Tamiya 1/72 F4D-1 Skyray






Three aircraft; see review


Scott Van Aken




In the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was much design work going on utilizing the delta wing. Some very promising research in this area was done by Alexander Lippisch in Germany during the war and much of this data fell into Allied hands at the end of that war. The delta wing has the benefit of  being efficient and allowing the carrying of a lot of fuel in the wings themselves. This was a big benefit to designers who had to deal with fuel thirsty turbojets. The wing also allowed for efficient 'air braking' when coming into land and the ability of the aircraft to fly at high angles of attach. The downside is that delta winged aircraft is that while they are maneuverable, they quickly shed speed during those maneuvers.

Because of the compact design of most delta winged aircraft, the US Navy was interested and Douglas presented what looked like a winning package. A small aircraft that climbed very quickly and was able to carry sufficient fuel and ordnance. It even benefited from having folding wings! The downside was that the aircraft was only supersonic in dives and with speed being a big deal in the 1950's, this meant that the Skyray was not destined for a long service life. However, with the strides made in aviation during the 50's not many types lasted more than a decade from first flight to the boneyard. Those who flew the aircraft admired its flying qualities, but it was just too short ranged and was quickly superceded by more modern types.


This was one of the first of Tamiya's 1/48 kits to be pantographed down into the wee scale. Obviously, it has sold well as Tamiya is now undertaking a program of doing this for all their 1/48 kits. Frankly, it is a good idea, as the only other F4D-1 that was available was the really ancient Airfix offering. The main difference between this kit and the 1/48 version is that several parts have been simplified and combined. For instance, this one does cannot be built with wings folded. 

As you can see from the image above, once you take the fuselage out of the sprues, there isn't that much left! You do get a full load of fuel tanks, Sidewinders and rocket pods along with their various pylons, so you can really load it down should you wish. Fortunately, Tamiya doesn't open the holes for these pylons for you as do some other kit makers, giving you the option of doing a clean bird.

Detailing is as superb as any other new Tamiya kit. The instructions are equally excellent and easy to understand. All color callouts are in Tamiya paints. There are three decal options available for this kit, all in gull grey over white. The first is the very colorful VF(AW)-3 at NAS North Island in the very nice blue trim with gold stars (though those on the sheet are actually yellow). The other two are USMC aircraft from VMF-114  and VMF-115. Both are more subdued than the first version, but equally as fetching. There are also a number of aftermarket sheets for this plane. 

From my experience with other Tamiya kits, this one will bring pleasure to both new and more experienced builders.

Many thanks to my suffering credit card for supplying the preview kit.

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