Encore 1/48 A/OA-37B Dragonfly
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Monogram kit with resin cockpit set, photo etch details and resin weapons|
During the 1960s, we saw the development of many aircraft typessuch as swing-wing and VTOL planes. The '60s was also a decade of 'limited' warsand the development of COIN (COunterINsurgency) aircraft. Basically, these wererelatively simple airframes that were beefed up to carry equally simpleordnance. Designed to be operated by those air arms that were not capable ofoperating sophisticated aircraft, many of these aircraft were developed fromtrainers.
While many of these COIN aircraft were developed from aircraftsuch as the T-6, T-28, O-2 and others, one that is still being used is the A-37.This was a beefed up T-37 trainer. Four wing hardpoints were added as were wingtip fuel tanks. The cockpit got upgraded avionics as well as ejection seats. Inflight refueling capabilities were also added to the aircraft. In addition therewere retractable FOD screens to prevent debris from entering the engines and a20mm gatling cannon was added. All this extra stuff really increased the weightof the aircraft so larger engines and stronger landing gear were required. Whatresulted was an aircraft that looked like a T-37, but which had fewinterchangeable parts with that trainer.
The result was a very capable, jet powered COIN aircraft. Theysaw extensive service in Vietnam from the late 1960s onward. Many were turnedover to the South Vietnamese Air Force and after that country was overrun byNorth Vietnam, many were left and operated by the victors.
Back in the US, the A-37 was operated by many ANG and Reserveunits. The aircraft was perfect for FAC (Forward Air Control) and a number ofexamples were modified into OA-37Bs. This modification was mostly in theaddition of radios. The last OA-37 operated by US Forces was retired in 1992.However, many of these airframes have been given/sold to friendly countries inLatin America including Guatemala, Colombia, Dominica, Uruguay, and others. Itsease of maintenance and pleasant flying abilities make it well liked.
This is the second of Encore's 1/48 kits and they have wisely chosen a very nice one, the A/OA-37 Dragonfly. Again, this is a Monogram kit so they have provided a sound basis. The Monogram kit is from the raised panel line era and the molds have held up rather well. Molded in Poland this time, it is a light grey plastic with very little in the way of flash, though there are a few small areas.
The kit has a nicely done cockpit that was one of the trademarks of Monogram kits, as well as a hefty weapons load and some fuel tanks to put on all those pylons
What Encore has done is to provide pretty much all the aftermarket you could desire and placed it into one boxing. This includes a superb cockpit set in resin that is quite complete with new resin seats, instrument panel and the usual bits and pieces one gets in a resin cockpit. There are also new resin wheels, a resin refueling probe, and some new under wing stores that include some slick bombs and rocket pods. I particularly liked that Encore had segregated the resin parts in their own cardboard protective cover.
But that is not all. You also get a color photo-etch set for the cockpit and a well done set for the rest of the airframe. Some of the highlights of this set are etched nose gear doors, etched FOD screens, replacement speed brake and brake well detail in addition to etched exhaust plates. On top of all that you get an aftermarket-quality decal sheet by Cartograf that includes three markings options and all the stencils you should desire.
The instruction booklet is printed on heavy stock paper and in full color. It clearly shows what will be needed to adapt all the parts to the Monogram kit in terms of what needs to be trimmed away and what bits go with which markings option. The three options are the box art plane from the 8th SOS in Vietnam in 1971, a 103 TASS Pennsylvania ANG plane from 1987, and a Dominican Republic aircraft with a fearsome sharkmouth. A highlight of the decals for the first option are the bomb markings. These were on the pilot's final mission so many of the bombs were painted white with graffiti and other markings on them.
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop.
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