Academy 1/72 OV-10A 'Bronco'




$9.50 when new.


Two aircraft


Scott Van Aken




In the early '60s, there was a requirement from all US Armed Services for a Light Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA). The aircraft should also be able to perform the function as a COIN (COunter INsurgency) aircraft as well. This meant that it needed to be able to carry a variety of ordnace in addition to having internal guns. It should also be easy to maintain and equally easy to fly. North American's entry into the field was what was eventually to become the OV-10 'Bronco'.

It is powered by two small turboprops, has four 20mm cannon in a short weapons pod and is also capable of handling various ordnance including 2.75 and 5 inch rocket pods, 1,000 bombs, marker rockets and Sidewinder missiles for self defense. There is an aft cargo area that can handle two stretchers or five fully equipped troops. 

The OV-10 was first introduced in the last few years of the Vietnam War as a replacement FAC (Forward Air Controller) to replace the Cessna O-2A. It was an instant success as it was armed, better protected and faster than the O-2. It was also used by several Marine Corps Squadrons and by one (perhaps two) Navy squadrons as well. After the end of the war, the OV-10 was still in use by regular USAF squadrons in both the US and overseas. It is one of the few aircraft that was not used by the USAF Air National Guard, those units getting the OA-37B instead. The final USAF OV-10 was retired in the late 1980s with the last USMC versions being retired in the early 1990s.

The U.S. Navy formed Light Attack Squadron Four (VAL-4), the "Black Ponies", on 3 January 1969, and operated in Vietnam from April 1969 to April 1972. The Navy used the Bronco OV-10A as a light ground attack aircraft, for interdiction of enemy logistics, and fire-support of Marines, SEALs and naval riverine force vessels operating on the Mekong River and its delta. It succeeded in this role, although the U.S. Navy did lose seven OV-10s during the Vietnam War to various causes. Other than OV-10 Fleet replacement training done in cooperation with Air Antisubmarine Squadron Forty-One (VS-41) at NAS North Island, California, VAL-4 was the only squadron in the U.S. Navy to ever employ the OV-10 and it was decommissioned shortly following the end of major US involvement in the Vietnam War. VAL-4's surviving OV-10s were subsequently transferred to the Marine Corps.


 Until this kit appeared, there were only two other OV-10s in 1/72 scale, that from Airfix and another from Hasegawa. Both are not new kits, first seeing the light of day in the late 1960s shortly after the aircraft appeared in service. The Airfix kit was later modified to OV-10D NOGS with the longer nose, FLIR pod and belly cannon. The Academy kit may look somewhat like those earlier kits, but this 1999 kit is in all effect a new tool. It is completely modernized with engraved panel lines and super detail on the rest of the model. There is a full load of ordnance available for the kit and some of the sprues are marked for the OV-10D, which is why there are things like cutouts for the addition of chaff dispensers. In addition, the modeler needs to cut away some later addition antennas to do the early versions that are offered with this kit.

The instructions are very good showing colors where needed as well as what needs to be done to do either an air force or marine version. Colors are generic other than for the exterior camouflage which gives FS numbers. Decals are given for both a USAF and USMC OV-10A. The USAF version is from the 20th TASS at DaNang, South Vietnam in 1969. It is painted an overall ADC grey FS 16473 with a white upper wing. It also has a shark mouth to add some interest. The other is a HML-267 OV-10A from Camp Pendleton, CA in 1970. It is FS 34097 green upper with FS16440 light gull grey undersides and a white upper wing. The reason for the white upper wing is so that the strike group could spot the aircraft against the ground so have an idea of where to place their ordnance. In addition to the kit decals, which look very nicely done, there are other recently produced sheets of the OV-10 that may be useful. 


In fact, it is due to a recent AOA sheet on VAL-4 aircraft that I decided to grab this kit from the stash and start building. The AOA instructions provide a lot of information and notes if anything else is required to properly build a VAL-4 aircraft. One thing needed are some dual Zuni pods and if you have an Academy Crusader, you have what you need. These were dutifully robbed and stuck in the OV-10 box so I'd have them available. All the VAL-4 options use wing pylons. The kit pylons are for the rather poorly done Sidewinders that are included. These missiles were not normally carried during Vietnam if at all, but the pylons and attached rack are just what is needed for the Zunis. Holes in the wing were drilled out to accept these.

I then started gluing together rocket pods. Normally, the Zuni pods would not have the forward cover attached, meaning a lot more rocket sticks out. However, Academy does not provide this option. I also grabbed a couple more four shot pods from the Hasegawa weapons set for rockets and bombs. Note that Academy has you put the forward 'cap' on the back of the pod. Reverse this as I'm pretty sure the longer part of the pod should be aft of the pylon attachment point.

Moving on, I glued the wing halves together, attached the nose halves, installed the gear wells in one half of each boom, and built up much of the interior, including the seat. The instructions state that the interior is ADC Grey, FS 16473, but that seems a bit light so I used Dark Gull Grey FS 36231 which is pretty standard stuff for military aircraft of the time. I also painted the gear wells and some other pieces on the sprue with white.  The interior bits were then painted with the other colors and the decals applied on the panels and consoles. You'll need to use a strong setting solution to get these to snuggle down. Something like Solvaset.

Meanwhile, I built up the tail booms. Note that you will not be installing any of the 'towel rack' antennas on this one as the plane did not carry them. At least none of the VAL-4 photos I looked at seemed to have them. I did not attach the forward portions of the booms as I seriously doubted that I could fit all 8 grams of nose weight in the nose as shown by the instructions and there is darn little room for any of this stuff under the cockpit.  With the interior done, it was installed in one fuselage half. Then I attached the other side and also glued on the nose. The nose is hollow back to the join and I can put some weight into it, but not all. When the fuselage was dry, I dry fit the wings, booms and stabs to see where else I might put weight. Most of it went behind the cockpit tub. Some went in the nose, some under the cockpit floor and some in the forward engine nacelles.

I then closed up the fuselage halves and attached the nose cone. Back at the booms, since there wasn't room for the piece that allows the prop shaft to turn, I glued on the cowling front pieces. These are not an exact match to the area behind them, but a bit of sanding took care of that. I should also mention that the these pieces do not look like the box art so one of them is wrong. After test fitting the booms to the wing again, I attached the exhaust pieces. I did the test fit as there is no room above the exhaust to fill gaps.

Back at the fuselage, I glued together the lower pod pieces and then glued these to the fuselage. Fit is actually rather poor with large gaps between the pod and the fuselage. With that taken care of, the wing was glued in place. This was followed by the booms and then the horizontal stabilizer. At this time, I masked the clear bits and installed them. Getting all the main pieces aligned will require a bit of fiddling around. I found that first gluing in the top piece then adding in the side sections seemed to work the best. The windscreen is a very tight fit (as is the upper clear piece).


After filling the wheel wells with tissue, I started painting. Now the easy way out would have been overall light gull grey, but I like the earlier scheme, despite the fact that it will require a lot of masking. I first painted all the undersides in light gull grey. Then some masking and the upper surfaces were painted in FS 34097 green. I did some more masking to get the wavy line on the fuselage and booms and finished the spraying. Note that the upper part of the gun pod is in the underside color for some reason. I used Testors enamels for the paints.

Once this was done, I applied the markings. I chose one of the earlier VAL-4 options with the pony behind the nose number. The decal stencil selection is considerable and not wanting to get bogged down, I minimalized things some. The AOA decals are outstanding. I used no setting solution and had no issues with silvering on a glossed airframe. I did have to use four decals from the kit sheet. I used the prop tip decals and found they were too narrow for the Academy kit. I suggest painting these.

I also glued on the landing gear. Despite all the weight I put in the plane, it will tail sit if the rear goes back too far. I am somewhat concerned that the main gear legs will not be able to hold up all that well as they seem a bit rickety.

After the markings were on, I continued adding bits. Those wondering why there are no elevator balances will have to ask the carpet monsters about those as the pieces went zinging away while I was trying to install them. Next bits to install were the weapons racks. These should have been glued on prior to painting. Fortunately, the attachment holes for the Academy pods and the Hasegawa pods are the same. The exhaust was painted at this time as well and showed that perhaps pre-painting the booms would not have been a bad move.

A clear matte was applied to seal in markings and I then peeled off the masking. A few small leaks, but nothing major. Holes were drilled for the wire antennas and for the EZ-line long wire antenna. Gear doors were attached as were the center line tank, rocket pods, and wing pylons. The last steps were to push the nose landing light into place, glue on the props and add a bit of pastel exhaust soot.  


The kit took a bit longer than I thought it would, mostly due to the need to do a lot of masking. Next one will be overall light gull grey. I used a lot of weight on this one so have to wonder how long the main gear legs will hold out. Long enough to take photos anyway. The AOA decals are simply superb and quite highly recommended. It makes for a very nice looking model and while perhaps a bit overloaded with ordnance, certainly looks the part.

May 2015

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet. Decals courtesy of

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