Hasegawa 1/72 KA-3B Skywarrior "Naval Missile Center"
|PRICE:||$39.98 when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior is a jet-powered strategic bomber that was developed and produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company. It was designed by Douglas on behalf of the United States Navy, which sought a carrier-capable strategic bomber. During July 1949, Douglas was awarded the contract to produce its design, having bested eight other aircraft companies' submissions. Unlike rival designs, which had aimed for a 100,000 lb (45,000 kg) maximum take-off weight, the Skywarrior was developed for a 68,000 lb (31,000 kg) take-off weight, facilitating its use from the navy's existing Midway-class aircraft carriers. Large portions of the aircraft were produced by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, including its early Westinghouse J40 turbojet engines, which failed to meet promises and were replaced by the rival Pratt & Whitney J57 engine by mid-1953. On 28 October 1952, the prototype XA3D-1 performed the type's maiden flight.
On 31 March 1956, the Skywarrior entered squadron service with the Navy. Initially used in the nuclear-armed strategic bomber role, the emergence of effective ballistic missiles led to this mission being deprioritised by the early 1960s. Throughout the majority of its later service life, the Skywarrior was tasked with various secondary missions, which included use as an electronic warfare platform, tactical reconnaissance aircraft, and high capacity aerial refueling tanker. It was among the longest serving carrier-based aircraft in history, having entered service during the mid-1950s and withdrawn from use in 1991. Throughout its service, the Skywarrior was the heaviest operational aircraft to operate from an aircraft carrier, which contributed to its nickname of "Whale".
Retired from the Navy after the 1st Gulf War in late 1991, the type continued to operate with civilian contractors until final retirement in 2011.
In the late 1990s, Hasegawa released its first Skywarrior kit. This was eagerly anticipated as previously the only A-3 model was the off-scale Revell kit from the 1960s. So far, they have done a goodly number of boxings with some including resin parts to do specific variations, with the last being released in 2014. While it is doubtful if any more will be done, there is always the chance.
You get the basic sprues for the A-3B kit along with an additional sprue for the refueling probe and the tanker drogue. A fair cockpit is included with decals for instruments. Both of the options in this box are test birds so I'm not sure if the radar scope section for the ASB-1/7 bombing radar would be installed. 5 grams of nose weight is listed as needed to prevent tail sitting and there is a fair amount of room for it.
Wings are single piece upper with two lower sections. A hole must be opened near the tip for a large blade antenna. After the wings and tailplanes are installed, the landing gear is built up and glued in place. This is followed by the engine pods and then the gear doors. Also on the underside is the closed bomb bay section, tail bumper and the tail hook assembly. Note that the tanker package is only used on the first option. I'm also not sure if the DECM antenna under the nose would have been installed on either option so check photos. The last things to add are the canopy and the refueling probe.
You are provided two markings options. One is the box art pane in light gull grey over white with the Naval Missile Command. The other is the all white NWC China Lake airplane. The decal sheet is nicely done and includes the upper fuselage/wing walk area decals.
I've built one of these Skywarrior kits and found it to be a typical Hasegawa effort. Parts fit is fairly good, though I always seem to need filler in my builds. Probably the most difficult part is dealing with the engine intake seam. It also takes up a fair amount of shelf space, but is a must for any USN jet collection.
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