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KIT REVIEW


Revell OV-10A Bronco -- 1:72 Scale



One of the great forward air controller (FAC) platforms of all time was the North American OV-10 Bronco.  It played key roles with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force from the Vietnam Conflict to the Persian Gulf.  Many kits over the years have been produced of the distinctive looking aircraft, and here, we take a look at the late 2018 reboxing of the Academy 1:72 scale OV-10A kit by Revell.  

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The OV-10 was initially envisioned in the early 1960s to fulfill a COIN (or counterinsurgency) role for the USMC.  They needed a simple and rugged close air support aircraft with STOL capability to support forward ground operations.  This evolved into the 1963 tri-service requirement of the specification for the Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA) for the Navy, Air Force, and Army.  Something more capable than the O-1 Bird Dog and O-2 Skymaster was needed for the looming war in Vietnam.  The North American design was chosen as the winner of the contract, beating out Grumman, Lockheed, Beechcraft, Douglas, and several other designs.

Soon named as the OV-10 Bronco, the new aircraft featured a central nacelle containing pilots and cargo and twin tail booms containing two turboprop engines connected by a single horizontal stabilizer.  The Bronco demonstrated good flying characteristics but was somewhat underpowered.  It could fly for more than five hours with external fuel.  Its greenhouse canopy provided optimal visibility.  The OV-10 could carry either 3,000+ lbs. of cargo, five paratroopers, or medivac two patients on stretchers along with their medic.  It could also carry a few thousand pounds of its own ordnance to conduct independent attacks.

During Vietnam, USMC, USAF, and USN Broncos performed a remarkable range of roles: observation, FAC-A, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, utility light air transport, ground attack, tactical air observation, artillery and naval gunfire spotting, airborne control of tactical air support operations, and low altitude aerial reconnaissance.  Upgraded OV-10Ds were the last to see combat with the USMC during Operation DESERT STORM, with the Navy and Air Force having retired their Broncos before that conflict.  Yet, the Bronco’s Air Force service was not completely over.  In 2015 a pair of OV-10s from NASA and the Department of State were borrowed by the USAF, modified, and deployed to Iraq.  They flew some 120 sorties against ISIL over an 80-day period and were likely tied in with special operations.  By all accounts, the experimental section of two Broncos was an unqualified success, but cost considerations cut short the presumptive “second lifetime” of the OV-10 in combat.  The Bronco’s story continues to be written as a good number still fly with government, civil, and foreign operators.

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Revell’s 1:72 scale OV-10A kit consists of 110 injection molded medium grey polystyrene parts on four sprues and five clear parts on one sprue.  The full color instruction booklet guides assembly over 35 steps.  Decals provide markings for two Broncos:

Strengths:  This OV-10A kit, as mentioned at the beginning, is a reboxing of the venerable Academy 1:72 scale kit which first emerged on the scene in 1999.  It was a good kit for Revell to choose to sell in their product line.

The Academy kit is generally quite accurate in size and shape.  The parts breakdown is really straightforward and it is generally a very trouble-free build.  It fits well.  The panel lines appear to be accurate to my eye and are nicely recessed – not too deep or too wide.  The engines and gear look nice as well, with small airframe details being well represented, from things such as the small mass balancers on the tail to a few subtle differences between the USN and USAF OV-10As (primarily antennas).  You also get a pair each of LAU-3 and LAU-10 rocket pods, four Mk. 82 iron bombs, two early-model AIM-9 Sidewinders, and one 150-gallon centerline drop tank.  These and the sponson-mounted machine guns are all nicely made.  The molding is all-around well done and pretty crisp.  The clear parts are crystal clear, too.  In general, I am a fan of Academy kits from this era.  It will build up into a nice replica of the OV-10.  

The two schemes are well chosen, and the USAF option is definitely the more colorful of the two.  The decals were printed in Italy by Zanchetti, and they look technically flawless.  Everything is in register, colors are solid, and even small stencils are practically legible.  Nice! 

Weaknesses:  This kit has a few weak spots to consider.  For one, the cockpit is pretty simplified for 1:72 scale, and it calls out for a lot of additional detailing.  The front instrument panel has raised relief but it’s really quite inaccurate.  Sand them flat and use the kit-supplied instrument panel decals.  Personally, that’s not my preference, even in 1:72 scale.  But they do work.  Still, there’s plenty more that could be added.  The ejection seats are also pretty simplistic and they also lack lap belts.  All I could think of when looking at the kit cockpit parts was, “I’d love a resin cockpit for this kit” (and see below).

The surface details of the exterior airframe is arguably simplified, as there’s not a single rivet to be seen anywhere.  Keep an eye peeled for pesky and ill-placed ejection pin markings on the surface of the wheel well interiors and insides of the wheel well doors.  Overall, there’s really not a wide range of construction options here.  There’s no parts for the cargo compartment but you probably can swing up the canopy given how the parts breakdown there works.  

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Revell’s 1:72 scale OV-10A is indeed a solid kit of the North American Bronco.  It receives good marks for overall quality, design and parts breakdown, detail, and decals/paint schemes.  CMK offers a diverse set of resin upgrade parts, from a resin cockpit to ejection seats, an engine, and separate control surfaces.  Master Details makes a nice brass pitot tube, and there’s some Eduard and Airwaves sets out there that turn up ever so often.  When I build it, I’ll use various aftermarket detail sets to complement the qualities and strengths of the base kit.   

Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at https://www.revell.de/en/home/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


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