Trumpeter 1/32 AD-4 Skyraider

KIT #: 02252
PRICE: $130.00 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER:  Donald Zhou
NOTES: +Much simpler kit than the Zukei-Mura one. Plenty of weapons. Assembly a lot easier. Nicely detailed with nice fit.
-Half of the weapons cannot be used. Decals not complete. Color call out completely wrong. Instruction call out sometimes confusing and even flat out wrong.t


Again. Not gonna do a history on this aircraft. Again, I’ll let mister history reviewer Mr. Tom Cleaver do that for me. Just read his review of the Zukei-Mura version here.  


I’ll just refer you to my preview here

The short of it is basically, 1. Far easier to assemble than the Zukei-Mura one. 2. A great load out of weapons but half of it can not be used due to the fact they are for the Vietnam Spad and the HVAR is a complete unusable mess. And 3. Decal is good but not complete. Hope some aftermarket companies can come up with a complete maintenance stencil sheet.  


After perusing the instructions and understand it completely, construction begins. Now the instructions starts out with the very nice Wright R-3350 engine. But I decided to digress and go all the way to the end and started with the weapons. These are easy and should wax the mojo and get it going. My plan was to do everything, including the Vietnam weapons and then take a “loadout” photo (yes, I did make all those mess of a mess HVAR rockets, then promptly threw all of them into the “junkyard” box)…But as you will learn later on, events eventually conspired to make short work of that plan,

When all the weapons were done, puttied and primed, I set them aside later for painting. Now to step 1 and that gorgeous R-3350 engine. Over 50 parts goes into it and it’s a beau. Now, it seems the Zukei-Mura one, as describe by Mr. Thomas Clever, the exhaust pipes were a real PITA and just will not go. Well, I had a hell of a time with the pipes too. The biggest problem was that the instruction here just sucked. There is no description of the engine orientation and what exhaust part goes into what hole(s). The end result was I had to look a few steps ahead at the engine to see the pipes in their correct relations to the correct engine orientation. That, and also a lot dry fit and trial and error. Luckily, everything fits and the holes are tight enough that you just need to tap it in mostly and it will settle. Once I got the correct orientation and got the first pipe in correctly, the rest was easy. Although, it took a bit of elbow grease, cajoling and plenty of F bombs and S bombs along the way to get there.

Now for painting of the engine, I used plenty of Model Master Metalizers. I find these to be a better option than Alclad since one little mistake with those, and you are in for it. Base color is MM Chrome Silver, then washes of Tamiya Flat Black (I find this Flat Black to be more “sooty”, perfect for general washes and for engines), MM Metalizer Exhaust, Gun Metal and near the end, a little spray of Glossy Sea Blue. For the exhaust pipes, again, start with Chrome Silver as a base, then washes of Tamiya Metallic Silver, Gunmetal, and patches of Exhaust. Finally, a good wash of Tamiya Smoke really brings it out. The crank case is MM Dark Ghost Grey, with good washes of Tamiya Flat Black, with Testor’s Grey as an offset. With the engine done, I set it aside for much later. Onto the cockpit.

The cockpit is pretty simple, but well detailed and appointed. Like the engine, ignore the color call outs. They are completely wrong. With research and reading other people’s builds, I painted the cockpit with a basic color MM Green Zinc Chromate. In fact, all exposed surfaces except the speed brakes are this color. So I took it to the wheel wells also. The instrument panel and sides are MM Flat Black and when dried, I used MM Light Ghost Grey to pick out the buttons along with red and green colors also. A good reference help here. The seat is painted in the same Green Zinc Chromate and I used the kit’s seat belts. They are pretty rudimentary but look good in a coat of paint and on the seat. Now, for the front bulkhead, I did assemble the oil tank and pipes, same with the big gas tank behind the cockpit but I did not paint them since they all but disappear when the fuselage halves are closed up. The cockpit itself was again, washed with Tamiya Flat Black.

Speaking of the fuselage, before I closed them up, with a couple of eye rolls, I decided to tackle Trumpeter’s brain fart first, namely, the big openings underneath the front lower fuselage. Two clear pieces, GP1 and GP7 go in the slots so you can view the oil tank etc. But of course, I chose not to. With plenty of shoving and cajoling, they went in and settled down without a step. I then attached the cockpit, with the engine mount and bracing in front. However, I did not attach the engine to make painting easier. Now, there are plenty of fuselage braces, G24, G28, G27, A7, A8, and G26. I don’t know why they are there since they seem to be doing nothing. But still I did attach parts G24, G28 and especially parts G27 and A7 since they go on top of the bottom speed brake and seems to help to keep it down. I did not attach A8 and G26 since A8 broke and G26 seems to interfere with the two halves. It turned out they are not need anyways since the tailwheel well more than holds the two halves together. Just to remember to dig out the two holes for the two fuselage air scoops before assemble the fuselage together. I left off the tail wheel itself till the end.

With that done. It’s on to the details. Say what you will about Trumpeter’s accuracy, at least everything fits and fits nicely! The only thing is, if it looks like “carpet monster food,” leave it off! This is what happened with parts G4 and G22. I left G22, the antennae off but not G4 thinking the canopy operation linkage will go nowhere! WRONG! It….Well, let’s just say the carpet monster ate it! The only big decisions are the speed brake, wings, and cowls and whether you want them open or closed, folded or open. I decided to go for the all splayed out, all open mode so folded wings, open speed brakes and cowl panels. Yeah, yeah, I know those speed brakes are usually closed on the ground. But for this version, that’s the way it will be. Again, follow the instructions and everything should be fine since they all fit! Also, be noted that normally, canvas tarps cover the fold joints to prevent salt water and air entering into the assemblies and causing havoc. But since 1. I’m too lazy and 2. I want to show the details, I did not make them (Yeah, yeah, it’s “you are too lazy”, right?). The only major hitch was when time came to mate the inner wings onto the bottom of the fuselage, it will not go. For some strange reason, the front cockpit bulkhead and lower engine braces was too low and interfered with the mating process. I simply took a good clipper and clipped most of the bottom of the bulkhead and braces off and it went on without any problems.

With that, the major assemblies are done. Onto the paint shop we go!


Yep, with this version, you get one choice in color, Glossy Sea Blue. As a substitute, I used Tamiya Royal Blue, which is a very close version. The original plan was to do a clean spanking new Able Dog that just entered service. That plan was soon shot to hell though since I soon found out there is no clean Skyraider per say. These things sprayed oil, smoke and gas all over the instant that big R-3350 roared to life. Hell, there is an old saying, “if it ain’t leaking, it ain’t flying!” Many a newbie crew chief spent a night shift spanking, spitting, shining a Skyraider as if it just left the assembly line and left dismayed and crying one mission later when it came back an angry ball of smoke and soot!  So yeah, it needs to be dirty! However, it will still be “new” as I’m not planning to do sunfading to drive home that fact!

So, to start, I use my same ol’ same ol’, a good wash with Tamiya Flat Black. Again, it dry a little “sooty”, perfect for grime and oil. Many places I did not clean up too well so the sooty mess will show through. I then spay the whole thing, plus what is still left on the tree that needs to be the same color, a thin coat of Royal Blue to start, waited 12 hours for it to be completely dry, then a second coat of wash where needed before a second thicker coat goes on. After that is dry, a third coat goes on to cover whatever spots that needs it. This ends in a rather dirty bird but you won’t see it in the photos as the blue really “compliment” the black a little too well. One thing I did not do is dinging or paint chipping. The Navy is pretty adamant about paint chips since the salty air and water will quickly corrode any exposed spot if left open too long and aluminum corrode like mad in open water conditions. More often than not, the minute an aircraft gets taken below into the hanger deck, a bevy of men with paint cans and brushes in hand were waiting for it to go through a thorough check-up and paint over any exposed spots. This is the reason the minute I see any naval aircraft that look like it just participated in The Battle of the South Pacific, even if it’s something say a Tomcat or Intruder I just cringe!  I did left two very small spot with a paint chips since these paints do corrode quickly in the salty air. But again, with any naval aircraft, don’t overdo it. They are not needed.

It’s at this point that I decided to add the nose cowling and engine on. This is because no matter the version, there is a big block number on the engine cowling and you need the cowling and panels closed together to do it correctly. I chose the Navy VA-95 version. After getting the nose cowling on the engine (after the cement is dry), I carefully dry fitted the cowling panels and marked off where the second part of the decal, the decal that goes on the panel before continuing (remember I’m building the panel in the open position to show off that big R-3350 engine). Same with the speed brakes since the decals there are split into three pieces! The decal goes on smoothly and in perfect register. A good tip on Trumpyboss’s decal. They are extra thin and settle down instantly it touches the plastic. However, that thinness also causes it to roll up on you if you are not careful. Read a few reviews on Trumpyboss’s kits here and you will hear some laments thrown at those decals way. After building way too many Trumpyboss kits and learning the hard way, I slowly found out a good way to deal with that problem. First, let the decal settle in the water for several extra dozen seconds longer than necessary. I usually let it soak for 2-3 minutes. This wash away most of the decal solution on the sheet. That solution is the num. 1 cause of the decal roll ups. If you left too much of it on, IT WILL cause the ultra-thin decal to crinkle and roll. And once it rolled, it will cause it to stick together and that is that……….Second, if you can get it, get Mr. Mark Softer. If not, my replacement, Testor’s decal solution will also work. This is because with most of the original decal solution gone, you need a replacement. Mr. Mark is absolutely the best! Just apply after the decal is settled in the correct place. Unlike Tamiya decals, you can put it on, and let it settle for 2 minutes and the decal will be completely melted on but still good to the touch (don’t even bother to try that trick with the Tamiya decals! Anything over 20 seconds with those and you DARE to touch it…..Learned that the hard way!!). With Testors, wait until the solution is completely vaporized. Then a swipe of a soft tissue paper will clean it all up! No need to worry about air bubbles since by this time, the decal has settled down so much, it automatically squeezed out any air pockets anyways. This is absolutely the easiest and simplest way to deal with Trumpyboss’s decals. That first step is the most important. Take those decals out too early and you are in for it!!!!!!! Anyways, the decals, with my methods, went on no problem but again, most of the maintenance stencils are not there so here’s hoping the aftermarket will capitalize on it.


Now, onto the final assembly…And boy there are still A LOT left! First to go are the landing gears. They are the same Glossy Sea Blue, not white as the color call outs (they did not go white until the Vietnam era). Careful construction and a good wash of the same ol’ Tamiya Flat Black really brought it out nicely. Then the number that go on the leading front door cover (I have a real soft spot for those door covers. They make the Able Dog look like as if it have two knee pads!) is put on using the same methods above. Same with the tail wheel. After the arrestor hook is put on. I started on the most tedious part of the kit, the pylons for the outer wings. There are six per side, with two sway braces on each and four stencil decals also. That makes 24 sway braces and 48 decals! Took some tedious nights to go through all those. Once again, the instructions have all the pylons reversed. So dry fit to make extra sure! Afterwards, it’s on to the speed brakes. These went on with no problems. Just make sure the hydraulic linkages are cemented on nicely before trying. After the canopy is unmasked, I made an extra canopy linkage that was eaten by the carpet monster using stretch sprue. The canopy was put in the open position to show off the cockpit. Now, onto the most annoying part of the assembly…Those pesky cowling panels.

The big problem with those panels are the fact there just isn’t that many contact points for the cement to hold onto the panels and allow them to settle into positon. There are only three measly tinnie points, two for the panel pins and one for the linkage which means cement is out and superglue is in. First, I cement on the linkage with tube cement using a hobby knife. Tube cement dries a lot slower than liquid so it give you time to work with it to set the correct angle in order to hold the panel up. After getting the correct angle, I set the panel aside to allow the linkage to be completely dry. Then with trepidation, I dropped a few superglue drops onto a hobby knife, then with a second one, added a few tinnie drops onto the panel pins, carefully insert the panel in and slowly drop it onto the linkage. It worked out pretty well except the right one. I goofed on it and had to do it again, resulting in a superglue blotch on the pin location. Ohh well, the bird is not going onto the contest table and it’s in an obscure location so I left it at that. It’s also at this point that I discovered that the prominent tail pitot tube was included in the kit, part H13 if I remembered correctly. However, I did not drill out a hole and put it in cause it looks like it will break if you just look at it (Yeah, yeah, you are just too lazy aren’t cha?!?!?)

Finally, weapons. As I’ve said in the beginning, I was planning to do all of them and then take a “loadout” photo. But events conspired, namely two little kids named Alex and Alan, one a 3 year old, the other 1 made short work of that plan. On top of that, what with my parents going home and my IPMS demanding to see something, anything forced me to slap some olive drab paint with silver highlights onto the big AN-M66 2000 pounders. Once the decals are done, I just cemented them on the inner wing pylons and call it a day. Again, a side note. The inner wing pylons. The instructions will have you use “pylon I and III”. These are not correct for a Korean War bird (They are correct for a Vietnam one however). Use pylons II and IV instead. Even though the instruction says they are for AN-M66 only, they are correct for anything that goes under the inner wings since they are the correct pylons for a Korean War bird! With that done. The bird is finally finished. The outer wing pylons will remain empty until my friends and parents can send me my stash with all those correct extra HVAR’s that I left in China!


All in all, a great alternative to the Zukei-Mura version and had some fun times assembling it, problems not withstanding. As I’ve said in the preview, if you ever just want to get one Spad and is planning to work on it for quite a while, get the Zukei one. But if you ever want to get more than one and want to keep your sanity intact, get the Trump version, especially since one of them can be the Korean War and the other Vietnam to represent just how long this craft was in service despite the fact many tried to replace it (remind you of something? Like the B-52 BUFF?). In fact, I already did. The A-1H version is waiting for me to assemble it in the (in)famous “Paper Tiger II”, aka, the toilet bomber colors!

Kit courtesy of SWMBO, who was kind enough to open her tighter than a @#$@$@#$ pocket book as a birthday gift.

 Donald Zhou

December 2014

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