1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC All the small things.

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1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC All the small things.

Postby ericg » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:50 am

Another project that I have had on the go for a while.

I asked Mac Cottrell (O-1 pilot) if he could recommend someone suitable for a build of this aircraft and he suggested Graham Neil. Graham was a Squadron Leader whilst assigned to fly US Airforce OV-10’s during his tour and reached the rank of Air Vice Marshall, the second highest rank in the RAAF during his career. He is quite active in the RAAF FAC scene and has been instrumental in recovering an OV-10A for the Australian War Memorial which is under restoration. He wrote an excellent small article about the 36 RAAF pilots that served as FAC’s in Vietnam.

http://www.raafaact.org.au/topics/FACS.html

I am yet to meet Graham in person but have so far had some correspondence with him via email and have had a chat to him on the phone. He is quite excited about the prospect of having a model built of an aircraft that he flew. I don’t plan on getting his one built too quickly as I have a couple of active builds on the go at the moment but will have it finished by the end of the year. We are yet to agree on a particular aircraft that I will depict but this will come in time.

Firstly a pic of Graham.

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The kit. This was given to me by one of my best mates, Brent Simpson (Simmo.b on here) for my 40th Birthday, so it is extra special in that regard. Lots of criticism has been made against the kit for various reasons and I will try and address as much as I can. There is not a huge amount of aftermarket for the kit but I have most of it. AoA decals, Eduard photo etch exterior, Master Pitot tube and AMS seats and wheels.

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I started with the nose gear bay. As can be seen, some visible ejector pin marks. I filled these with mr surfacer.

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I needn’t have bothered though, as the nice photo etch provides a lot of needed detail in this area whilst covering the holes! The cockpit tub and bay have been joined along with the kit provided nose weight.

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The casting blocks removed from the AMS seats, these are well done and are a welcome upgrade to the seats provided in the kit.

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I also removed the casting block from one of the AMS wheels but unfortunately, these won’t be making an appearance on this model, as they are a fair bit out of round as can be seen here. There is just under 1mm difference across the hub and it looks quite bad. It won’t take too much to bring the kit wheels (on the right) up to scratch.

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Last edited by ericg on Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC

Postby ericg » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:03 am

An action shot of Graham.

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Interesting details in the pic are the open cockpit air vent just in front of the windshield and under the observers window.

The accompanying text to the photo :

Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) (later Air Vice Marshall) Graham Wallace Neil, RAAF, wearing flying kit and standing in front of an OV-10A Bronco twin engined aircraft (with black spinners), from the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron (19th TASS), United States Air Force (USAF) based at Cu Chi. It is fully armed with rockets and the starboard side pair of M60 C machine guns (note the hanging bag) are visible within the fuselage pylon. Sqn Ldr Neil's command consisted of four USAF, three RAAF and one RNZAF pilots; eight OV-10A Bronco aircraft and a USAF ground staff and maintenance detachment. Sqn Ldr Neil was also appointed as Air Liaison Officer (ALO) with the Second Brigade (2 Bde) of the United States (US) 25th Infantry Division, based at Cu Chi, northwest of Saigon. In this capacity he not only commanded the USAF Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), supporting 2 Bde, but acted as the air adviser to the US brigade commander. Sqn Ldr Neil also flew many missions as a forward air controller (FAC) and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his actions near Trai Bi on 6 June 1970.

Some more work.

I have assembled the cockpit pod without painting it as it is open enough that I will be able to prime and paint it in this state once some additional detail has gone into it.

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There were some small easy to deal with ejector pin marks as can be seen above the rear throttle quadrant.

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The cockpits of these aircraft had thick bundles of wiring running around all move them, so I got some .3mm lead wire to try and get it happening.

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An initial test fit of the wiring. A little over scale I guess but should work OK. Will need to be bundled up and I yet to decide whether to install it and then paint or get the shape sort of right, paint it and then install it.


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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC

Postby ericg » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:19 am

Another action shot of Graham.

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Some more work.


I tidied up up the wiring, glueing short lengths of plastic rod onto the fuse boxes to simulate plugs and sticking the lead wire into them. They should look pretty good once painted.

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I carved some T shaped fire handles from plastic card and installed them on the rear IP

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Much has been said about the way the wings, booms and fuselage join together. This is one area of the kit that I think could have been done a bit better. I assembled a long spar that went from one wingtip to the other. This was made from plastic tube for ease of glueing it into the wings with styrene glue. I then used a length of brass square tube, to allow me to bend and set the angles of the wing in case of any alignment issues and then used some think music wire in the middle for overall strength.

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Wings attached.

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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC

Postby thommo » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:16 am

This will be a doozy!
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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC

Postby ericg » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:40 pm

Some more work. I have seen a couple of these models built and noticed that the undercarriage is a little flimsy. This is a well known issue with the kit and it requires a solution. I know that there is an aftermarket brass set available but sometimes I prefer a home grown solution.

The issue that I can see is that the wheels will bow outward with the twisting of the undercarriage leg with any weight put on it.

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I drilled a hole through the front cylinder of the gear leg

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Using a dremel bit I then ground a trench along the horizontal part of the leg, including the axle where the wheel attaches

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I bent some thick music wire to fit the hole and trench that I made in the parts.

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This piece of wire fits into the part.

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Once I had glued the wire into place with super glue, I used a mix of talcum powder and superglue to fill and replace the material removed. Once sanded back to the correct profile, I sprayed the part with SMS primer filler and smoothed it out.

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The obligatory weight test.

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A small feature that I have noticed on a lot of period photos is the air vent open in front of the windshield. These sorts of details are well worth adding to give the model a bit of life. The kit has this as a raised panel.

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I scribed this panel with a pin using a photo etch template. Once happy with the shape, I deepened the scribed lines before using a micro chisel to remove a rectangle of material from the area.

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Using some thin aluminium and plastic card I made the small pop up vent. I will leave this off until after the model is painted,

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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC

Postby ericg » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:12 pm

Some more work.

I added the small friction lever on the throttle quadrant from plastic card and then primed the cockpit.

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I then pre shaded the shadowed areas of the cockpit with black paint

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This was followed by a couple of thin coats of the excellent new colour from SMS, US Dark Gull Grey.

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I then masked and painted the black panels using an extremely dark grey, and then picked out the white wiring with a paintbrush.

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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC

Postby ericg » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:39 pm

A great pic of Graham inside the cargo area of the Bronco, loading food and provisions. This is the actual Bronco that is currently being restored at the Australian War Memorial.

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Now to the ‘story’ behind the model. I am extremely grateful to Graham for preparing this for me, it is a unique perspective into a FAC sortie. This particular sortie earnt Graham the Distinguished Flying Cross, and makes for very interesting reading. I will be basing my model upon this particular aircraft.

USAF OV-10A BRONCO # 14620 - SORTIE FLOWN BY SQNLDR GRAHAM NEIL
AND FLTLT KEN SEMMLER ON 6 JUNE 1970 AT TRAI BI SOUTH VIETNAM

The RAAF provided some 36 Forward Air Controllers (FAC’s) seconded to the USAF in South Vietnam over a five-year period, all of them were experienced fighter pilots accustomed to the FAC role with FAC training in Australia and Malaya. Twenty of them flew the OV-10 Bronco.

The OV-10 Bronco was specifically designed for the FAC role and was introduced into South Vietnam by the USAF in mid-1968. The aircraft offered much better weapon load and cockpit visibility qualities than previous FAC aircraft in that theatre. Additionally, the suite of one UHF radio, one VHF radio, two FM radios and one HF radio, together with KY28 secure voice, offered a greatly improved communications capability. In terms of cockpit workload, the management of the radios offered the greatest challenge to the FAC during early sorties.

On the afternoon of 6 June 1970 OV-10 #620 launched from Cu Chi in support of 3rd Brigade 25th Division US Army, the aircraft captain was SQNLDR Graham Neil with anotherRAAF FAC FLTLT Ken Semmler in the back seat, the sortie was for planned visual reconnaissance in an area near the Cambodian border.
Ten minutes after becoming airborne while still in transit to the area of operations they were advised that an armoured convoy, exiting Cambodia, and a nearby base camp at Trai BI were each involved in two separate enemy engagements. Upon arriving at the scene of the engagements and after talking with the ground commander, they quickly assessed the situation and decided to give immediate air support to the convoy which was actively involved in a Troops in Contact (TIC) mission with enemy forces only 75 metres away in the woodline near the road. Two immediate airstrikes were ordered up for action alongside the TIC situation and for support to the Trai Bi base camp situated only four kilometres south which was concurrently receiving incoming mortar and small arms fire. If that were not complicated enough an artillery observation pilot, Aloft 07 radioed SQNLDR Neil to advise that he had spotted 12 enemy troops running away from the convoy contact, he marked their position with a smoke grenade and then SQNLDR Neil expended four 2.75 inch Rocket Projectiles (RP) on the marked position. During that RP pass the convoy commander requested immediate fire support to quell enemy action on his contact which had again flared up. Accordingly, the woodline to the west of the road was strafed with the OV-10’s four machine guns and the attack from the west ceased, temporarily. The convoy commander then urgently requested more strafing on additional enemy fire now coming from the eastern side of the road, it was obviously a planned ambush. After repeated strafing passes which were getting lower and lower because of height and energy being used up during tight manoeuvring the enemy broke off the engagements and SQNLDR Neil then resumed working with Aloft 07 against the enemy troops that Aloft 07 was still observing in retreat now about half a kilometre away from the armoured convoy. As he was rolling in for a rocket pass on the area that the troops were hiding in the convoy commander made another urgent request for fire to be again directed into the western side of the road to counter Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) fire which was now being suffered; all remaining HE rockets were expended on that target which was within about 30 metres away alongside the road and the RPG and small arms fire ceased for good.
SQNLDR Neil then provided top cover to a Dustoff Medevac UH-1H helicopter and then flew the four km south to the other enemy contact. Upon instructions, following consultation with the base commander, remaining 7.62 mmrounds were expended on repeated strafing passes on a woodline to the west of the basecamp. Realising that more support was needed he had called up two other armed OV-10 aircraft from Cu Chi and he controlled Issue 14 and Issue 04 as he would a pair of fighters. After their HE rocket fire the enemy broke contact.

Approximately ten minutes later the first set of immediate fighters, scrambled off alert at Bien Hoa arrived at the rendezvous, the weather in the area had marginal visibility with a solid ceiling of 2,500 feet and heavy rain showers moving through the target area. Hawk 07, a pair of A37 fighters, was initially briefed by Ken Semmler while Graham Neil was occupied dealing with final advice from the base commander and controlling helicopter gunships which were now rocketing an area on the other side of the base camp. The airstrike was controlled by SQNLDR Neil with the fighters dropping their eight Mk 82 500 lb bombs very accurately exposing and burning the cover from the enemy bunkers. While still controlling and marking strafing runs for Hawk 07 the next set of fighters, Sabre 81 a pair of F100 Super Sabres pre briefed by Ken Semmler, were brought into the target area from their rendezvous so they could assimilate the tactical scene with recognition of the location of friendly units; their Mk117 750 lb bombs were placed on target within three minutes of the previous set. Sabre 81 flight placed their eight Mk 117 Hi-Drag bombs on target only 250 metres from the friendly emplacements at the base camp, they then expended their 20 mm on strafing runs through the target, they were credited with the relief of the base camp and the destruction of five enemy bunkers.

No further enemy action was to follow. Despite a low fuel state SQNLDR Neil stayed on in the target area and briefed an oncoming FAC on the ground situation before diverting to Tay Ninh West because of their low fuel state and the deteriorating weather. After refuelling the aircraft was flown to the RAAFbase at Vung Tau to pick up some vittles and VB beer which had been arranged the night before. Ken Semmler and Graham Neil swapped seats and Ken flew #620 back to Cu Chi as the night closed in on a very busy but rewarding day for both FAC’s.

Thanks Graham!

Some more work. The instrument panel was painted very dark grey, with the instrument bezels picked out with black paint and then Airscale instrument decals applied. Most of these decals are actually 1/48 scale as they were the only way that I was able to make them fit the panel! I also fabricated the undercarriage lever from brass and plastic card as it is not included in the kit.

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I wanted to depict the engine cowls closed. They have been designed to display open on the model and as such, a little work needs to be done to make them nice and neat. The panel lines where the cowl edges meat are a little sloppy, so my preferred mix of talc and superglue was used to fill the panel joints, as well as thin plastic card. I sanded the joint smooth. The longitudinal joint where the clamshell cowls meet has been sanded and rescribed to ensure a consistent depth panel line, with Tamiya extra fine cement ran into the freshly worked engraving to tidy it up.

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I then lightly scribed a guide line across the join with a pin.

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I used a JLC razor saw to lightly cut a new panel line along the previously scribed line, this tool is perfect for refining panel lines.

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A little hard to see but the new panel line is straight, with a consistent depth.

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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC

Postby ericg » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:40 pm

Now that the majority of the model is complete, I am going over the model with a fine tooth comb and comparing it to period photos to ensure that I try and capture as much detail as possible. Graham was kind enough to send me many more photos that he took at high resolution, and some of these I had not seen before. These pics have been enough for me to identify some areas that the kit could be improved. Whilst the shape of the kit is pretty good, Kittyhawk have missed some details that I felt would add to the character of the model.

Three things that Kittyhawk missed in the one photo.

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Lets start with the biggest one of the three. They completely forgot about one of the 5 fold out steps on the right side of the cockpit. Most photos show most of these open and I reckon it is a pretty important feature. Not sure why they forgot this, but it is a reasonably easy fix if you have the right gear.

What, no step?

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I drew a couple of reference lines to assist with placement.

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I taped a photo etch template to the model

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I used a pin to precisely scribe the shape, ensuring that I cut it to the correct depth.

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Using a microchisel I removed the inside of the shape, being careful not to cut all the way through. The depth of the cut of the pin allows you to remove material right up to the edge.

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The completed hole. I will have to scratch build a new step to suit it.

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Most of the photos that I have found show a small air vent on the right side of the observers cockpit in the open position. I chose to model it this way although if you wanted to do it closed, a scribed circle would do. I used a piece of plastic rod with a groove cut out of it and a small disk punched from plastic card.

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The top right side of the engine cowls has an exposed oil filler cap which I felt would show the ease of maintenance in the field that was designed into the aircraft. Kitty hawk have not depicted any detail here.

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I drilled a small 2mm hole into the cowl.

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I then placed a disk of plastic card into it, slightly proud of the surface.

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I then glued another thin disk over the first one, slightly smaller in diameter. I then drilled into it a small brass rod.

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To this I then added a piece of plastic card cut to represent the oil filler cap.

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While I was working on the oil filler cap I was noticing that the press button latches on the clamshell cowls were incorrectly depicted. I wasn’t going to touch them but decided to fix them once a suitable tool was devised. Using a piece of brass tube, I drilled out one end a little more larger than it originally was. I then sharpened the OD of the tube and mounted it in a pin vice.

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Once the raised buttons were cut off and sanded down I used the tool to push new holes into the plastic. The outer ones were easy enough although the inners needed the tool to be bent to reach them.

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The completed mod. Well worth the effort, although all up it took about 10 minutes. Notice that in some of the earlier pics, kitty hawk have 3 raised buttons in each position on the forward parts of the cowl. There should actually be only two as I have done here.

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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC All the small things.

Postby thommo » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:35 am

Great to see all that process, v interesting.....though nothing like that ever takes me 10 mins!
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Re: 1/32 OV-10A RAAF FAC All the small things.

Postby pacificmustang » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:56 am

nice work on those details Eric
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