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Marvin Reyes
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Trumpeter A3D-2 Sky Warrior

June 4, 2018 · in Aviation · · 29 · 3.7K

I picked this kit up when it first came out a few years ago...and I finally got around to building it. I was between kits and I thought this kit would be a fast and easy build... I was so wrong!

First of all, this is a large aircraft, and a large kit. The Sky Warrior was made so that the US Navy would have a nuclear strike capability, during a time when air-deliverable nukes were rather large. Consequently, the fuselage and weapons bay had to be made large enough to carry these large nukes. Well, in the event, nuclear weapons became smaller and smaller, while the US Navy (in conjunction with the other US armed services) went the ballistic submarine route, thereby leaving the Sky Warrior as a plane without a mission.

Well, it seems that the capacious Sky Warrior fuselage was too good to discard, so the US Navy repurposed the A-3 airframes, into trainers, tankers, and a bunch of other discrete models that are now usually referred to as "Versions". So, now we know that the Sky Warrior is basically two kinds of aircraft: the original bomber model (as depicted in my Trumpeter kit), and the "Versions". My model depicts the original Trumpeter kit release, but Trump has subsequently released several other kits that enable us to build several of the "Versions".

Construction of this kit requires one to make some decisions early-on, like which options to use, e.g., folding wings, open bomb bay, etc. The decision was already made for me, because the wing fold area didn't seem to fit very well with the wings extended, so I used the folded wing option. Trumpeter includes some nice photoetch with this kit, which includes several pieces for the wing fold itself. Go slowly, and the PE fits very nicely. I used CA to attach the PE.

Construction is pretty straight-forward, but there are a lot of large pieces, so make sure you have room on your work space, otherwise there are no real surprises in the build. I scratched the jury struts to stabilize the folded wings and tail, since the kit lastic seemed a bit fragile to hold the folded pieces. Also, the wheels hubs had to be modified to represent the original bomber wheel; the kit wheel hubs are the wider hubs found on the heavier "Versions".

The kit comes with a couple of comprehensive decal sheets, but I used Caracal Models A3D-2 sheet #CD48042 instead.

Overall, an enjoyable build.

Reader reactions:
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5 additional images. Click to enlarge.

29 responses

  1. Not so familiar with American jets, but this is a really crisp-looking build.

  2. Very nice Marvin, this is the first Skywarrior from TrumpeterI have ever seen built. Being stationed at Pt Mugu in the 80's and early 90's there were many "versions" stationed there as well as VAQ-34 EA-3B's. Which is the version I would like to build. It is a big plane even in 72nd scale. Very well done, thanks for sharing a seldom seen build in any scale.

    • Chuck: Thanks for the comments, I appreciate them. Pt. Mugu seems like a pretty nice place to be stationed, considering the nice weather, and also the variety of "activity" that takes place ther (I did 3 years at Nellis and saw some pretty neat stuff).

      I was just at the Castle Air Museum over the Memorial Day weeken, when they had an open cockpit day. Castle is adding new aircraft all the time, one of these being an A-3. I think it is an ERA-3B, but not certain. Anyway, during open cockpit day, you can go inside some of the aircraft. I was able to go inside the A-3 and I was very surprised how big it was inside. Castle holds open cockpit days twice a year; maybe you can make it some day, and visit an old friend.

      BTW, the ERA-3 is displayed near the RA-5C, Vigilante, which is spectacular to see.

      • Sounds good to me. That would call for a future drive up the 99 Fwy for a long weekend trip. Thats the museum if I recall with the B-17 you can see as you drive by. Seems like we are always passing through at night or after hours.

        • Chuck: That B-17 is a bit south of Castle, in Tulare. They are currently in the process of refurbishing that B-17 ( saw it on the local news), so it should look pretty pretty soon.
          The Castle Air Museum is about an hour and change north of the B-17, so when you pass the B-17, you still have a ways to go. I was at Castle a week ago and things were looking great there.

  3. As Chuck stated, one doesn't see this particular aircraft built that often and you've done this one proud! Very nice work indeed. I like it a lot.

  4. Great looking cold-war bomber! I've got one in the stash (in 1/72) but haven't gotten around to it yet. Built the USAF version (B-66 Destroyer) in my youth.

  5. Greg:
    Thanks for the comments.

    Now, that Trumpeter has done the A-3 in 48th, a B-66 in 48th would be absolutely outstanding.

    Good luck with your A-3.

  6. Really nice model, always wanted to build one of these. Wing fold looks awesome. Great paint job. How was the cockpit on this model. Was it busy enough to replicate the real cockpit?

    • Thank you, Paul: The cockpit is so-so, mainly because Trumpeter tried to make several versions of the A-3 out of the same molds. The cockpit includes everything needed to build a generic A-3, but needs some help if you want to build a specific model. For example, my model is of the original bomber A3D-2, but the cockpit needs to be modified a little to make it somewhat accurate. On the real thing, the pilot seat headrest is cut down, with the headrest being part of the backwards-facing seat immediately behind. So, to fix this, one must first cut down the pilot's seat, then make a circular headrest which is then attached to the rear seat. The rest of the cockpit looks OK, and has lots of assorted doo-dads to make the interior look busy. Oh, there are no seat belts, so you have to make some (or purchse some) because the seats are very visable throught the clear canopy.

      A word about the canopy. It fits great, is very clear, and has the correct framing for the bomber model. I trust that Trumpeter includes the correct canopy in other kits, since other versions have differet framing. One note: the frames are not very prominent, so I had to buy an Eduard canopy mask (which worked great).

  7. love the static wicks! you should mention that the completed A3D (with the wings spread) takes up the same space on the table as a 1/48 B-17. That's how big it is.

  8. Thank, Josh. The ststic wicks are actually some 8 lb test line that I have laying around. To attach it, I made some cuts in the trailing edge, then used a small drill to make holes in the wings where the cuts were made.. I then inserted the fishing line into these holes (attached with super glue). When done, I cut the wicks to the same length using scissors. Some finger pressure provided the bend in the line.

    Oh, and fishing line is great because it does not break off when bumped.

  9. Very nicely done Marvin. One of these days I'm going to build the one in my stash.

  10. Very nice Whale, Marvin. I remember these from my days as a "former naval person."

    • Tom, thanks for your nice comments...I really appreciate it. The "Whale" is pretty unforgettable. Fortunately, the Castle Air Museum has one on display, so we get to see how impressive that airplane really is.

  11. Nice A-3D! We had a detachment from a VAQ squadron on the Saratoga in the Med. Was interesting to watch them catch the wire when they landed.

  12. Thanks, Robert. I'll bet you got to see some interesting things. The Sara? That's a ways back, for sure.

  13. Mee Likee!

    This is only the second one of these i've seen built up, and you're the first guy i've known to have folded one of these things up.
    Hypersonic models makes an awesome engine nacelle replacement kit, and he was also making a canopy for the "versions" when he relocated to Japan.
    Sure beats the Trumpeter Vigilante though, doesn't it? Maybe they'll take on a Savage one of these days...

    • Thanks, Dave, your very kind words are appreciated, for sure.
      The Trump A-3 is one of those kits that you can do a lot with, due to the various aftermarket available. I chose to go the cheap route, and only used aftermarket decals, and canopy masks, otherwise the model is made from kit plastic.
      Now, having built both the Trump RA-5C and the A-3, I would say they are both big kits, and both require some "massaging" to get them to look acceptable.

      You are right about an AJ Savage...we need one of those, along with a B-66 in 48th.

      Thanks again, Dave.

  14. Hello marvin,
    Beautiful A-3D. Good craftsmanship and in real life, good pilots to put this large airvraft on the deck, or otherwise in the drink.
    Regards, Dirk

  15. Marvin, This looks really nice, my personal preference on most models is not to have the wings folded, but with this particular beast it makes for a far more interesting looking model, (For some reason I find the folded tail a real eye catcher). Very nicely done !

    • Thanks, Terry. I, too, prefer unfolded wings, but the wingfold area on this one just didn't fit right unfolded, so I just decided to try something different and folded everything...the parts are included so why not? The only thing I closed was the air brakes and the inboard slats.

  16. Marvin, your model looks awesome in every aspect. Even the restrained but realistic wear and tear is very well made. Since this plane had folding wings and tailplane I assume it was also carrier based, no? Sorry but I am not very familiar with this plane, in fact it’s the first time I see one in scale model

  17. Very nice and thank you for build tips. They will be useful, when I get one Skywarrior for myself.

  18. As mentioned, the first one I have seen built. I picked this kit up at a swap meet in Tucson awhile back. I used to see them at NAS Alameda back in the "80's. I think it was the last active "Whale" Squadron. Made a lot of noise and black smoke, but what an airplane. Your's turned out real nice, nice clean build and the wing fold looks the part. Thanks for posting this build.

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