Roden 1/48 AU-23A Peacemaker Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||October 2010||Manufacturer||Roden|
|Kit Number||0439||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Great details||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$49.98|
The Fairchild AU-23A Peacemaker is license-built variant of the Pilatus PC-6 Porter family. First flown in 1959, the Pilatus Porter was designed as a short take-off and landing (STOL) utility aircraft powered by a 340 horsepower Lycoming piston engine. This aircraft was targeting the utility aircraft market dominated at that time by the de Havilland Beaver. Unlike the Beaver however, the Porter could carry greater payloads without compromising its STOL performance.
It wasn't long before the Porter became the Turbo Porter sporting a variety of turboprop engines including the Turbomeca Astazou, Pratt & Whitney PT6A, and Garrett TPE-331. With this impressive combination of power and STOL performance, the PC-6 holds the record for highest landing at nearly 19,000 feet in Nepal.
In the utility role, the Turbo Porter could get into and back out of some of the most incredible terrain, and if you saw the movie 'Air America' then you saw it put through some of its paces. One variant produced for counter-insurgency (COIN) was the AU-23A which was a gunship that could loiter for hours and carry a wide range of gun and rocket armament to strike or suppress enemy forces. Unfortunately, the AU-23A never passed its combat evaluations and all aircraft were ferried to MASDC at Davis-Monthan AFB for storage before being sold to the Royal Thai Air Force.
Roden has released at least two kits based upon the PC-6 Turbo Porter, this one representing the AU-23A gunship. I couldn't wait to get one given that I would have loved the opportunity to fly one and I used to see its sister aircraft, the UV-20A Chiricahua flying around Berlin when I lived there. Like its distant cousin, the Fieseler Storch, runways were nice but not required for these aircraft. Soccer fields and other clearings would work just fine.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. The skill level is rated at experienced because the very first step in the instructions involves the very precise drilling of holes in the left and right fuselage halves for a variety of antennas that will be installed later in the build process.
The cabin interior is really nicely done with the cabin fully enclosed with a floor, ceiling, and rear bulkhead, plus structural details that align with the wing's main spar. The pilot, copilot, and main cabin doors are all molded separately and are positionable to show off that nice interior. The instructions show the left main cabin door being installed in the closed position, but that will be difficult with the big honking gatling gun that sticks out of the left side fo the aircraft. If you are modeling a gunship, the photos I've seen show that this aircraft flew without the main cabin doors.
The ailerons, flaps, elevators, and rudder are all separately molded so you can position these as desired. The hinges that are provided are only set for neutral position for all of these surfaces, so you'll need to do a little tweaking to drop the flaps or pose other surfaces in anything other than neutral/centered.
Some of the features/options in the kit:
- Nice cockpit/main cabin
- XM-297 20mm gatling gun and ammo rack in main cabin
- Positionable cockpit/cabin doors
- Positionable flight controls/flaps (with mods)
- 2 x rocket pods on outboard pylons
- 2 x chaff/flare pods on inboard pylons
Markings are provided for three examples:
- AU-23A, 72-1316, 4400 SOS, 1972
- AU-23A, unknown, Royal Thai Air Force
- AU-23A, 42082, 501 Sqn/5th Wing/ Royal Thai Air Force
You'll note that there are markings for N352F on the decal sheet, but these aren't mentioned in the instructions. N325F was a Fairchild-owned PC-6 that was used in the early USAF evaluations before award of the AU-23A contract.
Roden has turned out another beauty with this PC-6 kit and with the details in the box, you can render one of the USAF COIN aircraft or one of the Royal Thai Air Force examples (the shark-mouthed Thai aircraft looks nice).
For you AMS modelers, Quickboost has also released three sets for this kit, a 'corrected' nose (moves the chin intake forward a bit), replacement spinner and propeller, and a nice seamless turbine exhaust duct.
If you're looking for something different for your next project, this kit will be a nice addition to your collection, especially if you are a fan of STOL machines!