Cessna A-37B Dragonfly
by Nelson Aguila
The Chilean Air Force receive their first five A-37B for the defense of the national borderline on June 18, 1975. These aircraft were replacements for the old inventory, and were destined to serve in the northern area of Chile.
The first action seen by the Dragonfly was in the Groups (Squadrons) 1°, 3° and 4° in Iquique and Antofagasta between 1975 and 1980. The desert terrain in these areas is the reason for the paint scheme in tan, ochre, green colors with light grey in the lower side.
One of the modifications of the traditional A-37B of the Chilean Air Force is the shortened refueling probe. This intake was used for a faster refueling operations in land, until 1994 when are replaced for the long intakes to air refueling, because finally Chile has adapted one Ex Boeing 707 in a tanker aircraft, called “Aguila” (Eagle) (using Israeli technology).
Chilean Air Force A-37 B used three paint schemes during their service life. In this case, the airplane represented in my kit is decorated whit the second of them.
Because of its unique appearance, the pilots call the Dragonfly the frog. It is really appreciated by its crewmen.
During 1994, the Chilean Air Force receive nine OA- 37 to replace the loss airplanes in operations in all the country. (In 1984 two of them are lost in a accident over Magellan Strait, in the South of Chile, for instance.)
These airplanes were temporally based in Temuco, IX Region of Chile, and then finally were based in Punta Arenas (my city) in 1992. Nevertheless, since 1977 the first frogs arrived in Patagonia to operate in the 12° Group until the present. They have carried a wraparound scheme of black and olive drab around in last 10 years.
The Chilean Air Force have now finished the evaluation to replace this venerable airplane. The candidates are the F-18, the F-16, the Mirage 2000 C-5 and the Saab Grippen. The best guess is that the General Dynamics F-16 will be the successful candidate. We'll see.
This kit has been recirculated. I refinished the Hasegawa kit in 1/72 scale. Is a really poor model and is not representative of the usual standards of this company. The cockpit is lacking in detail, and has not highlights to speak of. The instrument panel is represented with a decal, and the side consoles are absent, like some other major features of the cockpit.
The external structure is not much better. Panel lines in relief.
Another important problem is the inaccuracy of the wing tips tanks. These are very small compared to the real aircraft.. I replaced the Hasegawa parts with tanks borrowed from the Academy kit.
Indeed, the Academy kit is much better overall..
All the interior details in the cockpit are scratchbuilt, and includes the side consoles, seat corrections, control stick corrections, hydraulic canopy controls, and some other minor parts.
In the external part of the kit, I have added fuselage antennae, and I've corrected small parts including the undercarriage doors.
The undercarriage bay is poor and must be detailed so well. For all these reasons, I can say if you have the Academy Kit, don't buy the Hasegawa A-37 unless you want a lot of work!
I used Humbrol enamel to paint this kit because are really a reliable product. In this version, the paint scheme include four colors in the upper surface, and one in lower.
Upper Surface: Tan F.S. 33531 (Humbrol 121) Dark Green (Humbrol 149) Brown Special F.S. 30117 (Humbrol 186); Lower Surface: Light Grey (Humbrol 127).
After painting, I applied a black wash (Humbrol 33) over the model, and later wiped off the excess. I then dry-brushed Light Grey (Humbrol 64).
Aztec decals were used in this variant. Adherence and quality were very good. The size and proportions are correct, and I did not have any problem with their application.
One important thing to keep in mind is the black stencil for the serial number. The serials and the national insignia are very small. Take care not to damage these in application, and don't forget which decals are repeated in the upper and lower surfaces of the model.
In conclusion, I've wasted three months on this model but I fell satisfied with the result.
Hasegawa's 1/72 scale A-37A/B Dragonfly is available online at Squadron.com
Model, Text and Images Copyright © 2001 by Nelson