Academy 1/72 A-37B Dragonfly

KIT #: 1672
PRICE: HK$35 at Wai Le in Yau Ma Tei
DECALS: ROK 'Black Eagles' display team


Korea's aerobatics team, the "Black Eagles", now flies the Korean-madeT-50 "Golden Eagle". Someone in the Korean air force world obviously really likes eagles.  The Black Eagles once flew F-5s and earlier teams flew the F-86, T-33 and F-51 Mustang.

But from 1994 to 2007, the Black Eagles flew the hardy little Cessna A-37B. This jet, as is pretty well known, grew out of Cessna's T-37 jet trainer. With much more powerful engines, it became a potent light attack aircraft. It still operates today in smaller air forces, especially in Central and
South America where it flies for Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras. Chile flew them too until 2009.

US service, after Vietnam, the Dragonfly was upgraded to operate in the Forward Air Control role. These OA-37Bs were generally phased out by the end of the 20th century.

Back to the Black Eagles, they perform all over the world each year. Not much is available in English about this team. They have a cool-looking website in Korean though.  In one photo, it shows a cool-looking smoke trail in the form of a "taegeuk", the red and blue symbol in the centre of
Korea's flag.

The 2012 team commander is a fellow named Lt Col Young Hwa Kim, who has experience on the F-16, and his team mates have flown those and the F-5 and F-4 too. The whole team look like a friendly bunch. See them here.

Formation aerobatics in fast jets is a tricky business and most teams have had a crash or two in their history. The Black Eagles are no different. A training accident in 1998 killed one pilot. In 2006, Captain Kim Do-hyun, 33, crashed after guiding his aircraft away from the spectator areas. According to air force officials, he chose not to eject so he could be sure the plane would crash away from the crowd, thus losing his own life.

The Black Eagles seem to have bounced back from that and with their new rides look set for plenty of awesome aerial routines.


This is the well-known Academy kit in a different boxing. You can read a preview right here on Modeling Madness. I have built this before, in its more well-known boxing, and found it a straightforward, clean build which gave a very satisfying result even without any putty or sandpaper (I didn't have any when I made it).

Cleanly moulded, with nicely engraved panel lines, and reasonable detail in the cockpit, this kit suggests "easy to build" even before you pull the sprues out of the plastic bag. It isn't necessarily going to be "fast to build" because it is pretty well detailed for 1/72 without going over the top. There is an Eduard PE set available for this kit.

You don't need any of the underwing stores for the aerobatics version, but this boxing also includes decals for a USAF overall gunship grey OA-37B of 19th TASS, 51th TFW from
Osan AB, Korea in the mid 1980s. That sounds like it needs a few bombs or rocket pods, so you can make use of the full complement that comes in this kit: four bombs, four rocket pods, two SUU-14s, and four fuel tanks. Otherwise, off to the spares box they go!


I put in the cockpit tub after painting it but didn't add any of the other cockpit detail until later. As a side-by-side two seater, there is plenty of room for you to add in the detail later on. Instead, I filled up the nose area with weight and put the plane together. Fit is very good, if not perfect, and you just need a little putty at the rear of the wings underneath the fuselage. If building the Korean aerobatics version, you need to fill the holes for the outboard pylons; if doing the USAF version, you need to open the holes for the inboard pylons. The instructions also show a few items that need to be removed for the Korean plane. A knife and then some sandpaper took care of that pretty quickly.

You need to pay a bit of attention to the instructions to see which bits don't belong on the Korean plane. Most obviously, it doesn't need the air-to-ar refueling probe, but there are various antennae and other small parts to take care with.

Back in the cockpit, you need to install the rectangular unit in place of the second, unoccupied ejection seat. The pilot sits on the left side.

The undercarriage is very simple and easy to install. At the end, just add the various blade antennae, following the instructions to make sure you get it right for the Korean planes.


Well, underneath all that colour, it's a white plane. Nothing much to say. I cracked out some Tamiya X-2 gloss white and brush-painted coats until it looked right. For this, I used a nice fresh Tamiya brush which I have marked as "White Acrylic Only". This ensures that there are not faint traces of whatever colour I'd used before, something that happened no matter how diligently I cleaned my brushes. Somehow there was always a molecule of red or blue caught in there somewhere and it would streak down my white planes. No longer!  Three or four coats gave me a lovely glossy and smooth finish.

The decals obviously took a little longer. You need to take your time with them. The smaller ones are no problem and go onto the glossy finish without hassle. Make sure you put the tail number's white circle on before the number! Also, check that you apply the correct serial number (3 digits, on the rear fuselage) for the tail number you've chosen. The instructions give a list of the known variations from the 96 and 98 display seasons. There are some very minor variations between seasons on the other markings too so watch for those.

The larger colour areas are a little trickier. On the wings, above and below, there's no major difficulty. Just work carefully but fast, so you get the swooshes in the right spot before they stick. Like most Academy decals I have used, these are a bit fragile. It's the smaller markings that go on the curved areas - the nose and the wing tanks - that are more difficult. Despite wise advice from fellow modelers, I still have not graduated to decal setting solutions. I really must get off my duff and secure some. But in the absence of that, I have found that using Tamiya gloss clear helps in a similar way. I brushed it on over the trickier decals and that generally helped them stay where they belong. I think this makes them quite brittle too, so it is obviously not a long term solution.

In some areas, I just painted the blue and red (for example, the little fins on the wingtip tanks and the tiny fin under the rear fuselage). That seemed easier than messing with decals. The difference in shade is almost imperceptible.


This is a great kit and it's nice to have such a colourful jet on the shelf. Even if you're not a fan of aerobatics teams, or even if a ROKAF plane is a bit out of the boundaries of your collection, having something like this breaks up the grey or cammo on your shelf top flightline. The kit is easy to build.


Richard F

February 2012

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