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Tom Weinel's "Whale"

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I inherited this  model from the late Tom Weinel, former F8U Crusader pilot, model builder and Naval Aviation curmudgeon.


It arrived in a largely-constructed state, but i needed to take a few steps backwards in order to fix some elemental construction issues in order to get some assemblies to play well with each other- mainly the upper fuselage seam and the leading edges of the wing. Either due to kit design or operator error, the wing did not "sit" in proper alignment with the fuselage saddle when i test fit it.

A3D 001 A3D 002

As usual, i wrote an extensive "Deep Dive" (some may call it an incoherent, rambling diatribe) on building this huge Douglas monster. It is available here:

Let me get the executive summary out of the way.

Subject: Douglas A3D-1 Skywarrior, BuAer No. 135431 from VAH-123. NAS Whidbey Island, WA, 1962.

Kit: Hasegawa A3B Skywarrior, Kit No. 04041

Scale: 1/72 (You'll need to pay me to build a bigger one)

Additional Parts Used: Resin Nose Radome and 20MM tail Gun installation from Hasegawa A3D-2 Skywarrior "Early Version", kit No. 00029; resin main wheels from Reskit, part no. RS72-0170.

Paints Used: Tamiya Acrylics mixed to FS595 specs per guidance found over at www.replikator.club; Tamiya LP-series metallic lacquers and Mr Color Lacquers for the undersides and the faded orange.

Decals: National Insignia from Fundekals sheet FD 72-011; BuAer Numbers and Modex codes robbed from Microscale sheet 72-26 and Zotz RA-5 Vigilante decal sheet; Itty Bitty BuAer numbers kluged together from a couple of Eagle Strike/AeroMaster F-4 decal sheets.

Modifications/Additions: "Blunt" nose and tail cut from fuselage and replaced with earlier version nose and tail from the Hasegawa "Early Version" kit. The Quickboost conversion parts i think are identical, and should work as well.

Intake Bullets had the oil cooler inlets drilled out and plugged with tubing of smaller inside diameter; Bullets were subsequently filed, sanded, and re-profiled to make them more pointed.

Intakes were cut from front of nacelle and seams were filled on inside; subsequently primed, masked and painted the insides before re-attaching to the nacelle.

Aerodynamic fairings removed from inboard sides of engine pylons and corresponding gaps and cavities filled. Inboard wing slat panel lines eradicated. This was required in order to backdate the aircraft to A3D-1 standard.

Locating pins on the nacelles removed and replaced with longer, more substantial pins made from Copper rod. Nacelles were painted and weathered prior to mounting on the wings, towards the very end of the painting stage.

Anti-collision beacons removed.

Fuselage Fuel Vent Mast replaced with smaller, earlier version, mounted on underside of left tailplane.

Void between top of nosewheel tyre and inner side of nosewheel fork opened out and cleaned up

Multiple layers of filler, added to rear of canopy at the base to improve the profile and integrate it better with surrounding fuselage sheet metal.

Weathering: Panel lines highlighted with mix of Model Master Grey enamels; Oil, Lubricant, and Hydraulic leaks depicted with Windsor & Newton Payne's Grey artists oils; Hand prints and foot traffic depicted with Tamiya Weathering Master, Set B "Soot". Shadowing on landing gear, flap tracks, gear doors etc. done with a wash of water, Future, and Tamiya Flat Black.


This model came to me with the interior already assembled and painted, so with the exception of a wash i added, some seam filling and the addition of masking tape belts, there is nothing else added.


Late in construction i discovered the model did not have sufficient nose weight, so i fixed this by mixing copper BB shot with 5 minute epoxy and i poured it in through the opening for the lower entrance hatch/bailout chute (having masked off the surrounding surfaces first, to prevent epoxy drips from ruining the finish).



The model was a test case for closing up 90-degree gaps by using a combination of black woodworking CA, and bare metal foil. The result was a joint that was not eliminated, per se but mitigated to a degree where it was appropriate for scale. This allowed me to delay engine installation until after the model had been painted.

Since the model came to me with the wings assembled, it was not practical to cut out, and depict the aerodynamically actuated Douglas slats (something of an Ed Heinemann design trademark). While it would make the model more accurate, it would definitely complicate the assembly task in the construction end game.

IMG_5117 IMG_5120

BuAer 135431 was the 39th Skywarrior built, and was part of the second batch of A3D-1s. Originally delivered in overall gloss sea blue, it was assigned to NATC at Pax River and served as a service test aircraft. I'm not sure if it ever went to sea with an operational squadron, but it was re-painted in the Light Gull Grey over Gloss White paint scheme and assigned to VAH-123;  the west coast A3D Fleet Replacement Group. Many of the aircraft in the squadron wore high visibility Fluorescent Orange markings as a preventative measure against midair collisions. The dayglo did not stand up to the elements very well, losing its fluorescence first, then fading to a pumpkin orange colour before the dayglo wore away exposing the white primer underneath.

I based this model off a profile photo found in the Aerofax book on the A3D, written by the late Rene Francillon. Other photos taken of different aircraft from the same squadron helped to "Fill in" the knowledge gaps, so the markings represent something of an only partly informed, educated guess.


Omission of the twin 20MM cannon in the tail was not an oversight; Early on in the service testing and evaluation, the gun system showed poor reliability and it's effectiveness as a defensive measure was uncertain at best.

This was my first test using the Tamiya LP- series of metallic lacquers and For the most part they worked well. I used a 50-50 mix of LP-11 Silver and LP-61 Metallic Gray for the stainless steel "hot sections" on the aft engine nacelles.

Masking the canopy framing was difficult and only made bearable by using the KV Models vinyl A3D canopy masks. They are accurately cut but they are somewhat thick and occasionally they had difficulty adhering to some of the tighter radii on the upper canopy. Eduard masks would have been my  first choice, since the washi-paper material is thinner and it sticks well enough to the clear part, but not too well. The thickness and tenacity of the KV masks combined with the multiple coats of filler, primer, paint, and clear coats resulted in chipping when the masks were removed the first time. This required substantial re-work.

Speaking of the canopy, it's thin and clear, but the attachment to the fuselage is problematical because it sits on a curved "saddle", as it were. Also, built from the box, the canopy profile has an exaggerated bubble shape when simply placed onto the model. The A3D canopy was actually integrated fully into the surrounding sheet metal structure and it was not installed as an afterthought. I applied multiple layers (3, i think) of Mr Surfacer 500 to the back of the canopy to build up the profile and blend it in more seamlessly with the upper fuselage. However, i think it was definitely worth the effort.


I would like to take more photographs of the finished model, but right now i need to take a breather and ponder my next project. I have another Buccaneer close to the finish line, a Boeing 720B in progress and of course there's still more decals to put on the Phantom.


 As the largest and heaviest aircraft to serve aboard a carrier, the A3D makes an impressive centre piece in a Carrier-Based Naval Aviation collection. While it seems somewhat simplified compared to contemporary offerings from Academy, Airfix, and Clear Prop etc. It's a good starting point for just about any A3D Skywarrior one would choose to build.



Fly Navy!

Edited by David H
Added a few more pictures.
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1 hour ago, Mattlow said:

That's lovely.


The Hi Vis paint gives it a very different and interesting look.



If you look across the entire range of A3D paint schemes, a lot of the grey and white ones are well, rather boring. Even Gloss Sea Blue ones seem to lack much of a "wow" factor. There were some with rather interesting camouflage patterns but doing those takes some serious conversion work, the toughest part being the canopy framing.

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I said it multiple times in the in-progress thread but I'll say it again, this is a really stunning build! Well worth the effort you've put into this.


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1 minute ago, Celestialsphere said:

Very nice build. That faded orange takes it to another level. Inspirational. 


Thanks for sharing 



I'd turn right around and do another one but, so many planes..... so little time.

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3 hours ago, Pete in a shed said:

Fantastic work:clap:. The sparkling lead crystal canopy is a masterpiece😉


Definitely a focal point of the model, for sure. I wonder if using thinner masks might have mitigated the chipping issues i had when i removed the masking. The inside was treated with carnuba wax before i installed the canopy and after painting, each pane was polished with rubbing compound and a cotton T-shirt. Handling the model while i did that was tricky, but we got the job done, in the end.

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That is so impressive!

Everything, from the multi-hued finish to the superb canopy/glazing, is simply awesome!


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And now, something of an update.

One of the things that kept bothering me was the "Camber" of the main wheel installation. Using Mig AMMO acrylic glue to install the main wheels seemed like a good idea at the time since i needed something that could bond a polystyrene axle (the kit) to a resin wheel hub (the aftermarket).


Having gone through a harrowing process of loading in ballast through the boarding hatch late in the game, i was not too keen on using epoxy on the first attempt.


While it seemed good in theory, it wasn't long before the weight of the model, combined with the slightly flexible properties of the glue caused the main wheels to start leaning inward, giving the plane an odd, Messerchmitt-like stance. While most people wouldn't notice it, it looked bad to me and it certainly didn't agree with the drawings and photos i had available.

IMG_5141 IMG_5147

So, i managed to carefully twist, wiggle, and coax the wheels off the axle stubs.... without breaking anything.

I then reamed out the holes in the wheel hubs to eliminate dried glue and second time around, i applied StarBond Black CA to the axles and tried again. I had just enough working time to ensure the flat spots were set in the right place, and that the camber had been nulled out to nearly zero.

The end result looks to my eye a lot better...

A3D 026

I also took the opportunity to re photograph the model from some angles, with a less distracting background...

A3D 030 A3D 028 A3D 025

This photo also displays to good advantage the fuel vent mast mounted on the lower stabilizer (subsequently relocated to the aft fuselage side on later build aircraft).

A3D 024

It doesn't seem like much, but it's like i said about a finished model being only as good as its least well-executed detail.

At any rate, thanks for all the words of encouragement and your enthusiastic response to this project.

Now.... where was that other Buccaneer i had laying about?

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