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Model USA 1/48 scale L-19/O-1 Bird-Dog

Kit: No.0001
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Model USA, available from International Hobby Supply, 818- 886-0423,
Price: $16.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 65 parts, decals
Pros: Decals by MicroScale, needed subject
Cons: Shallow scribing, prominent flash and mold seam lines, fit problems, thick clear parts
My review kit of Model USA's O- 1E Bird-Dog is a current reissue of a kit from 1988. The attractive box art shows an O-1E Bird-Dog as a Forward-Air-Control (FAC) aircraft in Vietnam. Model USA has produced a historically significant and desirable kit.

The gray plastic parts on two sprues are protected by one sealed clear-plastic bag, and 10 clear-plastic parts in a separate bag are inside the box. The MicroScale decal sheet includes markings for three aircraft and stenciling. The instructions include exploded-view assembly drawings and painting and marking guides for interior and exterior details.

Every part had flash, prominent mold seam lines, and off-center moldings that needed cleanup. The engine's details include separate exhaust manifolds, finned cylinders, and an accessory panel that is attached to the firewall.

The kit has two raised-detail instrument panels. The pilot's panel is attached to the opposite side of the engine firewall, and an observer's panel is located behind the pilot's seat. Small details are molded on the cabin walls and inside of the overhead panel windows. Dual control columns and rudder pedals round out the cabin interior. The modeler must install seat belts, as they are not provided.

There is a large gap between the cabin top and the wing opening. I added tapered shim stock to the engine-cowling seam ahead of the windshield and the fuselage- spine seam behind the rear window until the cabin width matched the clear parts and the wing opening. Tapering is necessary to keep the front and rear of the fuselage the proper width to accept the nosepiece (part A31) and horizontal stabilizer (part B2).

The cockpit floor was too thick to fit into the grooves in the fuselage sides. I filed the edges of the floor and widened the grooves for a better fit.

The location of the cockpit/engine assembly inside the fuselage is uncertain. In getting the cockpit assembly location right, the top of the firewall (part A29), which serves as the instrument panel hood, needed to be thinned. The horizontal stabilizer locating-pin hole was too far aft by _". I relocated the hole and bonded the fuselage halves together. The fuselage side windows are thicker and are larger than their openings. I was unable to correct these flaws except for the door window, which I attached in the open position.

The box art helped in selecting the correct antenna arrangement. The wire, whip, and horizontal stabilizer antennas, not included in the kit, are all made from stretched sprue.

The instructions call for light gray on the interior surfaces. I painted the cabin interior light ghost gray (FS 36375) to contrast with the aircraft gray (FS 16473) exterior. The kit decals went on without any problems. I spent more than eight hours applying the stencils. It took several applications of setting solution to get the dog's teeth markings to adhere around the model's nose. I finished up with a coat of clear semigloss lacquer.

The finished model measures out a tad small in length and span but looks just like photos I found on the Internet. I spent just more than 35 hours on this kit, which is more than usual for a single-engine aircraft in this scale.

Modelers will require experience working with kits needing lots of cleanup and poor parts fit before tackling this one. However, the finished model is impressive sitting next to the Vietnam-era Phantoms in my display case.

- Al Jones


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