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A-1E Skyraider Conversion

Fisher Model and Pattern 1/32 A-1E Skyraider Conversion First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2018 Manufacturer Fisher Model and Pattern
Subject A-1E Skyraider Conversion Scale 1/32
Kit Number 3240 Primary Media Resin
Pros Another magnificent resin release - no casting blocks on the larger parts, no pinholes, near-perfect fit! Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $115.00

First Look

A-1E Skyraider Conversion
A-1E Skyraider Conversion
A-1E Skyraider Conversion
A-1E Skyraider Conversion
A-1E Skyraider Conversion
A-1E Skyraider Conversion

As the US Air Force gained experience in combat operations over Vietnam, they quickly realized that they lacked a suitable close air support (CAS) platform. The aircraft types currently in service were designed for the next push-button, guided missile, hi-tech nuclear conflict, not the down and dirty mud-moving battles in Southeast Asia. Where the Air Force was able to draw upon surplus P-51 Mustangs and adapt the straight-winged F-80 and F-84 into the CAS missions over Korea, these aircraft were long gone a decade later and it was going to take some time to get a new aircraft into service. The USAF made the painful decision to adopt the US Navy's CAS master - the A-1 Skyraider. While the aircraft was suited for the mission, some USAF pilots objected to the assignment as flying a propeller-driven taildragger was a far cry from the high-speed turbine-powered aircraft pushing the leading edge of technology.

Not only did the Skyraider and its crews distinguish themselves in the CAS mission, they helped to save numerous lives of downed aircrew as it would escort search and rescue helicopters into hostile territory, suppress enemy fire, and get the aircraft and crews safely back out of Dodge. The Skyraider remained in USAF service until its replacement came online - another USN adoptee - the A-7 Corsair II. While the A-7 brought the CAS community closer to the rest of the supersonic Air Force, experience once again showed that the best CAS platform was still the straight-winged gunfighter like the A-1 and based upon those experiences, the A-10 Thunderbolt II would become the next generation of true CAS platforms.

Fisher Models and Pattern has scratched another subject off my modeling 'bucket list' with the 1/32 A-1E Skyraider Conversion. Trumpeter and Zoukei-Mura produced several variants of the single-seat A-1 Skyraider in 1/32, but none have produced the distinctive multi-place AD-5 or A-1E version. Monogram produced this subject in 1/72 years ago, and Matchbox also produced a simple version of the aircraft in 1/48. While I've been trying to work through a crude conversion for the A-1E in 1/48, I can set that aside for this gem that has arrived on my bench.

Cast in gray resin, this conversion features a hollow-cast fuselage, bottom fuselage section, complete cockpit, a replacement cowling, and a few conversions for the 'host kit'. While this conversion was designed for any of the Trumpeter 1/32 A-1 kits, the instructions indicate that this conversion will work with the Zoukei-Mura kits as well (with a little extra effort).

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Beautifully detailed cockpit
  • Choice of fixed Douglas seats or Yankee extractor (ejection) seats
  • Separately cast throttle, propeller, mixture, supercharger levers
  • Nicely detailed gunsight and windshield wiper
  • Separately cast control sticks and rudder pedals
  • Positionable cockpit entry panels
  • Positionable landing lights
  • Replacement cowling if using the Trumpeter kit
  • Main wheel well inserts
  • Variety of antennas to help replicate the airframe you're modeling

The clear parts are crystal clear and thin so there is no distorion. You'll see all of that detail whether you pose the cockpit entry panels open or closed.

The instructions are nicely laid out to walk you through the assembly process of the A-1E fuselage as well as using the Trumpeter parts where needed.

Markings are provided for four subjects:

  • A-1E, 132649, 1 SOS, Pleiku AB, Vietnam, 1966, Major Bernard Fisher's Medal of Honor aircraft
  • A-1E, 135007, 602 ACS, Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam, 1965
  • A-1E, 133919, 4407 CCTS, Hurlburt Field, Florida, 1972
  • A-1E, 135206, 602 ACS, Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand, 1969, 'Georgia Ann'

The decals are produced by Caracal Models and printed by Cartograf.

The A-1E was the only CAS platform of the day that provided a second seat for an observer, photographer, or whatever the requirement. Many times, the aircraft was flown as another single-seater (with extra elbow room). The rear cabin of the USAF A-1Es were generally empty.

When the A-1s were intially received from the Navy, they retained their standard Douglas seats (Navy and Marine Skyraider pilots didn't have ejection systems). Stanley Aviation developed the Yankee extraction system which allowed the USAF Skyraiders to be retrofitted with a rocket extraction device that safely pulled the pilot out of a disabled aircraft.

Over time, many of the A-1Es were modified with different avionics and some (not all) received the Yankee extraction system. Check your references to see how your subject of interest was fitted.

This is another nicely engineered and executed kit/conversion from Paul Fisher and fills some of the void in the 1/32 Skyraider line-up. If you have the Trumpeter or Zoukei-Mura 1/32 kit(s), this conversion will be a fun project that isn't very hard to build. If you don't have either kit, you can find some of the Trumpeter kits at bargain prices if you shop around. If you're interested in the AD-5/A-1E in US Navy service, Fisher Model and Pattern will be following this release up with the nautical version soon.

You can get more information on this and other kits from the Fisher Model and Pattern website.

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