North American A-5/RA-5 Vigilante

Published on
October 1, 2023
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Andy Evans
Other Publication Information
A4 Paperback (11.8” x 8.3”), 38 pages with over 80 color photographs, 19 black and white photographs and a black and white diagram
Product / Stock #
North American A-5/RA-5 Vigilante
Provided by: Phoenix Scale Publications - Website: Visit Site

From the Phoenix Scale Publications website, “Phoenix Scale Publications is a partnership of four people who have worked in the modelling and aviation press for many years and have come together to produce two brand-new, high-quality modelling titles and a new book series – for modellers, by modellers – with each partner bringing their own unique talents.”

This Air Profile Book is authored by Andy Evans, who, during his 40-year career has been involved with five aviation and modelling magazines, as well as an author of numerous articles. His accomplishments include over 60 aviation and modelling books to his name.

The North American Aviation (NAA) A-5 and RA-5C Vigilante were US Navy carrier-based supersonic bombers (that provided a nuclear strike capability) and reconnaissance aircraft. Started as the North American General Purpose Attack Weapon (NAGPAW) was a twin-engine aircraft capable of Mach 2 performance, advanced avionics (to include being the first bomber with a digital computer) and a “’linear bomb bay’ in which a nuclear weapon was popped out the tail to give the aircraft a better chance of escaping the atomic blast”. The aircraft was large for carrier operations and was operated by a crew of two: a pilot and bombardier/navigator (BN) on the bomber variant and a reconnaissance/attack navigator (RAN) on the reconnaissance variant. The aircraft’s first flight was on 31 August 1958 and retired on 20 November 1979.

While not a comprehensive history of the North American A-5/RA-5 Vigilante, this book is useful to the modeler with clear, crisp and detailed photos of a very appealing aircraft. The book presents a brief history of the aircraft, although the author is repetitious in a few areas concerning the development of the aircraft and certain characteristics, complete with plentiful photographs of the major variants, carrier operations, color profiles and three modeling guides, composing the following eight chapters:

  • Introduction
  • The A-5 & RA-5 Described
  • Modellers Walk Around
  • Colours and Markings
  • In Detail
  • Modelling Guide #1
    • (Trumpeter 1/72 Supersonic Snooper: RA-5C Vigilante by James Bamford)
  • Modelling Guide #2
    • (Trumpeter 1/48 A-5A Vigilante Conversion by Gerry Doyle)
  • Modelling Guide #3
    • (Trumpeter 1/48 Welcome to the Jungle Vietnam War (RA-5C) by Jarek Rydzynski)

This book is a boon for modelers seeking to build an accurate and beautiful Vigilante. The text primarily supports the excellent photos although captions are not present with the exception of one modeling guide. Vigilante models have been produced in 1/72 by Airfix, Frog, Hasegawa, Kangnam, Minicraft, Monogram, Revell, SK Models, and Trumpeter; 1/48 by Trumpeter; there are 3D versions available in 1/32; and in ship scale (1:350) by Trumpeter. Whatever your preferred scale, this modeling guide is essential, especially if building the more recent Trumpeter kits.

Profuse thanks to Phoenix Scale Publications ( and IPMS/USA for providing the review sample.


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