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Mike

EA-3B Skywarrior 1:48

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EA-3B Skywarrior
1:48 Trumpeter


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The Skywarrior was originally designed as a US Naval Strategic Bomber, but like the Vigilante that replaced it, it was re-tasked when the roles for delivery of bombs (especially nuclear) was handed over to the ballistic missiles of the growing submarine fleet. It was developed from an early concept of a jet bomber, and although it had trouble with its engines, it first flew in the early 50s. Even after entry into service it was dogged with problems, one of which was the decision not to fit ejection seats to save weight, which resulted in the wry comment that A3D stood for "all three dead".

Once it switched to the Electronic Warfare role, it found its niche and continued in that area until the end of the first Gulf War. The EA aircraft were fitted with pressurised compartments in one of the former weapons bays, and the EA-3B carried four addition crew in this area along with a host of electronic sensors for defensive and offensive operations.


The Kit
This is the fourth kit from Trumpeter using the same basic airframe, and it has been established that the landing gear bay lacks a see-through area that should be present, although from looking at it back when the first edition was released, it doesn't seem too difficult to fix with a bit of styrene and modelling skill. The box it arrives in is quite large, which stems from the size of this venerable bomber. It had a long, slab-sided fuselage that earned it the nickname "the Whale", and its large swept wings take up some room, although the wings do fold, so are supplied in sections. Inside the box is a small partition that protects the two sprues of clear parts, two small sprues in grey styrene, and two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass. There is also a separate bag containing three flexible styrene wheels that may cause some wrinkling of noses amongst those that don't like "rubber" tyres. The rest of the box is taken up with ten large sprues and the two monstrous fuselage halves, all in the same mid-grey styrene. A quick perusal of the instructions show a fairly standard construction, although it would seem that Trumpeter have decided not to depict the compartment (coal-hole?) where the four additional crew spent their time staring at racks of instruments while flying sideways. That's pretty understandable actually, as given the secret nature of most of the equipment on board, not many photos of the area exist apart from one I found on the A-3 Skywarrior Association's page here.

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Although the box states it's an EA-3B, the two decal options are stated as A3D-2s, and if you look at the profiles of the EA3-B, you will notice some differences are apparent. The large bulged tail top sensor suite is missing entirely (but it is included as an option in the previous A3D-2 boxing 02868 along with the pointed radome and stinger tail), although the nose radome is of the correct flat ended shape. There are also windows missing for the EA-3B, a towel-rail antenna on the starboard side, an optional belly pod and a bulge on the nose that is sometimes carried on airframes with the pointed radome. Additionally, some A3D-2s still carried the 20mm stinger tail turrets, although admittedly these were only the early ones before it was dropped. There have been comments about the decal options not being appropriate too, but I can only come up with a discrepancy in the more colourful VAH-10 Vikings scheme, which may be fictional. Setting aside those concerns, which may or may not bother you depending on your modelling outlook, let's have a look at the kit.

The cockpit is where the build starts with three seats that are built from two halves each, which will leave an annoying seam within the back frame to deal with. The seat pad covers the rest of the join, and a pair of seatbelts is added to each one. The side consoles, main panel and rear instrument bulkhead are then built onto a floor panel that has a few visible ejector pin marks that will need sanding or filling, depending on whether they will be seen. The side consoles have PE inserts for the instruments, and the main panel has been moulded in clear for no apparent reason, as it is painted black and has a white instrument face decal added to the front. Maybe they ran out of space on the grey sprues? The rear crew member sits facing backwards behind the pilot, and has a rack of equipment to play with while he watches where they've been. The radar is constructed from a good number of parts before being salted away out of sight in the radome, and the nose gear bay is built up from panels to form a sloping box shape that holds the leg, retraction jack and the single nose wheel in a Y-shaped yoke, which flexes to insert the two-part wheel hub and the rubbery wheel. The main gear legs are also built up at this point, with L-shaped legs, separate oleo-scissors, and complex hubs made up from two styrene parts and another two PE parts for the outer hub. The bomb bay is also built up from panels, and has some nice ribbing detail included, with a high part count. The main gear bays are located in the rear of the fuselage, and are built up side-by-side with plenty of detail, after which they are sandwiched between a bulkhead at the front, and an insert in the rear that makes them into a single assembly. A short crawl way between the cockpit and bomb bay is again built from panels, and this is first joined to the head of the bomb bay, then to the bottom of the cockpit. The nose gear bay is added to the front of this crawl way, and the whole lot is glued into the fuselage side along with the main gear bay, arrestor hook bay and some inserts in the air-brake bay. You can now close up the fuselage finally, and what a seam that will be! Fit seems good, although it's always difficult to say for certain without the "innards" installed, which sometimes actually improve fit due to the increased rigidity of the parts. The nose cone is added (with no means of displaying it open mentioned), and the two-part tail cone fairing takes it to its full length of almost 50cm. A refuelling probe and its pipework sprouts from under the wing root, and is stabilised against the curve of the nose by a small bracket, and the large crystal clear canopy is then added over a one-piece coaming, after which the fuselage is flipped to add all the doors to the gear bays and bomb bay, plus the tail bumper and arrestor hook. The bomb bay doors have PE skins for a 3D look, but there is no documented way of posing them closed, and there is a crew doorway on the underside behind the nose gear that could be lowered with a little ingenuity. After adding the main gear legs the fuselage can then be stood on its own legs for the first time.

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Construction moves to the wings, which are fairly complex as they go. The inner wing is built up with a few small parts in the tip for the wing-fold mechanism. Six spacers are added in the slat bays, after which the slats are added, plus the engine pylons, flap guides and the flaps themselves. A number of PE parts are added to the wing-fold area to give it additional detail, and the inner wings are then slotted into their mating points, where care will be needed to ensure the correct angle and that the edges line-up with the wing root fairings that are moulded into the fuselage. The outer sections build up in much the same way, but without the pylons, and these can be mounted folded for stowage or unfolded for flight at your whim by adding some PE linkages during construction. The tail fins are simpler, and each elevator has separate sections, while the rudder fin that folds part way up has two separate rudder sections and basic interior detail at the fold point. Again, a couple of extra parts will allow you to portray this folded, so you can choose a "below decks" scenario to save space on your modelling shelves.

The twin engines are built up from over 30 parts with a full length provided and a pair of access hatches that could be left open, showing all the detail and your excellent paint job. The intake lip part is a single part with a bullet fairing and triple stator blades. Of course you'll build both engines up in tandem for ease, and because of the handed pylons, they are interchangeable, so there's no worry about putting the wrong engine on the pylons.

After adding the engines there are a number of additional aerials, and intakes to add, along with the prominent air-brakes on the rear fuselage, which have retraction jacks included. The main bay doors have PE inserts and a small hinge-point part, fitting to the top of their bays with a retraction jack fitting against the hinge-point. Finally, there is another airbrake under the fuselage ahead of the bomb bay that retracts flush against the fuselage, and is perforated to optimise flow. This can be posed open by the addition of the retraction jack, but check for fit when the aircraft is on its wheels, in case there is any interference.


Markings
There are two schemes included on the large decal sheets, as well as a whole heap of serials on the second sheet that will be of help if you plan on going off-piste with your decal choices. The decals are printed in-house as usual, and are adequate, although not massively impressive. They have good registration, colour density and sharpness, apart from the diagonals that show some pixelation or "jaggies" under magnification. You can build either of the following from the box:

  • BU.No. 142401 VAH-13 Bats, USS Kitty Hawk, A-3D-2, 611 NH – Grey over white with dark grey walkways on the wings, and an orange band at the top of the tail.
  • BU.No. 142406 VAH-10 Vikings, A-3D-2, 4GQ – Grey over white with orange upper flying surfaces, nose, tail and rudder.

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Aircraft 401 seems to concur with the airframe's flight history, but 406 does not, and may possibly have been taken from a French language profile that seems to have been fictional, although my school-boy translation of the text shows date and location detail, but gives no other context. 406 seems to have spent most of its service life in the usual grey/white scheme, and it is interesting that both decal options were later converted to KA-3Bs – the tanker variant.

Conclusion
The designers at Trumpeter have been castigated for using one set of main parts to portray different airframes with subtle changes between each one as mentioned earlier, but if you feel the urge the necessary changes should be within your grasp if you apply some modelling skills, and for those that don't mind the small things, it's an impressively sized model. Have a look at the missing tunnel in the main gear bays too, and decide whether you're going to fix that while you have your tools out.

Finally, check out our Walk Around here

Recommended with the aforementioned caveats.

Review sample courtesy of
logo.gifUK Distributors for logo.jpg

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It would appear from Mikes review that someone at Trumpeter is getting their EA-3B (A3D-2Q) and A-3B (A3D-2) variants mixed up!!

Possible decal issues notwithstanding, is would seem that an "A-3B" Strategic Bomber (late version) is what you get in the box? In fact Hannants actually list the kit as an A-3B on their website!

I was thinking of adding one of these to my Skywarrior collection, but now I'm having second thoughts as it's similar to the original release, all be it with the later nose, tail and canopy.

Greg

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It's quite confusing, as there were so many little changes, but there's nothing there that can't be fixed with a little effort. Sure, they should have got it right, but it's still the best injection moulded kit of the Skywarrior in 1:48 out there ;)

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If only they'd produce the moulds as a B66!

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Must...not...buy...

Received mine yesterday from Creative Models who have it on special this week 😀

http://www.creativemodels.co.uk/trumpeter_148_douglas_ea3b_skywarrior_strategic_bomber-p-40194.html

As I suggested previously you definitely cannot make an EA-3B out of it, but all the parts are there for a standard late model A-3B.

Greg.

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Saw one of these for 44.99 in Hannants London today and was sorely tempted but had only gone to pick something up so didn't have my wallet on me!

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Has anything been done by Trumpeter to address the canopy issue? The canopy in the original issue was possibly correct for a 1:45 scale kit and needs to be addressed. Not a simple fix.

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Can't remember Trumpeter adressing any shortcomings of its productions in the release timescale of a given serie.

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A replacement canopy is in design by Hypersonic models - HMR 48020
http://www.hypersonicmodels.co.uk/product/a-3-skywarrior-canopy

An interesting link about the Skywarrior incl. canopies variants
http://tailspintopics.blogspot.be/2010/09/mighty-skywarrior.html

A3D+Canopies.jpg

V.P.

Edited by Homebee

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Posted (edited)
On 30/07/2015 at 10:53 PM, Mike said:

The large bulged tail top sensor suite is missing entirely (but it is included as an option in the previous A3D-2 boxing 02868 along with the pointed radome and stinger tail), although the nose radome is of the correct flat ended shape. There are also windows missing for the EA-3B, a towel-rail antenna on the starboard side, an optional belly pod and a bulge on the nose that is sometimes carried on airframes with the pointed radome.

Only just stumbled across this thread so sorry for resurrection!

 

The later EA-3Bs didn't have most of those features.

Earlier versions with the fin pod, towel rails and cheek boxes, also had the pointed nose cone and turret style tail end, so better off starting out with the TA-3B boxing.

 

On 10/10/2015 at 11:48 AM, GregW said:

As I suggested previously you definitely cannot make an EA-3B out of it, but all the parts are there for a standard late model A-3B.

Greg.

The later production EA-3Bs can be built from this boxing, it has the right canopy (though oversized), and the relevant tail and nose radome parts, fin top shape, and the full slatted/cambered wing of later production EA-3Bs.

The three stb'd windows and door will have to be added, which is fairly straightforward. 

There are aftermarket sets now available for the underside 'canoe' fairing, and early wheels.

 

It's a shame Trumpeter overlooked the fuselage windows/door and canoe fairing in this kit, as their other Skywarrior boxings represent the various fuselage window fits well and some include that fairing.

 

As mentioned, the two decal options are both for A-3B bombers, but you would need the correct canopy to make an A-3B or derivatives.

Edited by 71chally

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