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Hobbycraft Canada 1/72 scale Vietnam Caribou

Kit: No. HC1343
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Hobbycraft Canada, 140 Applewood Crescent, Concord, ON L4K 4E2, Canada, phone 905-738-6556
Price: $39.99
Comments: Injection molded, 74 parts, decals.

Modelers who grew up during (or participated in) the war in Vietnam will appreciate the first injection-molded kit of the "Bou" -- de Havilland Canada's Caribou. The U.S. Army was a major purchaser of the rough-field tactical transports, eventually acquiring 158 before transferring them to the U.S. Air Force in 1967.

Hobbycraft Canada's Caribou features clean recessed panel lines, well-detailed engines, landing gear, flap hinge horns, and antennas. Options include spinners, antennas, and a nose radome. Decals are provided for a U.S. Army CV-2B ("Gizmotch") and a Royal Australian Air Force Caribou. Hobbycraft's companion kit (HC1344) has markings for Royal Canadian Air Force, USAF, and United Nations aircraft.

The cockpit is basic; only a pair of seats, controls, and a finely engraved instrument panel are provided. You might want to fashion an instrument panel coaming and add seat belts. There is no detail for the cargo hold, and the aft cargo doors are molded shut. To keep the cabin interior from looking empty, Hobbycraft provides an ingenious fix: The characteristic red nylon webbing seen inside the cabin windows is provided on a pair of decals. You apply them to the inside of the clear window strips, then overlay them with a black decal. The effect is just right!

Assembly went without major problems, but a few areas need attention. Before you close the fuselage halves, you'll have to add considerable weight forward to keep the model from sitting on its tail. The control wheels and pylons have no pins or holes, so be careful putting them together. The engine cowls are "handed" right and left and won't fit if they're reversed. Even so, the fit of the cowls to the nacelles on the wings needed some filling and sanding.

The long fuselage seams fit well. The only ill-fitting part was the optional radome; it fit OK on the top and sides, but left a large gap underneath. I filled it with gap-filling super glue.

I painted the model overall olive drab, then gave it several coats of Future floor polish. After waiting a few days, I applied the decals. I was concerned that the dark paint scheme would show through the white and yellow markings, but the decals were opaque and look great. The pre-sized wing-walk stripes fit perfectly.

After a couple more coats of Future to seal the decals, I masked and sprayed flat black on the radome, antiglare panel, and de-icer boots.

The finished Bou looks almost perfect, though the radome is too large. The model measures within a few scale inches of the dimensions listed in my two references: Wayne Mutza's C-7 Caribou in Action (Squadron/Signal) and Stephen Harding's U.S. Army Aircraft since 1947 (Specialty Press).

I spent about 26 hours on my Caribou. If you don't mind keeping a cargo aircraft closed up, the amount of detail and the overall appearance of Hobbycraft's kit is good. If you long for interior detail, prepare yourself for a big project.

- Paul Boyer

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