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Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay'

Arii 1/72 Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Build Review

By Chuck Holte

Date of Review May 2014 Manufacturer Arii
Subject Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Scale 1/72
Kit Number A706 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Still thinking about it Cons Poorly fitting parts, especially clear parts
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $OOP

Background

In the mid '60s, engaged in the Southeast Asia (SEA) War, the US Air Force was looking for a supplemental/replacement aircraft for the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog in the Forward Air Control (FAC) role. The Air Force selected a variant of the Cessna Model 337 Super Skymaster and designated it the O-2A Skymaster. Production O-2A deliveries started in March 1967 and ended in June 1970 with 532 aircraft. Two models were produced, the "A" model with four wing pylons to carry light ordinance in the FAC role, and the unarmed "B" model as a psychological warfare aircraft (aka "Bullshit Bomber") with loudspeakers and leaflet dispensers.

The aircraft modeled, O-2A, 67-21418, named "Kudy Jay," was flown by pilots Capt Don Brown (Nail 32) and Capt Pat Sweeney (Nail 35). Their dangerous Night FAC mission was patrolling at low altitude, without lights, just above the secret north-south road system thru Laos and Cambodia called the Truong Son Road, better known to Americans as the "Ho Chi Minh Trail." Kudy Jay's kill markings tally the nearly 80 Trucks/Truck Parks and 40 Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) sites destroyed by Nail 32 and Nail 35 in their six months of nocturnal patrols. Kudy Jay was assigned to the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS), Nakhon Phanom (NKP), aka "Naked Fanny," Royal Thai Air Force Base, June, 1968.

The Build

I'm aware of two kit manufacturers that tackled the O-2 in 1/72 scale. Arii issued the commercial Cessna Model 337 Super Skymaster and with several variations on that kit, the O-2A and O-2B. Airfix also issued a kit of the O-2A/B with both options in one box. I believe all those kits are out of production at this time, but perhaps Airfix will eventually issue a "new tool" offering. I used the Arii O-2A kit as the fit was marginally better but still required cutting the two sunroof windows into the top of the cockpit.

I followed the traditional build procedure, doing the simplified cockpit first. I added an equipment rack and black boxes against the rear bulkhead, but they were all but invisible after the fuselage was closed. A note about the window fit – they don't. I tried filling all with clear resin but only kept the resin in the lower starboard windows. I used the kit's upper side windows, vac-formed the windscreen and used Testor's Clear Parts Cement for the sunroof windows.

Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay'

Closing the fuselage was problematical with poor fit and a large slot in the bottom to receive a separate stand (included). Wings fit the fuselage OK, but the twin booms to the tail surfaces didn't fit well and took considerable coaxing to get everything aligned properly and gaps filled.

Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay'

The four wing pylons were pirated from the Airfix O-2 kit, trimmed up, and attached prior to painting. The main landing gear struts are not correct for either version of the O-2, being squared at a right angle to the wheel rather than curved. I decided I could live with that, rather than fashioning new struts. I drilled landing lights behind the kit supplied clear covers, but they didn't really show thru the thick plastic so it was a wasted effort. I built the inboard glare shields for those lights and they do show, so a small victory.

I opened the inlets in the nose cowling but passed on trying to open the undersized air scoop for the rear engine on top of the fuselage, correctly assuming it wouldn't show on a black airplane. Before attaching the windshield with white glue, I built a small non-computing gun sight and installed on the on top of the dash in front of the left seat pilots station.

Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay'

I used Tamiya rattle can primer, and when all the dings were fixed, airbrushed Model Master Interior Black with a few drops of Flat White to lighten the color, followed by a wet coat of Future floor wax for gloss. I used one of the two O-2A options on the WolfPac Decal set #72-012, Trail Interdictors for Kudy Jay's markings. By the way, the name "Kudy Jay" is the combination of the two pilot's wives first names, Judy and Kay, with the first letters interchanged.

Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay'

Typical weapons load for an O-2A FAC sortie was one LAU-59/A rocket pod loaded with seven white phosphorus (Willy Pete) marking rockets under each wing. Other options included SUU-11/A 7.62 gun pods and SUU-14/A bomblet dispensers. I chose two SUU-14s from the Hasegawa A-1 kit for the Nail night interdiction mission.

Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay' Cessna O-2A Skymaster 'Kudy Jay'

Conclusions

I enjoyed researching the subject more than I did building the model, mostly due to the poor fit of the clear parts. But, in the end, I have an acceptable model, though certainly not a contest winner. Recommended for those with an interest in SEA Night Interdiction and the patience to work through the issues with a sub-standard kit.

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