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 A-1H Skyraider

by Patrick Chung


A-1H Skyraider


Tamiya's 1/48 scale A-1H Skyraider is available online at Squadron.com



Affectionately known as "Able Dog", the Douglas AD series attacker was one of the most welcomed machines among the US Navy and USMC pilots and ground crews. Its sturdy construction and reliable mechanism allow the dog to withstand even the toughest battle ware and the versatility of the design enabled the dog multiple role in the fierce combat and that is well proved during the Korean and Vietnam War. The AD-6 (later known as A-1) was the last main type of the series and the H version, as a carrier borned attack machine, gained its fame over the sky of North Vietnam.



Perhaps there are already too much and too well description about this machine on the web so any further bubbling of it would be annoying to experts around. So lets go to the model itself.


Tamiya's Skyraider in 1/48


Back in 1990s, Tamiya released the navy version of this famous plane and later they presents another USMC version, both of Vietnam War era. The kit is of this firm's normal high standard and the moldings are crisp and delicate. However the kit is not as easy to build as a Mustang or a Spitfire due to the complicatedness of the full scale counterparts which caused a more sophisticated parts break down and thus more sub-assembly and pre-painting/weathering/masking required during construction.




Tamiya has a good reputation of making well thought out construction sequence that will assist trouble-free construction. This kit is no exception. The drawings are clear and sub-assembly/painting is called for in each step.

As normal I started from the pilot's "front office". The amount of detail in this area is good enough for most builders so I only added seat belts made with masking tape and fine copper wires. After painting the entire office dark gray, a small amount of white was added to the basic color for some subtle shading. The instrument panel was painted black and kit decals for dial faces was used, it snug down perfectly after a couple coats of Gunze Decal Softener. After these were dry I hand picked the fine knobs and switches on the side panels with various colors to make it looks busy.




Despite following the construction steps on the instruction sheet, I turned to assemble those sub-assemblies before going to the major parts. Air brakes, landing gears, wheels, tail wheels, arresting hook, propeller, engine, pylons, ordnance and drop tanks are cemented, sanded, painted, shaded and washed, some are even pasteled to enhance the result.



A few small things were added at this stage. The kit gun barrels were replaced by hypodermic needle tubes and hydraulic plumbings made by wire and fuses inside the wheel well which was already painted and weathered.



Major parts fit so perfectly that they almost fall together. After thorough sanding and rescribing some panel lines (though Tamiya's kits all feature fine recessed panel lines, there are places where they are marred due to the mold release angles or sanding or excessive glue--in most cases I use CA for almost all the assembly because it won't soften the plastic and made the rescribing easier) the model is ready to receive the first coat of paint.


Painting and Markings


All the inside of the airbrakes, wheel well/gear doors were pre-painted with Tamiya gloss white. These were carefully masked before the final spray. As for USN aircraft of 1960s, the flying surfaces and undersides are all insignia white while the rest of the airplane being painted light gull gray. So I first mixed some "desert yellow" to Gunze flat white lacquer to obtain the "insignia white" and then spray the complete underside plus ailerons, rudder and elevators with it, using tan colour as panel line shading and leaking residues.



When these are dry, I masked all these area off with paper and masking tape and then spray the rest of the model light gull gray. To shade the panels of the gray area, I first use dark brown for the lines and then a lighter shade of the basic gray to fill the center of the panels.I use highly thinned paints when doing this to eliminate otherwise too strong contrast.The bare metal leading edges were then carefully painted and finally I masked the nose area to spray the anti-glare black panel. The Curtiss-Wright R-3350 Engine on this aircraft has a very unique exhaust stain pattern and this is achieved by the finest setting of my Aztec model 470 airbrush with firstly red brown then a few light coat of dirty black, both heavily thinned.

The model was then put overnight to let the paint thoroughly dry and the next day I start putting decals on. Tamiya has enclosed two decal sheets in the box for 4 aircraft, all in Vietnam War era. I finally chose the markings of Ltjg W.T.Patton's AK409, VA-176 on board USS Intrepid, because of his stunning victory on 9,October 1966 when he downed a Mig-17 on a rescue sortie.

The decals are complete and well printed though still a bit thicker than Aeromaster's. Under few coat of Gunze's Mr.Decal Softer, they snuggled down very well.


Finishing Touches


Before putting those tiny sub-assembly on, the major assembly received a wash using my home breed "washing liquid". This liquid is nothing more than artist's oil colours (burnt sienna, red brown and black pre-mixed) thinned with Zippo fluid. The advantage of using this liquid is the fast drying nature of Zippo fluid won't bite the plastic like kerosene or turp and will safe a lot of time waiting it to dry. The oil colours could be then easily cleaned by a cotton swab dipped into the artist's brush cleaner for oil colours.

The sub-assemblies were then put into their places and a monofilament thread antenna was added while 0.1mm dia. fine steel wire made the static electric release pins on all trailing edge tips.

Although I know when on the ground, A-1s normally won't have their airbrakes posed open, but the fine detail of the airbrake just can not be enclosed! so I let them open and pray for the absence of any sharp-eyed expert.


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Model, Text and Images Copyright 2001 by Patrick Chung
Page Created 13 August, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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