by Tommy H. Thomason

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Skale Wings 1/72 Douglas AD-5W Skyraider

11 September 2016 Update: I've been adding to this post over the past few days but I am pretty close to declaring victory. Note that this is not a build review; all I've done so far is dry fit the radome and the fuselage halves. There is a build review started HERE. It is in Russian but there are lots of pictures and Google Translate deciphers most of it.

The kit that Skale Wings graciously sent me well over a month ago finally arrived from Ukraine today (I had despaired and finally ordered one from Hannants last week, which should also be here soon).

The excellent news is that the kit is injection molded, not resin, and also not simply a mashup of the undersized Monogram AD-5 fuselage and the Hasegawa wing/cowling, although it is clearly based on (but not simply copies of, e.g. the main landing gear is a bit more detailed than Hasegawa's) those kits. The fuselage size is in the ball park and the kit includes a better-than-average instruction sheet, what looks like a good decal sheet with four option, vinyl masks for the canopy, and engraved panel lines on well-molded parts (there is some flash and cleanup of mating surfaces is required but the sprues and runners are petite) : a very good first effort from Skale Wings.

There are some hiccups, like the shape of the upper part of the front of the radome (the radome is a very, very difficult shape to define: I've tried to do it a few times without becoming satisfied although I think I'm close now), the erroneous presence of the narrow-body's catapult hooks located in the wings (and the wrong forward-facing landing gear doors), a not quite right aft canopy, two seats in the aft cabin rather than one, the external tanks mounted too far aft—but all-in-all, a far better starting point than trying to enlarge the Monogram fuselage and come up with a radome, not to mention that everything I've noted above, and detailed below, is either fixable without undue effort or can be ignored.

The Cockpit

Beginning with the instrument panel, the right side was basically a duplicate of the APS-20B Indicator in the cabin as shown in this sketch, only with a hood added for viewing the radar screen.

This is the pilot's instrument panel. Note the curved protuberance at the bottom and the center pedestal under that.

The AD-5 seat was an elegantly shaped aluminum shell.

The headrest and back were covered with a cloth-covered cushion. A parachute and seat cushion were located in the bucket.
The kit provides control sticks for both the left and right side of the cockpit but Navy AD-5s only had a stick on the left side.
The stick was on a pedestal that moved back and forth for pitch control. The kit stick (D2) might need more of pedestal.

None of the cabin detail provided will be seen since the opening between the cockpit and the cabin was closed off with a light-proof curtain. However, for completeness, there was only one crew seat back there, rather than the two provided in the kit, with the rest of the cabin filled with electronic gear.

The kit's radar operator's instrument panel resembles an AD-5N's rather than the AD-5W's shown here:
The Canopy

However, unless you go to the trouble of opening at least one of the aft hatches, any detail in the cabin will go unseen:
The canopy provided in the kit is pretty much a copy of the Monogram AD-5's "blue-room" version. The AD-5W aft canopy hatch and the section between the hatch and the sliding canopy were redesigned early on to be all metal, except for a small window (which could be blanked from the inside by a cover), to allow the radar operator to better view the radar scope. In the process, the hatch was reshaped to have a bulge over the operators head, with the fore-and-aft center section being unchanged.
One option to view the rear cabin is Falcon's vacuform canopy (Clear-Vax) set number 4. It includes an A-1E canopy that should fit this kit. You'd have to cut out the rear hatches and vacuform bulged ones, but that's no hill for a stepper...

Deleting AD-6 Features

Skale Wings unfortunately did not delete some of the AD-6 specific features on the underside of the wing (the lower wing half also includes the hole for the cannon barrels).
The oil cooler air outlets (the top two Xs) can be left alone on an AD-5W build since they are covered by the radome.

The catapult hooks moved to the main landing gear struts of the AD-5. Note that the forward-facing gear door was notably different than the AD-6's included in the kit since the AD-5 did not have the doors covering the wheel wells.
The oil cooler outlet was moved to the side of the fuselage just above the wing leading edge.
This is very faintly represented on the kit fuselage. Note that the door, which was hinged on its forward edge and opened outward like a cowl flap, does not extend as far aft as the trough it closes off. The door doesn't open very far, at least not that I've seen in photos and is usually closed tight on the ground (you need the oil temperature to be above a minimum value for takeoff).

Dive Brake Well

The AD-5 had only a single dive brake, the one under the fuselage. I knew that it had been deleted from the AD-5W but I only very recently learned that its well was not closed off as it had been on the AD-4W (to the extent possible, the basic AD-5 airframes were identical when they left Douglas).

For a bit more on the dive brake well, see

Dorsal Fin

The Skale Wing's representation of the intersection of the dorsal fin with the fuselage is a bit crude. Monogram's is much better and looks much more like this:
On the other hand, the Skale Wings kit  depicts the air inlet on the leading edge of the vertical fin and Monogram's does not. (Both omitted the orange and white running lights on the sides of the fin.)


The shape of the APS-20 radome is very difficult to pin down, at least to my satisfaction. I've spent a several hours off and on over the past few years trying to do so.  The Skale Wings version looks pretty good to me except for the excessive recurve at its upper front. This is how it should look (and where it is located relative to the lower intake; also note the radome intersection with the wing root just aft of the leading edge):

This is the kit's radome and my suggested correction (the fit with the fuselage isn't all that good anyway):

Drop Tanks

The kit comes with two 300-gallon drop tanks that appear to be accurate in size and shape. However, they are located too far aft on the pylon. It appears that the location of the tip of the 150-gallon tank was used to incorrectly position the tip of the 300-gallon tank:

In any event, most AD-5Ws are pictured with only one drop tank, invariably in that case on the right-hand side, almost always the smaller 150-gallon one, and sometimes the 150-gallon tank that predated the Douglas high-speed shape. The reason is that the AD-5W could loiter for over four hours on internal fuel alone, about three carrier cycles. Two 300-gallon external tanks gave it an endurance of 11 hours, which probably exceeded the radar's mean time between failures. As it happens, the Monogram AD-5 comes with 150-gallon drop tanks that are just slightly undersized but acceptable representations.


Color profiles and decals are provided for four different AD-5W/EA-1Es. Note that the LSO sight lines for angle of attack indication should only be on the left side of the vertical fin. The name of the Kearsarge is misspelled, but it doesn't appear on the AD-5W in the profile and the name is misspelled that way on the accompanying text of a photograph of it that is available on line.

On many (most?) AD-5Ws the national insignia on the underside of the wing is located well outboard like those on the attack-mission ADs, which was done to avoid the stores pylons on the outboard wings.
 (Also note the presence of the dive brake well.)

Radio Antennas, etc.
 There is a stall strip on the leading edge of both wings just outboard of the wing pylon.

My go-to references for configuration detail are Steve Ginter's Douglas AD/A-1 Skyraider Part One (Navy Fighters Number Ninety-Eight) and squadron/signal publications A-1 Skyraider Walk Around Number 27 by Ed Barthelmes and Richard S. Dann.


  1. Somehow Bill Gillman's comment didn't post after I approved it:
    Good news! We've been waiting a long time for a good AD-5W. I hope you'll be able to dig into this kit in more detail soon. Thanks for all of the hard work you do for us crazy modellers.

  2. Thank you for the extra details you've been adding these last few days. Despite some niggles, this looks like a really nice kit, and it will be much easier to find than the old Monogram kit. I ordered one after seeing your notes here, so Skale Wings should send you a commission!

  3. Excellent review! As a modern day E-2C/D bubba, it's always great to find a new kit that depicts AEW aircraft of the USN. Got one on order and look forward to comparing it to the RVHP resin conversion sets for the Guppy Spad. After this maybe Skale will treat us with modern injection mold kits for the E-1B Tracer / S-2 Tracker / C-1 Trader family!

    1. Thanks - I've got a couple of the RVHP AD-5 conversion sets buried too far back in the storage room to get to for this review. Please let me know what you find.

  4. Thank you very much for your detailed review of our model! You caught all the fleas!
    This was our first experience. It was the desire to simplify the (unified) and the reduce the price of the first model. Now we try to do better and more accurately. It will try!
    I myself modeler, my collection of 72 scale, consists of more than 1500 models. I love aircraft carrier aviation and Israel - this determines the choice of the prototype. I know modelers problems in 72 scale.
    Thanks again for the review and correction of mistakes,

    best wishes Skale Wings

    1. Excellent effort on your first kit and hopefully we will see more naval aviation subjects in the future! Might I suggest taking on the EA-1F / AD-5Q "Electric Spad" Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) variant? Looks like you've got about 90% of work already done!

    2. A year or so ago, Skale Wings sent me CAD images of the AD-5N and AD-5Q as well as the AD-5W. However, I don't know what their production plans are in this regard. I suspect that it depends on the success of the AD-5W kit.

    3. Tommy bit disingenuous that knows our plans ;) You have great material, and we want to you to ask for help and advice. I will tell you a terrible secret - we will do all modifications Skayreider except 6 and 7 (Hasegawa). I meant it when I wrote about unification. Already in the set of folded wings. It fixes some bugs.