Detail & Scale Header
Digital Publications Link
Aviation Photo Section Link
Scale Modeling Section Link
Aviatin Artwork Link
Furball Aero Design / Detail & Scale Decals
About Us Link
Contact Us Link
Home Page Link

Detail & Scale Books

Quick Links to Available Detail & Scale Series Publications.


Detail & Scale Series


F3H Demon in
Detail & Scale
**********F2H Banshee in
Detail & Scale, Pt. 1

**********
SBD Dauntless in
Detail & Scale

**********

F-102 Delta Dagger in Detail & Scale
**********

F4F & FM Wildcat in Detail & Scale
**********

F-8 & RF-8 Crusader in Detail & Scale

**********

Military Aviation Websites:
Click Here

——————

Scale Modeling Websites:
Click Here



BOOK REVIEW


The Douglas A-1 Skyraider -- SAM Publications



The A-1 Skyraider was a remarkable machine – a piston engine WWII-era aircraft that not only thrived during the first three decades of the jet age, but was also an indispensable element of American and allied airpower into the Vietnam era and beyond.
           
As the war in the Pacific against Japan intensified, the U.S. Navy required a high performance dive/torpedo bomber to replace the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver and Grumman TBF Avenger.  In 1944, Douglas Aircraft Company responded with a design by the legendary Ed Heineman for a carrier-based, single-seat, and long-range attack aircraft.  The resultant XBT2D-1 Dauntless II first flew in March 1945.  The aircraft was optimized for the ground attack role with a powerful engine and a low, straight-wing configuration.  This provided outstanding low-speed handling, an excellent combat radius and loiter time (capable of 9-hour+ sorties), and space for no less than 14 hardpoints (and one on the centerline, too).  In these respects, the airplane decidedly outperformed all of the first- and second-generation jets.  While many aircraft acquisition projects were cancelled following the end of the war, this robust airplane filled a clear niche in postwar naval aviation.  In late 1946, the first production aircraft for the U.S. Navy were rechristened as the AD-1 Skyraider and later the A-1.  Over the years, it gained a number of nicknames, often referred to as the “Spad” or “Able Dog,” among other nicknames that included “The Flying Dump Truck” and for South Vietnamese crews it was “The Crazy Water Buffalo.”

They heyday of the Spad in USN and USMC service occurred during the Korean War, as it served as the foundation of carrier-based power projection, serving in strike, close air support, and even electronic warfare roles.  Eventually, the Grumman A-6 Intruder would supplant the Skyraider on the decks of supercarriers by the time of the Vietnam War.  ADs would still serve beginning with the first airstrikes following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, they were increasingly based from ESSEX-class carriers as more Intruders entered the inventory. 

The USAF also operated the Skyraider (150 second-hand Skyraiders were acquired for the USAF Special Operations Command in 1964) in search and rescue roles and most famously as escorts for the Sandy helicopter combat rescue missions where it earned a very special place in history.  Air Force Skyraiders differed from their Navy counterparts particularly as they were fitted with the Yankee extraction system (not quite standard ejection seat engineering, but it got the job done).  Many retired Navy AD-1s were passed along to South Vietnam’s air force beginning in the late 1960s, and other foreign operators included the U.K., France, Sweden, Cambodia, and Chad, among others.  Some 3,100 aircraft were built between 1945 and 1957, and the last active duty A-1 was retired in 1985 in Gabonese service.  Arguably, the United States lacked a ground attack aircraft of the Skyraider’s caliber until the A-10 Thunderbolt II came on the scene in the late 1970s. 

In this recent SAM Publications volume, authors Andy Renshaw and Andy Evans explore this background, the storied history, and the technical details of the A-1.  The book also includes several builds of scale models of the Spad and detailed walk-arounds of preserved airplanes.

(Return to top of page)

Renshaw and Evans’ 168-page book on the A-1 is printed in full color on high-quality paper.  There’s not a wasted inch of layout on any page, and the book is filled with solid detail and great content.  The text is divided into a foreword by CAPT John Donnis (USN, Ret.), and 11 chapters (Evolution of Design-The Genesis of the AD; Jack of All Trades-Skyraiders into Service; Proving Grounds-Korea and a Place Among Jets; The Nuclear Age and Vietnam-The Skyraider at War in Southeast Asia; South Vietnamese Service-Skyraiders in the VNAF; French Air Force-Armee de l’Aire Skyraiders; Royal Navy Skyraiders-Eyes of the Fleet; Other Operators; Modeling the Skyraider; Technical Diagrams, and; Walkarounds.  These are followed by five appendices (see below).  In between Chapters 8 and 9 are 32 outstanding color profiles of the Skyraider covering AD-1s to AD-6s, EA-1Fs, AD-4Fs, AD-5Ns, and more.

The main bulk of the book are these 11 chapters, and I found them to be very informative, well-written and well-informed, and as noted, just beautifully illustrated.  Some highlights, at least for me, were the coverage of the early AD development and the various contributions of the XSBD2D-1 and the BTD-1 to the eventual design, and the early cockpit photos are pretty great, too.  I also enjoyed the chapters on the Korean-era Skyraiders and the coverage of foreign operators was rather well represented (but see below). 

The technical diagrams (reprints of selected portions of original flight and maintenance manuals) are also quite engaging and serve as great reference material.  Walk around reference photography follows of a preserved A-1H, EA-1E, and a British AEW Mk. 1.  These provide critical details, from cockpit colors and configuration to the gear, wingfolds, and many external airframe details.  There’s also a very useful section on Spad loadout configurations, and the quantity and diversity of ordnance this airplane could carry never ceases to amaze.  This section includes photos of the standard armament when you think of the Skyraider (e.g., bombs, rockets), but also features a look at the early Sidewinder I, nuclear depth charges, the BOAR-boosted W7 nuclear bomb, and tests of triple and multiple ejector rack pylons (never operationally fielded, but still quite a unique look on the Skyraider).    

The next section includes four great builds of scale Skyraiders.  There’s a 1:72 scale Hasegawa A-1H in VNAF markings by Will Alcott, a 1:32 scale Trumpeter A-1D/AD-4 by Gary Prettyman, Andy Renshaw’s 1:48 scale Monogram AD-6, and most extensive of all the builds, a 1:48 scale Tamiya A-1H converted to USAF A-1J as it appeared on Sandy missions, also by Andy Renshaw.  All of these are really well done and high-quality examples of scale modeling, but there’s something not only just well-done about Andy Renshaw’s Monogram AD-6, but it’s got that “special touch.”  That is, so many builds of the Skyraider have it bristling with bombs and rockets, but Renshaw’s AD-6 is bombed up with a solitary Mk. 46 tactical nuke representing the Navy’s nuclear capable piston-engine bomber –quite distinctive.         

The book wraps up with a set of four extensive appendices providing technical and performance specs on the airplane, a listing of Skyraider variants, a listing of Skyraider units, a listing of Skyraider serial numbers, and a “kitography” that lists all the AD/A-1 kits, aftermarket decals, and aftermarket accessories ever produced for the airplane.

(Return to top of page)

There’s almost nothing to critique in this excellent volume.  However, I think many readers (especially the scale modelers) would have appreciated more photographic coverage foreign operated Skyraiders.  Indeed, the focus of the book falls mostly on US Skyraiders, and that focus succeeds in all respects.  Still, a little more coverage on the unusual, exotic, or more esoteric operators/variants would have provided more of a satisfying balance between the Chapters 1 thru 4 and 5 thru 8.  Also, as an aircraft escape systems geek, your reviewer would have enjoyed just a bit of coverage on the Yankee extraction system, particularly as it was a unique system and only seen on the USAF Skyraiders. 

(Return to top of page)

Overall, this is a great book and an excellent reference on the A-1 Skyraider.  It is both well written and visually informative with all-around great photos.  Fans of the Skyraider, students of the Vietnam War and Cold War more broadly will find this to be a great reference work, and for scale modelers, this book will be an invaluable reference for their project.

Many thanks to SAM publications for the review sample of this book. You can find them on the web at http://www.sampublications.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SAMEditor1.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale


(Return to top of page)


** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


   

 

(Return to top of page)

Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
*********

Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
*********


Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

********


Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
********


Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

**********


Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

**********