- Published on Friday, 16 September 2011 16:23 James Hatch
Catalogue # EC48002
Available from Squadron Products for $49.99USD
Whenever I think of a Cessna, I think of genteel, high winged aircraft, either carrying civilians, or at the most carrying generals. This is a bird of a very different feather though. The Dragonfly is a light attack/strike aircraft, primarily used, and now retired by the US, but still in operation in other countries. Developed from the T-37, the A-37 Dragonfly incorporated a number of new features, such as wingtip drop-tanks, strengthened wings to carry an array of ordinance and other external stores, plus a 7.62mm rotary mini-gun. For operating from rough ground, a reinforced undercarriage was employed. The Dragonfly was an icon of the Vietnam War, carrying napalm amongst its deadly payload. The OA-37 type was an armed observation variant of the Dragonfly, associated with the Vietnam War. Several Latin American countries still operate the Dragonfly.
Encore Models new release comes in a sturdy and well-presented top-opening box, with artwork of a Dragonfly climbing, having just made a ground strike over Cambodia. Inside the box, the main area is taken with the pale grey sprues packaged into just one bag, with the clear sprue packaged separately. Instructions, decals and two photo-etch frets are packed here too. The remainder of the space is covered with a car protector. Lifting this protector up reveals resin weaponry, and a comprehensive resin cockpit. We’ll come to those areas later.
This new release from Encore Models is centred around the 1992 Revell-Monogram release, so let’s get this clear that this isn’t a new tooling. Encore releases are old but essentially good kits (hence the ‘Encore’ name), plus upgrade sets. A quick look around those sprues does give a rather amusing reference to the kits origin, with a Monogram code, plus the date, moulded onto one of the underside landing flap exteriors! That can be removed easily, so there are no worries here. Four sprues of very pale grey styrene and one sprue of clear plastic are what make up the basic kit. Despite the 19 years that have elapsed since the basic kit was released by Monogram, the moulds have survived well, with very little flash being present on my sample. There are small seam lines on some items, and no visible sink marks anywhere. Detailing is mostly quite sharp, with only the odd area such as the undercarriage exhibiting any soft detail. With the undercarriage, some clumsy hoses are moulded onto them, so best to remove this and replace with some wire.
All control surfaces are integral and can’t be posed without some cutting and slicing.
One whole sprue mostly contains the various ordinance and external stores, along with wing pylons. The plastic cockpit combing is included here, but this will be replaced with a resin part.
The clear parts are very good, with defined framing. Some scuffing is present on my sample, and this will need to be buffed away. The canopy is positionable too.
Panel lines. Yes, they are raised unfortunately. If it’s any consolation they are quite fine. If you wished, you could re-scribe these. Panel access ports are also raised, and these really should be sanded back and scribed with some templates. Some of the rivet detail is also a little exaggerated, and I would either sand this back totally, or at least lessen them with a sanding sponge. Of course, you can choose to ignore the older style detail and concentrate on building this as it is, as it will still very good.
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Essentially, it was more than worth Encore Models using the old Monogram kit, as it provides a great basis for the detailed cockpit that is now a part of this new release. The resin cockpit, cast in light grey resin, is the Avionix release, and some basic surgery will be required to fit it, such as eliminating the original moulded cockpit walls. I do promise though, nothing more complicated than that will be needed to fit the new office. Casting blocks will of course need to be removed, but again, this is quite easy with this release. The detail on the Avionix pit is very good, with some nice crisp plumbing and wiring, and the quilted effect on the sidewalls is also neat. The two seats are beautifully cast, complete with seatbelts and piping. Some of the detail within the resin pit will be replaced with the Eduard-made photo etch set which is included. The resin cockpit packet also includes some resin weighted wheels. A resin refuelling probe tip is included too as well as two LAU-32/A rocket launchers.
The second resin packet contains parts for four Mk.82 bombs. Resin across both packets is well cast, with no visible defects and a minimum of clean-up required.
Encore’s instruction manual is a very high quality, glossy publication with quite thick pages. Nothing cheap here! Colour photos are also included to show various constructional aspects such as fitting of resin components. All drawings are in line format and are clear, despite the odd one looking like it has been ‘lifted’ from the original Revell manual. The rear of the manual has a dedication to Dragonfly aircrew who were killed in action while flying the A-37 over Southeast Asia. Paint colour reference codes are ‘Federal Standard’, so you’ll have to use an excellent resource such as the Ultimate Paint Chart for conversion to your favourite brand.
One of the two photo-etch frets is printed in colour. This one contains the two layer instrument panel, side consoles and other various avionics plates. The bare metal one holds FOD screens, undercarriage door interiors, etc. As you would expect from Eduard, these are of high quality and the colour printing is itself solid, and the etching crisp.
Decals are provided for three machines. These are:
- USAF A-37B s/n 69-6350 of the 8th Special Operations Squadron, pilot Capt John Lamb, Bien Hoa Air Base, Vietnam, 1971
- USAF OA-37B Pennsylvania Air National Guard s/n 73-1094 of the 103rd Fighter Squadron, 1987
- Fuerza Aéra Dominicana OA-37B cn 43265, s/n 3701 of the Escuadrón de Combate, San Isidro Air Base, 2000
All decals are printed one a single sheet, by Cartograf of Italy. Printing is in solid and authentic colour, and registration is perfect. Carrier film is minimal and the decals are pleasantly thin. Being Cartograf, they do work well with your decal setting solutions, which will be a bonus is you decide to keep the raised airframe detail. Decals for the bombs are included, and these show graffiti applied by the pilots/ground-crew, and the spray-paint effect of these is excellent!
So what do we think?
Despite the age of the original kit, Encore have picked an excellent subject here, and one not too-often modelled. The package is pretty comprehensive also, with both etch and resin components, and would be suitable for both seasoned modeller, and one who wishes to try their hand at resin and etch for the first time. With etch and resin parts, this kit represents fantastic value for money, and I recommend it highly.
Many thanks to Squadron Products for the review sample used here. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.