Tsukuda 1/72 A-1H Skyraider review

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.

Kit versions

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

My Tsukuda kit

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!

In-box kit review

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
Wing span        
50.0' 15249 211.8 211.5 -0.1% 210 -0.8%
Tail span        
86.5 85.2
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


Other reviews

Build reports

I found only a few built examples of this model:

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