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A1-H Skyraider

by Rolando Raffaut


Tornado GR.4


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My first Internet model posting is my latest labour of love, Tamiya’s 1/48 A-1H Skyraider with Cutting Edge wingfold conversion, as well as numerous refinements and addititions.

I began this project 5 years ago as a “quickbuild” after suffering a bout of AMS from a previous project. Thinking that since it was a Tamiya kit, I’d have it together in no time at all,well……lets just say the road to hell is paved with good intentions!!

I knew that I wanted to depict the kit on a carrier deck with the wings folded, and the aircraft chocked and tied down and using those great VA-176 bumblebee markings. For those not familiar with these markings, the kit depicts one of only a few Spads that engaged and successfully shot down North Vietnamese Migs during the Vietnam war. The callsign for this particular aircraft was “Papoose 09”.

So on to the kit.





I began by cutting the kit’s wings apart and was well into scratchbuilding the wing fold details when I came across Cutting edge’s resin conversion and nabbed it, consigning my own efforts to the spares box.


I modified the resin wings by grinding the ailerons off and cutting the plastic ailerons off the kit’s wings which I added to the resin ones in a drooped attitude via delicate scratchbuilt hinges.

I then began construction of the kit via the normal way, i.e starting with the cockpit. This was used from the kit, save for a few minor mods: I shaved off the “lumps” on the L/H console and added my own throttle, prop condition, mixture and boost levers made from scrap brass and stretched sprue. Lead foil seatbelts were adorned with P/E buckles as well as adding a canteen and its mounting bracket to the right of the pilot’s seat. I puched the kit instruments from the decal sheet and added them to the instrument panel. The area behind the pilot’s headrest was “busied up” by adding details from copper wire and styrene bits and pieces. I painted the cockpit in oils, which was a first for me. A Verlinden map was added to the coaming under the windscreen and the kits gunsight was modified by adding a disc from punched clear styrene for the combiner glass, and a P/E mirror added to the windscreen frame.

The canopy had handles added either side of the frame from brass rod.



Next I moved onto the engine which was detailed by adding copper wire from the magneto’s to the individual cylinders.

Other engine additions included adding P/E mesh to the intake below the engine, drilling out the exhausts and adding a cowl position indicator from brass rod, the engine vent pipe was removed from under the cowl and a stainless steel one from syringe tubing added, then grinding it to the right elliptical shape.

The main undercarriage was detailed by adding telescoping steel tubing to the front of the oleos as well as a tie down eye bolt from Grandt Line and brake lines from copper wire. I like to reinforce my models as I build them to stop breakages so I drilled and inserted brass rod down the oleos and the axles for the wheels.

The tail was cut and repositioned to give a more candid appearance as well as having a brass rod brace added. I detailed the wheel well interiors with sheet brass,copper wire and styrene bits but since the kit is mounted on a base this was a wasted exercise,….oh well!!.

For the fuselage I added static dischargers to the ailerons, rudder and elevators from brass rod curled to simulate droop and added brass rod boarding steps either side of the ventral airbrake. The arrestor hook also had molded on detail removed and replaced with brass rod. The wing guns and pitot tube were replaced with telescoping stainless steel and brass tube from Minimecca. I had Eduard’s original P/E set for this kit but didn’t use any of it as I thought I’d add my own scratchbuilt details.

Moving to the weapons, I wanted to depict a “bombed up” Spad so I raided Hasegawa’s weapons set for the ordnance. For the Zuni pods I drilled out the little bumps which were Hasegawa’s attempt at representing rockets and added my own made from 72nd scale Hellfire missiles reprofiled to fit the pods, I added tiny fuses to the tips by adding slices of stretched sprue.



The bombs had the fuses removed and Daisy Cutter extensions added from Evergreen styrene rod before refitting the fuses to the ends of the extensions. Copper wire was added for the arming wires. The sub-munition dispensers had their electrical wires and canon plugs added also from copper wire and styrene, which are barely visible when painted. I added all the sway braces to the pylons,these were made from the True Details P/E set as well as my own punched styrene discs. Again I pinned all the stores with brass rod to prevent inadvertent weapons releases!



Painting, Markings and Weathering


By now all the sub-assemblies were complete and painted so it was time to paint the model itself.

I preshaded with Tamiya Black and used Humbrol super enamel airframe white for the undersides and model Master Gull Grey for the rest. Panel lines were picked out with Tamiya Smoke heavily thinned as well as a 2B pencil. Then I faded some of the upper wing and fuselage panels with lightened Gull Grey. I mixed Tamiya Smoke and Tamiya Red Brown and lightly post shaded some of the engine panel lines as well as some of the wing /fuselage panels that would see more scuffing and maintenance. The wing gun panels were scuffed up more as well as adding tiny drops and smears from the grungy brown mix, unfortunately with the wings folded this can barely be seen……DOH!!.

The exhaust stains were sprayed the same dirty brown colour. I used a black colour pencil to simulate the pilot/crew boot scuff marks.

The overly thick kit decals were used by firstly applying a pool of Future where the decals would go, then adding the decal and then adding Gunze Mr Mark Softer which successfully snuggled the decals down, when dry I generously oversprayed with a couple of coates of Future and when that was dry I hit it with a shot of Testors Dullcoate from a bottle over a decade old!.

I tried to add some small “human” touches to the model, I recalled my days back in the RAAF as an aircraft engineer when at the completion of a servicing we would add our own graffiti to the aircraft in not so obvious places, so armed with a micron pen I added some little touches to the speed-brake and undercarriage wells.



I experimented and developed a technique to depict the chipped and eroded paint on the prop tips. I’m not overly satisfied with using a silver Prismacolour pencil alone for this as I feel it doesn’t do a realistic job in my opinion. So I sprayed the props and other high-wear areas with Floquil bright silver as this laquer based paint eats into the plastic, next apply whatever colour needs to go over the top. For the prop blades I used a well worn, fine grade Flexi-File strip and gently dragged it across the surface until it removed the paint and exposed the silver in a nicely feathered edge exactly the same way the airflow does, the tiny chips and scratches were achieved by taking a syringe needle and grinding it even piontier with a Dremel tool, then using it to actually scrape and pick away at the paint, this leaves perfectly “In scale” scratches that little silver blobs of paint just can’t do.



Completing Construction


Lastly came the fitting of the folded wings. In order to get the angle right I measured the wing fold angle from Squadron’s Skyraider Walkaround. There a couple of sets of drawings in the book so I used a protractor, then I cut wedges from stiff cardboard corresponding to those angles and lay them on the wing, I delicately placed the folded wing portion against these cardboard templates and after much tweaking and cussing ( I think I invented my own language!!) I flooded the joints with super glue. I used my airbrush to gently blow the super glue into all the nooks and crannies of the wing fold to ensure a good bond. After it had cured I delicately removed the wing templates and low and behold I had folded wings!, then I took a couple of aspirin and lay down for a week….WHEW!. Now with solid resin wings and a full ordnance load the model was painfully fragile so I braced the wings with struts made from telescoping stainless steel tubing, once fitted and glued they made the whole assembly quite robust.


Now I needed a base to display the model on so I went to a local trophy shop and had one made from MDF, as well as a little plaque to go with it. The much coveted Naval Aviator wings were cast from an original set and I made resin copies. The carrier deck was made from a sheet of wet & dry paper with panel lines carved into it with a razor saw, effectively blunting it in the process!, The tie downs are P/E from Toms Model Works. Their places were marked and drilled and then glued in with Super Glue.

I arranged all deck stripes and panel lines so as to be asymmetric to the base and the model. The model was mounted to the base with brass pins and I made a set of chocks from Evergreen square and rod stock. Lastly the tie downs were made from model railway chain and the ratchet mechanisms from styrene, the hooks themselves from bent brass rod.


So there you have it, a Skyraider in 5 years!,( OK I was actually overseas for 3 of them). Anyway modeling’s supposed to be fun right?, that’s what my therapist keeps telling me!


Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Rolando Raffaut
Page Created 09 December, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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