This is the first installment, “First Look,” of Trumpeter’s Douglas ERA-3B 1/48th scale variant to be released by Trumpeter in 2016. The plane represents the US Navy, VAQ-33 ‘Firebirds’, ERA-3B, 104/GD BuNo. 146447. The ERA-3B variant was converted from the RA-3B variant as an electronic aggressor aircraft serving with the VAQ-33 and VAQ-34. I won’t bore you with a long lengthy dissertation on the history of the Douglas A3 and this variant so I will just include here a description presented on Trumpeter’s product website which will suffice for most modelers. I’m sure during your build one would do their own further research. “The Douglas A-3“Skywarrior”was a strategic nuclear bomber developed for the US Navy. The aircraft had a largely conventional semi-monocoque fuselage, with two J57 turbojet engines in underwing nacelles, A-3's wings can be folded for storage below deck, radar-controlled tail turret and a crew of three. The A-3 Skywarrior project started in 1947，The prototype XA3D-1 first flew on 28 October 1952, entered service with the Navy Heavy Attack Squadron One in 1956.Production ended in 1961. Douglas total built 282 Skywarriors”.
A "Full Build" will follow in installments.
The builder will first notice the kit is packaged in a massive box measuring 17-1/2”L x 11”W x 4”H. One would think upon first view of the fuselage that this is a 1/32 scale aircraft. But, it definitely is a 1/48th scale aircraft. The box is constructed of thick heavy duty cardboard. Like all Trumpeter kits there is no shrink wrap. I always wonder why Trumpeter doesn’t add this shrink wrap as a security feature. Upon opening the box one first sees numerous sprues all contained in plastic bags and a cardboard separation unit on the side which contains small sprues, photoetch and tires. The box is printed with great looking graphics of the aircraft in flight. This also is a massive plane with the fuselage alone being 16” long. Like most modelers if space is limited the Trumpeter kit allows the plane to be displayed with the wings in the folded position.
The kit contains over 390 parts in 16 sprues (14 gray plastic and 2 clear) along with 2 fuselage halves all wrapped in plastic with sprue E containing small parts wrapped in foam before being sealed in a plastic sleeve. *A nice added protection for those carpet monsters. The clear parts (P6, Y) are also wrapped in foam. 4 pieces of PE are enclosed (2 duplicates), 2 sheets of decals, 1 baggie with 3 tires, 1 colored sheet paint and marking guide and an instruction manual.
Upon opening any model kit what I like to look for is the amount of work, such as flashing, location holes, ejector pin release points (sink or raised marks) and mold seams that needs to be addressed prior to construction. What I did notice during the Inspection of the sprues was the attachment points were located on the surface of the straight edge of the parts where cleanup would be a minimum (See picture below). I did notice there were a few ejector pin release points but, from looking at the instructions these marks would be located where they could not be seen. I will not know if these points on the inside of the fuselage come into view until the interior is built and ready to go in. Trumpeter definitely has done a fantastic job in their molding process to alleviate those pesky ejector pin release points. I could not see any flashing but, I did notice a few mold seams which can be cleaned up quite easily. The parts have crisp detail with extremely sharp well defined panel lines. I did notice on the top of the fuselage at the front the rivets will need to be reworked but, only a few. I really don’t see much work with regards to panel lines needing re-scribed. The canopy and other clear parts are well molded with no distortion noticed. Rivets around the canopy are extremely well defined. The tires are made of rubber and have good tread pattern with minimal clean up involved. I did notice that Trumpeter does provide 32 unused parts to add to the “stash”.
Instruction Manual and Paint/Markings Guide
The instruction manual is printed in black and white measuring 11-1/2“L x 8“W in landscape orientation. I have found that manuals this size and with landscape orientation allow for larger images especially for us “old-timer’. It contains 27 steps on 20 pages of clear uncluttered diagrams. The images for the steps also contain the color reference to be used along with the PE part number. There’s plenty of room for notations prior to or during the building stage. The paint/markings guide consist of 1 color sheet with 4 views of the plane. Additional information contained on the paint and markings guide are included paint reference colors for Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master and Humbrol paints. The guide only list 7 different paints to be used. Do we ever just use what is described? Not me.
Decals provided with this kit are located on 2 sheets. At first look they seem to be very well printed and aren’t thick as some decals are. I’m not sure who prints them as there is no information printed on the decal sheets. In researching references I could not locate any information as to who prints them or if Trumpeter does it themselves. Most builders on discussion forums have suggested that they have not had any problems with Trumpeter’s decals laying down.
This kit really could be a “shake-n-make”. Kudos to Trumpeter for their molding and production process. Now on to the fun part…..the build.
Thanks to IPMS/USA, Trumpeter and Stevens International for allowing to review this aircraft kit.
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