The U.S. Army RU-8D Seminole (not to be confused with the Piper light twin of the same name) was based on the Beechcraft Model 50 Twin Bonanza, first flown in 1952. The Army version modeled in this kit takes a civilian aircraft, strips the luxury interior out and loads the inside with radio receivers and festoons the exterior with antennas to fulfill the signal intelligence mission. Used extensively over Vietnam, the Seminole crew would home in on enemy radio transmissions with the goal of pinpointing the position of those units. These underappreciated units provided critical intelligence to units on the ground. I was pleased to see a model company honoring this often lonely and forgotten mission with this model.
Croco Models is a small manufacturer from Latvia. This is a full resin kit with vacuform cabin roof (2ea) incorporating the windscreen and side windows. A small fret of photo-etch has parts for dipole antenna ends. A decal sheet with serial numbers (3 aircraft) and Army logos are included. There is a single page instruction sheet and a color photo of a completed model for color reference. The box top also includes a color photo of the real thing. I finished this model using that as my reference. This is the first full resin kit I’ve ever built so I asked for this kit with some reservations about what I was getting into. The parts are nicely cast with only a few pinholes and voids to fill. The panel lines are very refined. With the exception of some pegs on the wings that fit holes in the fuselage halves, the modeler is left to their own method of lining everything up. That’s where I spent the most time building this kit. One of the wings was slightly bowed, which I fixed with a dip in hot water. The interior is nicely fitted with instrument panel, control wheels, seats, radio rack and work table. I added some photoetch radio panels, seat belts and rudder pedals from the spares box. Here is a great reference website Combat Air Museum for the interior that has one of those 360-degree scans of a preserved RU-8D. The vacuform cabin top required careful trimming before it’s glued down and blended in. This is tedious work so if you’re used to having parts fit and align, this is not the kit for you. The nice thing is if something isn’t right, the parts are easy to separate and reset using super glue. Oh and don’t forget, the resin is not like plastic, you should not breathe the dust when you sand it. After numerous rounds of resetting misalignments and putty sessions, I was ready to paint.
The paint scheme is not complicated as these aircraft were overall olive drab with black antiglare panels and deicing boots. There are numerous photographs of the real thing online so references are not a problem. Masking the windscreen and windows is challenging because the frame detail is a bit vague. I used line drawings to get the alignment and shapes correct. Any version will only require four decals total. The included color photo of a finished kit shows other markings, but they are not in the box. Finishing up this build involves some very fine landing gear and antenna installations that again require a steady hand and some patience. In spite of stuffing weight into every spot I could fit it, I still had a tail sitter so I glued the kit to a wood base.
This model challenged me in ways I haven’t been in a while. This is not a kit for a novice. The basics are provided but making it all fit and line up is all on the builder. It was clear to me this project was a labor of love for the manufacturer. The level of detail, in particular, the patterns on the control surfaces are really impressive. Not having any previous resin kit experience, I’d give this one a 9 out of 10 for making a kit we will never see in plastic. Thank you to Croco Models for producing this important aircraft and to IPMS for letting me experience a full resin model build.
For ordering information contact Croco directly via email here: email@example.com