Croco 1/72 RU-8D Seminole
KIT #: ?
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run resin kit


The first L-23As entered service in 1953 and the type served the US Army for almost forty years, the last U-8Fs being retired in 1992. When US military aircraft designations were revised in 1962, the remaining L-23D, RL-23D, L-23E and L-23F aircraft became U-8Ds, RU-8Ds, U-8Es and U-8Fs. A further 47 Model 65s were ordered in 1962 and 1963 as U-8Fs; one of these was delivered to the Pakistan Army, the only delivery outside the US military (although other nations bought Queen Airs as military aircraft). These were the final new-build aircraft in the series, however the unique Beechcraft Model 87 turboprop proof-of-concept aircraft used in developing the King Air was delivered to the Army as the NU-8F in 1964 (this was later re-designated the YU-21) and a few used Queen Airs were also taken by the Army.

Many U-8Fs were modified during their service lives to a similar standard as civilian Excalibur Queen Airs. The most obvious modifications are more powerful Lycoming IO-720 eight-cylinder engines in place of the factory-fitted six-cylinder engines; and bulged main landing gear doors that fully enclose the wheels when the gear is retracted instead of the wheels partially protruding through the doors. Many L-23Ds/U-8Ds and U-8Fs have been registered as civilian aircraft since retirement from military service.


This is very much your standard garage kit, but without the issue of molding glitches. That means no air bubbles or pockets, though you do have to drill out the holes for mounting the flight surfaces. Not a big deal and standard stuff for those who build these sorts of kits.

The sturdy box comes with the fuselage halves and wings separate with the rest of the parts in zip bags of various sizes. All of the parts are free of any pouring stubs and only a few, like the props and landing gear, are still surrounded by the resin wafers. This helps to keep them from breaking during shipment.

The interior consists of a floor onto which the front seats are attached. Behind this is a bank of radios and a seat for the radio operator. A small shelf is also included. This will fit into the left fuselage half where there are ridges to accept them. While no indication of how much weight is needed, you will need to fit it into every available space forward of the main gear. There is a good size cavity above the nose gear well for this.

Once the fuselage halves are joined, you can attach the various flight surfaces. The instrument panel with the control wheels is then glued in place followed by the cockpit/cabin clear piece. This is a large vacuformed part that has the windows and the surrounding fuselage. Two of these are provided in case you need a second one.

Both the nose and main gear take up a goodly number of parts with each having separate oleo scissors and retraction struts. The main gear cant forward a bit which is why it is important to put in as much nose weight as you can. Engine nacelles are an upper and a lower half which are joined together. A full engine is provided which attaches to the cowling front piece and is then inserted into the cowling. The cowling is joined to the wing. If concerned about weight, you may consider removing the last four cylinders from the engine to provide space.

The last steps are adding the considerable number of antennas and vents that were standard on the ELINT version. This also includes building up the props from separate blades and a spinner and attaching the vacuformed landing light cover.

The instructions consist of a nicely done drawn page that is folded to include 14 construction steps. All the color information is in Russian, but that should not be much of an issue. Basically, the outside is olive drab with the interior in dark grey. There is a nicely restored plane at the Combat Air Museum and here is a link. It includes interior photos: . These aircraft were minimally marked and you are provided serial numbers for three planes on the small sheet.

It has been a long time since I've built a short run resin kit and this one seemed like as good a one as any. I expected to use those modeling skills during the process and was not disappointed. As is often the case, each of the parts neededed cleaned up and in some cases, closed openings had to be dealt with. In particular the slots for the large airframe parts were not all open so some drilling needed to be done to deal with that. I also had some voids to fill. The first was the rear fuselage of one half and there was a big air pocked in the aft bulkhead of the interior.

While this was going on I built up the interior. Parts fit fairly well and while there wasn't much guidance for painting it, I went with a dark grey for much of it with brown seat surfaces and a black instrument panel and steering gear. There is a shelf in one half that this fits upon. I should note that I simply put a piece of plastic card on the rear bulkhead to deal with the air hole. Then I packed as much weight as I could into the nose section as I knew this would be a tail sitter without it. There was a very large step in the underside of the fuselage halves that required some plastic card to properly fill.

After joining the halves, I attached the fin and tailplanes. Then the engine nacelles. I left off the engines and kept the flashed over holes on the cowling fronts. I did this as I wanted to add more weight to the engine cowlings and having the engines in there would make that impossible. The cowling halves were not a great fit, but not impossible. There were air pockets in the carb intakes so those were sanded off and later replaced by new ones made with epoxy filler. After the fronts were attached and all that sanded down, the cowlings were attached to the wings. Fit here was not good as the exhaust did not match up as hoped.

Eventually, those parts on the wing were sanded away just trying to get a smooth join. The wings were then glued on after opening up the holes in the fuselage to accept the resin pins on the wings. I also attached the nose piece and after masking, the clear canopy. Fit of this wasn't the greatest and there was a major step in the rear. I eventually used a lot of epoxy filler to smooth out this and fill some gaps as well. This alone really dragged out the build, adding months to the process as I'd get fed up with sanding and let it sit for weeks at a time before going back to it.

With the canopy in place, I then attached the engine fronts after filling the cowlings with weight. This proved to be essential to keep the model from tail sitting. Putting in the engines would have prevented that. The exhaust was then built up with Apoxie-Sculpt and the end pieces attached. The aircraft has a lot of scoops and antenna bumps on the fuselage. These were then attached, leaving the easily broken ones off until later. I then cleaned up the landing gear legs as best I could and glued them and their various retraction struts in place. This showed that the amount of weight I had was sufficient. I also attached the gear doors. I should have sanded these down a lot more as they are fairly thick. It was then off for a paint job.

This would be fairly easy to paint. Overall olive drab. I lightened some Tamiya OD and after a good primer coat, sprayed that on everything, including the gear struts. The gear wells may have been in a chromate, but I couldn't find any decent period photos so sprayed those as well. During this time I masked off and sprayed a nose anti-glare panel. I should have done the de-icer boots as well, but decided to decal those, a choice that wasn't the best. I then attached the

The kit decals are basically just an army logo and serial. These are nicely done and went on well. A set of prop warning stripes would have been a nice addition, but not all planes had these. Then it was time for the fussy antennas. This is a garage kit and air bubbles on some caused them to break when removing them from the resin wafer. I made replacements out of plastic card. I also ran into issues removing the prop blades from their wafers and some of these blades are a rather strange shape as a result. Not a fan of resin wafers and would prefer things like this to be cast differently. Perhaps in the future we can see these sorts of things done in cast metal or even injected styrene.

After getting everything in place, I gave the aircraft an overall mostly-matte clear coat. The landing lights and nose light were built up with a clear cement I use for attaching canopies and such. Then a bit of touch up-painting and I was done.

The only way to get interesting kits like this is with resin or vacuform as the major kits makers won't touch them. It has been many years since I built a kit like this and the time it took verified this. Still, it was nice to be able to use some of those skills that had been dormant for a while. Not the best result I've ever had from a kit, but the end result is pleasing to me and gives me the confidence needed to tackle another of this type.


July 2019

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Thanks to Croco  for the review kit. The kit can be found on-line if one does a search.

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