|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Built at Curtiss' St. Louis plant, 900 aircraft were ordered by the USAAF under the designation A-25A Shrike. The first 10 aircraft had folding wings, while the remainder of the production order omitted this unnecessary feature. Many other changes distinguished the A-25A, including larger main wheels, a pneumatic tail wheel, ring and bead gun sight, longer exhaust stubs, and other Army specified radio equipment. By late 1943 when the A-25A was being introduced, the USAAF no longer had a role for the dive bomber, as fighter aircraft such as the P-47 Thunderbolt had shown their ability to carry out tactical air support missions with great success.
After offering the Shrike to Australia, only 10 were accepted before the Royal Australian Air Force rejected the remainder of the order, forcing the USAAF to send 410 to the U.S. Marines. The A-25As were converted to the SB2C-1 standard but the Marine SB2C-1 variant never saw combat, being used primarily as trainers. The remaining A-25As were similarly employed as trainers and target tugs.
After doing two Navy Helldivers, Cyber-hobby decided to do the Army version of this plane. The Army's A-25 is basically an SBC-1 but with a few differences, some of which required a new sprue to be added. For instance, this kit has a new, larger tail wheel, a three blade prop and spinner, a new pitot tube and .50 cal machine gun ports. What they did not change was to provide longer exhaust stubs or the ring and bead gun sight. To make the wheels larger, you will find that the back half of the two part wheel is new and thicker than the original one. To install the new tail wheel, the old tail wheel mount will need to be cut away. You also have to cut away the rocket stubs on the stub insert to make it flush. The kit still includes the folding wings, so the modeler will need to assemble them in the lowered position.
Everything else on the kit is the same. You get the option to have the rear fuselage section raised or lowered and it is well done with different inserts for each. Though the instructions show that all the clear bits allegedly have options, there are none. I am not sure if the canopy sections can be stacked in the open position, but I sincerely hope so.
The kit does include photo-etch for the dive brakes and belts and these are very nicely done. There is no indication as to if the dive brakes should be red on the inside or not. As with many new kits, this one can be built wheels up, though no display stand is included. Bomb bay doors can be displayed open or closed and the twin bomb cradle assembly is nicely done as is the well done interior detail. The kit provides separate ailerons, rudder and elevators.
Instructions are well done and provide clear assembly instructions. However, it supplies no color information for things like interior, wheel wells and such. I find this to be totally unacceptable in a modern kit and there is no excuse for not providing this information. Markings are provided for the box art aircraft which is pretty generic with early 1943 insignia. Fortunately, a bit of web searching will turn up some more colorful examples if one is willing to do the extra work. The small decal sheet is nicely printed and should cause no issues.
This will make a nice addition to anyone's WWII attack collection and adds another interesting option for those who want to do something a bit different. The lack of color info aside, it is a kit I would have no problems recommending.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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