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In-Box Review
132
A-1H Skyraider
Douglas A-1H Skyraider
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by: Jean-Luc Formery [ TEDMAMERE ]


Originally published on:
AeroScale

Introduction
This 1:32 scale Douglas A-1H Skyraider kit is (only) the third release by Zoukei-Mura and after two rather esoteric WWII subjects (J7W1 Shinden and Ta 152H) this young company based in Japan has decided to produce a post war aircraft which was widely used by the Americans during the 50' and the 60'. The Skyraider prototype first flew in March 1945 and though it never saw combat during WWII it was the last piston engined ground attack aircraft designed by the United States. The "Spad", as it was called, was a big aircraft capable of carrying a huge load of weapons and as such, constitutes a fantastic subject for modelers. Especially in 1:32 scale.

When looking at the content of the kit, one can only be impressed by its content. To the point that it is hard to believe that this is only the third aircraft release by Zoukei-Mura. Sometimes it takes years to reach a certain level of quality in the plastic model kit industry but not so for this company. One thing is for sure, the Skyraider fanatics won't be disappointed!

The kit
Zoukei-Mura's 1:32 scale Douglas A-1H Skyraider kit comes in a large box adorned with a rather unspectacular artwork. Inside there are 13 plastic sprues bagged separately, an instructions booklet, a decal sheet, a sheet of masks, two metal rods and a sprue of poly caps. The plastic comes in four shades: light grey, black, silver and transparent. This is something I like very much since it awakes some memories of the old Matchbox kits I used to assemble when I was a kid. In this case however, it isn't a gimmick, but more a way to better identify the parts during construction and to offer a specific base color prior to painting.

The overall quality of the plastic parts is very good. When compared to their previous releases, the moldings are similar in that there are no sink marks and very few traces of flash. However, it seems as if Zoukei-Mura has listened to the complaints of some modelers and improved the surface finish of their kits. The engraved panel lines are finer and the relief detail more defined. It is as if the Japanese manufacturer has found the right balance on this matter for such big scale models. There are a very few ejector pin marks located in visible areas so they won't represent a big challenge. However, a mould lines will have to be eliminated just in the middle of the sliding hood. This is sadly the price if you want to produce a bubble top canopy with an accurate shape.

From the 13 plastic sprue, 8 have been produced with the help of sliding molds and this could well represent a record for an injected plastic aircraft model. But for what are sliding molds good for? For example to hollow out the openings of machine guns and exhaust pipes. It also allows the designer of a kit to add details to a part from three directions rather than only two with the standard two molds method. The result of this technique are more realistic surface features for complex parts without the need to rely on sub-assemblies. In short, it is a way to simplify the build without sacrificing the level of detail.

The sprues
Let's take a closer look at all the plastic sprues:

- Sprue A holds 53 parts and is made of silver colored plastic. It mainly comprises the items needed to assemble the detailed cockpit tub (instrument panel, side consoles, cockpit floor, seat, control stick, radio racks, firewall, bulkheads, frames, etc...). 7 parts are not to be used and will probably have to be incorporated in the forthcoming A-1J Air Force Type boxing of the kit (different seat and control stick). It is to note that one seat comes with molded on seat belts while the second has none in case one want's to add his own.

- Sprue B is composed of 30 parts of which the most are destined to the engine (cylinder blocks, pushrods, gear housing, engine mounts, carburetor, etc...). There are also two wing structure parts and the inside structure of the fuselage air brakes. The color of the plastic is silver.

- Sprue C is the only one molded in black. 52 parts are present on it such as the propeller, the machine guns, the ammunition cases, the fuel tank, the tires, the exhaust pipes, the wing joint covers, etc...

- Sprue D is a 49 parts mix of various items such as wing rear and front spars, wing ribs, gear well walls, landing gear legs (in both extended or compressed configurations, depending on the wing load), wheel hubs, brake lines, arresting hook, etc... This sprue is the third one molded in silver plastic.

- Sprue E and F are focused on the wings. They are made of light grey plastic and hold respectively 17 and 18 parts (wings, ailerons, flaps, actuators, access panels, etc...). The wings can assembled deployed or folded. With some care I think it is even possible make them workable on the finished model!

- Sprue G and H are exclusively destined to the fuselage and are composed of 17 and 16 parts made in light grey injected plastic. The halves are split in three pieces and I must admit I don't know why Zoukei-Mura didn't left them in one piece. The sprue also feature the rudder, the vertical stabilizers and ailerons, the cowl flaps (closed or opened) and the exhaust glare shields.

- Sprue I is also made of light grey plastic. Its 21 parts are mainly destined to the bottom of the aircraft, including the inboard wing pylons, the landing gear doors, the lower air brake, etc…

- Sprue J comes in two exemplars. Each one comprises 11 light grey parts which offer the choice between wing (long) or fuselage (short) fuel tanks. 6 wing pylons are present on each sprue for a total of 12! This illustrates very well the large amount of ordnance the Skyraider was able to carry under the wings (more than its own weight in weapons!).

- Sprue K is the transparent one. Composed of 16 parts it features the windscreen, the canopy hood, an optional instrument panel, the gun sight and various smaller pieces (mainly formation and position lights). Transparency is very good, but as previously mentioned, one will have to carefully eliminate the central seam line of the sliding hood. A set of masks is provided for the painting of the clear parts.

- Sprue L is another light grey one. Smaller than the others it only comprises 15 parts (engine cowling, carburetor air scoop, sway braces, landing gear fairings, static boom, etc…).

- Sprue PE is made of vinyl like material. It features 8 poly caps which will help the wings and the air brakes to remain movable.

- Two bended metal rods are provided in the kit. They are destined to the folding mechanism of the wings.

Decals and instructions
Zoukei-Mura have once again produced a very nice instruction booklet. It is in A4 format and printed in color over 40 pages. It features a table of contents, a history of the aircraft with specifications, a color guide (Vallejo), a 31 pages building guide, two pages for the painting and decal instructions and a part layout diagram.

The instructions are beautifully printed and divided in chapters. Each one is illustrated with photos of a the kit in various building stages as well as with computers generated drawings.

- Part 1 - Cockpit
- Part 2 - Fuselage
- Part 3 - Engine
- Part 4 - Wings
- Part 5 - Fuselage, Wings & Main Landing Gears
- Part 6 - Engine & Cowlings
- Part 7 - Flaps, Ailerons & Stabilizers
- Part 8 - Final Outfitting

Decals are printed on a huge A4 sheet and appears to be of very good quality. They offer the possibility to do two aircraft which are very similar except for their ID numbers and serials. Aircraft 405 also lacks mission markings.

- Douglas Skyraider A-1H, 137543, VA-176, AK/409, USS Intrepid, 1966.
- Douglas Skyraider A-1H, 137496, VA-176, AK/405, USS Intrepid, 1966.

Conclusion
This is an impressive release from Zoukei-Mura. It is the third aircraft kit by this new Japanese manufacturer and their best to date. Detail is very good and the surface finish definitely an improvement over their previous attempts with the Shinden and Ta 152 H kits. Some will complain about the fact that the kit may be over engineered and that it lacks the external stores which are sold separately. The former fact results from the modeling philosophy of the brand (like it or not, they won't change this as it is their trademark) and the latter fact is a way to keep the price of the basic kit lower. If you like the features of the kit, I can definitely recommend it to you as it will produce a great model straight from the box.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AeroScale
SUMMARY
Highs: Excellent quality of the plastic parts - High level of detail - Wings can be represented folded - Workable air brakes.
Lows: No complete external store provided.
Verdict: Excellent kit which will result in an impressive model straight from the box.
Percentage Rating
94%
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: SWS n.03
  Suggested Retail: $141
  Related Link: A-1H Skyraider
  PUBLISHED: Oct 22, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.63%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 91.38%

Our Thanks to Zoukei-Mura Inc.!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jean-Luc Formery (TedMamere)
FROM: MOSELLE, FRANCE

I'm mainly interested in WW2 aircraft and I build them in 1/48 scale.

Copyright ©2018 text by Jean-Luc Formery [ TEDMAMERE ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Nice review Rowan. Looks like a really nice kit. Too bad the didn't include the weapons load though.
OCT 22, 2011 - 11:20 AM
Good review Jean-Luc. One comment I would make though, $141 is not cheap for a 1/32 aircraft, especially one you have to buy the external stores for later. Anyway, until the Trumpeter A-1H comes out I will be sitting on the side-lines. Thanks again for the review, warreni
OCT 22, 2011 - 01:33 PM
Hi all, Rowan, thank you very much for taking the time to make the review live. The Ordnance is not included in the kit indeed but can be purchased separately (a review will follow soon). The price of the weapon store is $22. Added to the $141 it makes a total of $162. The Tamiya Mustang is $151 at Squadron. I can understand that if one does not want to build the kit but put it in the stash it is a high price. But if one wants to have a 1:32 scale Skyraider in his finished model collection, the Zoukei-Mura kit will provide many hours of enjoyable build and an impressive model once finished. Jean-Luc
OCT 22, 2011 - 07:02 PM
Good review Jean-Luc - thank you. In truth, I saw and handled one of these 1/32 Z-M kits for the very first time quite recently (Ta-152) and I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed after all the hype that surrounded them. I think I was expecting something ala' Wingnut Wings' or 'Tamiya' (Spits/Mustang) in terms of details & moldings and instead found it to be like a decent Trumpeter or even recent Revell 1/32 kit. Indeed, some of the parts were very 'soft' in detail terms, the silver-grey coloured plastic coloured parts looked weird and I have heard reports it will not glue properly? I am not being critical of the Skyraider as I have not seen it and I am sure it will be welcomed by the USN fans. Personally and it's solely my own view, I just don't buy into the Z-M hype if the Ta-152 was anything to go by and representative of the end result? The requirement to pay extra for the Skyraider weapons is also pretty poor I think; as a weapon load is pretty much a 'signature' for this specific aircraft. In terms of setting standards and the benchmark by which all newcomers will be judged, I still think WNW are in a league of their own; albeit catering for a different and date specific era of modelling aviaition. That said, it will be interesting to see how this Skyraider kit actually builds and it will certainly be an impressive and imposing model with a full load and a good paint job. Thanks again. Gary
OCT 22, 2011 - 09:40 PM
Warren, you have identified the elephant in the room with large scale aircraft, LOL. A Hasegawa comes stripped-down in many cases. I have their P-47D and bought it for about $40 from a modeler getting out of 32 scale, but it "needs" $150 in AM stuff, including the cockpit, wheel wells, PE, decals, etc. I didn't NEED every AM item I purchased, but want the highest level of accuracy I can get. Even Trumpeter kits that include a lot of detailing (e.g., their 262 jets) still can be improved with wheel wells, cockpits, PE, etc. Does one NEED all this extra stuff? Not necessarily. But Z-M are including all this stuff in their base price, so their kits are expensive to begin with. They off-load the extras in case you don't want them. Why pay for ordnance you're not going to use? Pacific Coast Models does the same thing: a limited-run aircraft with an Eduard PE dashboard, some resin goodies and good decals by Cartograf. You don't NEED anything else to build a very nice kit OOB. Z-M's stuff is pricey; so is Tamiya's. Hasegawa kits remain more affordable, but are less-detailed. It's a zero-sum game to my thinking. BTW, excellent review J-L!
OCT 24, 2011 - 05:28 AM
We broke our quick reply box. Working on it. Until fixed go to topic to reply.
Thanks.
   

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