REVELL 1:72 RA-5C VIGILANTE

 

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Reviewer: Paul Dawson  (through braithy@bigpond.com)

The A-5 Vigilante was designed by North American as a strike aircraft capable of carrying nuclear loads.  The RA-5C is essentially the reconnaissance variant of this aircraft and the bomb bay was replaced with fuel to extend the aircraft's range.  The addition of an underbelly canoe housing cameras and sensors was also a feature of this variant which saw extensive use in the Vietnam war, although was maintenance intensive requiring anything up to a hundred hours for just one in the sky.  The aircraft was soon retired after the Vietnam war and was not replaced in US Navy service.

This kit is basically a copy of the old Hasegawa kit with engraved panel lines and a better decal sheet.  It comes in heavy grey injected plastic mold that although flash free, doesn't exactly ooze quality on sight and already one would be putting their file and putty on notice for work.  Large ejector pin marks riddle the kit and is quite annoying and curiously one sprue had larger pieces than the other, which rang alerts about fitting problems to come.  The undercarriage is out of proportion when compared with each other as well as having visible mold imperfections that are plainly going to be seen on the finished product - I was intending an in-flight replication anyway so this wasn't a huge problem.  The nose cone is also incorrectly shaped and would not be corrected on the finished model.

Construction started with the cockpit and you are only supplied with seats and instrument panel with decals to apply on the latter.  Since my version was to be modelled in flight I didn't worry about the detail as it would be enclosed in the rather distorted canopy/windows.  I gave the interior a medium sea grey wash and slapped it inside the fuselage halves which were glued together with surprisingly ease.  The wings were then attached and again these were actually relatively easy to fit and glue on.   But that was the easy bits out of the way.

Most of the other components of the model were not so obliging when it came to fit and required a lot of filing and sanding to reshape to fit.  The nose cone was a real headache and was out of shape anyway, and although filed down it fitted reasonably well in the end, it still didn't depict the unique RA-5C nose appearance.  The gear doors were not going to slip in either without filing and filling in the gaps afterwards.   The rear stabilisers were not moulded to fit against the fuselage correctly so they needed to sanding to be reshaped to mate.  The wing tanks are also off centre and point slightly outward and so these were scrapped on my bird as I had done enough extra work by this point.

I ended up painting the model with Humbrol Satin US Gull Grey on the upper and Satin White on the lower and readied it for decalling.  The kit only provides one set of decals for VAH-7 on USS Kitty Hawk, so there wasn't much choice there.  But the decalling was quite easy as the sheet included in the kit wasn't too bad.

Overall the kit is a shocker.  I made the Hasagawa kit quite some time ago but age and years of fondling had rendered it a required replacement and I never remember it being as tough or as uncompromising as this offering from Revell. I built the Revell one for something different and now wished I hadn't.  The Revell kit does capture the Vigilante's lines but has too many little stuff-ups to make it worth recommending, not to mention all the sanding and filling work you will need to do to get a good effort.   This kit can only bring disappointment and frustration.

 

Related Reviews: Hasagawa 1/72 RA-5C Vigilante

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While not the example provided in the kit - this is a sideview of an RA-5C, note the sensor canoe in the belly
This also gives you a good view of the colour scheme common to RA-5's.

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