF received Broncos in 1968 and deployed the aircraft in the Forward Air Control (FAC) role, using smoke laying methods initially, and later using laser targeting designators. Eventually it carried its own ground attack armament including rockets, machine guns and bombs that gave it the capability of Light Attack Aircraft, and made it a daunting prospect for the enemy to see overhead.  Seven export contracts were signed with other foreign operators including Germany, Columbia and Indonesia, the very last of which will be leaving service in the near future after long service.

 

 

The Kit

This new tooling from ICM relieves us all of the ancient Testors kit with its legendarily incorrect wings and nacelle locations, which could only have been fixed with the help of a Paragon Designs set. This is a relief for this modeller, as there were also other blank areas that would have required some further work.  Back to the matter in hand.  A 100% new model from ICM, which arrives in one of their standard top opening boxes with the captive inner lid, and has ten sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, two sheets of decals and a glossy instruction booklet with spot colour inside and glossy colour profiles on the back pages.  De-bagging the sprues reveals the detail is excellent, and the booms have raised as well as engraved rivets on their surface, which is just as it should be if you check out any walk arounds that get close enough to the aircraft to see them.  The clear parts have been engineered so that they fit together as individual facets, and are crystal clear, allowing the modeller to see their hard work in the cockpit, providing they don’t put any gluey fingerprints on the glazing during the build.  Overall, it looks like it will build into an excellent replica of the aircraft.

 

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Construction begins predictably with the cockpit, starting with the crew seats, of which there are two.  The base of the seats are made from the curved lower and cushion, while the backs are formed from a shell with two cushions, one for the pilot’s back, the other for the headbox.  The two elements are brought together and a small part is added to the headbox, then different rear detail and a launch rail are added to the rear of them both.  There are colour call-outs as we go along, and two warning decals are supplied for the seats, although these are shown applied to the cushions, which seems odd, but having checked some references, that’s where they go.  Every day’s a school day!  The rear seat is glued to the cockpit floor which has a bulkhead and a shelf moulded into the rear, then side consoles are fixed onto the floor around the seat with control column on a lateral support, and a throttle quadrant that sits on top of a raised portion of the port console.  A divider between the two seats is prepared with rudder pedals and other details, then has a choice of either of two instrument panels added atop the flat section, based on your decal choice.  These are well detailed and have dial decals for each option.  The divider is glued in place, then the front cockpit is made up starting with the seat again, but with a different set of launch rail parts with “antennae” to the side of the headbox.  He too gets a control column and floor-mounted rudder pedals, after which the seat is bracketed by side consoles that have detailed tops, but no decals which is a shame.  A bulkhead for within the footwell of the front cockpit is created from a number of parts, and fixed in place with the details facing forward, forming the rear bulkhead of the nose gear bay.  The pilot gets a well-appointed instrument panel with coaming and decal, plus a number of small parts sitting on top of the coaming.  This is glued in, and more details are added to the rear shelf in the shape of equipment boxes that probably have festive twinkling lights on the real thing, especially at Christmas.

 

The cockpit is put to the side briefly while the crew nacelle is prepared with interior sidewall details, plus an internal frame that runs up the side of the canopy.  You are advised to align this with the canopy sides, which have a shallow groove running top to bottom, so it would be an idea to glue the parts, then tape the canopy sides in place and align the frame with the groove, taping it in place until the glue sets.  With the sides complete and painted internally, the cockpit can be secured inside and locked in place by bringing the two halves together.  Providing you have painted the front of the crew nacelle, the nose gear bay is already complete and just needs the main strut, a diagonal support that goes far back under the canopy, and a pair of bay doors.  The underside of the cockpit floor is then covered over by a well-detailed underside panel that has recesses ready for the stubby weapons pylons, and has a small central strake added toward the rear.  Here it will be key to align the nacelle skins before the glue sets to avoid having to make good later and risk losing any of that lovely detail.  The weapons “wings” need four holes drilling in their underside if you are going to hang weapons from them, then they are closed up around a small rectangular insert that the barrels later plug into, the wingtips are added, and each one has an insert applied to the leading edge that makes up the rest of the fairings for the weapons.  These are glued into their recesses on the underside, and are fitted with shackles on the twin pylons on their undersides if you plan on using weapons.  Another small nose gear door fits to the diagonal leg, and the four-part nose wheel with separate hub parts is first trapped between the yoke, which is then glued to the bottom of the nose strut along with the other half of the oleo scissor-link.  I suspect this could be a weak point of the nose gear, so ensure you leave this to set up for a good while before attempting to put weight on it.  The addition of the four gun barrels to the winglets and a couple of sensors completes the crew nacelle for now.

 

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The upper wing of the Bronco is a single full-width part that also has a section of the fuselage upper and the twin boom tops moulded-in, while the underside is in four sections.  Before the two surfaces are joined, two spar sections are attached to the upper wing straddling the future location of the engine nacelles, and if you plan on adding wing pylons, there are a few holes to be drilled in the outer lower panel of the wings.  All the flying surfaces are separate and the twin flap sections per side are made of three parts laminated together, while the ailerons are a single part each to which are added balances and trim actuators.  When completed, the six flying surface sections are fitted to the cut-outs at the rear of the wing unit along with a pair of actuators for the ailerons, a pair of exhaust deflectors on top of the engine nacelles, and a large sensor blister at the centre-rear.  The wing assembly is then mated to the crew gondola, and the canopy is begun.  The blown windscreen that offers the pilot a good field of view has a sight fitted to the top centre before it is glued to the front of the cockpit, then has the clear canopy roof put in place, bridging the gap between the windscreen and cockpit rear.  The two canopy sides are next, and these parts are each single pieces, which doesn’t give the modeller the opportunity to prop the front two sections in the open position without taking their life in their hands and cutting the parts with a razor saw or fine scriber and a lot of trepidation.  No doubt an aftermarket company will step-in here.

 

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Building of the two nacelles begins with the gear bays, which starts with the making of the gear legs that have two main partss and a Y-shaped insert that traps the lower section in place but leaves it movable.  Two more parts make up the suspension strut, which are also trapped in place by a V-shaped insert, and then glue is applied to the previously mobile joint, setting the correct angle for the leg permanently.  It is glued to the stepped bay forward roof with a number of small parts, after which it is joined by the detailed sidewalls, rear bulkhead and another few parts to close over the rear of the roof and add more detail.  The nacelle sides have a couple of holes drilled on each side, and these are joined around the bay assembly, capped off at the front by the intakes and propeller backing plate.  Underneath, the triangular inserts with their many raised rivets are glued in carefully to avoid damaging that lovely detail, and two optional towel-rail antennae are glued into the holes on the sides of the nacelle.  The two-part rudder is fixed to the tail, and an exhaust is made up from two halves, with baffles within.  Align these carefully to minimise the join-line and check your references to get these right.  A small intake is added to the side of the nacelle just forward of the exhaust.  This process if carried out twice of course, in mirror-image so your Bronco doesn’t fly round in circles.

 

The large horizontal elevator panel is made from top and bottom surfaces plus the elevator itself, and this is slotted into position between the nacelles as they are glued into place under the wings.  You might need to grow another hand or two to make this happen, or get yourself one of those wonderful jigs like that of EBMA to help hold everything in place for this.  Four optional shark-fin spoilers can be glued onto their corresponding slots in the top of each wing if you wish, or leave them in the box for a clean upper wing.  The twin props have the three blades moulded as one, with a front and back boss, and take care to install the correct props on the nacelles, as the blades (and the turboprop engines) are handed, spinning in opposite directions to cancel out the effect of torque steer.  A windscreen wiper and various sensor lumps are added around the fuselage, with more underneath, at which point you’ll notice that the main gear is without wheels.  Each of these are made of a two-part wheel and two-part hub, with no weighting moulded-in, although that’s easily remedied by a quick sanding of a flat-spot on the bottom, just don’t overdo it so it looks like it needs more air.

 

Fun with weapons is next, and this modeller thinks that the Bronco looks best when loaded for bear, as they say.  There are two wing pylons on long supports to add to the outer wing panels, then it’s just a case of choosing which munitions you want to hang from them.  There is a diagram showing which weapons can be fitted to which pylons, but if you’re aiming for realism, check your references to establish real-world load-outs for training and live-fire missions.  In the box you get the following:

 

2 x LAU-33 twin rocket pods

2 x LAU-069A 21 rocket pods

2 x Mk.77 Incendiary bombs

2 x LAU-68 6 rocket pods

2 x 150gal fuel tanks

2 x Mk.81 Lowdrag iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse

2 x Mk.81 Snakeye iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse

2 x Mk.82 Snakeye iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse

2 x  Mk.82 Lowdrag iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse

2 x LAU-10A 4 rocket pods

 

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The detail of the individual weapons is excellent, with multiple parts for fins, fuses and rockets, and only the seamlines to clean up along the way.

 

The canopy is about as clear as can be, so it’s going to be important to mask it up before you inadvertently ruin the startling clarity.  Although masks aren’t included in the box, there is a handy template near the back of the instructions that you can place tape on and cut out masks for your use on the model.  Each section is numbered and there is another drawing showing their location on the canopy.  Very handy!

 

 

Markings

There are five options in the rear of the instructions in various shades of grey and camouflage green, and there’s also a new paint set from ICM themselves that gives you all the shades you’ll need to paint the majority of the airframe as depicted in this boxing.  You can read about that in a later review that we’ll link back once we’ve had chance to spray them out.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • OV-10A 155471 Light Attack Sqn. 4 (VAL-4), ‘Black Ponies’, Binh Thuy, 1971
  • OV-10A 155456 Marine Observation Sqn. 6 (VMO-6), Quang Tri, 1969
  • OV-10A 67-14649, 20th Tactical Air Support Sqn., Da Nang, 1972
  • OV-10A 155416 Marine Observation Sqn. 2 (VMO-2), Da Nang, 1969
  • OV-10A 155416 Marine Observation Sqn. 2 (VMO-2), Da Nang, 1970

 

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The 4th and 5th options depict the same airframe at different periods, which possibly had light grey wings earlier in its career, which was later painted green on the topside, and may have been painted a lighter or darker grey on the underside.  The profiles give you the option and leave it up to you.  Decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

The weapons all have stencils to apply, which are shown next to each profile, as their colours varied over time.  There are also rear and white tip decals for the props, and the large wide T-shapes on the upper wings are also included as decals, as are the tapered exhaust gas “hiders” on some of the decal options.

 

 

Conclusion

I’m a happy bunny.  I’ve always liked the Bronco, and this new tooling is an excellent looking model that is crammed full of detail that will doubtless encourage new decal sheets into the market to cater for the many buyers.  The launch of the paint set is a clever move, encouraging modellers to try their new(ish) paint system.  You know you want to!

 

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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Was wondering about one or two detail points but your very thorough review has cleared them up , many thanks.

 

Already contacted Duncan at Black Mike to reserve a couple on their arrival up this end . . . . .  and then hopefully the OV-10D in the next month or so.

 

Anyone want to pay me vast amounts of money to save an old going to get around to it one-day Testors kit and Paragon conversion for the nation?

 

 

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IIRC, the US airforce pulled a few Broncos out of the Davis-Montham bone-yard and got them back to flying status. They used them as FAC's in Afghanistan.  

 

Thanks for the review, Mike. Looks like another great ICM kit.

 

Chris.  

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13 minutes ago, spruecutter96 said:

IIRC, the US airforce pulled a few Broncos out of the Davis-Montham bone-yard and got them back to flying status. They used them as FAC's in Afghanistan.  

 

Thanks for the review, Mike. Looks like another great ICM kit.

 

Chris.  

Company test based on the OV-10D+ ie in civilian clothes but proof of concept study. So not USAF, even if it was on DoD contract for the mentioned concept study 😎

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Very tempted to buy this as I've always liked the Bronco and I see they have added the rivets. And I do hope that including the rivets is the way forward for ICM. I know there is a discussion on whether you would be able to see rivets in 1/48 scale, but I don't care as I think models look more detailed and real with them. :)

 

 

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