In Box Review: Roden 1:72 Fairchild C-123 Provider

Ever since WWII, cargo planes played an imperative role during wars or conflicts. A steady stream of supplies, say it in manpower or provisions, make all the difference and in some cases can determine the outcome of battle. However the majority of them only had limited capacity and were very inefficient as far as loading and unloading was concerned. During Operation Overlord in June 1944, glider aircraft with hinged noses or rear fuselages proved to be very effective in delivery their cargo. One of the contractors in supplying these gliders was Chase Aircraft.

After the war in 1947, Chase Aircraft started the development of an offensive glider, the CG-20. It was constructed entirely out of metal and had retractable landing gear. A feature new to gliders. Tests were very successful and Chase, headed by former Russian immigrant Michael Stroukoff, decided the CG-20 should be converted to a motor-glider. After installment of 2 R-2800-CB-15 radial engines, it was re designated as the XC-123. Most notable difference between the XC-123 and conventional aircraft was the hinged ramp at the rear of the plane, which allowed problem free loading of large cargoes. Soon the U.S Air Force saw the beneficial essence of such a platform and an order was placed for a series of planes. However with new ownership  and policies within the Chase Company, it was decided that the aircraft industry was not the path the company envisioned to travel for the future and the order was cancelled.

Still the U.S Air Force was very aware of the potential of the design and soon the Fairchild company, who previously had supplied the USAAF with light transport planes was given the opportunity to further develop the XC-123. The original concept of the CG-123 was so well engineered that little or no major changes had to be made. The USAF placed an initial order of 302 aircraft and the first production C-123B took to the air in September 1954. In 1955, the first C-123 aircraft started service with the U.S. Air Force and was officially named “Provider”.  Soon the U.S Coast Guard became interested and received its own version, the HC-123B.

The war in Vietnam brought the C-123 out of obscurity and the plane became somewhat notorious, next to providing cargo and soldiers to designated areas, in the dispersal of “Agent Orange” defoliant over the jungles in Vietnam. A deadly poison that not only destroyed vegetation but killed people too. For these missions, ten aircraft were outfitted with containers of toxic chemicals and external spray systems. Another dark and mysterious role played by the C-123 Provider was when it flew under the colors of “Air America”, who by itself was cloaked in mystery and belonged to CIA Ops, flying secret missions over South East Asia.

Later and under the terms of co-operation agreements with friendly nations, several C123B’s were transferred to Thailand, South Vietnam, Laos, South Korea, Taiwan, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

The Model

Roden happily surprised us with this kit. A cargo plane in 1/72nd scale is a daring endeavor. Fortunately, size wise a C-123 is not a gigantic airplane and will not tumble off your shelf when finished.

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The model consists out of 10 sprues, including clear parts. Executed in light grey plastic, it comes with engraved panel lines, detailed engines and cockpit, external fuel tanks, open ramp and ramp doors, detailed inner fuselage halves and decals for 3 versions; C-123B USAF South Vietnam, early 1964, C-123B “Patches” Vietnamese Air Force, South Vietnam during1964 and C-123B Air America, Southeast Asia, Thailand during 1966.

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This 1/72nd scale edition of the C-123 is a welcome subject. Detail is crisp and paneling is very well implemented. I would give this Roden model overall a B+. So if you like radial engine cargo planes, this one will surely give you the satisfaction you’ve been craving.


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