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Gábor Szabó
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Cessna O-2 Skymaster

November 23, 2021 · in Aviation · · 31 Comments

Hi fellow modelers, I hope You are all well.

The Cessna (or "Oscar Deuce") is a military version of the Cessna 337 Super Skymaster, used for forward air control (FAC) and PSYOPS operations (aka "B******t Bomber") by the US military from 1967. Both the civilian and military Skymasters were low-cost twin-engine piston-powered aircraft, with one engine in the nose of the aircraft and a second in the rear of the fuselage. The push-pull configuration provided centerline thrust, allowing simpler operation than the low-wing mounting of most twin-engine light aircraft, and allowed a high wing to be used, providing clear observation below and behind the aircraft. While it was intended that the Skymaster be replaced in the FAC mission by the OV-10 Bronco, the O-2A continued to be used for night missions after the OV-10's introduction, due to the OV-10's high level of cockpit illumination, rendering night reconnaissance impractical. A total of 178 USAF O-2 Skymasters were lost in the .

I always liked the unusual push-pull configuration of this aircraft and I saw the civil variant a lot in airfield in the 90's. I bought the 1:72 ARII kit but because of the poor details and generally crude presentation hold me back to invest time and effort into it. I bought the Testors kit in 1:48 later (which is probably an old Hawk kit repacked) but while I saw beautiful builds again the needed time and struggle chickened me out (I always found more exciting kits soon when I opened the box). I nearly started it again (at that time I read lot of Vietnam War themed books) when came out with their 1:48 kit. That poor Testors hadn't luck again. When I ordered the ICM kit I bought an interesting photo-etch fret also from a Ukrainian manufacturere which is similar to the new 3D printed cockpits but they printed their stuff onto ordinary photo-etch base. I didn't use all of the parts but the IP and the seatbelts look good.

ICM has come a long way since I build anything from them.I must say that the engineering is very good. The molding quality and especially the very soft material (wich is somehow resistant to some glues and paints) is another story. Decals also could be better - but I bought the Draw Decal set because I couldn't resist to the "Don't Shoot" signal. I know that this is a display aircraft scheme and there is no evidence that any O-2 bear such insignia in the Vietnam War but I take it as the part of my artist's freedom :). The Draw Decal set is silk printed and I worried a bit using them but the decals behaved surprisingly well (good trimming and careful approach doesn't hurt though).

I had to make tweakings (for example the main landig gear is so weak that it barely holds the weight of the kit - because of the weak plastic ICM use - so I had to srenghten it with metal) and nearly all seems had to be filled (not much most areas Mr Surfacer 500 was enough) but actually I enjoyed this project. The COIN (or Aircraft) grey is my own mixture as I found Gunze Aircraft grey too blue and not enough greenish (actually more of an RLM76 than anything other IMHO). I played a lot with preshading (not seems too much on the pictures because of the strong lights I used) especially under the white color. I'm planning to make a small diorama for this so I ordered ICM's new Vietnam War crew kit and designed a revetment in 3D but at least the aircraft is yet finished. I hope You like it and all C&C are welcome as usual!

38 additional images. Click to enlarge.

31 responses

  1. Beauty. I did manage to finish the Testors kit. Challenging and had a barren interior. I do have another in the stash and I'm waiting to find a photo that I saw years ago; it was done in various shades of blue. I saw it once and only once

    • This is the only blue one that I could find.@blackadder57

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

      • @roofrat Me as well Robert. I think that was one of the options in the Testors kit. The one I'm thinking of has three shades of blue in a wrap around scheme. I think it may have been on the cover of Fine Scale Modeler or some other model magazine back in the 90's

  2. That's a beautiful build of an eye-catching subject.

  3. i physically need this kit

  4. Fantastic build! I used to see the civilian version at a local airport too. A friend of mine who is a private pilot says flying one is an easy way to get a multi- engine rating. George, I've seen that blue Skymaster too, but I can't remember where.@blackadder57.

  5. Your Skymaster looks fantastic with all the added detail. Very nice job subtly reinforcing the main legs, and I really like the don't shoot scheme. I attempted to build the Testor's kit alongside my ICM O-2, and in the end the Testors kit ended up in the trash... literally not worth my time... waiting sure saved you a lot of misery! 😀

  6. A wonderful build, Gábor @remete
    All those additions do make it look very realistic.

  7. Good work on this Gabor. A really nice looking result.

    I have the kit and am planning on doing the "Kudy Jay", the "truck ace." I knew a guy who flew these things over the Ho Chi Minh Trail at night. I think that took a bigger set than "going downtown" in a Thud.

    • Interesting comment Tom. My good friend Col Kip Kippinger took his F4 Phantom "downtown" more times than Petula Clark. My father Col. R S Freeman flew the "UNARMED" O2 low and slow. Who had the bigger set? Of course, I am biased, but I would give a slight edge to the pilot that carried only his 5 shot airframe .38. God Bless them all.

  8. An excellent model, Gábor!
    ICM has come a long way and their latest kits area truly marvelous. Their plastic is indeed soft and that is an issue with gear legs, especially as they usually have "scale" thickness.

  9. Looks awesome!
    I had back luck with the Arii kits as well. I bought their 172, but it is still in the box, and I think it is going to stay there for a while.

  10. Great job! Love all the details, especially the red and black stencils...very eye appealing.

  11. Museum quality on many levels. The photography and the craftsmen ship takes the model beyond the plastic. Your photos . . . the angles make the kit looks like its on the tarmac ready to go. Which adds to the sense of this is more than a plastic toy. You've captured the spirit or the character of the Skymaster Ga'bor.

    Two thumbs up.

  12. Show Stopper. Exceptional.

  13. Wow! What a beauty, excellent work with beautiful results. I am working on an ICM kit and love the details, but still not sure if I like the plastic because of how soft it is. You have really put together an awesome looking build here.

  14. That’s a great looking Skymaster Gábor. Your decaling skills are superb and those “remove before flight” tags really add to the realism. Nice to see a new posting from you. Been awhile seems to me.

  15. That's really an amazing job, Gábor. It will be a good inspiration to me, to build my one in 1/72.

  16. Thank You very much for the kind comments 🙂

  17. Epic plane, wasn't it used over Laos as well? Like The Raven?

    • Indeed. 🙂

      Which I like very much is the Rhodesian Cessna 337 (I think actually built in France under licence named Lynx). With that gunpods over the wing and ridicolous amount of weapon below they look like an anime version of the good old o-2 🙂

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  18. That's a really great looking model!

  19. A real beauty! Fantastic finish on this.

  20. Absolutely Outstanding Gabor! This quality of work is "Air Commando Excellent". My father Lt. Col R.S. Freeman flew the O1E and lamented that after marking targets with smoke rockets there was insufficient speed to evade ground fire. Upon his return from RVN, he convinced the USAF to buy the O2. He became an Air Commando instructor pilot at Hurlburt. Later he assisted the Miami Cuban pilots "Hermanos a rescarte" brothers to the rescue, when they acquired some Skymasters. They fly SAR over the Florida straits searching for rafters escaping Cuba. As your drive for perfection is obvious, please allow me to comment, the red remove before flight tags look out of scale to me. They appear large but please understand I love your model. I will search for some photos. With great respect: [email protected]

    • Thank you Mark! Yes you are right, the RBF tags come from HGW and are a bit large indeed. I had to finish a diorama I intended before go to Szolnok and than MosonShow so I didn't have time to make better (anyway the "fabric" lasec cut stuff is much ore lifelike still than any colored eched metal version).

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

      • Wonderful. Very pleased you appreciated my critique as I was hesitant to comment. I wish Dad could see it. He flew 68 years accident free. Was the youngest man (21 years old) to command a B29 Superfortress. I recently buried him in his flight suit. In your quest for perfection please allow me to suggest Air Commando green bush hats for the Airmen in your diorama. If you make that change, don't be surprised if they salute and state: "Any time, Any place".

        1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

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