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1:48 Cessna O-2A US Navy Service


Jim H
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1:48 Cessna O-2A US Navy Service
ICM
Catalogue # 48291

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The Cessna O-2 Skymaster (nicknamed "Oscar Deuce") is a military version of the Cessna 337 Super Skymaster, used for forward air control (FAC) and psychological operations (PSYOPS) by the US military between 1967 and 2010. In 1966 the United States Air Force (USAF) commissioned Cessna to build a military variant of the Skymaster to replace the O-1 Bird Dog. As with the civilian version, the Skymaster was a low-cost twin-engine piston-powered aircraft, with one engine in the nose of the aircraft and a second engine in the rear of the fuselage. The push-pull configuration meant a simpler single-engine operating procedure due to centreline thrust compared to the common low-wing mounting of most twin-engine light planes, and also allowed for a high wing, providing clear observation below and behind the aircraft. Modifications made for the military configuration included installation of single seating fore and aft (i.e. two tandem seats available for pilot and observer, vs. 6 seats available in the civilian version); installation of view panels in the doors (for improved ground observation); installation of flame-retardant foam in the wing-mounted fuel tanks (slight increase in empty vehicle weight; 3% reduction in available fuel capacity); installation of military communication and navigation equipment in lieu of available civilian equipment and antennas; deletion of propeller spinners; increased gross weight (5,400 lb vs. 4,400 lb in civilian version), with component strengthening as required to support the increase; and deletion of interior upholstery.

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Photo from AirHistory.net

The first O-2 flew in January 1967 and the plane went into production shortly thereafter. Performance (especially at cruising altitudes) was degraded due to the added antennas and significant weight increase but was considered sufficient for the anticipated low-level operation. The O-2A version was designed for use in forward air control missions, featuring underwing ordnance hard points to hold rockets, gun pods or flares. 513 were delivered.

 

The kit

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ICM’s O-2A was released last year, but we definitely thought this quirky little subject was worthy of a look, here on LSM. One thing ICM can’t be faulted for are the strength of their packages! As tends to be the case, this is packaged into a shallow but rigid corrugated card box with an integral folding lid. Over this is slipped the glossy product lid which shows the O-2A in its only scheme supplied in this release…and quite striking it is, clearly showing the underwing ordnance mounting points, which still look quite odd on a Cessna! Inside the box, there are TWO sprues of light grey styrene which are carefully packed into a single resealable clear sleeve. Within there also is a smaller sleeve containing one sprue of crystal-clear plastic parts. As there is another boxing of this kit, the instructions clearly show which parts are not for use in this specific release.

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The fuselage pod is where the fun starts on this kit, and this is almost fully featured. The plastic parts include an excellent avionics mounting rack for the rear cockpit wall, containing superb detail on those mounted units, as does the instrument panel with its dual yokes, and the two pilot seats. For the instrument panel, decals are also supplied. Of note here is the lack of supplied crew seatbelts in any form, whether moulded or PE. This model doesn’t actually have any PE at all, which isn’t unusual for ICM, so you will need to fashion something for yourself to suit this, as I can’t see anything on Eduard’s site which is specific. That moulded cockpit detail also spills out onto the interior walls of the fuselage, into which glazing recesses are clearly seen, meaning you will need to install those delicate parts quite early on in assembly. That shouldn’t be a problem though as any masking can be removed last, before the upper wing is fitted, which will then protect the interior from damage. Whilst there are no masks included for the windows, a cutting template is printed in the manual. I think I’d just prefer to tackle this myself though. The glazing sprue is superb…both neatly moulded, and super-clear, as well as suitably thin.

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Whilst the O-2A doesn’t have any engine representation for the rear pusher installation, it does have for the forward, which will be clearly seen through the engine cowl. ICM have recreated the bare bones of what will be seen through there, and it’s certainly more than enough for this subject. The engine is built as a pod which sandwiches between the fuselage halves, as is another pod for the nose gear assembly, incorporating the pilot rudder pedals on its rear wall. 

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With the fuselage pod closed up, the rather fragile main gear legs can be fitted as a single piece. This looks ever so weak, so I would opt for a metal replacement such as THIS inexpensive brass set from Aerocraft Models.

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The wing is supplied as a full-span unit, with separately moulded ailerons. Before the lower panels are fitted, the full span part is fitted to the fuselage. Both boom units are then built and joined with a stabiliser (and separate elevator), and then offered up to the airframe. Those lower wing panels are then fitted. An unusual way of doing things, but I can see how this allows for more tweaking and alignment etc. should it be needed. The lower wing panels first need to have ordnance mounting point location holes opened up with a 1mm drill bit. Unusually, whilst the model is fitted with those hard points, nothing is supplied to fit to them, so you’ll need to do some research and a sift through your spares box to fulfil that possible requirement.

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All plastic parts are superbly moulded, with nice thin external panel lines etc. and internal detail standards are commensurate with what is expected in a modern tooling.

 

Decals
One sheet of decals is included, presumably printed in-house at ICM, or by a local vendor. Quality is very good, with nice colour density and definition, as well as registration. Carrier film is minimal too.

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Instructions

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A 16-page colour instruction manual is supplied, showing the O-2A spread out over 70 constructional sequences, in clear line drawing illustration.

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Drawings also also supplied which show the location of the masking sections from their template drawing. The scheme is printed in full colour and really shows just how pretty this machine is with its white, blue and yellow bands/panels. The single scheme is for:

 

O-2A Skymaster, US Navy, VFA-125 Rough Riders, Nevada, 1985

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Conclusion
This is such a sweet little kit which has lots of excellent internal and external detail. The main gear legs definitely should be replaced, and apart from the absence of seatbelts, this really does hit the mark, as far as subject matter goes. It’s also quite an inexpensive kit too and would make a definite change from what we usually have on the bench.

 

My sincere thanks to ICM for the review sample seen here. 

 

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EXTRA PHOTOS/CAD:

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