Airmodel 1/72 C-123 Provider

KIT #:
PRICE: 12 Euros
DECALS: None supplied
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard

Basic vacuform kit


A not so frequent visitor to Luqa airfield in Malta was the C-123 Provider. This transport aircraft always appealed to me particularly whenever a USCG Provider in USCG livery made visits here from time to time. The type had the base name prominent on the tail fin, which indicated it came from its base in Naples, Italy. Even less visitor to Luqa was a USAF Provider attached to Tactical Air Command probably coming all the way from Wheelus air base, Libya. By the turn of the 1970s visits by the type became very rare as the C-123 gave way to more modern types like the C-130 Hercules.

 The C-123 Provider entered service circa 1955 following a long, tedious period of development. Chase Aircraft built five C-123Bs from a contract of 300 awarded at the time. The company then ran into difficulties and order cancelled. Later same year Fairchild came to the rescue, making modifications into the original design incorporating a larger dorsal fin that from then on became standard feature on subsequent product models. USAF contracts received 302 while 24 were exported to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

 To enhance power and all up weight Fairchild fitted two J-44-R-3 turbojets to wingtips creating C-123J ten of which were converted in 1957. Later underwing jet pods were fitted having two J-85-GE-17 turbojets to be called C-123K. There were 123 C-123Bs converted to this configuration and served with distinction during the Viet Nam war. 


 The C-123 Provider is one of those cold war types that has very infrequently modelled. For vac-form kit enthusiasts the Airmodel kit release some time ago looks simple, a fairly straight forward high-winged type but lacked undercarriage, propellers and engine front parts which provides few difficulties in the making apart from finding the suitable parts named.

 The kit consists of two fuselage halves, four wing sections, four engine nacelle parts and four fuel tank halves. There is a good detailed instruction sheet but the modeler will have to find his own wheels, engine fronts, and propellers and decals apart from additional detail as require

 Although transport type of aircraft do not offer a particular attraction to the mainstream modeler the bright and colorful colorschemes that these type carried would certainly makes one think twice and may be hooked to add one to a collection of post war types. Airmodel production appears to have discontinued the kit although it may still be found on e-bay and other kit shop outlets that stock bought and sold kits. My kit bought in time while stock lasted direct from Airmodel and I could then build the C-123 that came to my attraction when the type was spotted a number of times carrying the USCG revised livery.


The only item on the kit that looked inaccurate to me was the pointed nose but this was not going to deter me from building one as the type that I had in mind to do as the USCG version had a different nose radome and this inaccurate area will be altered completely.

 Main kit parts were first scored with a sharp pointed blade and separated by snapping from the base plate. Parts were then rubbed down on wet and dry sanding paper until they were smooth and parallel at the edges. The remainder of the parts followed this operation as each was cut from the sheet in turn. The fuselage square windows were then cut at the sides. These were first marked, and then drilled small holes around them and in corners, excess plastic removed and resulting hole cleaned with a file to conform to dimensions on scale side view.

 Long lengths strips of plastic were fitted on the inside of one fuselage half to act as locating guides when fitting the other half. Only liquid cement was used on this soft plastic. The undercarriage wells housings were then cut and boxed and adequate strong bed was built to take the undercarriage legs at the appropriate place. Outside the fuselage the undercarriage doors were cut along the length and bent in the open position. Three bulkheads were measured and cut matching these to cross-sections at three different places on the inside. A cockpit floor added and a cockpit sub assembly was built to be fitted in place at a later stage. A small compartment close to the nose wheel well was also made to house the lead weight to balance the model on the nose wheels.

 Using the strips as guides, the fuselage went together without difficulty. Since I needed a strong bond I have used Revell nozzle cement ‘Contacta’. Then fuselage halves were held together with masking tape while pegs were used to hold tail unit together. Nacelles, tanks and wings were all then sanded and held together. Wing pylons to hold the tanks were fashioned from solid plastic sheet. I had a discarded Heller Constellation and two propellers and the undercarriage legs and wheels and two engine fronts were all cannibalised from it as these matched the size required exactly. Wing leading edges were smoothened and trailing edges were scraped down to improve wing section thickness at this area all along the wing lengths.

 A main spar was added on to which the wing could fit. This was made from a piece of wood of square section thickness and plugged through the wing position. The pointed nose part was marked and cut to make way for a replacement nose, which was a more cumbersome shape in comparison to the kit nose. The new radome nose was shaped out of pine and was the shape of the type carried by USCG Providers. This was joined to the fuselage with a plug in piece and faired with Plasto filler. Filler was also used along the length of fuselage seal at undersides and tops. These areas were then rubbed down excess filler removed but avoiding removing surface detail. A fine engraving tool refined the panel lines. Wing parts were now stuck to fuselage adding engine nacelles and wing tanks and so completing the general assembly. Other details such as aerials, lights, small air intakes on top of fuselage, exhaust pipes to engine nacelles were alluded at the final stage.


The kit was given an overall gloss white coat. Then areas were masked and the red and blue areas and stripes were also airbrushed using enamel Humbrol paints. As for decals I picked the set from Micro Scale decal sheet, which contained various sizes of Coast Guard lettering and insignia etc. allowing me to pick the correct size ones for my model. Engine nacelles sides, and anti dazzle paint on nose as well as nose radome were in semi matt black while wing walk ways were decals in dark sea grey. Being a USCG aircraft these are known to be is very clean condition as they are operating in corrosive seawater environment on most of the time and there was no reason to add any excessive exhaust stain or weathering.


This was an interesting model and a fairly lager one for a vac-form kit. It is reasonably accurate and a pity that it is no longer produced now that there is the Mach 2 injection kit on the market. I am sure it can still be acquired from after market outlets like e-bay and other outlets.

 Carmel J. Attard

October 2013

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page