Italeri 1/72 AC-119 K “Stinger”

Kit #153                                            Collector’s Market Value $40.00
Images and text Copyright © 2005 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
        The AC-119 K began like as the more sedate C-119 Flying Boxcar developed by Fairchild in 1947. Taking to the air for the first time in November of 12947 the Flying Boxcar was designed to replace the WW2 Fairchild C-82 cargo carrier. It was intended to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients, and mechanized equipment and to drop cargo and troops by parachute. Powered by two Wright R-3350 engines (some flew with Pratt and Whitney R-4360s) it was not fast nor was it beautiful but it was very successful in its intended role and gained fame in unexpected fields like the movies where it stared with actors like Jimmy Stewart in “Flight of the Phoenix” in 1965 and again with Dennis Quaid in 2004.
        Another venue that the aircraft served in was with the military as a gunship. The large cargo capacity and long loiter time was perfect for a ground support role. On December 15, 1964 the first AC-119 “Gunship” was introduced to the Vietnamese flying from the Bien Hoa Air Base packing three 7.62 General Electric miniguns each capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute. All three of these guns were mounted along the same side of the aircraft allowing the vehicle to slowly circle an area and completely dominate the terrain. These gunships acquired several nick names among the crew such as ‘Spooky’, ‘Puff’ and ‘Dragon Ship’. The first AC-119 in use was credited with destroying more than 400 enemy supply trucks within its first two years of service. As a result of additional miniguns (4) and 20mm cannons (2) along with carrying so much ammunition and the need to launch from short runways later versions of the gunship were fitted with two under wing J-85-GE-17 turbojet engines to assist with takeoff.
        Production of the Fairchild C-119 and AC-119 aircraft ended in 1960 but by that time more than 1100 aircraft had been produced. Some are still operational in third world countries to this day while others reside in museums around the world and some perform service as fire bombers. Currently at least six 119s are considered still airworthy. A C-119J, specially modified to snag the parachute of the Discovery XIV satellite is on display at the Wright-Patterson USAF Museum in Dayton Ohio.

The Kit
        The Italeri kit comes in a large box with great artwork. Inside there are several trees of parts done in high pressure injection molded black polystyrene. All the surface detail is raised on this kit, fine raised panel lines runs across the wings and fuselage sections. The interior is very well detailed with four miniguns and two cannons being provided along with a detailed cockpit floor pan and bulkheads. The wing is a large seven piece assembly with three sections forming the central core with detailed landing gear bay inserts. Hatches can be modeled open or closed and the aft cargo door can also be done open or closed.
        The overall quality of the parts looks pretty good with no readily apparent sink marks or heavy injector pin markings. I don’t see any flash evident on the parts either. General fit of the model is good with some exception around the wing assembly. Extreme care should be taken here to preserve as much of the raised detail as possible. With some work this kit can be converted to a C version by removing the lower boom fins, deleting the turbojet engines and rebuilding the nose gear as a single wheel unit rather than the dual unit on the K or G versions. Also with this kit is a small sprue of clear parts. The main canopy is a single piece with overhead consol molded in place. All the cabin windows are provided as individual pieces rather than a long string. This will give you a cleaner look inside the cargo area if you plan on modeling the kit with all ports open.
        Taking an inventory of the kit we have thirty six clear pieces but eleven of those will not be used for this version and one hundred forty six black plastic pieces of which three will not be used for a total of one hundred eighty two pieces in the box. That seems to be quite a few parts for a 1/72 scale kit.

You may click on the small images above to view larger pictures.

Decals and Instructions
        Kit instructions come as a long fold-out sheet consisting of ten panels. The front panel contains a really abbreviated history of the aircraft in several languages, one panel in devoted to defective parts replacement concerns while yet another covers the ‘not suitable for small children’ warning, again in several languages. That pretty much kills 30% of the instruction package. Panel number four contains a complete parts map and panel number five finally begins to show us some construction steps. Four panels contain eight exploded view construction steps and include a color chart listing colors by Model Master numbers and Federal Standard numbers. There are plenty of color call-outs scattered throughout the exploded view steps. The final two panels are devoted to decal placement and exterior color schemes.
        The kit provides a very small sheet of decals to mark two different aircraft. The clarity of the decals does not seem that great but the print registry and color density seems fine. The y only cover the most basic of markings and no service stencils or warning markings are provided. Previous experience with Italeri decals indicates they should respond well to standard setting solutions and are generally thin enough as to not cause trouble.

        Some aircraft are just plain sexy like the P-51 while others are not, like this one. Lets face it, this is a flying truck but as such, man, what a truck it was. Its historical significance is not only that is was a great packet hauler but acted as a step n the development of the aerial gunship that continues through to this day with AC-130 and also gained fame among aircraft film enthusiast in two filmings of “Flight of the Phoenix”. General parts fit is good with some consideration taken for the twin boom arrangement which can be tricky no matter what the model, instructions cover all necessary information and decals, while brief are adequate.
        Currently there are not many items on the aftermarket. Cutting Edge does produce a canopy mask set for this kit and Carpena Decals has a set of markings included in one of their large sheets that covers several different aircraft from Indochina. FMC also has a decal sheet that covers two AC-119 aircraft in foreign service.
        With all things considered this is a good model and should be a candidate for any collection.

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