Advantages: Much simpler kit than the Zukei-Mura one. Plenty of weapons. Assembly a lot easier. Nicely detailed with nice fit
Disadvantages: Half of the weapons cannot be used. Decals not complete. Missing the pitot tube on the vertical stabilizer
Not gonna do a history on this aircraft. I’ll let mister history reviewer Mr. Tom Cleaver do that for me. Just read his review of the Zukei-Mura version. However, let’s just say I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Able Dog on account of it being such an anachronism in the jet age, not just because by the time the last one flew in combat in Algeria in 1983, it was a propeller driven attack craft designed in the tail end of WW II and basically can be considered “hanging out” with the like of the F-15 Eagle or the F-14 Tomcat, but its wings had not a bit of sweep in it whatsoever! A direct inspiration for the A-10 Warthog (no one worth their salt will ever call that plane the Thunderbolt!), that and it’s extra-long loiter time. Even after it was replaced on the carrier deck by the A-4 Skyhawk (another Ed Heinemann Classic) and the A-6 “Flying Tadpole”, the Air Force still used it as the famous “sandy” and COIN aircraft just because there no better alternative!
This is the second major Spad kit out at this big scale. The first one was the Zukei-Mura one. This Trumpeter offering offers up quite the alternative.
So what’s the differences between the two? Well the big and obvious “WELL DUH” one is the fact Zukei-Mura is the A-1H/J offering. Although by this time, Trumpeter have already released their own A-1H, this one from Trumpeter is the Korean War A-1D/AD-4 variant. This mean, no Yankee ejection system (although it is in the box), no armor plating as on the A-1H/J (such as the plating behind the pilot’s head), and other small differences. The biggest (other than the “WELL DUH” part) is that this kit from Trumpeter is much much much simpler! You get some 400+ parts in the box and since around 180 of them are weapons, only around 220 of them or so goes into the plane. In comparison, Zukei-Mura have at least twice the number of parts and ALL of them goes into the airplane. The final big one is of course, as mentioned, this one from Trump has the weapons and lots of it. Zukei-Mura weapons are a separate boxing and at around $35 each box, this means with some upgrade set to cure the cockpit, you can easily push the price upwards to over $200 on the that one. With that much money and if you know where to look, you can easily get TWO of the Trumpeter kits for the same price!
And on to the weapons. Yes, you get a lot of them, including AN-M66 2000 pounders, AN-M64 500 pounders, some kind of 250 pounders, Mark 81, Mark 82 with either regular or extended fuse, LAU-3 rocket pods, M-117 750 pounders, 5-inch HVAR Holly Mosses and ohh, the (in)famous “toilet bomb”, which was dropped by VA-25 “Paper Tiger II” in celebration of the 6 millionth pound of bombs dropped by the Skyraider is also in there, a taste of things to come of course as this is not appropriate for a Korean War version.
However, even reading the list, you get the picture that half of these weapons are not appropriate for a Korean War Skyraider. Added to that, the HVAR is misshapen to hell and is WAY too short! They look more like a 1/48th scale rocket than 1/32 and is best thrown out. It’s funny, cause in the 1/32 F-84 kit, the rockets are the correct shape and length (yes, It’s HobbyBoss but they are the same company!). This means if you are going to do a “bombed up” airplane, it is just that, all bombed up and no other options except the belly tank or the two wing tanks.
Onto the airplane itself. The kit starts off with the Wright R-3350 engine and yes, there are a lot of parts and no, no piston heads and crankshaft in there where once you assembled them and close them, you can’t see them. The exhaust system is much much simpler but is still a maze (guess you can’t avoid it because of the subject matter). Now, previously with other WW II kits, Trumpeter gave you a well-appointed engine but no way to display them. Not this time. The engine cowling comes in two versions. One a closed up version and the other an open version with the maintenance panels in the open position to display the engine should you choose to.
The cockpit is next and is well appointed and looks to assemble much better without a need to run after a resin replacement (unless of course, you are a super detailer and have to get one or a resin-holic or both). The rest is just as simple but still, Trumpeter’s “Ima go and do something that will never be seen” syndrome still raises its ugly head. For example, the large fuel tank behind the pilot’s cockpit is there. So are the oil tank and supercharger in front. Now, with the supercharger and oil tank, Trumpeter’s infamous “brain gas” rears its ugly head again. Now if you paint them and weathered them and don’t want them to disappear, two clear panels can be attached to allow people to view them. But who would do this is beyond me as anyone who are willing to shell out at least $100 for this kit will not take this option. And I wince every time the instruction comes to this part as I’m already bracing for the effort to get those two clear pieces to settle down properly into their slots!
The other parts of the kit is just as simple until the wings. Not only are the four 20mm cannons well-appointed for, with the options to either display them with the loading panels closed or open, but also, it is at this point that the modeler has to choose whether to have the wings straight or folded since unlike the Zukei-Mura one, they are not designed to operable when done. If choosing the straight version, I would suggest copying Mr. Tom Cleaver method of doing them first by joining the two separate top wing pieces together by adding strengthening pieces underneath, either cut off evergreen sheets or rods and then working the joint inside and out. If folded, then add the wing fold mechanisms to the main wings first and wait until the cement is fully dry before inserting the folded wings on top and let gravity do the work. This should work a lot better than what is on the instructions.
The plane itself is done at this point other than choosing the load out, if any, to attach to the plane. Again, due to the fact the HVAR is a mess, the only choice is an “all bombed out” plane. Also, be noted as the pitot tube on top of the vertical stabilizer, which is prominent on this version is not there. Probably a sacrifice for the sake of commonality with the A-1H kit although any modeler worth their salt can easily scratch build one. Two color “options” are given, a U.S. Navy version from VA-95 and a USMC version from VMA-324. The decals are in register and looks fine. Still, once again, Wasan’s decal department let loose some of their infamous “brain gas” also as most of the maintenance stencils are missing. Ohh well, at least it is not as bad as some of their other brouhahas, like their infamous Dauntless decals, which can be best described as “someone made them while gotten too close to the good ol’ bong and took a huge puff on it. And this is the end result!” The word “option” is in quotation marks because well, they are all in Navy standard coloring of the time, Glossy Sea Blue. This means color modulation and shading is needed in order to break apart that one huge block of blue, which means it will be tougher for me as I’m planning to get the A-1H version also and that one will be the “weathered” one. This one will be a wing folded, cowl hatch open, just entered service and thus brand new.
All in all, a great alternative to the Zukei-Mura version. If you ever just want to get one Spad and is planning to work on it for quite a while, get the Zukei one. But if you ever want to get more than one and want to keep your sanity intact, get the Trump version, especially since one of them can be the Korean War and the other Vietnam to represent just how long this craft was in service despite the fact many tried to replace it (remind you of something? Like the B-52 BUFF?)
NOTE: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I do know about the shape discrepancy on the prop and the fact that the windscreen and canopy is a touch too big. “That place that shall not be named” have been hammering about them for like 13 pages straight! But so what? If that is all it is then I’m very happy. It looks like a Spad and is around at least $100 (if you throw in a resin cockpit and the weapon set) cheaper than the Zukei version and for me, the far easier to build one also!
Kit courtesy of SWMBO, who was kind enough to open her tighter than a @#$@$@#$ pocket book as a birthday gift.
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