Trumpeter 1/48 A-37B Dragonfly

KIT #: 02889
PRICE: $48.95 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes photo etch


The Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, or Super Tweet, is an American light attack aircraft developed from the T-37 Tweet basic trainer in the 1960s and 1970s by Cessna of Wichita, Kansas. The A-37 was introduced during the Vietnam War and remained in peacetime service afterward.

Initial A-37As were basically upgraded T-37As and while they performed well, things could have been better. This brought about the new build A-37B with stronger landing gear, more powerful engines and other modifications to beef up the airframe. The A-37B could operate at weights twice that of the T-37A trainer. These planes were specifically designed for the needs of the South Vietnamese Air Force. They were easy to fly, easy to maintain (only 2 maintenance man hours per flight hour), and were slow enough to provide good weapons delivery accuracy. Well over 500 aircraft were built with nearly half delivered to South Vietnam.

Back in the US, once the war was over, the USAF farmed out many of the extant planes to the ANG and Reserves. Many of these were modified to OA-37 FAC aircraft. The type was also supplied to many South American and Central American air forces. Some are still operational though, like all US aircraft, most were retired by the middle 1990s.


One often wonders what would cause the development of a kit and such is the case with this one from Trumpeter. Most modelers with an interest in the type will have dealt with the Monogram kit at some time in their lives and found it to be a nicely detailed model. Its only down-side is that it is the raised panel line era detailing, while the Trumpeter kit is as modern as any kit you can currently get from China. You also pay a bit of a premium for that modernity.

Trumpeter provides a nice cockpit with a pair of three-piece bang seats, separate rudder pedals, and a nice control stick. There are decals for the instrument panel, but you will not see the placement guide unless you look at the overall painting guide. This information needs to be in the section for assembling the cockpit. Fuselage halves are complete and trap the nose gear well and interior between them. You need nose weight, but typical of Trumpeter, you are not told how much. It will take a lot.

The wing is a single piece lower section with two upper halves. The tip tanks are molded into the wing halves. You are provided with a short intake section that ends in a compressor face and there are short exhaust sections. These are trapped in the wing halves. A speed brake is provided and can be displayed lowered if you wish. I never saw one deployed on the ground.

The A-37B and later OA-37B had an inflight refueling probe and the ducting for this is provided. Both a long and a short recepticle are provided. There is an option to have some sort of insert in the intake, but I'm not sure what that might me. The windscreen and canopy are separate with details for the inside of the canopy section. Both an open or closed canopy retraction strut are provided. Landing gear is short and well done with separate wheels.

Part of the photo etch are the engine intake covers. These are apparently only to be displayed retracted. I have seen these hanging down on operational aircraft though that option isn't provided. You also get separate thrust reversers and while the instructions would have them shown deployed, these were rarely so on the ground. A large selection of stores are provided which includes four fuel tanks, and a variety of rocket pods or bombs as well as the nearly never carried minigun. Some of the photo etch is for the fuel tanks. Note that normally in the US, all the fuel tanks were like the one pair with the fins and the OA-37B variant often carried six or eight of these to provide endurance.

Instructions are well done and color painting and marking guides are provided for both the aircraft and for weapons. In fact, one of the decal sheets is dedicated to things under wings. Markings are given for three planes, two in standard SEA camouflage. The box art plane is listed as the 182nd TFG in South Vietnam. Unfortunately, the 182nd TFG is an Illinois ANG unit that did not get the A-37B until the war was over, flying F-84Fs at the time and then U-3s and O-2s. Their first OA-37B was received in 1979. Apparently whomever they are paying to do research is incompetent. The other SEA camo plane is with the 516th Fighter Squadron of the South Vietnamese Air Force. The third option is with the Chilean Air Force and is in the two color Euro I scheme. Several paint companies are provided as reference and the decals themselves are nicely done. There are aftermarket decals if you wish something different.  


Aside from the premium price, this looks like a nice kit. Apparently the lower tail has issues as Pavla has provided two different replacement pieces for it. Trumpeter also does an A-37A and I imagine they will do an OA-37B boxing as well. Those hoping for a T-37 will probably not get one unless Trumpeter retools the fuselage and wing for the smaller engine humps. Those with the Monogram kit should keep it as it is a nice one. Those who run screaming at the sight of raised panel lines will want this one.


July 2015

Thanks to me for the preview kit.

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