For many years the only option for modellers wanting to build a 1:48 Bird Dog was the Model USA kit, released back in 1988 and subsequently re-boxed by Hasegawa. Iíve never had the chance to examine Hasegawaís version, but the original Model USA kit was an ambitious and tricky little devil, let down by the amount of clean-up required to deal with the copious flash.
Recently, this important aircraft has been given a fresh turn in the limelight with the release of a completely new-tool kit by Roden which, by all accounts, is much more straightforward to build than the earlier model.
Admittedly, I havenít seen the Roden kit first hand yet, but Iím always somewhat wary of their decals, so itís great to see that Iliad Design have released a top quality set of aftermarket markings for this important and often rather overlooked aircraft.
Sheet #48035 features a really nice variety of subjects, with markings for 6 aircraft:
1. Cessna O-1A Bird Dog 14856 of the Kansas Army National Guard, 1968
2. Cessna L-9 751 of the 11th Army Aviation Sqn. "Rachna Eagles", Pakistan Army
3. Cessna L-19 1002, South Korean Navy, early 1960s
4. Cessna O-1A 14617 US Army Reserve
5. Cessna L-19 0-12744, 203rd RAC "Hawkeyes", An Khe, South Vietnam, 1968
6. Cessna L-19, H-1001, Japanese Hoantai, 1952-54.
The only slight shame is that there wasnít room on the sheet to include national insignia for more than one of the US Army machines. But thatís hardly an issue when the real quandary for me is which of the schemes to go for - because theyíre all really interesting in their own way, and with a mix of Olive Drab, Dark Green, Light Grey and Yellow colour schemes there should be something to tickle everyoneís fancy.
As always with Iliad Design, the decals look to be superb quality, printed in perfect register, and beautifully thin and glossy. Thereís minimal excess carrier film around most items, and where itís used to group elements (e.g. letters and numerals), itís crystal clear and should blend in seamlessly with correct application. The colours look excellent, with a deep rich yellow for the FS 13538 and a suitably dull Insignia Red for the US aircraft in contrast to the brighter red markings on the foreign machines.
Backing up the decals is a full colour sheet of instructions, with high quality shaded side profiles and simpler top/bottom views. The illustrations are accompanied by notes pointing out items of interest and particular equipment fitted.
Itís always exciting when a new aftermarket decals sheet gets the modelling juices flowing and makes you want to build its subject! Itís definitely tempting to check out the recent Roden kit, and writing this also reminds me that I've still got the Model USA kit stashed away. That's always been one of those "I must dig it out one day" models - and Iliad Design's new Bird Dog set could be just the excuse I need to build both kits!
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Highs: Beautifully printed decals for some really interesting colour schemes.Lows: I minor point - but it's a shame there wasn't room for two sets of US national insignia on the sheet so you could build all six options.Verdict: Ever since I built the old 1:72 Airfix kit back in the '70s, the Bird Dog has been on my modelling radar as a great subject. Iliad Design have provided the perfect excuse (as if needed) to tackle it in 1:48 - with either the Model USA or Roden kits.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...