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Tamiya 1/72 scale Douglas F4D-1 Skyray

Kit: No. 60741
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, phone 800-826-4922
Price: $12.50
Comments: Injection molded, 67 parts, decals.
Deja vu, only smaller. Hot on the heels of Tamiya's excellent 1/48 scale Skyray comes its 1/72 scale little brother. It's obvious that this was patterned from the larger kit, although this one doesn't have the folding-wing option or the positionable "trimmers" found inboard of the ailerons. However, the level of detail is as good as it gets in 1/72 scale.

Cockpit detail is excellent, but there is no harness for the seat or throttle lever for the left console. The two-part canopy can be posed opened, but you'll have to shave the sides of the forward edge of the fuselage spine to do that. Tamiya recommends adding 5 grams of weight to the nose cone, but I positioned the tail-bumper wheel down to hold the model in the correct position. All exterior detail is recessed except for two raised piano-hinges on the spine.

Fit is excellent and I used no filler. Be careful removing the clear parts from the sprues as the attachment points are on the thin frames at the bottom of each part. Cut away from the part, then sand down the attachment stub. Don't forget to bore holes for the underwing stores in the lower wing half. Drop tanks, a guidance pod, Sidewinder missiles, and pods for unguided rockets are provided.

The decals are one of the highlights of the kit - and the trickiest part of the project. After applying the gloss white undersurfaces and gloss Light Gull Gray topside, I was ready to decal. All the colorful markings of the star-spangled VF(AW)-3 bird are provided as decals. I found that Super Sol was a little too strong for Tamiya's decals and may not be needed at all. Decal one side of the tail and spine and let them dry for a day before decaling the other side. You may need to persuade the decals to wrap around the leading and trailing edge of the fin.

The other markings choices are for Marine squadrons VMF(AW)-114 and VMF(AW)-115.

When finished, the Skyray's a beauty. The shape and color scheme made this the most attractive U.S. Navy fighter in the most colorful era. It's just a few scale inches short in length, but right on the button in span according to the statistics in Steve Ginter's Naval Fighters No. 13, Douglas F4D Skyray.

If you want to take a break from long, difficult modeling projects, take a look at Tamiya's little Skyray. I cranked mine out in just 13 hours. Beginners could build it, but will need experience with decals to successfully color their 'Ray.

- Paul Boyer

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