Puky 1/72 IA-58A Pucara

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $?
DECALS: One option and it is fictional
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: Aerocalcas 72036 decals used

HISTORY

 

A very brief history of the FMA IA-58 Pucará

During the decade of 1960, the Argentine Air Force realized that needed a ground support and reconnaissance plane.

In 1968 the first glider, made entirely of wood, flew for the first time. On August 20th, 1969 the first prototype makes the initial flight of the Pucará. It was powered by two Garret TPE 331-U303, which later on where changed to Turbomeca Aztazous of French origin.

The first series aircraft was delivered to the Air Force on November 15th 1974 (A-501). By 1975 there were four planes in service and they took part in combats against the communist guerrillas that wanted to “liberate” the Tucumán province in Northern Argentina.

In 1978, with more planes now in service in BAM Reconquista (Santa Fe Province) a squadron was sent to the South to be ready in case the tensions with Chile became a war.

The next important event in the life of the Pucarás was the 1982 war for the Malvinas/Falklands islands.

The very same day that the Argentine forces took the islands, a section of 4 Pucará arrived in Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley.

On April 8th four more planes were readied to go to the islands, having arrived first to Comodoro Rivadavia. Among them, one of the planes that had taken part in the 1975 operations: A-502.

Two days later, the planes were given their camo colours for the theater of operations.

On April 15th the BAM Condor was created in Darwin. The first landing of a Pucara took place on April 24th.

On April 26th the above-mentioned Squadron crossed to the islands (Puerto Argentino/Stanley), and on the 29th they were deployed to BAM Condor.

During the attack on May 1st that destroyed A-527 and killed the pilot (Lt. Jukic) and 7 mechanics, A-502 was slightly damaged. Some shrapnel had hit the plane and the canopy but was fixed using the available resources: parts of another canopy, screws, bolts and pieces of metal.

On May 8th, the first recorded mission of A-502 took place. It was flown by 1st Lt. Fasani as leader of the section ZORRO (A-509 was flown by the wingman, Lt Sassone). They flew in the area to the South of Puerto Argentino/Stanley, looking for enemy activity (probable SAS infiltration).

On May 9th, Capt Vila flew A-502 (Lt Gimenez in A-509) in the area of Port Howard. There was very bad weather, low visibility and the ceiling was 150 meters. Nevertheless, they flew for 2 hours and then they landed in the auxiliary airfield of the Argentine Navy in Borbon/Pebble, called Calderon. The nose wheel of A-502 sunk in the soft ground.

During the following days, the Air Force tried to retrieve the planes back to BAM Condor, but the bad conditions of the landing strips prevented them from taking off.

On May 15th, a dare attack of the British SAS team to Calderon destroyed on the ground 5 Pucarás, 4 Mentors (Argentine Navy) and a Skyvan (Prefectura / Coast Guard). Among those, of course, was A-502. Thus ended the life of the only Pucará that took part in two conflicts.

Reinforcements were received during the following days and the Pucarás had a distinguished performance during the war, attacking the ground troops from May 21st until June 10th. Rockets and bombs along with the internal armament (4 x 7.62 machine guns and 2 x 20 mm cannons) were the usual armament, thought in a couple of times attacks with Napalm were tried. Only 3 Pucarás were shot down in combat: A-511 (Mj. Tomba) shot down by the Sea Harrier of “Sharky” Ward, A-531 (Capt. Benitez) by a Stinger missile, A-555 (Lt. Cruzado) by multiple small arms fire hits. One Scout helicopter was shot down by Lt Gimenez (A-537) but the pilot crashed in small clouds against Blue Hill on the return leg. During the same mission, Lt. Cimbaro in A-532 managed to hit another Scout that had landed trying to avoid the attacks of his Pucará. Due to its low speed and high maneuverability, the Pucarás were able to follow every single evasive action the helicopters were trying.

In total, the Pucará Squadrons flew 103 sorties, suffered 3 planes shot down, 4 captured in flying condition on June 14th and the rest (18) were destroyed on the ground by air attacks, the SAS raid mentioned above or shelling by the ships of the Royal Navy.

In foreign service, the Pucará served in the Colombian and Sri Lanka Air Forces and is still in service in the Fuerza Aerea de Uruguay and the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Argentina). Failed sales include Iraq and Mauritania.

In total, besides 3 prototypes, 105 units were produced. It can probably be said that it has been the most successful design of the Fabrica Militar de Aviones.

 

Performance:

Max speed: 520 km/h

Ceiling 10,000 mt

Range 3040 kg.

Engines: 2 Turbomeca Astozou XVIG of 1022 shp.

Armament: A ventral station for up to 1,000kg and 2 stations on the wings for 500 kg of bombs, rockets, Napalm (for a grand total of 2,000 kg)

THE KIT

An extremely basic kit with twelve plastic parts, with a very thick clear canopy. No landing gear, air intakes, wrong profile of moveable surfaces and wrong location of internal armament. Wrong serial number (inexistent A-127) and fictitious decals.

CONSTRUCTION

The Pucará made by the Argentinian company Puky (a dolls manufacturer) was released in 1975. A friend of mine gave me one as a present and it became the first model kit I ever built.

Thru the years and even in their box they claimed that the plane is in 1/63 scale, but actually using some scale plans I received last year I was able to see that in fact it’s in 1/72, but with some errors in terms of dimensions or position of parts.

During the 1982 war, I bought a second kit as it had been reissued. This one I proceeded to build in what I believed was a more accurate form, painting the camo using a brush. Still, I had no idea about fillers and sanding parts, so the final result looked bad for my current standards.

I had cut the moving parts of the 1982 kit many years ago, thinking about positioning them in a way to give the plane more life. But I never did anything.

Some months ago I decided to finally tackle it and improve it (the first one from 1975 I still have and won’t modify it ever)

 First step was to break it all apart and leave it in bleach for 3 days. Using an old toothbrush I removed all the paint.

I glued both halves of the fuselage again and used lots of filler and sandpaper to get a decent joint of them.

Then all the moveable parts I had left and that still fit properly were put back in place, but in most of the cases I had to back them up using plasticard, as when they were originally removed lots of plastic was lost.

I painted the interior of the cockpit in black, improved the shape of both instrument panels, painted the pilot more accurately and added some ejection handles made of masking tape.

After scribing all the fuselage panels, something that the original kit does not have at all, I moved the 20 mm guns to the bottom of the fuselage (Puky had them on the sides of the nose). Then I glued the canopy (previously having painted the frames first in silver and then in black) and found a large gap behind it. This forced me to supplement it with plasticard. More putty and sandpaper were used to achieve a smooth union.

The 3 little bulges for the housings for the guns on the fuselage above the wings were made using drops of glue.

I then moved to the wings, were the several critical defects were found:

1)     The shape of the ailerons is wrong

2)     The air intake for the engine is missing

3)     Some panels are present, but not in the right place and they are raised

4)     The width of the wings is too short (this I decided not to tackle)

5)     Union of top and bottom halves, especially in the engines area, was terrible.

Some of the work I did is seen here, where the new intake can be seen and the moveable surfaces now have the correct angle. Some of the panels I engraved can also be seen.

When I was about to attach the wings to the fuselage, and after checking the scale plans, I realized that I had to glue the wings 2 mm closer to the tail. This left a great gap in the front at the bottom of the wings/fuselage union. It also left some plastic to be cut out in the border of attack of the fuselage/wings area.

Satisfied with the work I did with plasticard, putty and sandpaper, I added the box below the fuselage/wings. It was scratchbuilt using plasticard. The stations under the wings were built modifying some resin-made parts I had copied for a Skyhawk many years ago.

The support for the propellers was scratchbuilt, and the base for the pitot on the right side of the nose was also made using pieces of plastic.

I glued a piece of clear acrylic that was the support for the model, once it was finished. It was also wrapped in paper and used as a handle during the painting sessions.

The final look of the belly, with all panels engraved (landing gear, moveable surfaces, armament and others) looks like this.

Just before starting the painting process, I realized that the machine guns are too further ahead so I moved them back using a knife and putty.

COLORS & MARKINGS

The plane was first given a coat of Acryl Aluminum, and two shades were obtained by mixing this color with black and white. Panels were masked and the different shades applied. The end of the fuselage, doors of nose landing gear and nose of the plane were painted in chrome silver with some drops of black.

I used the original propeller spinners but sanded them to the correct shape. As the plane is flying, I discarded the propellers. I painted then the air intakes around the engine shaft in black, and the supports in light blue. The area between the spinner and the engine was painted in gloss white, with some details in silver.

The moving propellers were cut out in clear plastic. I diluted yellow paint in Future and sprayed the tip of the propeller disc (having masked the center using cellophane glued with a low tack spray).

I draw very lightly with a graphite pencil the different air intakes and grids on the engines housings.

I dry brushed black pastel to the area around the guns.

I gave the model a coat of Future and applied the decals I bought (1/72nd from Aerocalcas). I decided to build A-502, as I mentioned before, it’s the only Pucará that took part in two conflicts.

As the Aerocalcas kit does not have the “0”s (ceros), I cut out the internal horizontal bar of the “8”s and added some black strips of decal to cover the sides of the “8”s, making them straight.

All the rest of the decals went fine. Another detail I had not fixed is that the machine guns go higher on the sides of the fuselage, so the distance between them is not correct. That meant that when I applied the red stripes that caution about the propellers, I had to change the distribution of the “CUIDADO CON LAS HELICES” words.

After applying a hand of satin varnish (Acryl), I added little details like some pipes under the engine, various antennas and position light on the tail (a little ball of plastic) and wingtips. The Pitot tube was glued to the base on the right side of the nose. A couple of structures behind the cockpit were scratch built and added.

The base was made using wood, drywall compound (to give it a little bit of waves and different levels), white glue and “dioramas grass” (3 different types mixed in some areas).

I used a two-part epoxy to glue the plane to the base and I finalized the project with an acrylic box that I made myself, to protect the model from dust and “unwanted” fingers at work, as now this model sits in my office at work.  

CONCLUSIONS

It took me 4 months to rebuild this very basic kit. Lots of work to get it better, but still some problems that are very difficult to overcome. I am happy as the overall shape looks like a Pucará. It’s a very inexpensive way of having a reference in my office about the brave pilots that flew this COIN plane in 1982 against the British Task Force.

REFERENCES

 IA-58A Pucara by Cettolo, Mosquera & Nunez Padin (1997)

Historia Oficial de la Fuerza Aerea Argentina. Volumen 6, Tomo 1 

Pablo Calcaterra

July 2009

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

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page