by Tommy H. Thomason

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Douglas A3D Skywarrior Main Landing Gear Wheel Wells and Brakes

The new Trumpeter 1/48th A3D/A-3 kit has been eagerly awaited by some. Here is some detail on the main landing gear wheel wells, which are more prominent than on most airplanes.

There is an opening at the forward end of the wheel wells that goes straight through to the other side of the airplane. This opening is required to accomodate the landing gear retraction actuators.
Note that there is a sheet metal panel (structurally, a shear web) separating the wheel wells aft of the big forging at the aft side of the opening. The lower side of the aft bulkhead of the wheel well is vertical although the fuselage skin angles slightly forward.

The retraction actuators crisscross in the opening, with the left strut's actuator mounted forward of the right strut's. (This picture is from Darren Tamanaha's walk around photo collection that isn't accessible now; for a substitute, see Howard Mason's:
Note that the attachment of the piston for the right strut is on the aft side of its actuating mechanism lower link and the piston for the left strut is attached to forward side of its actuating mechanism. The cylinder for the right strut is mounted on the forward side of the forging on the aft left side of the opening while the cylinder for the left strut is mounted on the right side of the forward bulkhead of the opening (see picture above). Also note that from this angle, the bottom aft edge of the wheel well opening appears to be vertical but it's not.
This gives you a little better view of the bottom of the main landing gear wheel well;
Darren's set of walkaround photos is of a Version as opposed to a Bomber (see There are several notable differences, including the main wheel brakes:
I don't know why the Version brake extends farther from the hub than the Bomber's. Both had antiskid.  It may be that more powerful brakes were thought to be needed on the Versions since they might have been considered to operate more from land bases than the Bomber. It does appear that no Bomber was ever retrofitted with the Version-type brakes.


  1. The version brake extends outside of the wheel assembly to aid in cooling.
    The bomber brake assembly consisted of large brake rotors and stators while the version brake assembly consisted of thinner brake rotor and stators.
    The version brake assembly had more rotors and stators than the bomber brake assembly.
    The bomber rotors were prone to cracking, I remember more than one bomber rotor having numerous cracks when I changed them out.
    Joe Hawkins

    1. Thanks very much. It's still odd to me that the bombers were not retrofitted with the version brakes, but I've not seen a picture of one.