RVHP Douglas AD-5W (EA-1E) Skyraider 1/72 Conversion

Reviewed by Norm Filer

Overview

I suspect anyone who has even a passing interest in U.S. Navy post WWII aviation knows about the AD-1 (A-1) Skyraider, so we probably can keep this part pretty brief. What is a little different about this kit is that it is the multi seat model Skyraider.

The AD-5 was originally developed to combine the anti-submarine hunter and killer aircraft into one airframe capable of carrying all the equipment and operators previously carried by two different versions of the Skyraider. From this modest beginning, the "family" model went on to perform a whole range of tasks.

Prior to this kit, the only way to model a 1/72 nd AD-5 was the ancient Monogram kit. A simple, almost non existent interior, raised panel lines and somewhat questionable accuracy here and there, but on the whole a pretty decent kit considering how old it is. They are still available at swap meets and e-bay but this new RVHP kit just might send a lot more of the old Monogram kits to the swap meets.

The Conversion

First impression is that unlike many of the Eastern European kits, this one comes in a very sturdy white cardboard top opening, tab locking box. None of those flimsy thin cardboard end opening boxes for these guys! This one will remain closed and intact while stacked on the shelf awaiting the call. It ain't as pretty as some other boxes, but it is very functional and sensible.

The important stuff is of course what's in the box, and in this one are some really jewel like parts. Left and right fuselage halves, and a bag of all the smaller parts.

Included in the bag are the following;

  • One piece radome Front instrument panel with glare shield

  • Cockpit tub with center and side consoles molded in. Instrument panel

  • Bulkhead between front and rear cockpit area. Wheel well inserts

  • Three seats Rudder and lower rudder fairing

  • Two radar consoles for the back cockpit.

  • One Vac Canopy

The parts are beautifully done. There are absolutely no signs of sanding marks, surface flaws of any kind or casting pits or bubbles anywhere on any of these parts. Also noteworthy is how thin everything is. The fuselage halves are no thicker than a normal injection molded kit. Gone is the concern about solid resin fuselages collapsing the landing gear struts. Just looking at these fuselage parts, if it was not for the usual light yellowish tan color, it would be hard to tell them apart from styrene. The panel line depth and quality is an exact match for those on the Hasegawa donor kit wings. That means very fine and clean.

This delicate touch continues into the smaller stuff as well. There is just none of the thick, soft details overdone stuff in this kit. The glare shield part of the instrument panel is a measured 15 thou. And this is pretty much what all the parts look like. The instrument panel even has very nicely done and what appears to be accurate panel details.

Assembly should be very little different from a normal styrene kit. Not much of the cutting, thinning of parts and cutting off massive pour spouts with this one. Only departure from styrene will be a different adhesive.

Some quick measuring and fiddling around with this and the Hasegawa wing parts makes me think the assembly/conversion should be not problem at all. As one would expect, the new fuselage assembly will mate to the Hasegawa wings exactly the same as if you were using all Hasegawa parts.

The decals are somewhat simple, maybe not quite up to the standards set by the rest of the kit, but certainly adequate There are markings for a Sea Blue scheme and a Gray over White bird. The oddity is that they did the essentials on one sheet and then give you another identical copy to provide the required number of national markings and lettering. The quality looks fine, and they appear to be thin, but the simple, duplicated decal seems to me to be an unnecessary attempt to save costs in what is a rather expensive kit. One notable omission for me was no instrument panel or side console and rear radar panel decals. The details are there on the resin parts, but so fine that painting a good instrument panel will be a challenge. A decal panel would make the work a lot easier for these old eyes.

The Vac canopy (you only get one) is very smooth and clear. One of the things I really like about it is the very nicely done "bug eyed" bulge on the top center of the two rear parts. When compared to the old Monogram canopy it is noticeably better. One side note that I thought a benefit, that old Monogram canopy fits this kit fuselage perfectly. What that means is that if you want to do a standard AD-5 that has the big Blue room in the back, rather than the two little windows like in this kit, the Monogram canopy would provide that slightly different canopy.

The assembly instructions are on one 8.5 X 11 inch page printed both sides. There is a brief history of the bird and simple but adequate assembly diagrams on one side, and the two paint schemes on the other side. It took me a little while to realize that the "HSGW" callouts all over the assembly drawings was an abbreviation for Hasegawa.

Conclusions

Anyone with a passion for plastic airplanes should visit the Czech Republic. Apparently every other garage has a resin airplane company in it. Robert Vele is in Prague and his RVHP stuff is about as good as I have seen. He tends to do neat conversion parts for the modern U. S. military aircraft that I like so well. This "station wagon" version of the Skyraider was long overdue. Also worth noting is there are apparently a long list of the other Skyraider versions behind this one. The standard AD-5 version is already listed on the Hannants web site.

They are expensive, but short run resin has always been that way. In this case the quality is worthy of the price.

Review copy purchased from Hannants.

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