A-25A-5-CS Shrike

Published on
March 16, 2014
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Dragon Models - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Dragon Models - Website: Visit Site
Product Picture

History Brief

The A-25 Shrike was the USAAF variant of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, a carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. Nine hundred aircraft were ordered by the USAAF under the designation A-25A Shrike. The first ten aircraft had folding wings, while the remainder of the production order omitted this unnecessary feature. Many other changes distinguished the A-25A, including larger main wheels, a pneumatic tail wheel, ring and bead gun sight, longer exhaust stubs, and Army-specified radio equipment. By late 1943 when the A-25A was being introduced, the USAAF no longer had a role for the dive bomber, as fighter aircraft such as the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt had shown their ability to carry out tactical air support missions with great success.

After offering the Shrike to Australia, only ten were accepted before the Royal Australian Air Force rejected the remainder of the order, forcing the USAAF to send 410 to the U.S. Marines. The A-25As were converted to the SB2C-1 standard but the Marine SB2C-1 variant never saw combat, being used primarily as trainers. The remaining A-25As were similarly employed as trainers and target tugs.

The Product

My sample arrived packaged in a sturdy box with a colorful box-top. Inside the box I saw seven sprue of beautifully detailed plastic wrapped in typical poly-bags. Upon closer inspection of the grey plastic I couldn’t detect any flaws or flashing. The canopies are nicely detailed, thin and delicate. There is also a small photo-etch fret for the dive-brake panels and seat belts. The fold out instruction sheet is clearly printed in B&W with blue highlights. Lastly, a small decal sheet for one aircraft, “Unidentified” Unit 1944 .

Other highlights according to the sales flyer:

  • Newly tooled propeller produced as per original
  • Flaps w/photo-etched parts can be raised/lowered
  • Authentic A-25A-5-CS Shrike w/photo-etched parts
  • Newly tooled tail wheel well presented
  • Newly tooled pitot tube included
  • Landing gear realistically produced
  • Newly tooled wheel tiring realistically produced
  • Newly designed 12.7mm MG ports
  • Authentic machine guns can be stowed/mounted
  • Optional 50-cal MG provided
  • Two 5000Ib bombs included
  • Cockpit and Bomb bay interior form separate drop-in assemblies
  • Detailed cockpit canopies made from crystal-clear parts
  • Cockpit interior details including pilot's seat and control panel
  • Fully detailed landing-gear compartment
  • Realistic engine exhibits delicate detail

The Build

My build started with making up the optional fold down rear deck panels (located aft of the rear gunners station) and cockpit-cabin sub assemblies. The kit also offers an erected rear deck panel. This is where I first noticed an error in the instructions, the first of many. The glazing panel for the fold down deck is part E6 not E5. Following the build steps as presented I then added the bombs and bomb bay components to the underside of the cockpit floor. Attaching the bombs was trickier than you would assume, the kit design could have been improved by simply adding locating pins to the bombs. Next the instructions would have you glue the instrument panel to the forward end of the cockpit floor, this is another major error in the instructions. Don’t glue it to the floor. It fits perfectly into the provided slot under the combing panel of the fuselage halves. Proceeding along I elected not to install the rear gun and mount at this juncture. So with satisfactory progress and after the interiors were painted I joined the fuselage halves together. The halves fit nice and tight, they only required a little time and filler to smooth away the bottom seam. Then the Navy style tail wheel and its large fairing needed to be removed from the fuselage, sanded smooth and I attach the Army tail wheel replacement. I then built up the twin row radial, attached it to the firewall, added the cowling and went aft attaching the positional rudder. The horizontals fit great and also have positional elevators.

Next up, the wings and dive brakes. The wings are sectioned to accommodate the Navy’s folding hinge option. Each segmented wing is made up of 5 pieces. The inboard sections connected to the outboard sections with a connector plug. Surprisingly all this fit together quite well and needed just a little putty on the leading edges. Next I added the leading edge slots and found another error in the instructions. Two small gun port block off covers labeled D6 and D7 in the call out are actually sprue parts G6 and G7. The optional dive brake system is a combination of plastic and photo-etch. I wanted to pose the dive brakes in the open configuration and this time in addition to the incorrect instructions the parts are wrong. First the small hinges don’t resemble the illustrations in the instructions and don’t work. While I could have fashioned a scratch-built a modification, time just was not on my side so I opted to go with the closed configuration instead. The brakes are sectioned like the wings with an inner plastic structure and photo-etched brass outer skin panels. I had to file the length down a bit on the smaller brass panels to create a proper fit. The bottom side of the wings have several panels and small bits to attach plus a couple of photo-etch shell ejector covers. The landing gear was the next order of business. Following the incorrect instructions I tried to build up one gear leg before it became painfully clear that left hand parts don’t interchange with right hand parts. Here again the frustrating instructions are unbelievably flawed with drawing errors and misidentified parts in construction sequences but luckily you only have two gear legs. Check your parts like this; the leg has a step below the oleo and this is where the drag link attaches. These are parts D2/D3. Note that the long pin should point outboard, in the same direction as the axle then just match the gear doors to the openings. I concluded the build by adding the bomb bay doors, rear gunners seat with gun, prop assembly, canopies and the other finishing bits and like one last poke to the eye the instructions were wrong again. They omitted the Yagi antennas two piece construction per array and called only for part number D18 x2. You will also need part D19 x2 (used as the stand off mast). Sadly it was at this point I discovered the canopy cannot be posed in the open configuration. Finally, I applied the decals over gloss lacquer without any problems. They went down great and surrendered under a coat of matt lacquer.

The Bottom Line

A very nice kit despite the flawed open dive brake part design and the worthless instructions. I still highly recommend this kit to the experienced modeler who can see a gem stone through the mud.

Thanks To

Thanks to IPMS and Dragon for the opportunity to present this unique model kit.


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