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1/48 Testors O-2 FAC

Gallery Article by Micah Reysio-Cruz on Apr 27 2009

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Greetings from the Philippines! I just wanted to share pics of a model I really had fun making.

Remember the Hackman-Glover film "Bat 21"? It featured a stylized account of the rescue of Col. Iceal Hambolton, after his EB-66 was shot down over North Vietnam. Although the film is not to be taken as a historical account, it did capture my imagination by featuring the heroic efforts of a Forward Air Controller in a tiny high-wing Cessna with push-me-pull-you engines.  That airplane was the Cessna O-2. Tiny, unarmoured, and unafraid, these little twins deliberately flew into the thickest groundfire in order to mark targets for incoming fighter-bombers. The pilot of that O-2 did his job so well, in fact, that he was transferred from the USAF and given command of an aircraft carrier in the later film "Flight of the Intruder".     

Like many other kids, I had drooled over the O-2 when it was featured in the free full-color Testors catalogs. For some reason, I had to wait years until I could get hold of a copy. Thus, when this little model appeared on the model shop shelf, I snapped it up and went home grinning. Opening the box, however, revealed a very primitive model  with very large rivet work, and - horrors!- a shortshot windscreen which lacked a big chunk of its left corner. Not wanting to part with my prize, I decided that I would do what it took to turn out a Vietnam-era O-2.

First, I put a little detail into the cockpit - accurized panel, rear cabin radio stack, door and window latches, gunsight and coiled commo wire. Testors supplies decals and transparencies for the observation glazing, but one has to cut out the holes for these panels on their own. Patient carving and sanding won the day. Micro Krystal Klear worked very well for all clear parts. I solved the windscreen problem by attaching the part first, plugging the hole with MKK, and sealing with Future. Check the pics, and you can hardly notice it.  I sanded down all the rivets until they were of realistic size (still quite large, but hey, that's Cessna for you). A bit of reinforcing wire was CA-glued underneath the main gear legs, as they are much too weak to hold the plane up for long. Underwing stores came from the Tamiya A-1 Skyraider kit, as these are far better in quality than the stock kit stores. The plane is a tail sitter. If you forget to add weight before sealing the fuselage, I know how it feels.

I painted the model  with Academy enamels, using the standard gray scheme with black antiglare panel. A sealing coat of flat clear went over everything. For markings, I chose to copy the "Don't Shoot" scheme I saw on another O-2 model posted on an internet gallery. I think it adds a humorous touch to a deadly serious business. I have no idea who the modeller was, but I owe him credit for this one. Downloaded USAF font was used to make the decal.   As for other markings, I decided to honor the birthday of my son David through the tail number (9/21/08), and by the nose art saying "David's Baby Buggy".  He's only six months old, but I can't wait to start our first model together! 

Happy modelling everyone!

Micah Reysio-Cruz

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Photos and text by Micah Reysio-Cruz

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