- Published on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 20:38 James Hatch
Catalogue # SWS3
Available from Zoukei-mura for 13,440¥ (Volks Japan) and $141.00 (Volks USA)
The Douglas Skyraider was both a foreboding and formidable machine. Having being designed as a carrier-based single seat attack aircraft and first flown in prototypical form while WW2 was still raging, the Skyraider saw active service through both Korean and Vietnam wars, before finally being phased out in the mid-1980's. The ruggedness of the Skyraider was legendary. The 'Flying Dump Truck' as was one of the names given to this machine, was capable of carrying and delivering large ordinance payloads at low speed , under high manoeuvrability. The Skyraider airframe was constantly upgraded and was produced in numerous versions, serving with distinction as a ground attack machine. Down the years, the name 'MiG Killer' was also given to this amazing aircraft, following a successful downing of two MiG-17 jet fighters during the Vietnam War. The designated A-1H version of the 'Spad', carried three large dive brakes and a strengthened fuselage centreline loading point.
The Skyraider served with distinction with both US, British, French and Swedish armed forces, but to name a few.
The Zoukei-mura A-1H Skyraider, to date, is the first injection moulded kit of this subject in 1:32 scale, and to this end, its original announcement was taken wish a high degree of excitement by large scale modellers. Anyone who has but the smallest knowledge of the Skyraider does know that this single set machine is very large, looking almost under-powered by that still huge radial engine. So it won't come as a surprise to anyone to find out that this model kit comes in a HUGE box! This package is truly spectacular in all of its dimensions. The box artwork of the A-1H depicts a USS Intrepid based machine, visibly hand painted onto canvas, flying above cloud. The box side panels show various images of the finished kit. The whole 'colour scheme' of the box being predominantly red, white and blue with some panels patriotically displaying stars and bars!
Inside the box, we are faced with a mass of styrene. All sprues are bagged individually to protect the contents from damage. The instruction manual is also packaged in its own bag, with the canopy mask sheet and some metal wing fold mechanism rods packaged and placed therein also.
The Zoukei-mura Skyraider is moulded across fourteen sprues of different coloured styrene, in the style of the previous Shinden and Ta 152 kits. A total of eight light cream sprues carry the external 'shell' of the Skyraider, flaps and ailerons, plus the external fuel tanks. The single black sprue holds a number of major items of hardware for the interior such as armament and ammo boxes, the propeller, fuel tank, exhausts etc. The remaining three silver sprues cover some of the major internal elements of construction, such as bulkheads, cockpit, wing spars and ribs. On these sprues, you will also find the radial engine, mounting frame and ancillary equipment for this beast of a power-plant. Dive brake interior panels are found on the silver trees also.
There is one sprue within this kit which is moulded from flexible styrene. This sprue holds the 'soft' poly-caps which form some of the airbrake opening and wing folding mechanisms. Remember to add the airbrake piston and the retaining parts before you paint the fuselage interior!
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Let's start with the silver sprues. The kit fuselage contains a number of bulkheads which not only supply extra detail, but also supply rigidity and alignment to the large fuselage halves. Two bulkheads are also used to help with wing attachment as they plug into the completed wing spar section. The wing is constructed in the SWS way of presenting to the modeller the principle on which the real aircraft was built. A forward and rear spar are slotted onto a centre frame, and from here, a series of 'bent' ribs are installed which then solidify the frame, and form the interior of the wheel wells. The spars are beautifully detailed with some raised river detail in the well areas. The outer wings of the Skyraider are also built around a skeleton, in this case moulded from a single silver part for each side.
With the cockpit, the modeller is given the opportunity of choosing from a pilot seat with either belts fitted, or without. You will notice a few parts across this sprue which aren't for use. Yes, I think we can see shades of ZM's forthcoming A-1J version of this kit! This kit supplies two instrument panels also. The silver part has dial detail moulded 'in', whereas the clear optional part has blank instrument faces so you can use the instrument decal, or use your own instrument dials. Two different joysticks are also supplied, but please check your references for your specific machine.
Components for the entire cockpit module are found on the silver sprues, with the side consoles packed with detail which looks correct to the reference material I have. The rudder pedals are mostly hidden from view under the instrument panel, but ZM have afforded these a decent level of detail. Only the company logo is missing from the pedal itself. Other internal fuselage parts include radio sets, water injection tank etc. Zoukei-mura have really gone to town with the level of detail within the fuselage, despite the fact you will see very little of it unless you cut away the fuselage
The engine parts are beautifully rendered with crisp, sharp detail, especially around the cooling fins. To help with correct orientation of the various parts in this assembly, ZM have actually included the pistons within the radial part halves. The piston heads are located in the opposite part, and as all of the pistons are at different levels, you won't be able to foul up with orientation.
Zoukei-mura supplies two different sets of main undercarriage legs. One set, with compressed oleo strut, is to be used if you wish to display your model with a full weapons load-out.
The single black sprue carries that enormous propeller. Zoukei-mura seem to have listened to criticism with their previous releases, and on this sprue, as the others, the sprue gate connections seem to be a little slimmer and not as thick. The guns are neatly moulded, with the gas return springs looking sharp, and the barrels hollowed out. There are several ejector pin 'sprouts' connected to each piece which will need to be snipped off and cleaned up, but at least the parts themselves aren't covered with pin marks. Wheels are given as halves, but they aren't weighted, which is a shame. This sprue is festooned with exhaust manifold pipes, with most of them being shaped differently. The instruction sheet shows the sequential attachment of these so they align with the exhaust troughs on the fuselage.
A LARGE fuel tank is included on the black sprue. I think this was rubber coated on the real machine, and several straps surround this part. The inner wing 'boots' which were made out of canvas are well represented too.
The silver and black sprues are well moulded with intelligently placed ejector pin placement, or as I have said, external pips which carry the pin marks. There are some seams to eradicate, but these are no worse than any other contemporary manufacturer and a quick stroke of a sharp blade or sanding sponge will put paid to them. Flash is non-existent, and no sink marks are to be seen anywhere. Sprue gates aren't too obtrusive and minimal clean-up will be required before assembly.
The fuselage halves are actually supplied as a forward part and a tail section. You'll need to assemble each tail to the forward part before you close of the fuselage. The interior of this area is detailed with a ribbed finish to simulate the real fuselage stiffeners. The upper fuselage spine is also a separate part, hinting at what might be yet to come from ZM. The rear fuselage underside is also separate. Once the engine mounting assembly is attached, two further forward fuselage parts are attached, as is the forward upper fuselage.
The detail on the exterior of the fuselage is very subtle. Panel lines and access ports are neatly scribed and delicate. Engine cowlings have a pressed metal interior finish also, and you can remove these when the model is complete, on order to display that engine. You also have a choice of modelling the inner front cowl radiator flaps in an open or closed position, as you do with the exterior cowl ring flaps!
This model has a workable folding wing too! Having built the test shot, I know that it works smoothly and very well. As this release is better in terms of quality, I have no reason to doubt that it will work just as well for you. The outer wing panels and the folding mechanism must be fitted to the inner wing area before you can add the upper surfaces of the inner wing. The wing fold mechanism works via a system of perfectly placed lugs and lips, with a metal strengthening rod sliding between the two parts, through a poly-cap. This makes the movement accurate, smooth and trouble free. The wing outside skins DO line up without gaps too. I can say this as I have built one.
The remainder of the poly-caps as previously mentioned, are used to control the smooth deployment of all three of the Skyraider's airbrakes.
The interior of the inner wing skins carry surface detail for the ceiling of the wheel well, representing stringer and rivet. While ailerons and elevators are plugged into their respective assemblies, the landing flaps can be posed either raised or lowered by simply using a different set of deployed or retracted hinges.
This kit doesn't come with a weapons load-out. While I know this has annoyed a few modellers, the price of this kit has been offset as such. If you want the weapons, you need to buy the weapons set. Simple economics and choice. Wing and fuselage pylons are supplied, and to fit these, you need to drill out the pre-formed holes from the wing interior. Included here are a set of exterior fusel tanks. The sprues holding the pylons are protected be a cardboard sleeve which prevents the delicate sway braces from becoming damaged.
Again, all parts on these sprues are well moulded, but the interior rear fuselage does have some ejector pin marks which you may want to remove. You won't see them at all, but it you do find some solution to show the interior, it's worth filling them in.
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The clear sprue is crystal clear. Containing the second instrument panel, as well as other smaller clear parts, this sprue of course holds the canopy. Frame lining, shape etc look very, very good. There is a slight seam running down the top of the sliding hood. I imagine that is a limitation of the moulding process, and will need to be removed with some subtle sanding and polishing.
A set of vinyl masks is supplied containing enough for the exterior canopy only, as is usual with most model kits supplying these . As this is a prominent canopy, I would perhaps mask the inside of the canopies too and spray your internal colour directly. The masks are crisply die-cut and if they are like those I used on my Ta 152 and Shinden, they should be accurate and easy to use.
The Skyraider instruction manual continues in the recent tradition of imitating an actual period document, and very good it looks. Some text on the front does indeed show the humour behind the ZM team and their leader. This is a thick manual with 40 pages in all, with excellent graphic images showing the construction of the model, all in computer line drawing, presumably from CAD. The manual is split into different 'chapters' concerning the constructional area, and showing photographs of the model at that stage to give you an idea of what to expect. A 'parts count' for that chapter is also shown.
A single, large decal sheet is supplied, giving both scheme markings and stencils. The decals are a little thicker than I am used to, but are printed with good clarity, sharpness and colour. Everything is also in perfect register and has minimal carrier film. The text on the small stencils is easy to read also! I have found ZM decals to conform well with setting solutions, but please test a spare decal first. Walkway decals are supplied, but I would simply paint these. The instrument panel decal has been mentioned earlier, but again, I would choose a different route.
Schemes are supplied for two machines. These are:
• A1H, AK409, Bu.no.137543, USS Intrepid, 1966
• A1H, AK405, Bu.no.137496, USS Intrepid, 1966
Zoukei-mura are growing in confidence with every release, and the Skyraider is a worthy successor to the previous SWS releases. This is a kit brimming with detail, and one that is large enough to attract plenty of attention on your club table or in your display cabinet. Like the real machine, this kit has presence and there is more than enough work to keep the most ardent modeller happy for a long time! If you do want that weapons set, don't forget to order it at the same time to cut down on costs. We will review the weapons set in the next days.
Very highly recommended!
Our sincere thanks to the ZM and the SWS team for the review sample used here. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.