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Bush Flyer

Cessna C-185 Skywagon

KP 1/72, Ref. KPM0234

That is a VERY welcome release from the Czech manufacturer, one of those ‘unsung heroes’ type of aircraft, built in large quantity and gracing many airfields across the globe for over 60 or so years, one that should have been available to us in kit form a long time ago. Even KP took their time to finalise the kit, yours truly having seen the partially completed pattern in Petr Muzikant’s office several years ago..

So, was it worth the wait? I’d say ‘DEFINITELY YES‘ though I must admit not knowing the subject as well as other aircraft, so some of my comments below might need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The kit, so far at the time of writing, is declined into four separate boxings, is made up of a single medium grey coloured plastic sprue and a smaller clear plastic sprue, an A5-sized, 4-page instruction leaflet and a decal sheet, the latter being of course different in each boxing. I assume that at least one boxing, the Cessna C-180/185, Ref. KPM0232, may have a slightly different instruction leaflet.

The mouldings are typical of this type of short-run production, flash is visible here and there, some of the pouring gates are a tad large and sometimes not always best-placed for the easiest cleaning-up job. Some may look a little on the thick side, like the wing fences, but being separate, they are therefore easier to replace!. I must tell you that we are not talking about a CAD design here, this was done the old-fashioned way and as such, some little imperfections are visible here and there too.

Several alternative parts are included, the main one being the shorter, smaller C-180 fin. About this C-180, only the later production models (180G onwards) can be modelled straight from the kit as a conversion to an earlier variant requires a little bit of work since those featured only 3 side windows per side, not 4. Although the late-production 180s and most of the 185s are 6-seaters (one pilot, five passengers), KP only offers seating for 4… All in all the cockpit detail is a bit spartan and most will want to replace the seating and add a few things in there to plump it up. Back to the optional parts, we also see alternative wing tips, a second set of main wheels (they seem a bit small for the so-called ‘tundra tyres‘), rocket launcher tubes and their supports, a 2-bladed propeller without spinner and a three-bladed propeller (also sans spinner), various antennas and last but not least, the ventral belly cargo pod.

The clear parts include the windshield, a little on the thick side (but it could be used for the making of a vac-formed replacement), and side windows that are, however, commendably thin.

The decal sheet included in the KPM0234 reference offers two options, both civilian aircraft operated in Canada and in France. The decal sheet comes with seat belts (including those for the rear bench) and main instrument panel. The other three boxings come with Polish, Czech and US civilian markings (KPM0232 – Cessna C-180/185), Greek, South African and Jamaican military markings (KPM0231 – Cessna U-17A Skywagon) and Thai, South Vietnamese and US military markings (KPM0235 – Cessna U-17B Skywagon). The painting/decaling instructions are, as is the case with all KP kits, shown on the rear of the box (though some painting notes are included in the instruction sheet(s)).

There has already been a lot of talk about those new releases on the net, about the not ‘up-to-date‘ quality of the mouldings, about some possible mistakes made and shortcuts taken by the designers, about possible size issue (be real, Folk, a quick check online showed me no less than 6 different advertised lengths and wing spans..!), but we should be happy that a cheap injected-plastic 1/72 kit of this truly universal aircraft is at long last available (the other option is a vacform..). Of course I have not built the kit just yet. It is probably not one for the beginner, but if you have like me a few short-run kits under your belt, it should not cause too many issues. Let’s hope aftermarket providers are quick to realise the potential of those new kits, the possibilities for markings, both civilian and military, are almost endless, while resin, PE and CAD printed parts could help turn them into little jewels. Some conversions are also possible though KP may still release some extra boxings in the future featuring, for instance, floats or skis..?

Such general aviation kits are so few and far apart, let’s not take them apart, let’s buy and build them instead, it may push KP (and others!) into releasing yet more… A Cessna 172, the most successful aircraft in history, would be nice, for instance.. Hint, hint!

Review & Pictures by Domi Jadoul

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