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Fairchild AU-23 Peacemaker (DW72033) 1:72


Mike

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Fairchild AU-23 Peacemaker (DW72033)

1:72 Dora Wings via Albion Alloys

 

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Toward the end of the Vietnam War the US instigated a project to provide the South Vietnamese Air Force with a cheap, light combat aircraft that could provide fire support for troops in engagement as well as take on missions on its own, whilst being able to operate from short, poorly prepared runways in the middle of nowhere.  At the time Fairchild were license-producing the Pilatus Porter, and it was one of the contenders, along with another very similar-looking aircraft, the Helio Stallion.  Both types were utilised after conversion to include external stores mounting points, including four wing pylons and a sideways firing 3-barrelled version of the 20mm Vulcan cannon.  They were converted in small numbers as the AU-23 Peacemaker, powered by a 625hp turbo prop engine, and went into service to prove their worth in combat evaluation, flown by US and Vietnamese personnel in roughly equal measure.  They were found to be lacking in power, leaving them vulnerable to ground fire for longer, even once the heavy ordnance had been unloaded on the enemy, a tactic that is known as a zoom climb.  The fact the aircraft had no armour to protect the crew or vital systems was also a problem, and anything larger than rifle-fire could cause serious damage or take down the aircraft.  The evaluation also exposed weakness in the aircraft’s structure that was possibly due to its new equipment or the more aggressive flying that comes with combat, and that caused groundings and the eventual decision to withdraw them from service, as they were not suitable for combat without extensive upgrades to all the systems and airframe strengthening.

 

They were consigned to storage in Arizona for a period, after which they were sold to the Thai Air Force for border patrol and counter-insurgency operations where the likelihood of large calibre incoming fire and evasive manoeuvring was very slight.  Some Pilatus built aircraft were assigned to Air America in the 1960s, the covert airline run and funded by the CIA, and they proved very useful getting into and out of short, poorly prepared and remote airstrips that were common in Vietnam and the surrounding countries at the time.  One aircraft was later repainted in the blue and white livery of Air America to star in the film of the same name.

 

 

The Kit

Originally release under the BPK (Big Plane Kits) brand in 2017, the model had new parts added shortly after, then has appeared in a few boxings under BPK and Dora Wings badges with different decals.  This new boxing marks the third outing as the Peacemaker, and arrives in a small top-opening box that contains four sprues of grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small bag of resin parts, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE), decal sheet and the A4 portrait form instruction booklet that is printed in colour, and has decal profiles on the rear pages.  Detail is good, although a little flash is to be found on a few parts, but it’s nothing that won’t scrape off in a few seconds.  One or two short lengths of the panel lines have also degraded over time, most noticeably on the wings, and will need to be rescribed if it concerns you.

 

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Construction begins with the interior, starting with the flat floor section that has three single rows of seats on each side, supported by two sets of PE frames on each side of the walkway.  The six passenger seats are made up from the cushion and backrest parts, and the two pilots’ seats are different, having raised sides and a high back that implies the presence of protective armour.  They are also made from a square base and the winged back part.  The pilots have rudders and control columns inserted into holes in the floor, and a two-part instrument panel with decal depicting the dials is built and mounted on a tubular support with two arms that locate under each end of the flat portion of the panel and fix into the floor on two pins.  To close the fuselage, the two halves are prepared by adding a grill into the cockpit sidewall area, side windows and portholes behind the side doorways.  A bulkhead is inserted behind the floor, and a pair of pillars are placed inside the halves behind the cockpit but in front of the side doors, then the halves are joined together, adding the tail-wheel, two PE fairings and a PE mudguard with stirrup around the wheel.  You may have noticed that the fuselage halves stop short of the nose, which is a separate assembly that is itself made from two halves, utilising the resin parts to create the intake and frontal cowling, plus the exhaust shroud and the pipe itself that slots into the rear of the groove down the port side of the assembly.  This variant has a three-blade prop that has the tip of the spinner moulded-in, and is completed by adding the back-plate and mating that to the nose, although it’s probably best left until final assembly after painting.  The completed nose is fitted in place later.

 

The upper wing is full-span and incorporates a short section of the roof, adding wingtip fairings and the lower wing halves, which also have separate control surfaces with ribbing moulded-in.  The elevators are also single span top and bottom, fitting oversized tips and the flying surface to the rear, then detailing it with PE actuator, two trim-tab actuators, and straps on the wingtips.  The wing is installed over the cockpit area, adding a pair of PE rails to the inner end of the flaps, and a pair of PE strakes on each leading edge near the root.  The clear double-doors are inserted into their cut-outs in the side of the fuselage, fitting the windscreen, which extends into the roof in a manner that’s called panoramic in the motoring world.  Small PE parts are added to the doors, and a hatch is glued over the port side window of the cockpit, which is best done after painting, using Klear/Future to adhere it to the window after the masking is removed.  The elevator isn’t shown being joined to the flat section of the rear fuselage, but is simply shown in place, having a pair of small appliqué parts added on either side of the fin, which is made of two halves, plus the rudder panel, plugging into the fuselage by the usual slot and tab method.  It also has a PE actuator, and all the flying surfaces can be posed deflected if you wish, adding extra interest to your model.

 

A C-shaped PE towel-rail antenna, plus four more styrene parts and a clear light are added to the roof, while the wings are covered in PE access panels near the spar line, most of which are circular, plus rings near the tips.  Under the wings several more PE hinges and other small parts are fitted, adding a PE deflector and antenna in front of the tail-wheel at the same stage.  The main wheels are made from two halves plus an outer hub, and a PE brake assembly on the rear, through which the axle will pass.  The main struts have two tiny PE parts fitted, and are linked together by a shallow V-shaped support, which attaches to the underside of the fuselage on pegs, the struts locating on the sides.  The wings are supported by a pair of diagonal struts that link the bottom of the fuselage to the bracket that is moulded into the lower wing, adding PE tie-down loops further outboard.  While the model is inverted, a pair of foot steps are attached under the side doors, with another L-shaped part under the starboard double-door and a blade antenna to the rear of the engine cowling.

 

There are weapons included on the sprues that are appropriate for some of the decal options, which includes the choice of a pair of two-part fuel tanks that fit on pylons under the wings, or rocket pods that are made from two halves plus end caps with details moulded-in, and a separate pylon adapter.  A set of two flat pods are left on the sprues for use in other boxings.

 

 

Markings

There are four decal options on the small sheet, two in different camouflage schemes, two as Air America airframes, one of which was a film star.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • (B/n 42093) Royal Thai Air Force, Bangkok, January 2018
  • (S/n N360F) of Air America at Bangkok Airport, late 1960s
  • (B/n 238) Air America Livery, from the film of the same name
  • (S/n 72-1307) at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida USA during 1972

 

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Decals are by Dora Wings’ usual partner, DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

This kit should build up into a creditable replica of the Peacemaker, with a variety of operators depicted on the decal sheet.  The inclusion of a movie star also appeals.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK in all good model shops.

Review sample courtesy of

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I was really happy when i saw this release appear a few weeks back and rushed out to buy it.

 

bit disappointed though that they fail to provide and colour callouts for the overall colour schemes.

 

i wanted to do one of the Air America finishes but unsure if it should be silver/white/blue or silver/blue or white/blue. And again which shade of blue should it be.

 

i did query this with Dora Wings and their reply was “they were unsure so did not add that detail”.

 

i bought an old copy of the film air america and looked at the instructions on scalemates against the Roden kit but i am still unsure.

 

its a really lovely looking kit as well.

 

tony

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@AJB

 

Here's N360F at Prestwick during its delivery flight: https://dhc-2.com/Air_America.html

 

At this point it was just white and blue.

 

There's a photo of the same plane in the early 70's at probably Vientiane in this excellent article at page 39: https://utdallas.app.box.com/v/aircraft-pc6

By then it looks like metallic underside, blue, and white top. If you read its specific history, you can see it had some serious accidents and rebuilds, so repaint makes sense.

 

There's even a photo of one of the Porter's fuselage strapped to the side of a UH-34 after a recovery. Would make an excellent modelling subject.

 

As to what shade of blue, no idea. Maybe insignia blue?

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