1/48 Testors Cessna O-2A Skymaster

Gallery Article by H. Davis Gandees on Sept 9 2020



The USAF ordered the O-2A Skymaster to replace the aging and diminutive O-1 Bird Dog in 1967. It was developed from the civilian Cessna 337 and served as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam spotting enemy targets. Unlike the unarmed Bird Dog, the Skymaster was armed with 2- 7.62 mm minigun pods, 4- 2.75 inch rockets and for night missions, flares. It could often hold its own until the “fast movers” arrived. Of 572 delivered to the USAF, 178 were lost to all causes.

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The model represents an O-2A Skymaster based at Bien Hoa in 1967. The existence of “Don’t Shoot” on the upper wings has been debated over the years. If I were flying an O-2A in Vietnam in 1967, I would have had my crew chief paint it the same as the model! It would be to warn the “fast movers” of its presence.

I cut the headrests off the seats, added military seatbelts, scratch built a radio stack in the rear cabin and made 1/16” ID aluminum tubing exhaust stacks. A nylon thread wire antenna and guitar string FM whip antennas were added. The model was painted with ModelMaster Aircraft Gray and Tamiya White paint. The decals are from the kit and Draw Decals No. 48-Cessna-5 sheet. 

H. Davis Gandees

Photos and text © by H. Davis Gandees