Trumpeter 1/48 A3D-2 (A-3B) Skywarrior Strategic Bomber Kit First Look
By Fotios Rouch
|Date of Review||June 2013||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||A3D-2 (A-3B) Skywarrior Strategic Bomber||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||2868||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||First styrene kit of this subject in this scale||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$99.95|
The Skywarrior was the navy's first all jet strategic bomber and it was a replacement for the mixed power Savage. The 'Whale' as it is also known, had a long career with the US Navy spanning about forty years and having performed numerous duties ranging from bomber, to tanker, to reconnaissance and electronic warfare platform. It first flew in 1952 and did not retire until 1991. Many Skywarriors continued flying for the defense industry as weapons and special equipment test beds.
I remember the Raytheon Skywarrior flying around the Tucson area in the early 2000's. It had two pylons under the wings and they were used to mount different weapon sensors. I recall from back then when they were working on the Tomahawk program that one sensor was Jake and the other was Elwood named after the Blues Brothers!
I always liked the big Skywarrior as a modeling subject. My first model was the very nice 72nd scale RarePlanes vacform by Hannants and the old hunk of resin in 48th scale by Collect-Aire (not a very good kit at all but OK for its time). Then Hasegawa made the whole family in 72nd scale and the resin industry went to town and made all the obscure variants. A very nice kit other than the shape of the canopy. Then Collect-Aire commissioned one of the best makers (DMold) and made a very nice model of it in 48th scale.
It has been a few years since Trumpeter announced their pending effort in the larger scale and finally, after some back and forth with configurations we finally have the Whale in 48th scale and in plastic.
Upon opening the box one is taken aback with the amazing capacity of the Chinese to produce complex metal molds and sell kits containing many hundreds of parts. But parts are only parts if they do not manage to recreate an accurate model.
The box art shows an A3D-2 from VAH-9 (Hoot Owls).
The instructions have the modeler start with the cockpit assembly. I am very pleased to see the amount of detail that went into this subassembly. I like that all stations are well represented and emphasis is also given to the radar operator's station. I am certain that careful painting will pay dividends later as the canopy is rather large.
The kit provides also a large radar assembly but no way to show it off as there is no provision to pose the radome in the open position.
The nose landing gear assembly follows next. Lots of detail including the well structure with all of its ribbing. No negative comments here other than the inclusion of rubber tires.
The bomb bay assembly is complex and from what I can tell matches the images and schematics of the Steve Ginter book.
Next follows the main landing gear assembly. Again very well detailed except one mistake which will take some work to correct. The landing gear bay had an opening that went through the fuselage from left to right to allow for the operation of the retraction actuators. Look at the attached museum images.
All these subassemblies go inside the fuselage halves and complete a major chunk of the work.
The tail gun assembly follows next. You might want to add the empty shell ejector chutes as they are not represented in the kit parts.
I do like that the crew access door can be posed open as it will help with the look of the parked Whale.
The wing assemblies follow next with the folding wing options and the dropped flaps and slats. I am not 100% sure but I think the Skywarrior slats would retract and cover the wing leading edge and there was no step for the to fit into. Much like the F-86 wings. If this is the case and I intend to photograph it at the museum, then some work will be needed to fill in the step on the leading edge of the wings.
I am not sure yet about the look of the engine nacelles and I am providing an image for reference. Also look at this image and note the location of the bleed air openings and recreate them on your model.
While we are at the subject of peculiar things note the image I included of the lower fuselage taken at an angle and see how you want to go about addressing the strange protrusions under the anti-buffet fence. The fence itself looks OK.
Three frets of photo-etch are provided.
One thing I would like to mention is how clear and distortion free are the clear parts. They might not even need a dip in Future. Commendable. Speaking of clear parts, the canopy is of the correct configuration for an A3D-2 of the vintage chosen for the kit decals.
The decals provided are for VAH-9 Hoot Owls. Any BuNo number can be made up as all the numbers are available to match your references. I am not sure I am thrilled with the font execution but I am sure there will plenty of aftermarket sets down the road. I am sure many resin correction sets will be available as well!
Overall, I have to say this is an impressive effort by Trumpeter. Some mistakes could have been avoided with some more research. Once I have it together I will be able to compare it with my favorite A-3 in this scale by DMold.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!