Tamiya 1/48 A-1H Skyraider Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|April 2006 (Updated Jan 2010)
|The best Skyraider kit in any scale
|Wings do not fold
In mid-1944, Douglas started work on an attack aircraft that was initially dubbed "Dauntless II". The AD was designed as a next-generation dive-bomber and torpedo aircraft with greater range and payload capabilities over currently fielded aircraft. The AD entered production side-by-side with the AM Mauler. The war ended before either could enter operational status, and production of the Mauler ceased after 171 examples were built.
The Skyraider, on the other hand, remained in production until 1957 with over 3200 aircraft produced. Each version of the aircraft incorporated improved engine, avionics, and payload capabilities. The AD-5 was the most unique of the versions in that it had a different fuselage that turned the single-seat attack aircraft into a multi-place, multi-mission platform.
The Skyraider had its baptism of fire over Korea, but it really came into its own during the early days of Vietnam. The AD-6 and AD-7 (redesignated in the early 1960s as A-1H and A-1H, respectively) were able to bring close air support (CAS) to a new level of precision and persistence thanks to the aircraft's range and array of weapons carriage capabilities.
Navy Skyraiders conducted extensive CAS missions in support of Marine Corps and Army forces engaged in airmobile warfare as well as maintaining a force presence at fire bases and forward positions throughout what once was South Vietnam. Unlike the fast-moving jets, the A-1 pilots could search out enemy positions and maintain visual contact as they'd maneuver to engage those positions. The Skyraider was reputed to be able to drop anything, and the famous photo of a Navy Skyraider on the catapult with a toilet suspended on a weapons pylon only proved the point. While not the glamorous aircraft that fighter pilots usually sought (and only their fathers or grandfathers had dealt with a tailwheel before), the rock-solid Skyraider was the star of CAS until it too was replaced by a jet aircraft.
As a friend of mine in the hobby business would say, now and then a company will release a kit that will be the last one done for a given subject and scale. The kit is just so good, that it is pointless to try and improve upon it. Such is the case with Tamiya's 1/48 A-1 Skyraiders. These kits are just so nice that nobody can top them, especially at the price.
Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on six parts trees, plus a small tree of clear parts containing the two-piece windscreen and canopy. Detailing is all finely scribed throughout.
The project starts with the cockpit (naturally) and the kit comes with a nice cockpit out of the box. Navy Skyraiders were not ejection seat equipped, so the pilot's seat is a standard 'bucket'. The cockpit is nice out of the box, though the AMS modeler will want a photo-etched instrument panel with acetate instruments and photo-etched seatbelts/harness for the seat to add additional definition.
The Skyraider had an unusual shutter system installed inside the cowling. The shutters would close blocking airflow over the engine so that as the engine is throttled back in a dive-bomb attack, the accelerating cold air through the idling engine wouldn't crack a cylinder head (or worse). The engine would stay warm and ready for power at the bottom of the dive when the shutters would reopen again with power. The kit provides options for cowl shutters open or closed and cowl flaps open or closed.
The landing gear was designed to be posed down, but if you want to build the aircraft gear-up, the doors can be adapted. The landing flaps can be positioned up or down. The side and ventral speed brakes can also be posed open or closed.
One feature that is present in this kit that we'll see in many subjects to come are poly caps. In this case, the poly caps are installed inside the centerline and inboard external fuel tanks allowing the tanks to be friction-fitted onto their respective pylons. The remaining twelve underwing pylons have their loads installed with the more traditional glue approach.
In addition to the three external fuel tanks, the kit's external stowage options include twelve 5" HVAR rockets; four 2.75" FFAR rocket pods; twelve 250lb bombs; and six SUU-14 rocket tubes.
Markings are included for three examples:
- A-1H, 137543, VA-176, AK/409, USS Intrepid, 1966
- A-1H, 139768, VA-25, NE/577, USS Midway, 1964
- A-1H, 134569, VA-52, NM/300, USS Ticonderoga, 1964
This kit is a must-have for your collection. Tamiya did a great job with this kit and rendered the previous holder of the "best Skyraider in any scale" obsolete - the older but still-nice Monogram 1/48 A-1 Skyraider.