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Douglas EKA-3B Skywarrior aka "Whale"***FINISHED***


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My F-100F is close to completion and I will be starting on my F-105G soon, but I thought that after 3 USAF planes in SEA camo, a big gray and white USN one would be nice, so if I have time I will have a shot at this, though it might not get started for a while.

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If you thought that my story of the B-57G was a bit long, then this will probably be even worse as the development of the Skywarrior aka Whale was perhaps even more complicated and I thought I needed to start with a bit of political history to set the scene for what was to become the heaviest and largest aircraft to operate from US carriers though the later Vigilante ran it close – sorry about that!

 

At the end of WWII, an at times rather heated argument developed between the USAAF, soon to become the USAF, and the US Navy over the subject of nuclear weapons. The Air Force said they already had the B-29 as a means of delivery but the USN pointed out it did not have intercontinental range and would need to use bases in friendly countries, whilst they could use carriers to get in close. The Air Force replied that the longer ranged B-36 would solve this problem but the Navy disagreed, pointing out that the B-36 would need fighter escorts and they would still have to use friendly bases due to lack of range..

 

From the naval point of view, the problem was that the current generation of atom bombs were very big and heavy, and it was calculated that to carry them a suitable distance would need a plane weighing in at over 100,000lb when loaded, far too heavy for any existing carrier such as the Midway Class just entering service. The long term solution was a new class of much bigger carriers, and after much bitter argument they managed to force through funding for the 5 ships of the "United States" class. To give you some idea of the size, the Midway class as originally built were 1001ft long and displaced 45000 tons, whilst the United States would be 1090ft long and displace 65000 tons rising to over 80000 tons fully loaded. By comparison the Nimitz is the same length but displaces 100,000 tons or more – all figures dependent on where you measure the length and how you measure the displacement as is of course usual when dealing with ships!

 

As the lead ship USS United States would not enter service until 1952 at the earliest, it was proposed to use the Lockheed PCV-3C Neptune as a stop gap. Operating from the Midway class carriers, they would be craned on board and stay on deck as they could neither land on a carrier or fit on a lift to be taken down to the hangar. Using JATO bottles for take of they would make a one way trip wave hopping to the target, with the crew ditching after dropping their weapon in the hopes of being picked up by picket submarines off the enemy coast. 12 were assigned to VC-5 but thankfully were never used in anger. At the same time an order was placed in June 1946 for the North American AJ Savage powered by 2 piston engines, with a jet engine in the tail, which weighed around 45000lb and could just about operate with an A-Bomb off the Midway class and the converted Essex class coming into service. 55 AJ-1 were ordered, entering service in September 1949, and a further 55 improved AJ-2 and 30 AJ-2P photo planes followed. The Savage was always going to be an interim design and so in August 1948 the BuAer sent out an invitation for bids for a 100,000lb bomber for the new carrier to 14 companies of which 6 submitted designs, including Douglas, who submitted their design model 593-7 in March 1949, and received a letter of intent for 2 “X” model prototypes on March 31st.

 

Unfortunately, on April 23rd 1949, just 5 days after the keel of the USS United States was laid, the administration decided to cancel the program as part of a cost saving exercise, leaving the USAF as apparent winners of the argument, and the resulting “Revolt of the Admirals” and the consequent political “firestorm” ended up with the Secretary of the Navy and numerous Admirals either retiring or being fired. However 6 months later the Korean War broke out, and the Navy suddenly became popular again, and in 1951 they issued a contract for 12 A3D-1 Skywarriors.

 

To be continued...............................................

 

Cheers,

 

Pete

 

Edited by PeterB
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welcome Peter with a fine and different aircraft, which is really nice to see.

 

These are an interesting aircraft and its family served in various different configuration and roles during their life, and had important roles in this conflict.

 

I don't know this model, but being a Hasegawa one it shouldn't be too bad.

 

I am still chasing a 1/48th Collect-Aire model of one of these (or more one of the family), plus there are some interesting trial camo aircraft as well.

 

Good luck with the build, looking forward to see this one built.

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Ooh a "Whale"! 😍 Definitely watching this build with interest, the A3D is one of my fave types. I do like your historical references and good to hear the relatively unknown AJ Savage getting a mention. Only one survives, at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola.

 

Michael

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Hi,

 

I am not sure exactly when I first came across the Skywarrior, but it was probably in my Putnams book on USN planes bought in the 1980's. I always fancied one but at first there were none available. However Rareplanes did release the Tanker version in about 1985 and I was tempted but the moment passed. Hasegawa released there first version - an A-3B in 1997, and followed that up a year or two later with the KA-3B and EKA-3B. Subsequently they have released an "early version" A-3B and an EA-3B, but this boxing is the 2008 one. 

 

Although it builds up into a big machine, there are actually not ll that many parts.

DSC03645-crop

I suspect the painting will take longer than the actual building!

 

Cheers

 

Pete

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Hi Chris,

 

Not too bad given its age. The Whale did not have ejector seats but the 3 seats Hasegawa provide look OK, there is a floor with various consoles, a 3 part IP, wheel and a detailed rear bulkhead with warious boxes on it. Decals are provided for the IP, side consoles and rear panel. I know Eduard do a set for the cockpit, but I won't bother as the kit one looks fair enough. The engines, wheel doors and bays have a fair bit of detail and the gear legs and wheels look reasonable - I know there are replacements out there for the wheels, legs and intakes but agin this will be OOB using the kit markings for a plane of Det 1, VAQ 130 when part of CAW 9 on the USS Constellation during her deployment to 'Nam between October 1971 and June 1972.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Excellent choice :)
Managed to get a glimpse of one of the last missions by the VQ-2 EA-3Bs out of Rota in summer 1990.
And I still maintain we got kicked off of Montijo AB because a VQ-1 EP-3E was there on the way to Rota.

 

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Ok, I have made a start but to put things in context here is a bit more on the design first. Ed Heinemann, designer at Douglas' El Segundo Division was concerned about the steady escalation of Navy plane weights that the USN seemed prepared to accept and in his design of the A-4 Skyhawk in the early 1950's he was able to produce a plane which would do all that the Navy asked for which only weighed half as much as their estimates. However, back in 1948, he decided that the estimates for a nuclear jet bomber of 130,000lb to even 200,000lb to carry a 10000lb bomb with a 1500 mile range were way over the top. He calculated that existing carriers could just about manage a plane weighing 68000lb with a bit of local strengthening to take the shock of landing, and started working on such a design. After many different variations he came up with a high wing twin jet that was to become the A-3 Skywarrior. Like a number of other early US jets such as the Demon, it nearly became a victim of the Westinghouse J40 engine fiasco, but having engines mounted in pods under the wings meant that it was relatively easy to switch to another engine once the shortcomings of the J40 became apparent.

 

Perhaps inevitably, this was an exercise in keeping the weight down whilst producing a plane that would carry the current model heavy atomic bomb (they soon became a lot lighter), together with enough fuel to provide the required range, and so a number of compromises had to be made, one of which involved the means of escape in an emergency. Naval Fighters Vol. 45 says that originally it was planned that all 3 seats would face forward and Heinemann considered providing ejection seats, but decided against for 3 reasons. Firstly weight – the seats plus the jettisonable canopy would add at least 550lb. Secondly, having the rear seat facing forwards would mean moving the rear bulkhead back and reducing the size of the fuselage fuel cell behind it, thus shortening range, and finally, existing ejection seats had a bad track record at the time with at least half the crew who used them suffering major back injuries. As a result the seat ended up facing the rear and the normal crew entry hatch behind it was modified so that it could be turned into a escape slide by firing explosive charges driving pistons. The slide faced the rear and acted as a windbreak.

 

So here is Hasegawa's cockpit!

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Simple but adequate and at least they provide reasonable info on which way round the decs go, unlike Trumpeter. You can just about see the "spectacle" type wheel mounted direct on the IP - bit like the Cessna I had a flying lesson in - pull it out to climb, push it in to dive and turn it to bank! And this is what it is like in the fuselage with the nose wheel bay added.

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Hasegawa say to add 5g in the nose so I have - and also a further 2g in the other side for safety. The first cut-out in the fuselage bottom after the wheel well is for the entry hatch/exit chute, and the one behind it is for the baffle lowered when bombing to stop the bomb "hanging up" and just floating around in the bomb bay - the Valiant had the same problem. Although it is a big plane (though about the same length as my F-105G), there are actually not a lot of parts. The kit seems to be that of the KA-3B with an extra sprue of aerials etc. As I mentioned earlier Hasegawa have released this as a late bomber, early bomber, tanker, basic EW version and this EW/Tanker. I was thinking of converting it to a bomber at one stage and even bought a resin tail with guns in, but then realised that for the early version I would also have to buy a replacement nose and decs, so that is why it has been sitting around for several years. This GB finally gave me an excuse to build it. If anybody wants the resin tail send me a PM.

 

I don't imagine construction will take all that long, but we will see.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Hi Craig,

 

The glazing is pretty big - too big probably according to the review in Naval Fighters unless Hasegawa have modified it. Oh, well, not to worry. The fit is pretty good as you would expect but unusually for Hasegawa they have thrown a short shot on the tip of the Port stabiliser which was so thin it broke off -  I have grafted a replacement on - it is the white bit in the pic. Hopefully everything else is OK thogh I suspect there is a problem with the tail bumper which is slightly undersize and missing the wheel!

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It will need a touch of filler and some sanding and rescribing but the joints are not too bad so far, particularly given the length of the fuselage with lots of cut-outs underneath and very few locating pins.

 

One thing that confused me initially is the box art - it shows what looks like a pylon with a pod on it angled out from the Starboard underside, which is not in the kit. Actually, I found exactly the same pic in my book and it says that the Starboard bomb door is open for access, and the pod is mounted on that!

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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As I suspected the back end of the underside is not up to Hasegawa's current standard.

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The groove at the rear is for the arrestor hook, though the hole at the back of it is a bit untidy - probably hidden by the hook though with any luck but I will try filling it with a bit of my very thin flexible card. The triangular door in front of that is a mess! It is the cover on the tail bumper which came down automatically when the wheels were lowered. Initially it then stayed down permanently until the wheels were next retracted but as it caused problems catching on wires it was fitted with a timer and went back up again after a while. Not only is the kit part a poor fit, but there was a gaping hole at the narrow end which should have been filled by a single small solid wheel at the end of the bumper but there is no wheel nor any form of roof for the hole, so I have fitted one from white card. I will knock up a "half" wheel and mount it in there at some point, probably after the main painting is done! I will leave the engines off initially as it will make it a darned sight easier to paint them, and likewise the "blisters" and other bumps, so all I need to do now is fill and sand down the joints, wash it and give it a blast of primer - pity my can of white has run out! I might see if I can get another.

 

Ok, not the best comparison, but I thought this might give you an idea of the size.

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9ft longer than the DC-3 and if the wings were straight not swept the span would be about the same. That's the ancient Airfix Dak built just after it first came out. Right, I will now switch back to the BoB GB as I took some time off and concentrated on this one - Greg complaned my Do-17Z-2 was going too fast!.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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wow you have made quick progress with her, she does look nice and boy she's big!!  I have been chasing and old Collect-Air 1/48th version.....I dread to think how big that one is!

 

Hasegawa kits from that era were quite nice but often had one area that caused issues.

 

Anyway, good luck with her.

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Nice work. This is one of those kits I've had in the stash for ages, always wanted to make, but never seem to be able to get around to it. Really must get onto it soon.

 

@trickyrich the Collect-Aire one must be a heck of a big chunk of resin!

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Hi Rich,

 

Watch out that you don't give yourself a hernia lifting it if you ever find one - you would have to change your name to @rupturedrich😁!

 

Pete

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1 hour ago, zebra said:

Nice work. This is one of those kits I've had in the stash for ages, always wanted to make, but never seem to be able to get around to it. Really must get onto it soon.

 

@trickyrich the Collect-Aire one must be a heck of a big chunk of resin!

and costs about the same weight in gold as well unfortunately!

 

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OK, I changed my mind and stuck the side pods and belly canoe and refuelling pod on before priming!

DSC03756-crop

I was thinking of using white primer on the undersides, but then I remembered how much trouble I had with my EA-6A earlier this year - painting white over white primer was a real pain as you could not see what you had actually painted! So anyway I had no white primer left and the Gull Grey will probably take 2 coats and the white at least 4 - some you win, some you lose as the saying goes.

 

I need to press on with putting decs on my Thud now, so this will probably go quiet for a while.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Well, this is fun - NOT! With the last build in another GB just waiting for a final coat of varnish, and the Heller GB not yet started I have been working on the decals for my F-105G, and in between I have been painting all the white bits on my Whale. Perhaps with hindsight I should have bought some more white primer in spite of the problems seeing where you have painted, as I have just applied my 6th thin coat, but I think that should do it! Unusually, Hasegawa give two optional paints for the white,  - normal white or "off-white" and I have gone for the latter. First I applied 4 coats of Tamiya Acrylic Matt White and then I switched to Xtracrylic White which is generally accepted to be a slightly cream off-white colour, but has terrible covering power, hence the Tamiya undercoat. All coats were applied thinly using a wide brush, hence the number of coats it has taken , but the result is pretty good to my mind.

 

Depending on how things go with the Thud decs, I should make a start on the light Gull Gray on Thursday assuming I get it masked in time - hopefuly that should only take 2 or 3 thin coats but we will see as I seem to recall that has not got particularly good covering power either. I will post a pic or two once the gray has started to go on as there is nothing interesting to show you just yet. As far as I can see there was no "Corrogard" or however you want to spell it on the leading edge but the gray did wrap over.

 

This exercise has reminded me of when "Brilliant White" household gloss paint was first produced. Yes, it was noticeably whiter than the old fashioned paint, but it was a bit of a pain to apply in spite of very good preperation. If you put it on too thickly it was prone to peeling off like a layer of sticky backed plastic, and if you worked it out properly with your brush the reflections in the high gloss made it look like you had missed a bit - my Father was a very good old fashioned painter and it nearly drove him crackers!

 

Pete

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white is one of those really problematic colours!!! 

 

I actually hate having to paint anything white....you'll notice I avoid those scheme that use it in pretty well all my builds!!  Unfortunately I have to use it on my Skyraider.

 

Hopefully the grey goes on better.

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Hi Rich,

 

White, Yellow, Light grey, Orange and Red are all pains.

 

This would probably be clearer in natural light but might show the difference in the whites.

DSC03764-crop

The missiles off the F-105G in the foreground are Tamiya X-2 gloss white, the Whale is Xtracrilic  "FS17875" white. Slightly less "In your face Brilliant White"! Must do a bit more work on the nose joint.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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55 minutes ago, trickyrich said:

white is one of those really problematic colours!!! 

 

I actually hate having to paint anything white....you'll notice I avoid those scheme that use it in pretty well all my builds!!  Unfortunately I have to use it on my Skyraider.

 

Hopefully the grey goes on better.

Why not do it in South East Asian camouflage ? 
 

https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A-1E_1SOS_PavePat_1968.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

 

EDIT: disregard I just double checked your thread.  

Edited by Corsairfoxfouruncle
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White really is a pain to paint Pete, if I have a scheme to do like the US Navy one I use Halfords appliance gloss white from a rattle can, works great and is instantly ready for decals when dry.

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  • PeterB changed the title to Douglas EKA-3B Skywarrior aka "Whale"***FINISHED***

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