Roden 1/48 Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog

Introduction:

I like Roden kits and have for quite a while. Many boxes from this manufacturer help insulate the walls of my shop during inclement weather and I’m always looking to add more. True to form for Roden, their new 1/32 Bird Dog is a very nice model, indeed, and I hoped this 1/48 version would similarly please. I wasn’t let down. This is a very nice kit that will build into a convincing model. That said, as with most Roden kits, there’ll be a bit more work involved than with a Tamigawa but the result will be worth it.

Thanks again to the proprietor of Skyway Model Shop for keeping a never-ending supply of new kits that test my ever-failing self-control.

Background:

The Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog, a liaison and observation aircraft, was the first all-metal fixed-wing aircraft ordered for and by the United States Army following the Army Air Forces’ separation from in 1947. The Bird Dog had a lengthy career in the U.S. military and in other countries.

The U.S. Army awarded a contract to Cessna for 418 of the aircraft, designated the L-19A Bird Dog. The prototype Cessna 305 (N41694) first flew on 14 December 1949, and now resides in the Spirit of Flight Center, Erie, Colorado. Deliveries began in December 1950, and the aircraft were soon in use fighting their first war in Korea from 1950 through 1953. An instrument trainer variant was developed in 1953 and later versions had constant speed propellers. The final version, L-19E, had a larger gross weight. Cessna produced 3,431 aircraft. The plane was also built under license by Fuji in Japan.

The L-19 received the name Bird Dog as a result of a contest held with Cessna employees to name the aircraft. Jack A. Swayze, an industrial photographer, submitted the winning entry. The name was chosen because the role of the Army’s new aircraft was to find the enemy and orbit overhead until artillery (or attack aircraft) could be brought to bear. While flying low and close to the battlefield, the pilot would observe the exploding shells and adjust the fire via his radios, in the manner of a bird dog (gun dog) used by game hunters.

Military Service:

The United States Department of Defense (DOD) ordered 3,200 L-19’s (built between 1950 and 1959). The type entered both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps inventories initially designated as OE-1’s in the Marine Corps. This was changed in 1962 when all US military aircraft designations were standardized. The aircraft was used in various utility roles such as artillery spotting, front line communications, medevac, and training.

In 1962, the Army L-19 and Marine Corps OE-1 was redesignated the O-1 (Observation) Bird Dog and entered the war in Vietnam. During the early 1960s, the Bird Dog was flown by the South Vietnamese Army and Air Force. The U.S. Army and U.S. Marines used the type in the South as well as clandestine forward air controllers (e.g., Ravens) in Laos and Cambodia. Because of its short takeoff and landing (STOL) and low altitude/low airspeed capabilities, the O-1 also found its way into U.S. Air Force service as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) aircraft for vectoring faster fighter and attack aircraft and supporting combat search-and-rescue operations recovering downed aircrews.

During the Vietnam War the Bird Dog was used primarily for reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment, radio relay, convoy escort, and the forward air control of tactical aircraft, to include bombers operating in a tactical role.

Design and Development:

The U.S. Army was searching for an aircraft that could adjust artillery fire, as well as perform liaison duties, and preferably be constructed of all metal, as the fabric-covered liaison aircraft used during World War II (primarily Stinson and Piper products) had short service lives. The U.S. Army issued the specification for a two-seat liaison and observation monoplane, and the Cessna Aircraft Company submitted the Cessna Model 305A, a development of the Cessna 170.

The Cessna 305A was a single-engined, lightweight, strut-braced, high-wing monoplane with tailwheel landing gear. The greatest difference from the Cessna 170 was that the 305A had only two seats, in tandem configuration (the largest tandem-seat aircraft Cessna ever produced), with angled side windows to improve ground observation. Other differences included a redesigned rear fuselage, providing a view directly to the rear (a feature later dubbed “Omni-View”, carried over to Cessna single-engined aircraft after 1964), and transparent panels in the wing center-section over the cockpit (similar to those found on the Cessna 140 and later Cessna 150 Aerobat model), which allowed the pilot to look directly overhead. A wider door was fitted to allow a stretcher to be loaded.

The U.S. Army awarded a contract to Cessna for 418 of the aircraft, designated the L-19A Bird Dog. The prototype Cessna 305 (N41694) first flew on 14 December 1949, and now resides in the Spirit of Flight Center, Erie, Colorado. Deliveries began in December 1950, and the aircraft were soon in use fighting their first war in Korea from 1950 through 1953. An instrument trainer variant was developed in 1953 and later versions had constant speed propellers. The final version, L-19E, had a larger gross weight. Cessna produced 3,431 aircraft. The plane was also built under license by Fuji in Japan.

The L-19 received the name Bird Dog as a result of a contest held with Cessna employees to name the aircraft. Jack A. Swayze, an industrial photographer, submitted the winning entry. The name was chosen because the role of the Army’s new aircraft was to find the enemy and orbit overhead until artillery (or attack aircraft) could be brought to bear. While flying low and close to the battlefield, the pilot would observe the exploding shells and adjust the fire via his radios, in the manner of a bird dog (gun dog) used by game hunters.

Military Service:

The United States Department of Defense (DOD) ordered 3,200 L-19’s (built between 1950 and 1959). The type entered both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps inventories initially designated as OE-1’s in the Marine Corps. This was changed in 1962 when all US military aircraft designations were standardized. The aircraft was used in various utility roles such as artillery spotting, front line communications, medevac, and training.

In 1962, the Army L-19 and Marine Corps OE-1 was re-designated the O-1 (Observation) Bird Dog and entered the war in Vietnam. During the early 1960s, the Bird Dog was flown by the South Vietnamese Army and Air Force. The U.S. Army and U.S. Marines used the type in the South as well as clandestine forward air controllers (e.g., Ravens) in Laos and Cambodia. Because of its short takeoff and landing (STOL) and low altitude/low airspeed capabilities, the O-1 also found its way into U.S. Air Force service as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) aircraft for vectoring faster fighter and attack aircraft and supporting combat search-and-rescue operations recovering downed aircrews.

During the Vietnam War the Bird Dog was used primarily for reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment, radio relay, convoy escort, and the forward air control of tactical aircraft, to include bombers operating in a tactical role.

Supplementing the O-1, then gradually replacing it, the USAF switched to the Cessna O-2 Skymaster and North American OV-10 Bronco, while the U.S. Marine Corps took delivery of the OV-10 to replace their aging O-1s. Both were faster twin-engined aircraft, with the OV-10 being a turboprop, but the U.S. Army retained the Bird Dog throughout the war with up to 11 Reconnaissance Airplane Companies (RACs) deployed to cover all of South Vietnam, the DMZ, and the southern edge of North Vietnam. Its quieter noise footprint, lower speed, tighter maneuverability, short runway ability, and better visibility (even to the rear) kept it highly valued by the ground units it supported and highly feared by enemy units it flew over. The last U.S. Army O-1 Bird Dog was officially retired in 1974.

During the course of the Vietnam War, 469 O-1 Bird Dogs were lost to all causes. The USAF lost 178, the USMC lost 7, and 284 were lost from the U.S. Army, South Vietnamese Forces, and clandestine operators. Three Bird Dogs were lost to enemy hand-held surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

Two O-1 Bird Dogs were loaned to the Australian Army’s 161 Reconnaissance Flight operating out of Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province. One was lost to ground fire in May 1968, killing 161’s commanding officer. An additional Bird Dog was built by this unit’s maintenance crew using aircraft sections salvaged from dumps around Vietnam. It was test-flown and later smuggled back to Australia in pieces, contained in crates marked as “aircraft spares”. This aircraft now resides in the Museum of Army Flying at the Army Aviation Center in Oakey, Queensland.

As the USAF phased the O-1 out of service in favor of the O-2 and OV-10, many O-1s in the United States were sold as surplus. During the 1970s and 1980s, Ector Aircraft remanufactured many as the Ector Mountaineer with their original powerplants, and as the Ector Super Mountaineer with the Lycoming O-540-A4B5.

Civil Air Patrol Service:

In the early 1970s, as the O-2 Skymaster and OV-10 Bronco replaced the O-1 in frontline USAF service, several former USAF O-1s were turned over to the USAF’s civilian auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), for duties such as aerial search in support of domestic search and rescue (SAR) operations. However, since very few CAP pilots had prior training and experience as professional military aviators and/or significant experience with tail wheel aircraft, many of the CAP O-1 aircraft were damaged in groundloops and other takeoff, landing, or taxiing mishaps. In an effort to reduce both risk and repair costs, the USAF directed CAP that all O-1 aircraft in CAP service be eventually replaced for safety reasons by single-engined tricycle-gear civilian Cessna common to general aviation, primarily Cessna 172 and Cessna 182 aircraft. The only O-1 remaining in the CAP inventory is a permanent static display aircraft on a pylon in front of CAP Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Civilian Use:

Many of former USAF and former USAF-cum-CAP O-1 and L-19 aircraft were eventually sold to private owners as recreational aircraft, while others went to museums where they are usually displayed in their military combat markings. Still others found their way to glider clubs in the U.S. as a reliable and powerful vehicle to tow gliders into the air. As with most aircraft used for glider towing, such aircraft are often fitted with mirrors mounted to the struts.

As of June 2009, more than 330 Bird Dog’s were registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. Others are owned and operated outside the U.S. by individuals and flying organizations.

(Edited from Wikipedia)


In the Box:

Coming in a lidded box are 6 sprues of light grey styrene and one clear sprue all in one sealed bag. I was concerned that the clear parts would be scratched but surprisingly their wasn’t much damage.

The initial response is decidedly positive. The inscribed details are well done and scale-appropriate if not just a tad heavy in some areas. The corrugated control surfaces (ailerons, flaps, elevators, and rudder) are convincingly done. However some parts have a slightly textured surface that will have to be dealt with prior to painting (more below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The build starts with a nicely detailed Continental O-470 6-cylinder, air-cooled engine that includes separate engine accessories such as the magnetos, carburetor/air box, exhaust manifold, and generator. The assembled engine then fits via engine bearers onto the firewall.

 

 

 

 

The cockpit is comprised of two well-molded seats along with rudder pedals, control sticks, throttles, and various additional cockpit details. No seat harnesses are provided.

The completed engine, cockpit, and tail wheel are then trapped between the fuselage halves. With the addition of the halved horizontal stabilizer/elevator assemblies and main gear, the fuselage is largely complete.

 

 


Shoot 1 mm Lines  and  Primers—–All With One Brush: The Infinity

For Tips on Fine-Line Airbrushing and Configuring the Harder-Steenbeck Infinity for Super Fine-Line Work and for Spraying Primers and Clear Coats, Check This Out⇒


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The windscreen and window parts are crystal clear despite the very subtle texture of the clear plastic. The cockpit will have a lot of details to look at when completed so a clear windscreen and windows are essential for a convincing final result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wings are comprised of a full-span, single-piece, upper halve and left and right lower halves. The corrugated ailerons are nicely done and poseable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roden was thoughtful enough to provide nicely molded marker rockets for the two hard points under each wing. The rockets (2 per pylon) will look great under some paint and a little detailing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nose is molded in multiple cowl pieces following the lines of the 1/1 version. This permits the side panels to be posed open exposing the nicely detailed 0-470. Of note is the slight surface texture on the nose bowl and propeller blades that can easily be buffed out with Micromesh or your favorite light abrasive prior to paint.

 

 

Bird Dogs used as Forward Air Controllers had an abundance of antennae that included loops, blades, and whips (wire). Multiple lengths of scale-appropriate wire are provided that will look very convincing when applied.

 

 

 

Color and Markings:

The decals, by Roden, are crisply printed with appropriate color and hue. The nice color density of these decals is notable as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Markings are provided for three airframes as follows:

1) L-19/O-1A Bird Dog (119732) of No.10 Tactical Air Group Mobile Command, Canadian Armed Forces, early 1970’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) L-19/O-1E Bird Dog (56-2661), U.S. Army, Alaska, 1966.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) L-19/O-1E Bird Dog (57-6723), Forward Air Controller (FAC) at Lai Keh, 1966-67.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

If there were more modeling hours in the day there would be pieces of a 48th Bird Dog on my bench: ah well. This is a nice kit that with a little extra elbow grease will produce a very convincing model. I quick comparison with the well-known 48th Bird Dog by Model USA reveals this Roden version is a definite step up. Highly Recommended!

Now I’ve gotta get back to painting something.

–John                                                                                                               Kit eagerly purchased by reviewer.

More great Bird Dog detail pics at Grubby Fingers Aircraft Illustration

More Roden Bird Dog Pics Below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments