Cessna O-2 Skymaster
Hi fellow modelers, I hope You are all well.
The Cessna O-2 Skymaster (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 Vietnam War.
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 ICM 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.