|While building the Airfix 1/72 A-1H/J Skyraider thirty years ago, I heard about a Tsukuda Skyraider kit, that should be much better detailed. I searched high and low for it, but in pre-internet days, I could not find one. When the Hasegawa kit came out in 1996, my search stopped, but I never forgot about it. Imagine my surprise in 2018 when Cees den Hartog, a club member from my IPMS-NL chapter, was giving away surplus half-built kits, including a Tsukuda Skyraider. Twenty-two years had passed since the search stopped, but I was still very happy to finally obtain one. I decided to write a review as if it was a new model.|
Tsukuda issued two versions of the model, that were issued 1983 as far as I know. Both boxes have beautiful box art. The VNAF version box art, with a hard-banked Spad over a tilted SEA landscape, is especially nice.
|Tsukuda Hobby WP01||Tsukuda Hobby WP02|
Hobbycraft reissued the Tsukuda kit in 1993 in three versions. The box art is quite horrible, and suggest the contents are of low-quality.
|Hobbycraft 1367||Hobbycraft 1368||Hobbycraft 1369|
|Here's the box that I got from fellow club member Cees den Hartog. It had parts of a blue PVC folder stuck to it, signs of years and years of storage. The decal sheet was undamaged.|
|The kit was partially built, and I dry-assembled the various parts for this photo. A nice surprise was the propeller, that had the correct chord blades, one of the few errors in the Hasegawa kit.|
|The kit has engraved panel lines, pretty good detail and a nice decal sheet. On an Airfix-Hasegawa Skyraider scale it's roughly at 80%. Not bad at all for a 1983-vintage kit!|
Late 2021 I also obtained one of the Hobbycraft reissues of this kit, the 'French Skyraider' with catalog number HC1368. I photographed all sprues, and they are shown at the same scale, except the canopy.
|The panel lines are fine and shallow, near perfect I would say.
The fuselage halves match the Hasegawa fuselage halves closely, except the fin height which is 1 mm lower. Compared to the Hasegawa kit, the open speed brakes are a big difference, although open speedbrakes are a very rare sight on the Skyraider.
Tsukuda forgot the armor plate on the lower front fuselage. I measured that 0.25 mm thickness plastic card is required to add the missing armor. The same goes for the raised sheet metal in front of the speed brakes.
The four small shields that block the exhaust flames from the pilot are absent.
|The wings look good. The main landing gear openings lack walls and the stringers on the top side.
The pylons are molded integrally, but their spacing is not 100% correct. I measured 3.3 mm space between in the inner four, and 3.7 mm space between the outer three.
|On this sprue the propeller stands out: its shape is better than that of the Hasegawa kit, that has blades that are too narrow. The prop 'axle' fits loosely in the engine/cowling, so it can assume any position - this needs improvement. On the horizontal tails, the elevators taper strongly in thickness, and that looks strange. A good way to hide this is to deflect the elevators.
The solid cylinders top-left are SUU-11 7.62mm minigun pods. The real ones are 12" diameter = 305 mm = 4.2 mm in 1/72 scale, but the kit part diameter is 3.3 mm. The length is 85" = 2159 mm = 30.0 mm, but the kit part is 23.4 mm. This makes the gun pods 1/92 scale. Just below the gun pods are two SUU-14 six-tube submunitions dispensers. I don't know the real dimensions, but they are almost same size as Hasegawa parts.
|The cowling has an integral engine representation that is not very realistic. The interior of the cowling is ribbed. The real cowling has raised areas between the cooling flaps, but the model represents this too strong. Between the cowling and the front fuselage, the part in the upper left corner of the runners is mounted. It represents the six cowl flaps in the closed position; not completely satisfactorily.
The wheels are a bit strange: there is no line between the tire and wheel. The spoked wheels are US Navy style. The cockpit floor with 'fuel tank' at the rear reminds me of the Airfix cockpit. There is no pilot figure.
The two large bombs on the right I cannot identify. The diameter is 6.3 mm or 17.9" in real life. That's too large for M64 (14.2") but too small for M65 (18.8"), and similarly too large for M117 (16.1") but too small for M118 (24.1"). The six small bombs look somewhat like M30s, but the diameter of 2.3 mm = 6.5" does not match the listed diameter of 8.2".
The main wheel doors need to be cut in three parts for a model with the landing gear down. The centerline tank looks like a standard Navy 300 gallon type, the Hasegawa kit has the same. But the tank's diameter is too large, see dimensional checks below.
|The two-piece canopy is OK for its time, but we're now used to much better ones. I would replace it with a Squadron or Rob Taurus vacformed example.|
Next, I did a dimensional check of the model. For comparison I also measured the Hasegawa model.
|Douglas data||SI units||Tsukuda||Hasegawa||Comments|
|source||inch||mm (1/1)||mm (1/72)||mm||diff.||mm||diff.|
|Fuselage length||38.9'||11857||164.7||164||-0.4%||164.5||-0.1%||along a/c waterline zero, including propeller, excluding tail hook|
|Fuselage width (max)||21.5||21.6||excluding armor plates|
|Propeller diameter||57.2 - 57.5||56.7|
|Cowling diameter||21.1 min - 21.6 max||20.3 min - 21.6 max||Tsukuda and Hasegawa cowlings taper rear to front|
|Fuel tank diameter||26.5"||673||9.3||10.1||+8.6%||9.4||+1.1%||Douglas Low-drag External Fuel Tanks|
|Fuel tank length||225.81"||5736||79.7||80.8||+1.4%||81.0||+1.6%||Douglas Low-drag External Fuel Tanks|
I think the Tsukuda kit is a surprisingly good model for its time. Overall, I would judge it three quarters of the quality of the Hasegawa model. Therefore the latter is the easiest route to an excellent Skyraider.
the dimensions and shapes are correct as far as I can see
the model has quite a few weapons and a tank, but are much less accurate, and I recommend replacing them all, except the SUU-14s.
errors that can be fixed quite easily:
the missing exhaust flame shields are easily scratchbuilt
the missing armor plate on the lower cockpit side can be made from plastic card
the cockpit can be upgraded with KMC set 72-7016 'A-1H/J Skyraider update set'
the main wheel wells can be scratchbuilt, or replaced by Aires set 7097 'Skyraider wheel bay'
the tail wheel well can be scratchbuilt, or replaced by Quickboost set 72-186 'A-1D Skyraider rear wheel well'
the cowl flaps could be replaced by Quickboost set 72-254 'A-1 Skyraider exhaust' that includes the exhaust pipes
errors that are more difficult to fix:
if you want to correct the wing pylon spacing, you're in for quite a bit of work
FineScale Modeler, May/June 1984 issue. Paul Boyer reported no major problems, a bit of filling required at the wing roots, some attention to the two-part cowling, that has some strange ridges inside. The canopy is thick and so are the horizontal tails.
Hobbycraft 1/72 A-1 'French Skyraider' review by Scott Van Aken on Modeling Madness
I found only a few built examples of this model:
Naval Greenraider - Tsukuda 1/72 Douglas A-1H (Finished) by 'Novokits'
Tsukuda Hobby 1/72 Douglas AD-6 Skyraider (WWS-400) by 'tanker221' on the Airfix Tribute Forum
RVNAF A-1H Skyraider 11/70 in 1/72 by 'scooter' on ARC