Lockheed YO-3A Quiet Star

March 10, 2019 · in Aviation · · 17 · 3.9K

This is my fifth model here, the last member of 'FAC trilogy' composed of previous O-1E and O-2A. It's the most unusual and less known of three, the 'pre production' YO-3A Quiet Star.

YO-3A was a two-seat nearly silent observation and reconnaissance aircraft designed by the Lockheed Missile and Space Division for use by the US Army at night over South during the Vietnam War.

Its purpose was to detect enemy activity and direct artillery fire and helicopter gunship strikes upon them. The Observer sat in the front of the cockpit and the aircraft was fitted with a downward looking Night Vision Aerial Periscope (NVAP), infra-red illuminator and a laser target designator to complete its night mission. Unarmed, silence was the only protection it carried into conflict.

The bubble canopy was large to enable all round observation capability and it is hard not to notice those long, thin wings (17.3 metre wingspan) which show its glider heritage. To keep the aircraft super quiet it was fitted with a special muffled 210-horsepower Continental Model IO-360D engine that powered a slow propeller to eliminate the typical sound generated by a spinning aircraft propeller (originally it was fitted with a six bladed variable pitch propeller but in 1971 this was changed to a 3 bladed laminated constant speed wooden propeller that was just as quiet but also more efficient at higher speeds).

Only eleven were built in 1969 and nine of those were operated from the summer of 1970 to 1972 in South Vietnam. In an attest to the silent design of the aircraft, none were ever shot down or even hit by enemy fire during its time of operation in the conflict and it was proven to be very successful in its role.

The hard-to-find second hand kit by in 1:48 was found in Slovakia last Spring. It's a full resin kit with vacuum canopy and an useful photo etched sheet. It's a medium quality kit (dated 2005) with poor interior details, I suppose due to lack of images at time... Camo color indications are of pure fantasy as well.

Interiors are from scratch, except a revisited floor. WiP pictures taken during these ten months of working were too many to show all you here, so that I decided to get a selection with captions inside.
Model, pilot, extinguisher and plates are painted by Testors enamels.

The real 69-18007 is now stored at Western Museum of Flight (California), waiting for restoration. Thanks to Museum's press office and Quiet Aircraft Association for essential help.

Work started June 2018, ended early March 2019. Man hours worked h.378.
Cheers, Alessandro

Reader reactions:
18  Awesome

47 additional images. Click to enlarge.

17 responses

  1. Just an amazing piece of work here. Stunning!

  2. Lost for words!
    Well done!

  3. Excellent detail work.

  4. Top-Notch stuff right there, sir...and one I've never seen before. Great job!

  5. Excellent is an understatement !

  6. Very fine work! An unusual subject.

  7. I agree: unusual topic and unbelievable details. The complete setting is so coherent, too! Congratulations!

  8. Stunning story and build, this detail on the cockpit is simply amazing: just like the real thing! Kudos!

  9. Wow! Outstanding. The 378 hours almost seem too few for the detail. Great job.

  10. What a beauty! I wasn't aware of this aircraft - at least not consciously. Now - if I can find one in 1/72...

  11. Only 378 hours? Amazing work and superb result.

  12. Awesome! congratulations on the build and on the Honorable Mention!

  13. I was crew chief on this airplane in Vietnam. This is the finest, most accurate model of the YO-3A to date. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!

    Attached Photo: Maintenance inspection, Long Thanh North, Republic of Vietnam, 1971. This is with the 3 blades constant speed propeller modification installed in March 1971.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  14. Hello Alessandro. My name is Denise Hall Hutson. I came across your post while searching for the Lockheed YO-3A. My father Stan Hall was the original designer and patent holder of this Vietnam era plane through Lockheed. I’m surely impressed by the model you built. I still have the original model he was given by Lockheed in my china cabinet. It is well over 50 years old now. I just wanted to say hello. Kind regards.

    2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

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