Tamiya 1:48 A1J Skyraider

Build Start: August 5, 2017 – Finished September 7

56th Special Operations Wing, 602nd Fighter Squadron, 1969, Thailand

The full article of this build will be published in the November Issue 265 of Tamiya Model Magazine (TMMI).



The Douglas Skyraider was an aircraft that was designed in the latter part of World War II but it was not completed in time before the war ended.  It was used in the Korean War as a strike aircraft but it got its fame in the Vietnam War in the Sandy role.   The Skyraider which was also nicknamed “Spad” after the WWI French aircraft by the same name, is a large and cumbersome looking aircraft.   It has also been compared to a flying dump truck.  However, it flight performance at low altitude and large wing loading are superb and as such it was strategically used as air support for the Search and Rescue helicopters.   In the role of “Sandy” the Airforce’s A1J Skyraiders escorts the helo for combat rescue and used its large ordnances of rockets, bombs and naplam to eliminate any ground threats.

Model kit:

The first time I saw a finished model of the Tamiya 1:48 A1J Skyraider was in the year 2000 edition of TMMI.  The model was beautifully rendered by TMMI Editor, Marcus Nicholls, and I was immediately interested with the kit.  Back then I was on my Monogram fixation and I did not build much of the Tamiya kits as I found them too easy and did not provide me with the challenges I was looking for.  It’s about time to take it easy and build this kit.

The cockpit only consists of 7 parts but it is well detailed.  The only thing I have to add are the seat belts which I made from wine wrapper foils and photoedge seatbelt buckles.  The cockpit is painted in Tamiya Germany Grey with a touch of Black paint.  The console details are very crisply detailed which made it easy to paint.  For the details of the dials, I punched out each dials from the kit’s decal sheet for the instrument panel and set them individually onto the instrument panel.  The parts almost snap into place without any misfit!


This kit is so simple.  Just glue the cockpits together and then glue cockpit into the the fuselage.  That’s it and the fuselage is basically done and I can get onto working on the wings.


The wings are also easy to assembly.   The wing joins the fuselage as a lap joint and the fit up is perfect.

The Air Force Spad usually had a fabric curtain tucked behind the ejection seat head rest.  The kit part does not provide this detail.  Instead of purchasing a resin replacement part for this, I made the fabric ‘pouch’ from milliput putty.


The engine is nicely represented by an engine cover plate that has well detailed cylinder heads and gear cases.  I painted the engine gear cases with Tamiya Sea Blue.  The cylinders are painted with Alclad aluminum and the details are washed with dark brown  enamel for contrast.   From photos of typical Air Force Skyraiders in SEA paint scheme, the engine cooling shutters are painted in the same colour as the external cowl colour.  The inside of the engine nacelle is painted with Zinc Chromate Yellow and then the pre-painted shutters are installed.


I prepared the model with a light coat of MIG Primer.  The primer will help me to check for any flaw on the joints and provide a better surface for the top coat to grip on to.


I normally use Gunze acrylic paint but since they are no longer available in America I have to find an alternative.  I used the range of Tamiya acrylic paint and mixed the colours for the South East Asia (SEA) paint scheme commonly used by the US Air Force in Vietnam.



Lt Gray     FS 36622 H311 XF80 + XF2 (25%)
Tan           FS 30219 H310 XF52 + XF3 (8%) + X2 (15%)
Dk Green   FS 34079 H309 XF81
Med Green FS 34102 H303 XF67 + XF19 (10%)

My experience with spraying Tamiya flat paint is that the paint dries with a dry-spray finish.  That is because the paint dries before it hits the model surface.   To prevent this from happening, I added 10% gloss clear to all the Tamiya paint I mixed.  The bottom of the plane is the first place to be painted with a light Gray finish


The top surface’s sandy colour was sprayed on next.  The mix is basically XF-52 (Flat Earth) lightened with X-2 (White) about 15% by volume and a few drops of XF-3 (yellow) to give it back some sandy yellow tint.  The paint was sprayed with my trusty Badger 105 Patriot.  The Tan colour is roughly sprayed  at where it should be.  The pattern of the camouflage would be further defined in subsequent painting phases.


The medium green is mixed by adding about 10% by volume of XF-19 (Sky Grey) to the base paint of  XF-67 (NATO Green).


Finally, the dark green is sprayed directly from the bottom of XF-81 (Dark Green).


While at it, I post shaded the medium green panels with the dark green paint and then soften and blended in with more medium green.

After painting the base camouflage, I spray the entire model with two coats of Future floor wax to protect the paint from the wash and weathering.  For all the panel wash and weathering, I used the Tamiya panel wash solution.

The most important aspect of painting a Skyraider model is the proper treatment of the noticeable exhaust stains on the sides of the fuselage.   If this is not done right then the whole project will fail.   The exhaust stains are always very dark which indicates the engine runs rich most of the time.    The exhaust pattern of the bottom row of exhaust  pipes always flows up near the wing and curves down towards the back of the wing.  The upper exhaust generally flows almost straight out and the slightly curves downward and dissipates.

Before I do any painting, I free hand draw the flow pattern on the fuselage until I know I got a perfect pattern.  To protect the paint from my drawing, I cover the fuselage with a layer of matt clear tape and then draw on top of the tape.   I loaded up my finest tip airbrush and spray the Tamiya Panel Line solution straight from the bottle at 12 to 15 psig.  I adjust the compressor pressure until the airbrush can spray a fine pencil line thickness.  I build up the exhaust stain with many passes until I am satisfied with the pattern.  If I don’t like what I have done then I simply wiped the stains off with a towel wet with enamel thinner and I try again.


The bottom of the aircraft is heavily stained with oil leakage.  These aircrafts leaked so much such that the liquid further dripped onto the belly fuel tank.  Again, Tamiya panel line wash is used sparingly to draw the stain on.   After 5 minutes of drying time, I blend the stain streaks with a fine tip brush wet with enamel thinner.


When the weathering is finished, I spray the entire model with a light coat of flat clear.   I used the excellent Vallejo Matt Varnish as the flat clear coat.  This paint dries flat clear without any white frosting as typical with some other product.   The model is finished by adding the bombs from the kit and a few scratch build items to embellish the model more accurately such as the wipe antenna,  electrical cable on the ejection seat boot cover, and the little engine shutter indicator rod sticking out on the engine cowl.

Compare the photo of the actual aircraft versus my model below, how did I do?



Without a doubt, this Tamiya kit is the best model kit I have ever build.  It is such a well-engineered kit such that some parts can simply snap together and fit perfectly!  I’m glad I built this model and experience what fun modelling is all about.  Thank you Mr. Tamiya for a job well done.




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