Zoukei-Mura | SWS03: A-1H Skyraider U.S. Navy
Reviewed by Kevin Williams
I decided at the outset to remove myself from the somewhat typical and lengthy description of the Skyraider technical development and operational history. I will however say that I personally believe that for all the work the Skyraider squadrons performed, be it supply interdiction, communications, transportation (both road and rail), destruction, SAR and CAP missions, as well as close air support, (very significant to the ground pounders), that they deserve to be recognized for the tremendously important role they had to play during the conflicts they were involved in, and the fact that they performed in that role quite admirably. Loitering time "on target", was legendary, and many a soldier undoubtedly owes his life to the capabilities of this aircraft.
(Since this is more of an in-box review than a build review, I have no photos of assembled sub structures, so my inputs should be considered more of an overview of the various areas I thought might be of interest, rather than an analysis of any accuracy issues, if indeed any are present.)
For whatever reasons, this kit, unlike the A-1J, is molded in three different colors: light gray, a darker sort of metallic gray, and black.
Instructions & Misc Documents
Instructions are depicted in a sort of pictographic way, making assembly a fairly straight forward process. Much to my happiness, a complete parts chart is provided in the instruction booklet, a big plus for a kit with so many parts.
Two small documents (6" x 8-1/4") are included that amends some errors in the provided instruction booklet. These are worth reviewing prior to the building process, and may save some grief down the line.
Markings are provided for two Navy Skyraiders:
- 137543, AK 409 VA-176, USS Intrepid (USN)
- 137496, AK 405 VA-176, USS Intrepid (USN)
Decals appear to be in register, quite opaque, and well detailed, with plenty of stenciling. No mention is made of where these decals were printed, but they look quite acceptable to me, though I'll probably chase down aftermarket decals anyway, as I really have my heart set on a South Vietnamese machine. These markings both depict machines for the by now all too familiar VA-176 "Thunderbolts".
Note: These same decals are also provided in the A-1J kit from the same manufacturer.
A small pre-cut canopy mask set is included here, along with two steel wires.
Major Kit Sprues
Offered up here, are a selection of major sprue components, with more detailed photos in the categories to follow.
Fuselage Major Components
Most major fuselage components are represented above. Proportions and detailing are done to a very high level indeed. Internal ribbing, though somewhat redundant by my view, will nonetheless contribute, along with the bulkheads, to a rock solid structure, and that can't help but be a good thing for an aircraft of this size.
Wings & Wing Armament
Again, wings are very well detailed, and include a very nice rendition of the catapult hooks and weapons bays; the 20mm cannons and feed boxes/belts, being especially well done.
Flying Surfaces, General
(I didn't really take a lot of photos of these, as there's really not much to them, a few panel lines here and there, and that's about it.) I will say this though, the molded on static dischargers, are very nice, but I also know they'll never survive my building method, so they'll be clipped off altogether, then added back near the end of the construction phase.
One thing about the cockpit that I absolutely don't like, is the simulated canvas cover aft of the pilot seat. It looks more like a piece of ratty and wrinkled tissue paper, more of an afterthought than a genuine attempt at recreating the actual crumpled appearance of the cover. I'll be sculpting my own, that's for certain.
Many have already noted the rather soft and somewhat generic details of the cockpit, but I believe that with some careful painting, it could still quite readily capture the "feel" of this area nicely for those that may opt to go that route. I'll undoubtedly be investing some cash in an Aires cockpit for mine, but mine will more than certainly be contest bound, and this area is one that seems to receive quite a lot of attention by spectators and judges alike. Still, the cockpit, as provided, may prove more than adequate for many.
Canopy & Clear Parts
The clear parts are just that, crystal clear, and I believe the photos attest well to that fact.
The Engine is an injected marvel, quite complex and busy. Too bad mine will be buried and never seen, but for those wishing to display it exposed, it offers up a whole world of detailing opportunities. A plus, at least to me, is the included option for opened or closed cooling flaps at front of engine area.
Two under-wing tanks are provided, either one of which, if desired, can be converted into a fin-less center station tank. (Oddly, despite the abundance of pylons available on a SPAD, I'm always reluctant to give up a wing pylon for a fuel tank.)
Landing Gear, Wheels, Doors & Tires
Landing gear is actually quite complex and busy, while tires and wheel combinations look excellent.
Sadly, no weapons (save for the wing mounted 20mm cannons and ammo feeds) are included. Since a Skyraider without weapons looks sort of naked to me, I'll have no choice but to hunt down some cool gadgets to hang from the numerous pylons, perhaps a Z-M weapons set. While I understand fully the reasoning behind this choice, personally it was a bit of a disappointment, but certainly not something that's un-resolvable.
There were various bits and bobs that I photographed, but had no specific and/or convenient place for. While a couple of these photos may be duplicates (shot over several photo sessions), I've included them anyway, as they may well reveal pertinent details of interest.
All in all, I think this is a very commendable effort from Z-M (only the second kit from them that I own), and I am very pleased with what I've found thus far, and anxiously await the opportunity to begin working on my example. I also expect that the aftermarket folks will jump on when and where needed (and in fact already have to some degree), to provide us with additional enhancements for this cool kit, the venerable Douglas "Flying Dump Truck".
Note: This kit is what formed, in large part, the basis for the A-1J, and therefore has many parts in common with that kit, though colors may not necessarily be the same.
This kit is highly recommended by this reviewer, for overall aesthetic appeal, and for giving us another choice by which to display the brute force appearance of this truly iconic aircraft.
Many thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review kit, which can be purchased at the following link:
Note: My complete review of the Zoukei-Mura A-1J Skyraider is also available on LSP.
© Kevin Williams 2017
This review was published on Thursday, April 27 2017; Last modified on Thursday, April 27 2017