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Octopus 1/72 scale Vought OS2U-1/2/3 Kingfisher

Kit: No. 72025
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Octopus, by Pavla, Kubelikova 9, 709 00 Ostrava, Czech Republic,
Price: $19.98
Comments: Injection-molded, 72 parts (16 resin, 2 vacuum-formed plastic), decals
Pros: Good exterior detail, fine resin interior and engine, optional float or land version, clear canopies
Cons: Poor interface between plastic and resin parts, decals translucent, many details shown in the instructions must be scratchbuilt
Familiar as standard equipment on battleship fantails, Vought's little float/ land plane was a significant asset in World War II for the U.S. Navy and the Allies. It scouted for enemy fleets, directed gunfire, and rescued downed airmen.

It seems that modelers of 1/72 scale aircraft have always had Kingfishers in their collections, either the ubiquitous Airfix kit or the old Lindberg one. Both were released in the 1960s, and the interior detail (not much) and exterior detail (too much) challenged even the best modelers.

This new kit from Pavla (the label on the box is Octopus, but the instructions say Pavla) reverses the situation. No oversize rivets here. No bench seats inside. Instead, Pavla provides a good resin cockpit interior with an instrument panel, bulkheads, sticks, consoles, scarf ring, radio equipment, and seats with molded-on harnesses. The resin engine is beautiful, and the vacuum-formed canopy sections are thin and clear.

The main components are injection-molded plastic with fine recessed panel lines. The edges of the parts, however, are rough and show lots of flash; each will need cleanup before assembly.

You have your choice of building the plane on floats (with beaching gear) or with fixed landing gear. The canopy sections are molded closed, but are easy to cut and pose opened. Decals are provided for one Royal Navy, one Royal Australian Navy, and three U.S. Navy aircraft.

While providing many interior details, Pavla gives instructions on making many more from styrene and wire. What is not clear in the instructions is that nearly all of these homemade extras will end up way down inside and hidden by the provided detail. I skipped all of the extras shown in steps 1 through 10, and the interior looks fine without them.

Most of the provided resin details fit well inside the plastic fuselage, but I had to trim the aft deck behind the gunner's seat a bit to close the fuselage halves. The engine presents an unusual problem. The resin powerplant is molded on a cylinder that is molded onto the pour stub. The instructions would have you cut off the stub and mount the back of the cylinder onto the fuselage firewall. If you do that, the engine will sit a good 5/16" back from the front of the cowl, which is molded separately. I had to stack thick sheet styrene onto the firewall to push the engine forward.

The next hurdle was mounting the wings to the fuselage. There are no mounting stubs, tabs, or slots to help here - only a straight dashed line on the fuselage to indicate the centerline of the wing.

I tried my best to center the wings on the lines and thought I had it set right. When nearly dry, though, the wings didn't exhibit the Kingfisher's distinctive dihedral. I ended up scoring the bottom joints, forcing the wings upward, then locking the proper attitude with gap-filling super glue and accelerator.

Attaching the floats was another challenge. No position indicators have been molded onto the fuselage, and the pylons have no reinforced attachments. I drilled holes in the fuselage and pylons and added brass wire to help establish alignment and permanently mount the main float. I used two gauges of fishing line for the float braces.

Each of the outriggers has an N strut and two separate brace struts, and again the parts are missing locators. Raised bumps on the bottom surface of the wings help position the struts, but recesses would have been better to reinforce them.

The vacuum-formed canopies fit pretty well. I opened the pilot's canopy; it was thin enough to straddle the fuselage.

I liked the unusual training scheme of blue-gray over light gray with chrome yellow wings, and airbrushed the model with Testor Model Master enamels. The decals look good, but are brittle and translucent; even the low contrast between the camouflage colors can be seen through the white "100" on the fuselage sides.

I had one more problem: The plastic prop blades were a little too long, and the propeller collided with the top of the float.

In the end, the model looks pretty good. I spent nearly 50 hours on this one and could have spent more if I had succumbed to the suggested interior detailing. The finished model scales precisely to the dimensions in my references: Squadron/Signal's OS2U Kingfisher in Action, and Phalanx's Fantail Fighters.

If you want detail improvements and don't mind having to invent assembly aids, you'll find Pavla's Kingfisher rewarding.


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