by: Darren Baker [ ]
This twin boomed offering from ICM in 1/48th scale of the O-2A Skymaster, took me back in time half a century, sat in my Granddadís kitchen in Brockley and the latest card hanger model kit from Airfix. Beyond that very strong emotion that this kit instilled in me, this offering shares nothing with that kit of old being an all new release. These aircraft with their push/pull propellers flew over the jungles of Vietnam, looking for enemy movements and helping to direct American forces to the right place at the right time and avoid being on the receiving end of trouble.
This offering from ICM comes packaged in a sturdy lidded flip top book, with the artwork for the model on an outer cardboard sleeve. The model is also in a clear re-sealable plastic bag. An examination of the parts reveals a number of flow lines, but these have not caused any issues with the finish. There are a number of ejector pin marks, but none of these look like they will be an issue, with the exception of the interior of the cockpit, which has a number of recessed ejector pin marks that will I believe will need to be addressed.
With this model being of an aerial spotter aircraft, there is a good quantity of glazing to be added to the model. A fair amount of which is added early on in the build, so my first word of caution is to take a lot of care with the glue. The interior of the cockpit has been provided with a very nice radio cluster for the rear wall that with some careful painting and detailing should prove visually appealing. Careful checking of images on-line reveals the radio set up at the rear of these birds varied quite a bit, and so to say that something is accurate or inaccurate is to my mind not really possible. The cockpit floor has some nice detail present that would seem to match online reference. The instrument panel has been provided with decals for the dials, but with careful application they should look the part, and again a check of on line reference indicates that the instrument set up is good.
Moving to the seats of the aircraft, we find that detail wise they are very good, however no aspect of the harness is provided, and this causes some issues for the modeller. This harness arrangement would appear to be a four point harness, but is complicated by the fact that the shoulder straps hang down from the roof of the cockpit and so may be difficult to replicate. I have taken a look online and it would appear at this time that no after market manufacturer currently caters for this aspect of the model. The side walls of the fuselage would appear to be cloth covered, with some details present, the details have been replicated by ICM but the cloth texture has not been well done or may not have been replicated at all. ICM has provided the top portion of the front engine, but I honestly do not believe that any aspect of the model can be seen when finished.
The front wheel will need to be added before the cockpit is closed up and so finding a location to add the 10g to prevent a tail sitter, may prove to be testing. One final inclusion to the interior of the model which is a nice touch, are two M16 rifles that I suspect every crew member hoped they would never need to use. The push portion of the propulsion of the aircraft has been nicely tackled in what you can see and so I am pleased.
Moving to the main wing, I have found something that is quite unusual you are directed to apply the upper portion of the wing (which is a single piece), place the air intake on top of that along with all the antennas. You then assemble and apply the twin boomed tails to the model before the application of the lower wing surfaces. If you intend to display this model with external stores you need to drill out some holes, and I am pleased to see that ICM have clearly indentified where the holes need to be drilled and the size of the drill bit required.
The flight controls and all the tail surfaces, and at the ends of the main wing have been provided as separate parts and so can be orientated as desired. The rear under carriage assembly is very robust, and I approve of its design and application. The wing spars have been well tackled and look the part. Looking at all the external aspects of the model, I am very impressed with how fine the recessed panel lines are. My only concern is that they are so fine; I am concerned that they could be easily obscured when painting. Moving on to the external stores, ICM have provided two options, these consist of four multiple unguided air to ground rocket pods, or two air to ground rocket pods, plus two gun pods. I am pleased to see that ICM have again supplied masks for all the clear glazed parts of the model, this is becoming more common in ICM kit offerings, and I am really pleased to see its inclusion. ICM has provided four finishing options for the model which have been provided in full colour by AK Interactive, but no details have been provided on what the finishes represent, which I find disappointing.
I have to say that due to the memories that this release initiated, I am hard pushed to fault it. I have looked carefully at on line reference, compared to the model and the only fault that I can really pick up on is the lack of harness detail. Price for what is provided is excellent and should meet the expectations of most modellers.