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ESCI A-1H Skyraider 1:48

Well, there I was, 6 weeks into a really bad case of cabin fever. I was waiting for some add-ons for a Lorna that I wanted to build for the WW2 Japanese group, and I was reading a book on the Skyraider in Vietnam. Of course, I decided to build a Skyraider while I was waiting. My stash had Skyraiders from ESCI, Monogram, and Tamiya. I’m not sure why I decided to build the ESCI kit, but so the odyssey began. As you might guess, this is a pretty good kit from the early 1980’s with simplified detail compared to the Monogram kit, and very simplified compared to the Tamiya offering. I decided to build this Skyraider in a blue paint scheme, which I think makes almost any plane look really classy. Decals for Skyraiders are hard to find, especially in a blue paint scheme. I found them on Ebay from a company called Euro Decals, but they are printed by the Fantasy Printshop in the UK. I had heard that these decals were great, so I ordered them online and had them in a week.

I ran into some problems building this kit, but I can trace the problems to myself rather than the kit. I had never run into these problems before, so I thought I might save someone those same ham-fisted problems. The first small issue I had was simply the way the kit was manufactured. I guess they wanted to be able to get multiple versions of the Skyraider from one mold, so the fuselage sides had a huge hole that was filled with a flat part, in this case, the area around the speedbrakes. This wouldn’t have been a problem if they had fit better, but a good deal of putty and sanding was required to eliminate the steps and seams around this part. Of course, you had to be careful not to remove the indentation that formed the speedbrake.

Apart from this, the kit fit together well. You needed a little putty everywhere, but not much anywhere. The other interesting thing with the kit design is that it had the largest sprues I have ever seen. The sprues were all the size of a wooden pencil and were often interesting to remove from the part without damaging something.

I would bet there is as much plastic in the sprues as there is in the kit parts themselves. There are several extra clear parts included.

The next problem occurred when I was painting the cowling. I had opened the cowl flaps with a razor saw and then painted the cowling using Tamiya Navy Blue in a spray can. After letting it dry, I pulled it off the cardboard I had used to spray it. When I looked at it later I discovered the cowl flaps on one side had broken off in a ragged shape. I have lost both plastic and photoetch parts before, but never like this. I can’t explain how this occurred between my paint booth and my worktable, but there it is. Easily fixed, but weird.

The next problem occurred with the clear coat. The Skyraider was in Navy Blue sprayed from a Tamiya can, and it was time for the clear coat. To save time, I decided I was going to use Model Master Clear Coat sprayed from a can. I have used Model Master Clear a thousand times and never had any trouble with it. I sprayed it on in preparation for the decals. I masked off the nose so I could spray black anti-glare panel, and when I removed the Tamiya tape it pulled the clear coat up with it. Never had it happen before. I sanded down the edges and went on with the decals. When I sprayed the flat coat at the end it hid the offending areas nicely.

The final problem was with the decals. First, let me say that these decals are terrific. They are very thin and look great on the plane. I used MicroSol and MicroSet according to instructions, and I noticed the decals were very reluctant to allow repositioning into position. Of course, I could have tried to trouble shoot the problem, but instead I blindly continued placing decals based on the idea I could get them where I wanted them on the first try. This blind faith worked until I tried to place the second “D” on the tail. The first one went on perfectly, and then the second one folded and stuck. I tried everything to get it to unfold, but no luck. So, this gave me the chance to try some emergency rescue: I cut a mask and painted the missing “D”. Not perfect, but I can live with it. By the way, I solved the sticking problem by using only water on the plane until the decal was in position, then I used the MicroSol and Set. The water allows them to move around easily into position. I sprayed some Model Master Flat over everything, and the decals look like they are painted on (of course, one of them really is). The only thing you need to remember on the Skyraider is to put the decals on the bottom of the wings before you put the racks under the wings.

Well, that’s it. I think the blue scheme really looks great on the Skyraider. I didn’t spend many brain cells deciding if the kit version of the plane matched the version in the decals. Probably not, but it still looks cool. Now it’s on to the Lorna. Stay safe.

11 additional images. Click to enlarge.

24 responses

  1. Skyraiders look great in blue, George. Nice save after all of those problems. Which book were you reading?

    • Thanks, John @j-healy. I was reading the Osprey book: USAF and VNAF Units of the Vietnam War. I was also checking out the photos in the Douglas A-1 Skyraider from SAM Publications. I have always liked the Skyraider. When I joined the Air Force in the early 70s we were still using the Skyraider for Special Ops and Rescue. By the time I finished pilot training they were pretty much all gone.

      • My uncle flew them from NKP in 1967-68. 602nd SOS. He got shot down during the rescue of Kenny Fields from VA-82, 31 May 68. Fortunately, he got quickly snatched out of a tree by the Jolly Green Giant. Check out “The Rescue of Steetcar304” by Kenny Fields. Uncle Bill was Sandy 5, Maj. Palank. George Marrett’s book, “Cheating Death” is a good read on the subject too.

        • Your uncle was one of the fortunate ones to be rescued so quickly. I’m on my way to Amazon to check out the book. My Flight Commander in pilot training in 1977 flew O-2’s in Vietnam & was shot down by a SAM. He was a guest of the Viet Cong until they started repatriating the POWs.

  2. Despite all the troubles you had, you have made a real nice model out of it.

  3. Nice work and a great result, George, but I can see that I’m glad I no longer have that kit in my stash. Nothing against your work, which is great, it’s just another of those ESCI kits that remind me of the not-so-great “good old days.”

  4. Despite all the problems it seems you prevailed and produced a good looking Spad. Well done George.

  5. Great job, George! Your Skyraider looks terrific in blue! I loved your presentation too.
    All the best, my friend!

  6. Well done! The ESCI kit is pretty good, ESCI always had a bit of a brittle plastic problem, and one thing I have learned building old Monogram and Revell kits is that old plastic tends to get brittle. The Dauntless I built recently had a couple of parts that were supposed to be “flexed” to fit in so they operated, and, well I had to do some repairs!

    • You are right, Rob @robertandy. I like to build old model kits, especially Revell and Monogram. Clear plastic seems to be the most brittle, but the most brittle gray plastic I have seen was in an old Italeri kit. It would snap just from a heavy gaze. I’m not complaining, though, because I know that I am as old as some of these kits and I am brittle, too.

  7. Great results! Speaking of brittle plastic, a little while ago I did the old Fujimi 1/72 Skyraider, the tail broke off when it fell off the shelf, some plastic does not age well. like me bones.

  8. Thanks everyone. Stay safe.

  9. Nice work on that old kit,George, that Spad is looking good!

  10. FYI – That extra piece on the clear sprue is for the very rare, Malcolm-hooded AD-1….

  11. Very nice! I had bought the decals to start a Korean War blue Skyraider a couple of years ago, and then got sidetracked! I’m inspired to bring it back to the on-deck shelf…!

  12. Nice build. Your model turned out well despite all of the issues you had to overcome. As they sa “some modeling skills required”!

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