Rareplanes 1/72 L-5 Sentinel

KIT #: ?
DECALS: No options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Basic Vacuform kit


The US light aircraft L-5 Sentinel began life as the pre-war Stinson model 105. The model 105 was nicknamed Voyager, built by the Stinson division of Consolidated Vultee. When  the war broke out, the Voyager was redesigned and then entered into service as a liaison aircraft. It also flew in the artillery spotter role and as an air ambulance. The later model L-5s had their fusalages modified to accommodate one stretcher patient.

The L-5 was manufactured between October 1942 and September 1945, during which time a total of over 3,896 of these unarmed, two-seat aircraft were built for the United States armed forces, making it the second most widely used light observation aircraft of the war. Personnel in all service branches commonly referred to it as the "Flying Jeep". The L-5 was capeable of operating from forward unimproved airstrips for delivering information and needed supplies to the front line troops. On the return trip, she would evacuate the badly wounded soldiers to rear area field hospitals for medical attention

The L-5 was primarily constructed from steel tubing and plywood and was covered with doped cotton fabric.

The L-5 Sentinel carried a variety  of colourschemes and markings. Standard camouflage as delivered from the factory was non-specular medium gray undersides with olive drab above, broken around the edges of the wing and tail surfaces with medium green. Stars, or "stars and bars" were applied to both sides of the fuselage and on the upper left and lower right wingtips. The USAAF number appeared on both sides of the fuselage in either yellow or black. Most aircraft were repainted silver during the post-WWII period. A variety of unit identification markings including nose art were applied in the field. Interior surfaces were generally finished in chromate green or a slightly darker "interior green".

After WWII the L-5 was widely used by the Civil Air Patrol for search and rescue work. Today there are about 300 known examples left world wide and less than half are in flying condition. A restored, flying example of the OY-1 variant (VH-NOY) is located in Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia. This example was built for the USAAF but was finally supplied to the US Navy serving until 1949. A group called the Sentinel Owners and Pilots Association is dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of this aircraft type.

Five versions were produced for the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF); the L-5, L-5B, L-5C, L-5E and L-5G. There was no L-5A variant as is often reported. The L-5 carried a  pilot and observer in a tandem seating configuration. The L-5B through L-5G models were modified to carry a litter patient or light cargo, or a rear seat passenger sitting in the normal position. The Navy and Marine versions of the airplane were the OY-1 and OY-2. The latter differed from all others in that it had a 24 volt electrical system instead of the standard 12 volts. The British procured 40 L-5s, known as Sentinel Is, and 60 L-5Bs known as Sentinel IIs. The various designations of Sentinels with respect to their mission or equipment was as follows:

O-62 Sentinel :Observation, artillery spotting and liaison aircraft, powered by a Lycoming 0-431-5-1 piston engine. 275 built.

L-5 Sentinel: Observation, artillery spotting and liaison aircraft. 1,456 built.

L-5A Sentinel: 688 L-5s were fitted with a revised electrical system.

L-5B Sentinel: 679 aircraft with modified rear fuselage to permit loading of a stretcher.

L-5C Sentinel: 200 aircraft were equipped with a reconnaissance camera.

L-5E Sentinel: 558 aircraft were equipped with ailerons that drooped with flap extensions.

L-5G Sentinel: Similar to the L-5E, powered by a 142-kW (190-hp) Lycoming 0-431-11 piston engine. 115 built.

XL-5 Sentinel: One test and evaluation aircraft, powered by a Lycoming 0-436-2 piston engine.

U-19A Sentinel: All surviving L-5 Sentinels were redesignated U-19A by the USAF in 1962.

U-19B Sentinel: One L-5 Sentinel was being used as a glider tug at the US Air Force Academy.

OY-1 Sentinel: 306 L-5s were supplied to the US Marine Corps and 152 to the US Navy

OY-2 Sentinel: 30 OY-1s with only minor equipment changes.

Sentinel Mk I: 40 L-5s were supplied to the RAF under Lend-Lease

Sentinel Mk II: 60 L-5Bs were supplied to the RAF under Lend-Lease.


This is a pretty basic kit. Supplied in a stapeled polytene bag the kit consists of one sheet of white plastic with all vacform components on it and another clear acetate sheet containing the complete fuselage halves. A 2 page A4 size instruction sheet contains enough information, including four side views of the L5 for  colour finish suggestions, both in WWII and Post war service and a 4 view scale drawing of the Sentinel. There is a clear exploded view which assists with the assembly of all the kit parts once these have been sanded down to the required shape.


Once more we are dealing with another vacform kit which incorporates a delicate but enjoyable preparation of kit parts before these can be assembled. This is a standard procedure where each moulded kit part are first trimmed from the backing sheet with a sharp knife or just score around with a blade, breaking away excess plastic with fingrs. The edges of all cmponents are then rubbed  on a flat sheet of wet and dry sand-paper. In doing so we remove just enough plastic, aproximately a millimeter to ensure that centreline joints are perfect. Water can be used while the abrasive action is carried out but since this is not a resin kit I did away with water. In the case of resin I use water as a safety precaution to prevent particle from being inhaled. The trailing edges of the wings are first scraped with a sharp knife on the inside until a slim aerfoil shape is obtained on the flying surfaces before attempting to cement the parts together.

The acetate fuselage halves were dealt in same manner as the other parts on white plastic with the exception of masking the window clear areas to prevent any risk of scratching. Whereas Humbrol liquid cement is ideal to join together the plastic pieces, in the case of acetate I used Superglue on the outside perifery to avoid any clouding effect forming to the enclosure of the canopy. Before assembly, fuselage interior details were added. These include two crew seats with straps, control column, rudder pedals, coaming and instruments and the triangular tube structures at the front and rear inside the cockpit which were made out of stretch sprue and fitted inside as per sketch in the instructions. I also inserted two parallel metal pins across the upper deck which will assist to locate the wings at their roots to the fuselage. There is also a transparent partition which separated the front seat from the one at the rear. The wing struts were cut from strips of plastic while the mid strut support were shaped in the form of a U out of a thin steel pin. The port wing antenna and the rear antenna were also made of steel wire. Undercarriage legs, and rear wheel oleo were also fashioned out of steel wire. A metal propeller was obtained from the cottage industry  market.

I have made two models of the Sentinel and both were post war type, a  U-19A and a U-19B. The former was attached to the USAF MATS squadrons used as a hack and rescue aircraft. This had the antenna similar to the type that existed on WWII L-5s, and the U-19B which had glider tail tug for use to train aircrew on gliders. This had a whip antenna aft of the canopy.


Both aircraft were predominantly silver and in the case of the U-19A this carried ID yellow bands with a black outline to fuselage and wing tips with black Bu-number. The U-19B carried high visibility red/orange areas to rear fuselage and wing outer halves. The Humbrol silver had a few drops of white added to the latter type as it appeared to be anodized on the colour print that I was referring to. As for the bright red/orange I have used Model Master Italian red. The interior were painted cockpit green in both kits including a rear bulkhead, while the seats were leather brown with pale yellow straps. Instruments were white on a black panel. US insignia and Bu-Numbers came from various sheets of Super Scale decal and the MATS crest on the U-19A came from a spare S-55 Airfix decal sheet. Both models were given a coat of Johnsons Clear before putting on the decals. The anti glare panel and foot step patch at the base of the wing struts were gloss black with matt varnish added on.


As the Rareplane kits are showing their age, the clear perspex had a hue of yellow but this was not excessive. As you can probably gather this is a pretty ordinary kit but still the surface detail present did not spoil the look and certain areas like the absence of trim tabs to the ailerons and rudder, these were added and also sharpened up some areas to bring out the salient features of the Sentinel. The kits were worth taking time over and when completed they both looked quite spectacular in a not so familiar but lively markings.


Scale Aircraft Modeller

Wickipedia encyclopedia

Aviation News.

Carmel J. Attard

March 2009

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