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C-172 Kit

Nichimo 1/20 Cessna 172 Skyhawk Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2005 Manufacturer Nichimo
Subject Cessna 172 Skyhawk Scale 1/20
Kit Number 2002 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Excellent detailing inside and out. Scribed panel lines and rivets. Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Approx $100.00

First Look

C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit
C-172 Kit

In 1955, Cessna introduced a revolutionary new utility aircraft, the model 172. This aircraft was a growth of their model 170 four-place aircraft, but its principal difference was tri-cycle landing gear in place of the 170's conventional landing gear (tail wheel). Early 172s had a straight tail and no rear window, just like the 170. Like the 170, it was also powered by a six-cylinder Continental engine.

Starting in 1968, the aircraft began its transformation, first replacing the 145hp six-cylinder for a 160hp four-cylinder Lycoming. The next year saw the swept vertical stabilizer and rear window. Production ran through 1985 with over 42,500 aircraft built, and over half of these were Lycoming powered.

Anyone who has learned to fly or has been taken aloft in a light aircraft was probably aboard a Cessna 172 at one time or another. The aircraft is used for primary training at airports with higher density altitudes, and serves as an advanced trainer for commercial and instrument students. It is also a common first aircraft for many pilots due to its low operating costs and easy flying characteristics.

The Nichimo 1/20 Cessna Skyhawk has been on the market off and on over the last 20 years. It was one of three civil aircraft modeled in 1/20 scale that also included the Aero Subaru and the Hughes 500 helicopter. Despite its age, it would easily stand up to contemporary model standards!

The aircraft exterior parts are molded in white styrene and feature positionable doors, ailerons, flaps, elevators and rudder. Exterior detailing is all scribed. No raised detailing where it doesn't belong.

The interior is molded in a reddish-orange color. Not to worry, you were going to paint it anyway. A sprue of black parts is included with the instrument panel, tires, and a battery box. More on that later.

Several sprues of silver parts are provided for the engine and all of the details inside the cowling. The Lycoming engine alone is a work of art, with each of the four cylinders being assembled one cooling fin at a time. All of the other engine-driven accessories are included with plumbing to reveal a nice work of art when the cowling is removed.

In an interesting bit of engineering, two difference firewalls are included. One is the standard firewall that the engine mounts attach to. The other is a modified firewall that an electric motor can protrude from the other side. Electric motor?

The designers provided an option to hide an electric motor in the dead space between the instrument panel and the firewall. An extension is fitted onto the motor's shaft which runs through your Lycoming engine and out to the propeller. The previously mentioned battery box runs its lines up through the bottom of the aircraft to power the motor. If you want to motorize your Skyhawk, the option is there without detracting too much from all of that detail under the cowl.

An interesting array of figures are provided in the kit, both seated and standing. Judging from the attire, these were patterned off of fashions in the early 1960s, but a good figure modeler can bring these to any era desired.

Markings are provided on a HUGE decal sheet for a white Skyhawk with blue and turquoise stripes. Lettering is provided to model just about any Japanese-registered aircraft, but Nichimo also included a set of vinyl masks to allow for US, Canadian, UK, (or any other)-registered Skyhawk using the swept-styled numbers and letters.

With this kit, you are limited only by your imagination. You have the means to model virtually any Lycoming-powered Skyhawk in any era. The instrument panel is typical 1980s, but you can easily fabricate your favorite radio stack, complete with GPS and StormScope.

If you've ever owned or wanted to own a Cessna 172, here is one way to get a preview of how you'd finish it. Leather interior? No problem. Warbird paint or NASA racing stripes? Ditto. If you just want to remember that one aircraft that first gave you wings, you can do that too.

This kit is currently out of production, but you can still find them around. I rate this kit at Intermediate skill levels due to the complexities of assembly, but anyone with modeling experience should be able to tackle this great kit. This kit is definitely recommended!

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