Douglas AD-6 Skyraider
Part One

by John Kerr

HyperScale regular John Kerr presents the first instalment of his experiences with Tamiya's spectacular 1/48 scale "Able Dog Six" Skyraider.

 

I n t r o d u c t i o n


In building the new Tamiya Skyraider I thought I would attempt a progressive article detailing my step-by-step approach to the kit.

Hopefully this will provide more specific modelling notes to the reader instead of general building and finishing notes written after the kit is finished, ie. "now in what sequence did it really happen ?".

Also there will be photos along the way, assuming friend-buddy-pal Richard Chafer is prepared to lend me his photography skills again (thanks Richard).

 

O v e r v i e w


Tamiya has given quarter scale aircraft modellers plenty to cheer about in recent years with new kits of many much sort after aircraft subjects. These include their Fw190A-3, D-9 & F-8, P-51B/Mk.III & P-51D/K Mustang, Dinah, Beaufighter, He-219 and Skyray.

The subject of this article, the Douglas AD-6/AH-1 Skyraider is another aircraft that has been high on many modeller’s "Wish List". I for one have been "hanging out" for the Tamiya kit. Monogram’s Skyraider kit was one of the first kits I built when I got back into modelling some 13 years ago.

I think most people reading this article will know a bit about the Skyraider so I’ll dispense with the usual background information about it’s development, specifications, operations and other peripheral fluff.

 

I n   t h e   B o  x


Tamiya’s Skyraider oozes detail and options even at first glance. Positional inner wing flaps, open/closed engine cowl flaps, open/closed dive brakes, interchangeable fuel tanks and bombs for the main underwing pylons, and a choice of 5in HVARS, 250lb bombs, 2.75in FFAR rocket pods and 2.75in rocket tubes for 12 outer underwing pylons are all supplied as standard. Additional ordnance includes 2,250 gallon underwing tanks plus a 300 gallon centreline tank. Who could ask for more?

So you’re probably already asking yourself the question. How does the Tamiya Skyraider compare to the venerable Monogram effort ? Even from an "in-box" viewpoint the Tamiya kit looks awesome and is a quantum leap iahead of the Monogram effort! This is not to say that the Monogram kit was not a very good effort for it’s time and still makes into a reasonable model.

 

G e t t i n g   S t a r t e d


The kit box contains a mass of light grey plastic parts spread over several sprues plus 1 clear plastic sprue (bagged in a separate small plastic bag). 2 decal sheets provide markings for 3 colourful aircraft from VA-176 "Thunderbolts", VA-25 "Fist Of The Fleet" and VA-52 "Knight Riders". All three are finished in the standard US Navy scheme of Light Gull Grey over White. AK409 of VA-176 aircraft, with the larger-than-life "Stinging Bee" tail art, is beautifully rendered in a colour painting on the box-top.

Set aside a few hours to detach and clean up all the parts (using a new blade of course). The ordnance parts can take quite some time depending on your choice of stores. Trust me, it’s not a case of detaching and cleaning up all parts in a few minutes. For example, I initially chose the HVAR rockets for the underwing pylons. There are 12 rockets each comprising of a forward and rear section. Now that’s 24 parts each with two sprue attachment points (are you counting?). In total that’s 48 cuts! Add the clean up of all 48 sprue tags and then the removal of the two mold lines running down the entire length of each rocket - well, the time just flew b !

Now here’s AMS ("Advanced Modelling Syndrome/Sickness") at its best! After deciding to hang the HVARs from the 12 underwing pylons, and going to all the trouble to cut and clean up the kit parts as described above, I dug out the KMC pylon/ordnance update set designed for the Monogram Skyraider to compare parts. The detail on the KMC’s resin parts just "blew my mind". Yes you guessed it ! A change of mind which will become evident when I finally make up my mind about the final ordnance configuration (suffice to say there’s a fair chance I’ll be using some of the KMC parts).

OK - back to the kit proper. Once all parts were cleaned up rapid progress was made. For once in starting a kit I was in a "gluing mood’ as opposed to a "painting mood". So parts like the rear stabilisers, dive brakes, main underwing pylons, main wheel-well wall/door inserts and rear fuselage wheel well were tackled first.

A word of warning - take care when cutting off the tabs from the lower dive brake boor hinge as they could snap off completely.

Each main wheel well requires the addition of inner and outer wall, these also include the undercarriage doors. Having struggled with similar parts with the Monogram He-111 (if you’ve built the He-111 you’ll know exactly what I mean. Nice fit - NOT!) I was relieved to find the Tamiya parts fit snugly in place to totally box in the wheel well.

Looking at the assembled parts afterwards gave me a real sense of achievement compared to the usual handful of base coated cockpit parts I usually start with.

 

W h a t ' s   N e x t ?

 

Well that’s the end of "Week 1" for my Skyraider. Total time spent on cutting, clean up and assembly was about 6 hours (OK so I’m a slow modeller) with not a drop of paint to be seen.

After only a few hours of building I already have an expectation that this is a model to savor! Rest assured that everything is going to "hang out" - the dive brakes will be open, the canopy slid back and all ordnance pylons full!

In my next installment I will cover painting and assembly of the cockpit (including replacing the kit seat with a KMC seat with seat/lap belts), upper/lower wing, engine, cowling and perhaps more ordnance procrastination.

In the meantime I’ll be anticipating my next building session (after all there are other distractions in life such as work commitments, family stuff and watching the footy) and mulling over which scheme the model will eventually wear - I haven’t even got past the USN or USAF decision.

One thing for sure is I will NOT be using the kit decals. They look OK but are quite thick. Even if I choose the striking "Killer Bee" USN scheme from VA-176 I can utilise AK405 from AeroMaster or AK409 from Third Group (they are supposedly the same aircraft - I believe there is some uncertainty over the exact aircraft code number for the MiG killer).

JOHN KERR
of the South Australian Plastic Modeller’s Association (SAPMA)
Adelaide, South Australia


Article Text Copyright 1998 by John Kerr
Page Created 17 August, 1998
Last Updated 26 July, 2007

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