Academy 1/72 scale OV-10A Bronco
Published: October 1, 1999
Kit: No. 1665
Manufacturer: Academy, distributed by Model Rectifier Corp., P.O. Box 6312, Edison, NJ 08818-6312, &732-225-6360
Comments: Injection molded, 102 parts, decals
Pros: Interior details, underwing stores, recessed panel detail
Cons: Poor fit between major components, fragile main landing gear
|Aaah! An aircraft I can relate to! Yep, I got 12 hours in the back seat of these puppies in Vietnam, and they were great to fly in. Not fast, but very maneuverable, the Bronco was the highlight of my brief U.S. Air Force career (I was a still photographer documenting the work of the forward air controllers [FACs] in the final months of the war). I even got some stick time poking holes in clouds and experiencing six-G loops! If I could do it again today - it would probably kill me.|
Academy's is the first new Bronco kit in decades. The breakdown of the parts is reminiscent of the 1/72 scale Hasegawa kit, but the fidelity of detail reflects the improvements in injection-molding made since the 1970s. While not totally accurate (hey, where's the back-seater's stick?), the cockpit interior provides good detail. The selection of weapons (bombs, rocket pods, and Sidewinder missiles) is loads (sorry) better than previous kits, but if you're going to produce an Air Force FAC, only the centerline tank and smoke-rocket pods should be used. The 7.62mm machine guns are great! Decals provide markings for one Air Force and one U.S. Marines aircraft.
While the detail is good, the fit is not. The unusual design of the Bronco dictates an odd parts breakdown. The real problems occur at the joints where the fuselage meets the wing and the weapons sponson. The shapes and angles also make it difficult to fill and sand the gaps at these joints. In contrast, getting the twin-boom layout and the wing to align was troublefree. The cockpit tub fit well inside the fuselage, but fit of the four-part canopy was compromised by a windscreen that was wider than the fuselage.
If you want to pose the canopy open, you'll have some careful surgery to perform. Crew boarding was done from the right side - the two hatches on the left side opened only part way for ventilation. If you open the hatches, you'll have to separate them from the stationary rear panel, and you'll have to add a thin frame between the hatches and the oleo struts that held the hatches open. Academy mistakenly engraved folding steps on both sides of the fuselage - they should be on the right side only.
Bronco models are real tail-sitters. Because of the tiny forward fuselage (not counting the huge canopy), there's nowhere to hide enough weight to hold the nose down. You'll either have to install a prop under the rear fuselage or rely on a small blob of sticky putty under the nose wheel to keep the Bronco from rearin' up. Besides, added weight would probably collapse the bandy main gear struts.
Painting was simple: Flat aircraft gray (FS 36473) overall with a flat white top wing surface. Watch out for the engraved lines on the propeller tips; they would make the white/red/white markings too wide.
Academy's decals are sharp, but the red bars in the tiny U.S. insignias were off register. Few Air Force Broncos had personal markings, but the one Academy chose has a sharkmouth. However, the shape of the toothy grin doesn't match the photo of this aircraft in my main reference, Jim Mesko's OV-10 Bronco in Action (Squadron/Signal).
Academy's Bronco is a simple kit, complicated by difficult fit. It is certainly the best representation in this scale, but there is room for extra work if you want to open the canopy. I spent about 12 hours on mine, and it kinda makes me want to don my Nomex flight suit and climb aboard . . . ah, maybe not.
- Paul Boyer