Matchbox 1/48 AD-5/5N Skyraider

KIT #: PK 651
PRICE: NZ $40.00
DECALS: Two options


As with a couple of my other previews, I’ll direct you to the fine efforts by Tom Cleaver, Triet Cam et al as well as Google, Wikipedia and Robert F. Dorr’s book “Skyraider” for a substantial history of this truly legendary aircraft. Meantime, here’s what I plucked from the instruction sheet (designation foul-ups and other errors are copyright Lesney Products 1981).

 “The original ‘Skyraider’ design was conceived in a Washington Hotel room in 1944. The replacement for the SBD ‘Dauntless’ was already in the design stage in the offices of two other manufacturers, but the Douglas Chief Engineer asked for the opportunity to submit proposals. These were required immediately. So, after an all night sitting, preliminary sketches were shown to the Navy the next day. On the basis of these sketches, a prototype was ordered, this flying on March 18th 1945 and a letter of intent was signed for the production of 548 machines as BTZD-1. With the ending of World War II, this quantity was reduced to 277. In early 1946 the name ‘Skyraider’ was approved and the designation was changed to AD-1. Various improvements resulted in later versions AD-2 -3 and –4, including an AEW model with massive underbelly radar installation. The AD-5 is the result of considerable combat experience and features a slightly longer fuselage, with larger fin, a much bigger cockpit with side-by-side seating and a larger canopy. This aircraft is truly multipurpose being available as AD-5 –5N –5W and –5S, whilst an hour’s work on squadrons will convert machines for many other uses, including a twelve seat passenger transport or ambulance. A total of over 3100 ‘Skyraiders’ were delivered and ‘Skyraiders’ have proved to be outstanding performers.”

 From a personal standpoint, I’ve always preferred the “fat face” AD-5/A-1E to the single seat aircraft: the Skyraider just seems too big to house only one occupant! With the large “Blue Room” area behind the pilot and nav, the A-1E strikes me as an ideal “family warbird”, good for touring and taking rides. Something tells me that running costs for the big, oily R3350 up front may put a damper on that though. In way of compensation, it makes a pretty throaty sound.


This kit is pretty much what you could call standard Matchbox fare. It is proudly proclaimed on the box to be moulded in three colours and does not disappoint: upon opening the box you see two sprues of white and one each of grey, green and clear plastic. Detail is fair – exterior is a mix of “trenches” on the fuselage and light raised panel lines where applicable elsewhere. You get a complete radial up front, which with a bit of scratchbuilding could probably be put on the aircraft without the cowl. The firewall is separate from the rest of the fuselage, as is the rudder. Flaps may be posed up or down, these being provided separate as well. Provision is made to allow the wings to fold, large hinges being moulded on to the outer wing sections. Undercarriage may also be built retracted or extended.

 Cockpit detailing is fair considering the massively thick transparencies provided (seats, instrument panels and stick), but the dedicated builder will likely choose to replace this with an aftermarket resin set. Three identical crewmembers are provided to fill it up a little.

 Underwing stores are limited to twelve small bombs as well as the obligatory drop tanks and a radar pod. For typical stores like rockets, napalm etc it will be necessary to raid your spares box.

 Markings are provided for two aircraft: A-1E 52673 of 4407 Combat Crew Training Squadron USAF, and AD-5N 34999 of VA(AW)-33 US Navy, based aboard the USS Forrestal. A smattering of stencilling is provided for each, but in my example the decal sheet hasn’t aged well and will likely need to be replaced with aftermarket marks. 


 In terms of an OOB 1/48 AD-5/A-1E “fat face”, this vintage kit is the only game in town as far as I know. I’m aware of at least one resin conversion kit for the Tamiya single seater, and several vacform canopy replacements. It may not be up to today’s state of the art, but should be by no means unbuildable and unrepresentative of the type. From what I’ve read on various modelling sites, this kit has a few dimensional accuracy issues rectifiable with considerable surgery, but in my case I’m quite happy the way it is.

 Will look at investing in a new canopy and decals though.

Review kit found on TradeMe (NZ’s eBay clone).

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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