In a large box full of plastic, Trumpeter’s Skyraider is packed with loads of detail. The engine alone has more parts than many 1/72 kits. The landing gear and cockpit also feature prominently on the list of detailed subassemblies. While detail color callouts are sparse, ample online references will help with painting.
More than six of the 19 sprues are dedicated to weapons you can hang on your Spad. Unfortunately, many of the weapons are not relevant to a Korean War-era Skyraider — including the infamous “toilet bomb” dropped during the Vietnam War (dramatizing that the Spad could indeed carry anything). For a Korean War Skyraider, there are two 2,000-pound and four 500-pound iron bombs included, along with a full load of 5" HVAR rockets — except the rockets are 15 scale inches short. There are no early drop tanks included (think Bearcat). However, Trumpeter did include both early- and late-style weapons pylons.
A few other chronological or version errors crept in, possibly because Trumpeter obviously intends to release later Skyraider versions as well (remember that toilet). One of the most prominent visual clues to a Dash-4 Skyraider is the location of the airspeed pitot probe on the leading edge of the fin tip. There is a recess molded there, but no probe — easy enough to make yourself, I suppose. Also, the Skyraider carried different types of barrels for its awesome 20mm cannon over the years – Trumpeter has included barrels with flash suppressors that would be accurate for a night-attack AD-4N, and longer barrels with what looks to be a massive anti-recoil tip with lightly molded dimples. I don’t think either is correct for a Korean War day-attack Skyraider. But check your references.
Two decal options include a Navy and a Marine bird. Unfortunately, Trumpeter’s Navy option is for an AD-4NA, a variant of the Spad that should have a rear fuselage radar operator’s station with a window on the left and a door on the right side of the fuselage (not included in this kit). Trumpeter has included a large number of detailed rear fuselage bulkheads and a big, spherical fuel tank, all of which become completely invisible — another hint at future versions, perhaps? I only installed bulkheads I thought might possibly be structural. But after assembling the fuselage I don’t think any are required.
After identifying these issues, construction was a breeze. I used very little filler; what I did use was my own fault. The only fit issue was the inspection hatch just in front of the canopy. There was a large gap and small step that would have been difficult to fill without destroying the adjacent hinge detail. So, I cut a piece of .005" styrene to size, scribed the door line down the middle, and placed it over the gap.
A set of photoetched-metal seatbelts is included, but these seem very narrow for the typically burly Spad driver. To show off all the engine detail, Trumpeter provides two clear fuselage side panels. Left as they are, these panels would allow viewing of the nice engine accessory bay. But I left all these parts out, as I intended to paint the panels (which would hide the accessory bay). Thanks to the wonderful fit, I was able to quickly close up the fuselage and concentrate on the flying surfaces. Trumpeter has included separate controls for all flying surfaces. Other than the dropped flaps and ailerons, which are correctly drooped for the folded-wing option, the mounting tabs are all molded in the neutral position. Fit is exceptional and sturdy. The wing center section carries detailed gear bays and the inboard cannon. Wing hinges are well executed and strong. I folded the wings on my AD-4, but if you plan to have them extended you might want to beef up the mounts.
Just like the fuselage, the wing center section fit like a glove. I was also thrilled to see I didn’t need any filler to blend it into the fuselage, not even at the complicated joint near the cowling. The wing roots were nice and tight as well. I left the sturdy gear off until after painting.
Trumpeter has included rubber tires and, while I’m not a big fan, these look nice. The outer wings include optional open ammo and cannon access panels. Again, the fit is exceptional in the closed position. After painting, I did a trial fit of the folded wings, and they stayed so nicely I decided not to glue them in place.
I had left the engine until last, fearing the spaghetti of exhaust tubes would do me in. But, here again, Trumpeter comes up in spades for its Spad. I was able to test-fit by fully assembling the engine without glue, then disassemble, paint, and reassemble it with no issues. Nicely done!
After painting the aircraft blue — so much blue — I began decaling. The decals have a spotty finish, with inconsistent gloss and flat areas. They go on all right; however, the white is a bit translucent. Good thing I remembered to leave off all the pylons to allow placement of the underwing star — there would have been a lot of cutting involved otherwise. But, try as I might, I could not get the yellow nose bands to fit on the 500-pound bombs.
After decaling, I started attaching all the many assemblies and parts that I had left off. The fit was exceptional for all the accessories, including the landing gear.
My Skyraider took just a tad more than 50 hours. While a handful of accuracy issues, poor decals and markings research, and a frustrating weapons situation may be problems for a Spad lover, Trumpeter’s AD-4 is accurate in size and shape, and fit throughout is outstanding. Modelers with a handful of kits under their belt should have no trouble with this big beastie.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2013 FineScale Modeler.