|PRICE:||$6.15 from the BX when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The growing American military involvement in Vietnam in the early 1960s led to strong interest in counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft. In late 1962, the U.S. Air Force's Special Air Warfare Center at Eglin Air Force Base's Hurlburt Field in Florida evaluated two T-37Cs for the role.
The Air Force found the T-37 promising, but wanted an improved version of the aircraft that could carry a much larger payload, and had much greater endurance and better short-field performance. This meant a heavier aircraft with more powerful engines. In 1963, the Air Force awarded a contract to Cessna for two prototype YAT-37D aircraft: T-37s with modifications that included:
These changes meant a drastic increase in aircraft weight and the aircraft now had to carry a significant payload as well. Cessna, therefore, doubled the engine power by replacing the two Continental J-69 engines with General Electric J85-J2/5 turbojet engines with 2,400 lbf (11 kN) thrust each.
The first YAT-37D flew in October 1964, followed a year later by the second prototype. The second prototype had four stores pylons under each wing, rather than three, and the first prototype was upgraded to this configuration as well.
Of the 577 A-37s built, nearly half went to the SVNAF, though a fair number of those were recovered before the end of the war. The type went on to serve in ANG units as FAC aircraft and they have proven their worth in the Air Forces of several Latin American countries.
This kit was initially released in 1992 and is very typical of Monogram kits of the day. It has superbly done interior detailing, raised panel lines and builds into a great model. It was last released under the Revell label in 2002 and as an Encore kit with lots of resin pieces in 2011. Even Hasegawa reboxed it in the early 2000. Since then, Trumpeter has come out with this aircraft in more modern tooling so it is doubtful that it will be reissued any time soon, but one never knows.
The kit has a nicely detailed cockpit tub with all the proper controls and a pair of nicely done ejection seats. Two crew figures are also included. This assembly fits atop the nose gear well and then fits into a fuselage half. The inner gear detail sections include the nose gear doors and the nose gear is to be installed at this time. The kit will need nose weight to keep from tail sitting so you need to put as much in the spaces provided as you can. After installing the instrument panel, the fuselage halves can be closed. If doing the USAF version, you need to open a hole in the halves for the refueling probe.
One then attaches the fuselage to the lower wing piece. Then the intakes and exhaust pieces are insalled prior to attaching the upper wing halves. One then installs the main landing gear and the gear doors. At this time, all the little bits that go on the underside are attached. Now it is on to the pylons. The slots for them are already opened so it is simply a matter of installing these then the various items that fit there. You are provided four drop tanks, two minigun pods, two napalm tanks, and a pair of bombs. In post war service, these planes often carried four tanks per wing.
Then it is on to the final bits. This includes tne nose cap refuelling probe, the upper fuselage antennas and tail planes. The last item is the canopy and whindscreen. The canopy can be posed open if you so desire.
Instructions are well done with FS 595 color references. Both options are in the standard SEA camouflage scheme. One is the box art plane with the 8th SOS, USAF. The second is with the 520th FS, SVNAF. Decals are nicely printed, but are a bit on the thick side. There are aftermarket out there if you are so inclined.
I built one of these back soon after it was released and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. A lot of people overlook Monogram kits because of their raised panel lines, but they are making a mistake as they build up quite well.
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