In-Box Review
VAL-4 Black Ponies
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by: Luciano Satornetti [ LITTORIO ]

VAL-4 was created at the end of 1968 to support the unorthodox river warfare in the Mekong Delta, the Black Ponies of VAL-4 flying the Rockwell OV-10A Bronco made history in their brief existence. A throwback to the seat-of-the-pants close air support mission developed in the WWII Pacific and the Korean wars, these few pilots and their nimble little mounts earned the respect of their allies and the fear of their enemy. Unleashing a hail of 5” Zuni rockets and .30cal bullets in all weathers by day or night, the Ponies stood constant vigil over the SEALs and the brown water navy in the vast expanse of the muddy, fertile delta.

The Package
Well as you would now come to expect from most decal manufactures the whole package comes in an A5 sized zip-loc bag, it consists of three double sided ‘letter’ format instruction sheet and two A5 sized ALPs printed decal sheets.

The decals as mentioned are ALPs printed which means they are on one continuous carrier film and each decal will need to be cut out close to the edge as possible. Colour density looks very good and there are no alignment issues that I could find, one minor issue that was noticed is that the top of the seven and two for one of the BuNo 155472 decals are missing (see photo 9). The reason this is minor is that the BuNo decals are a repeat set, more of which later.

The Instructions
These are double sided and folded over but not in book form, each sheet being an individual. The first forming the header, back page and first set of profiles for April 1969 until mid 1971, also of note is that the header page is also one of the profiles while the rear page gives you the history and information on using ALPs printed decals.

The second sheet forms the top elevation views and three more profiles in overall gray for mid 1971 until March 1972, all the profiles and elevations are in full colour. The notes beside the profiles also identify the interior and detail (prop, spinner etc) colours that should be used for these aircraft.

The last sheet consists of a page detailing the history of the colour schemes together with a typical load out and a list of the allowed external stores that doctrine and politics restricted the Black Ponies to. The reverse side of this sheet has a table that lists all the aircraft assigned to VAL-4 and VS-41 (the training unit at NAS North Island) and the table states BuNo, Side number, info, Original assigned unit, if it wore the Green/Gray scheme and if it wore the overall Gray scheme. This is backed up with notations at the bottom.

The Markings
Now before I go onto the profiles supplied let me just say that the reason you have repeat BuNo’s and why the issue earlier is minor is that all the BuNo’s and side numbers are supplied to allow you to build any aircraft that flew for VAL-4 you will just need to find the profile in your own references although the supplied list will give you a start as to what scheme it would of been painted although some airframes did have both. With all that said, understandably only two sets of stencils and national markings are supplied and no wing walk or prop-tip stripes are provided but as most would want to paint the stripes and the wing walks come with the kit this should not be seen as a down side. On a plus side helmet and seat backrest decals are supplied (see photo 10).

The profiles:
1. OV-10A BuNo 155495, Black Pony 101, VAL-4 Det Alpha, VNAF Binh Thuy June – July 1969, Green / Gray scheme
2. OV-10A BuNo 155503, Black Pony 115, VAL-4 Det Bravo Vung Tau Army Air Base, Dec 1969, Green / Gray scheme
3. OV-10A BuNo 155393, Black Pony 115, VAL-4 Det Bravo Vung Tau Army Air Base, Feb – Mar 1970 (replaced 155503), Green / Gray scheme
4. OV-10A BuNo 155470, VS-41 Training Squadron North Island California 1971, Gloss Black / Gray scheme
5. OV-10A BuNo 155417, Black Pony 105, VAL-4 VNAF Binh Thuy Late 1971, Overall Gray scheme
6. OV-10A BuNo 155472, Black Pony 107, ‘Gandolf the Gray Wizard’ VAL-4 VNAF Binh Thuy March 1972, Overall Gray scheme
7. OV-10A BuNo 155471, Black Pony 101, ‘The Baron’s Mistress’ Val-4 VNAF Binh Thuy March 1972, Overall Gray scheme

All colour call outs are by name and FS number so finding the colour match should not be a problem.

In Conclusion
A nice set of decals for an unusual subject that could have you build the whole squadron if you use the kit stencils, one minor issue but would not be a problem unless you wish to build that aircraft twice and even then would not be hard to fix.

(Note that these decals are also available in 1/72 scale as FMD-1372.)

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Something different, great subject, good colour density, choice of any aircraft from the squadron.
Lows: One very minor issue.
Verdict: A nice set of decals for an unusual subject that could have you build the whole squadron if you use the kit stencils.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: FMD-13-48
  Suggested Retail: $15.00
  PUBLISHED: Jul 15, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Luciano Satornetti (Littorio)

Ok, firstly I build what ever takes my fancy however I mainly build 1/350 WWII era ships mainly cruisers and any aircraft. However my favourite aircraft being the mighty Beaufighter, Sepecat Jaguar, Hawker Hunter, Fw-190 and the Su-27 family. I also like wheeled armour like the Stryker and Centauro ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Luciano Satornetti [ LITTORIO ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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