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A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion

Cutting Edge 1/48 A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2006 Manufacturer Cutting Edge
Subject A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion Scale 1/48
Kit Number CEC48493 Primary Media Resin
Pros Comprehensive update for the Trumpeter 1/48 RA-5C kit Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) OOP

First Look

A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion
A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion
A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion
A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion
A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion
A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion

Cutting Edge has been producing an interesting array of updates for the Trumpeter 1/48 RA-5C Vigilante kit. Among the first releases, an new nose section to correct the front-end profile, a set of seamless intake trunks for the late-model RA-5C, a set of early styled intakes and seamless trunks to backdate the kit, and a few other nice items.

In this release, Cutting Edge gives the kit a complete make-over with a new set of wings, new nose section, new upper fuselage mid-section, positionable leading and trailing edge flaps, and new canopies and windscreen cast in that magnificent clear resin.

The instructions are the best I've seen to date from Cutting Edge, with nice large clear photos showing where to cut away the various sections of the stock kit so these new parts can be installed to reshape the profile of the airframe to the early A3J-1. As I understand from Meteor Productions (the manufacturer), this conversion (as with the RA-5C update set) will work well with the kit cockpit or even the Black Box resin cockpit set.

Markings are provided on two decal sheets to provide your choice of five aircraft:

  • A3J-1, 147856, Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility, Albuquerque NM, 1961 - the aircraft was used for special weapons testing (nukes)
  • A3J-1, 146697, Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River MD, 1960 - made the first trap and cat for the Vigilante aboard the Saratoga (CVA 60).
  • A3J-1, 149295, VAH-1, AG/607, USS Independence, 1963
  • A3J-1, 149283, VAH-7, AF/710, USS Enterprise, 1962
  • A3J-1, 147858, NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center, 1962

The instructions also include the usual high-quality full-color profiles of each of the subjects for proper decal placement and painting.

This conversion will definitely require some modeling skills to properly modify the stock kit airframe but what you will have at the end of the process is an aircraft variant not likely to be seen again once this conversion and the stock kit are out of production. This is the opportunity to own the Navy's high-speed nuclear bomber that would later transform into the RA-5C reconnaissance bird.

My sincere thanks to Meteor Productions for this review sample!

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