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Collect-Aire 1/48 Scale
EA-3B Skywarrior

by Gil Hodges


EA-3B Skywarrior


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For the few of you not familiar with the CollectAire company, they make resin kits, primarily in 1/48 scale. You can check out their selections at www.CollectAire.com. They have a wide range of subjects that the mainstream injection molding companies have ignored either because the subject was too obscure, or they just didn't think it would be something that would sell well enough to justify the costs of making it. The CollectAire kits are more expensive than the average model kit. However, that's due to the limited numbers of kits molded per run (hundreds instead of tens of thousands), the expense of the resin (including the cost of decals, cast metal, and photo-etched parts); as well as that "collectable" moniker!

I built the original issue of CA's 1/48 scale Skywarrior about ten years ago. It built up into an impressive model.

But the newest issue of the EA-3B is an all new tooling. It puts the original to shame!



To start with, the resin is a much higher quality. It appears as smooth and shiney as plastic, and the engraved markings are petite and well done. There was no evidence of warping on any of my kit parts. The fuselage is hollow cast WITH the ECM consoles cast into the inside of one of the halves. The cockpit interior is complete with photo-etched consoles and main panels. The bottom crew access door is separate, as is the fuselage side door. The wings are cast in one piece from fold-line to fold-line, with the outer panels cast separately. Metal hardware is included to provide detail and strength if you choose to show the wings folded. The flaps and slats are all separate. The main gear well is correctly molded with the appropriate "see through" area. The landing gear are cast metal. They're both well detailed and strong enough to support the model. The speed brakes and tail bumper are also separate items that can be displayed in the open position. Two vacuform canopies are provided, as well as the side windows. All in all, this new kit gives you a lot of building optons that the original issue didn't have.

If there's a downfall to this kit, it would be the instructions. They are adequate, but could be better detailed and more precise in some areas (like adding the landing gear). I highly recommend that you have some extra reference material to help flesh out the instructions. Also, although the decals are well printed and go on the model superbly, there's only one option. As much as this kit costs, one or two more schemes would be a nice addition. After all, there aren't any aftermarket 1/48 Skywarrior sheets around!





Modeling started with the "clean-up" of the resin parts. Unlike regular kits, the resin kit parts have some flash on them that needs to scraped and sanded off. This isn't difficult and takes little time. Also, it was mostly the smaller parts that needed this. The larger parts were more cleanly cast.

Once clean-up was accomplished , the next step was to test fit the parts together. The test fitting revealed that the CA Skywarrior is one of their better fitting kits. The fuselage interior parts all fit without any adjustments, and the seams were no worse than a regular injection molded kit. The slat slots in the wing leading edges need to be filed a bit to open them up more and allow the slats to fall into place. The wing to fuselage joint was a mixture of good and bad news. The wing fit to the body well on the bottom and on the top in the front. However, there was a significant step at the back on the top of the fuselage that took some work to get everything flush.  Also, the outer wing panels took some filling and sanding. This isn't unusual for most folding wing kits, and I'd rate these wing joints as "good" for a resin kit, and "average" when compared to the regular injection kit.

The kit engine pods are well cast and include turbine faces and intake splitter vanes, as well as the "flame holder" exhuast plates. The front of each intake is a separately cast cylinder. That allows you to assemble the engine pod with NO seams inside the intakes! The fit of the pods to the wings are pretty good too. Just be sure to get the right one on the correct side; they are "handed".


Construction was straightforward with supeglue used throughout for assembly. The interior was painted light gray with black consoles. The PE parts for the panels in the cockpit are "blackened nickle-silver". They can be glued in place without any painting needed!  Don't forget to add nose weight before closing up the fuselage. I used lead fishing sinkers for this.

One of the trickier parts of  "podded" engines is painting the red intake lip. I did this by painting the red FIRST, and then masking it off, inside and outside. Next, the interior was painted silver (to cover the excess red) and then gloss white. The intake could then be glued in place over the painted and assembled engine parts. The pods were filled and sanded BEFORE they were added to the wings. In fact, next time I'll even paint them before gluing them on!

I used the second canopy to make masks for the one on the model. I first outlined all of the windows with a fine tipped black marker. Next, I applied frosted Scotch tape to the canopy and cut the masks out. I then carefully peeled off the Scotch tape masks and applied them to 3M Blue masking tape (low-tack stuff) using them as patterns to cut the blue tape masks for the canopy on the model.


Painting and Markings



The model was painted in the USN scheme of gull gray over white. Model Master gloss paints were used.



The metallic areas of the engine pods were painted with Aclad2 dark aluminum and steel. That allowed me to keep them masked for most of the painting steps. The gear doors were outlined with gloss red and a fine pointed brush.

The interior of the slat beds and speed brake wells, as well as the speed brake interiors were all painted red. That really adds some color to the scheme! MM lacquer gloss was used for the gloss coat. The model was given a wash of burnt-sienna oil paint, thinned with turpentine (mixed up in a plastic soda bottle cap). The excess oil wash was removed with an almost dry paper towel, that had a SMALL amount of turpentine on it. Another gloss coat sealed the wash and prepared the model for decals.



The decals went down well, but the fit of the fuselage stripes weren't as precise as they could be. To compound that, there was no allowance on the decals for displaying the side door open. That meant I had to do some fancy cutting around the door frame to get a piece that I could apply to the door! Also, the instructions are weak on where some of the smaller stencils and rescue arrows go. One more gloss coat was added to seal the decals, and allow me to add a wash in their panel lines.



Finishing Touches


It was now time to add the final parts, and this is when I ran into the only bug-a-boo on this kit. The main gear are well cast and detailed. But, their engineering does't really allow for the "testing" of the sit of the model. It was at this point that I found that one gear was about 1/8" longer than the other! I had no choice but to snip off one oleo, file it shorter, and then glue it back in place. That, combined with a bit of differential sanding on the tires got the model to sit level.



The rest of the gear parts all went on with little to no problems. Flaps, slats, actuators, and all of the rest of the fiddy parts were added to complete assembly. A final flat coat was sprayed on, the clear parts unmasked, and the model was done!




I enjoyed building this kit. Since I have to give it to it's rightful owner, I plan to get another one in the future for my own collection. The CollectAire EA-3B Skywarrior isn't cheap. But, it is a fine kit of an important US Navy plane; and you're not likely to see this one put out by a major manufactutrer. I recommend it to anyone who has some experience with resin kits and who also has access to some reference materials on the Skywarrior. Happy modeling!



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright 2004 by Gil Hodges
Page Created 15 March, 2004
Last Updated 15 March, 2004

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