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XA2D-1 Skyshark Kit

Clear Prop 1/48 XA2D-1 Skyshark Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2021 Manufacturer Clear Prop
Subject XA2D-1 Skyshark Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48002 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-etch
Pros Unique subject, beautiful details Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $105.00

First Look

XA2D-1 Skyshark Kit
XA2D-1 Skyshark Kit
XA2D-1 Skyshark Kit
XA2D-1 Skyshark Kit
XA2D-1 Skyshark Kit

In mid-1944, the U.S. Navy was pushing the next phase of carrier aircraft development to support the war effort as the war raged on in Europe and the Pacific theaters. Douglas Aircraft Company had produced the SBD Dauntless as a carrier-based dive-bomber in the previous phase and was given the task of developing a long-range torpedo/dive bomber that would replace the SB2C Helldiver and TBF Avenger. What came off Douglas' drawing boards and flew in early 1945 was the XBT2D-1 powered by an R-3350 radial engine rated at over 2,500 horsepower. The aircraft was accepted into production as the AD-1 Skyraider and while it entered service too late for World War 2, it became part of every carrier air group seeing combat during the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well as serving in the air arms of the United Kingdom, South Vietnam, France, and Sweden.

In mid-1945, the Navy had approached Douglas for a turboprop-powered attack aircraft, and three designs were submitted for consideration based upon the model D-557 platform, but none moved forward due to problems with turboprop engine development. You'll note that in a parallel effort, Douglas' D-558 was part of the effort to break the speed of sound and while D-558-1 lost to the Bell X-1 to exceed Mach 1 in level flight, it did routinely operate at Mach 0.99 to help research the effects of transonic flight, and it was D-558-2 that would be the first past Mach 2. But I digress... By the middle of 1947, the Navy selected the Allison XT-40 turboprop engine that was powering several other Navy projects and gave Douglas the green light to develop an attack aircraft that could operate from the Cassablanca-class escort carriers. Unfortunately, the XT-40 was also plagued by problems which delayed several aircraft programs including Douglas' A2D Skyshark. Flight testing wouldn't begin until the middle of 1950, and further engine problems led to the crash of the first prototype in December of 1950. By this time, the majority Cassablanca carriers were decommissioned and the roles to be filled by the A2D were being taken by pure jet designs. In fact, Douglas would develop the highly successful A4D Skyhawk family instead.

Two years ago, we received a sample of the first kit from a new kit company, Clear Prop!. The company wasn't new, they produce the prolific line of resin details under the ResKit brand, but like some other aftermarket detail companies, they decided to enter the kit market as well. That first kit was the Gloster XA2D-1 Skyshark in 1/48 and the level of detail in that kit was impressive, if not intimidating. Fast forward to late last year, and Clear Prop! announced their first 1/48 kit - the A2D-1 Skyshark! While Microscale produced the first injection-molded kit of this subject back in the mid-1970s, it was a very basic kit with few details and no landing gear. If you've wanted to have a turboprop Skyraider on your shelf, your wait is finally over. Molded in gray styrene, this kit is presented on 14 parts trees plus one tree of clear parts, one fret of photo-etched details, and one set of canopy masks.

Among the features and options:

  • Beautifully detailed cockpit
  • Choice of standard seat or ejection seat
  • Pilot's seat provided with photo-etched restraints
  • Photo-etched instrument panel w/acetate instrument faces
  • Choice of canopy - one-piece (closed) or two piece (open)
  • Detailed landing gear and wheel wells
  • Wings can be posed in flight or folded position
  • Wing flaps are positionable
  • Ailerons are positionable
  • Elevators are positionable
  • Rudder is positionable
  • Ventral speed brake is positionable
  • Tail hook is positionable
  • External stores pylons on the centerline and inboard wings
  • Rocket stubs on the outboard wing sections

External stores include:

  • 1 x external fuel tank

Markings are provided for four different schemes:

  • XA2D-1, 122988 (early)
  • XA2D-1, 122989 (early)
  • XA2D-1, 122989 (early)
  • XA2D-1, 122989 (early)

Clear Prop! is planning a second release which adds additional external stores/pylons as well as a new canopy to depict what the aircraft might have looked like had it entered service. I'm not yet certain whether I'm going to build this kit as the prototype or to rob parts out of a Skyraider kit to put this into my own vision of an operational aircraft circa Southeast Asia. Stay tuned!

This is an impressive looking kit and I appreciate that this release doesn't rely on resin parts to build up the model.