KIT: Revell AG 1/72 A-1E Skyraider
KIT #: 04398
PRICE: $16.99
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Frank Tauss
NOTES: 30 parts, 29 grey, 1 clear

HISTORY

Cribbed from Wikipedia

The Douglas A-1 (formerly AD) Skyraider was a U.S. single-seat attack bomber of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. A propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, the Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career well into the space age, and inspired a straight-winged, slow flying jet powered successor which is still in frontline service today. Initially designed during WWII to take the place of the SBD Dauntless (initial name was BT2D Dauntless II) and torpedo planes it evolved into a sturdy attack aircraft that served the Navy well for 30+ years and the Air Force, too, and was the Knight in dirty armor for many downed pilots and soldiers in close contact and in need of some snake and nape.

It carried various nicknames including "Spad" (a model of airplane flown in World War I); Able Dog (phonetic AD); the Destroyer; Hobo (radio call sign of the USAF 1st Air Commando/Special operations Squadron); Firefly (602nd ACS/SOS); Zorro (22nd SOS); The Big Gun; Old Faithful; Old Miscellaneous; Fat Face (AD-5/A-1E version, side-by-side seating); Guppy (AD-5W version); Q-Bird (AD-1Q/AD-5Q versions); Flying Dumptruck (A-1E); Sandy (Combat Search And Rescue helicopter escort); Crazy Water Buffalo (South Vietnamese nickname).

The A-1E (AD-5) featured side by side seating for pilot and co-pilot, without dive brakes. 212 built.

The movies Flight of the Intruder, The Green Berets and We Were Soldiers have scenes where the Spads earn their keep and are recommended.

Go to http://skyraider.org/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-1_Skyraider or just type ďSkyraiderĒ into your favorite search for more information than I can pack in here.

THE KIT

This was a bit of a surprise but a pleasant one when I saw it. I have one already in the old Monogram Blue Box and I have the Cutting Edge Cockpit and Control Surface update sets. Having never hacked up a kit before and thinking this would be fairly easy to start with the first thing I thought was I should have spare parts just in case I do something wrong when cutting. I was going to buy one of the 4 old kits at the store (2 of the White box style and 2 of the Blue Box) when I saw this. First thought is 16.99 versus 8.99, no way. Then I saw that the decals were for 3 different aircraft then the original, which solved the second problem, markings for a SEA camo Spad.

 Kit contents are typical, parts are bagged, clear canopy is bagged separately, a multilingual warning sheet, a decal sheet that fits better in the old box than in the new one and a 12 page long instruction book! 1 page for history (Deutsch and English), 2 for read this first, symbols and safety advice, 1 for paint colors (Revell and mixes as usual), 2 pages for a parts layout chart and exploded diagram assembly steps, 3 pages for the markings, each to itís own page and 3 blanks just for fun, to take notes maybe. Could we cut down on the paper and charge a buck less maybe? Considering the old sheet is an 8 Ĺ by 11 folded into quarters it seems a bit of overkill. Well there was only 1 paint scheme then.

 The kit should be no surprise to anyone who has seen it before. The kits has fine raised panel lines, recessed control surface outlines, no wheel wells to speak of and a bare if serviceable cockpit underneath the thick but clear canopy. A molded into the canopy engine and helpful raised paint demarcation lines on the propeller and the fuselage. The molds are in really good shape, comparing the 40 year old parts to the new ones shows the mold has held up well. The major difference is the old kit is molded in a medium gray and the new one in light gray. There is no flash to speak of, the only real problems were a bit of a sink mark on the ailerons that was more pronounced on the old kit, some kind of rash on the lower wings behind the bomb racks, round knock out marks on the elevators with just a hint of flash (not to worry as they donít cross any detail lines) and the ubiquitous 1967 copyright mark on the bottom of one of the elevators all of which is identical on both old and new kits. Nothing a sanding stick canít fix. There is also a fine raised line behind the cowling under the cockpit where the old kit had you paint in the black area to hide the exhaust stains. Basically they could have been pulled at the same time and the new one stored for 40 years. Things under wings are limited to a single drop tank and 2 napalm tanks. The six racks on each side is correct for a USAF bird, I think I read the Navy ones usually had fewer, maybe 4. The Hasegawa weapon set is your friend here unless you have a supply of leftovers from other kits. The canopy is thick but clear. Wasnít much to see in the old girl anyway with the decal instrument panel. The only options I can see besides the markings are the differences in the 3 versions, which antennae and fairing needs to be removed for which version and removing a bump from the port landing gear cover for the Navy versions and darkening the rear canopy sections for the USAF version and 1 of the Navy ones. I think you can build it gear up, but since the neato bandito stand isnít included in this new version...

 The real jewel is the decals printed by Revell in Italy. As noted by Scott, way back when there were not a lot of decals for the A-1E. Time has been of little help. Looking at Squadron and Great Models yielded only one sheet with 1 A-1E Eagle Strike 72004. I suppose you could adapt others but... This kit contains 3 separate sets of markings, an SEA camo, an all blue and a grey over white. The only beef I have is the blue in the insignia looks to light, but thatís me and on the all blue one, it doesnít matter. The all blue Spad is illustrated in the Squadron Signal Skyraider in Action book and they seem to have gotten it quite right with all of the stencils I could see in the photo. If you look at the decal scan you can see where the green and white stripes have a cutout on both sides of the rudder, the large M fits there. In the photo the canopy seems partly trimmed in a lighter color, maybe silver but itís right along the edge of the glass and the frames are all blue. The green flash on the cowl and the rudder looks right smart, I believe I may do this one, too. The original dash panel decal is still there, but all 3 versions appear very nicely covered including stencils, ejection seat warnings, etc. The grey and white Spad also has the curved black area down the side, modified from the original being somewhat flatter. To date Iíve not seen a photo like this, but that could just be me.

 Markings are for:

4407 CCTS, 1 SOW, USAF, Hurlburt Field, FL, circa 1966 34079/34092/30219/36622

VA-65, USN, NAS Alameda, CA 1956 overall 15042

VA-122, USN, NAS Lemoore, CA Circa 1968 36440 over white & white control surfaces

CONCLUSIONS

I like these old kits. Built one when I was young, had a blast, want to do it again only better. The decals alone were probably worth the extra $8 over an original kit. The kit looks the part and is the only option Iím aware of in 1/72. The Cobra cockpit should help quite a bit and the control surfaces will fix the flaws noted earlier as well as giving some life to the model. The 3 things I think the kit needs are gear wells, Aires makes them for the Hase A-1H Iím going to try those, a wing fold, the panel lines are there to be cut but Iíve not seen details of the fold yet and a vac canopy to show off the Cobra cockpit, thank you Falcon. Itís the kind of kit you can just build OOTB and be happy or tart it up. The Cobra stuff will set you back $23, $8 for the control surfaces and $15 for the cockpit. The Aires set is $9 at Squadron and the Falcon set is, too, plus you get several other canopies. Iíll do one kit with all the goodies and one just plain. If I get organized enough Iíll try and document it and do a full build review. In any case Go Buy One so Revell keeps putting the Golden Oldies out there for me!

 Kit and goodies courtesy of my long suffering wallet.

Frank Tauss

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