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O-2A Skymaster

Roden 1/32 O-2A Skymaster Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2017 Manufacturer Roden
Subject O-2A Skymaster Scale 1/32
Kit Number 0620 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $62.99

First Look

O-2A Skymaster
O-2A Skymaster
O-2A Skymaster
O-2A Skymaster
O-2A Skymaster

When the US entered the Vietnam war in the mid-1960s, the USAF had developed experience in Forward Air Control (FAC) of tactical aircraft during the Korean War flying the T-6 Texan. The USAF pressed the Army-developed O-1 Bird Dog into FAC service right away, but also recognized that a more capable FAC platform was needed. In 1966, the USAF went back to Cessna (who developed the O-1) to produce a more capable platform. Cessna started with the Model 337 Super Skymaster which had twin-engine reliability, retractable landing gear, and good endurance. The transformation into the O-2 Skymaster added additional windows, an avionics rack in place of the rear seats, and underwing hard points. The O-2s entered service in 1967 and replaced some O-1s in theater. While the O-2 had better survivability than its predecessor, it still lacked performance to evade and escape hostile situations. The OV-10A Bronco would also be pressed into FAC duties in higher threat areas leaving the O-2 to back up the OV-10s and patrol the southern Route Packs. The riskier FAC missions would go to a new concept for forward air control - the Fast FAC. Callsign 'Misty', these Fast FACs were two-seat F-100 Super Sabres that could better evade hostile fire while keeping eyes on target.

Last year, Roden provided us with a great Christmas present - the 1/32 O-1 Bird Dog. They've followed this up with this year's Christmas present, the 1/32 O-2 Skymaster. As with the Bird Dog, this Skymaster kit has some very nice detailing, display options, and relatively easy construction. Molded in gray styrene, this kit is presented on 10 parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. As with the Bird Dog kit, Roden packaged the clear parts in the same bag as the other parts leaving them vulnerable to scratches. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed Continental engines
  • Positionable front engine access panels
  • Positionable rear cowling flaps (panels)
  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Nicely detailed instrument panel
  • Nicely detailed avionics rack in rear of cabin
  • Positionable cockpit entry door
  • Positionable rudders
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable flaps
  • External stores include a pair of rocket pods and SUU-11 gun pods

The sizable decal sheet provides marking options for three aircraft:

  • O-2A, 67-21363, Vietnam, 1967, 'Don't Shoot'
  • O-2A, '67-00109', Vietnam, 1971, 'The FAC'
  • O-2B, 67-21452, Vietnam, 1970

A few notes to consider:

  • The kit represents an early O-2A as the later blocks had a larger pilot-side window that provided more lateral/upward visibility to maintain visual contact with fighters while in a left turn (look here)
  • The main gear struts are actually one piece that provides a stronger main gear than if the kit had separate legs
  • There is no provision for displaying the landing gear up though it wouldn't be hard to close up the two gaps where the main gear struts extend from the fuselage
  • The decals are not as nice this time around. As you can see in the images above and below, the sheet has some areas out of register, the all-black example identified as '00109' doesn't correspond to a known serial number, though the data block identifies the aircraft as 67-00109 which is the serial number for an F-111A. There are also a number of typos in the stencils such as RESQUE, FUER (instead of fuel), etc. The good news is that there are likely aftermarket options coming soon
  • The decals provide for an O-2B in SEA camouflage which is accurate, but check your references as the instructions depict the O-2B as armed like an O-2A though the photos I've seen depict the O-2B as an unarmed aircraft used to drop leaflets and other material for psychological warfare. This kit doesn't have the details for the drop chute included

O-2A SkymasterO-2A Skymaster

Once again, Roden has provided a beautiful kit that will render another nice 1/32 subject that won't take up much shelf space. I certainly hope Roden continues with the Cessna FAC series as the next example should be the OA-37B Dragonfly. Wouldn't that look nice in 1/32?

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