The Douglas A-1 Skyraider

Published: June 19th, 2017     
Product Image
Book cover
Author: Andy Renshaw and Andy Evans
Reviewed by: 
Phil Peterson, IPMS# 8739
Company: SAM Publications
ISBN #: 978-1-906959-41-8
Price: $39.99
Product / Stock #: Modellers Datafile 26

My first introduction to the Spad was a film strip (yes, I am that old) about an air rescue operation in Vietnam. Besides the Jolly Green Giants and the support Hercules there were these large, single engine prop planes loaded with munitions buzzing in to keep the enemy's heads down. They used the call sign Sandy and from that point on I was hooked.

The Douglas A-1 Skyraider, as it was officially called, started out as a proposed replacement for the Dauntless and Helldiver during WWII. Envisioned as a dive-bomber, the initial prototype was a completely different looking plane to what would become known as the A-1. It had twin turrets, an inverted gull wing, and tricycle landing gear. The prototype XSB2D-1 first flew on April 8th, 1943 and did not have the greatest performance. In June of 1944, Chief Designer, Ed Heinemann, suggested revamping the entire design and by March of 1945 a completely new looking aircraft took to the skies. In the end, more than 3100 were to be built. They served with US Navy, Marine, and Air Force units first in Korea then in Vietnam. They also saw service with several other air forces including combat with France, Gabon, Chad and South Vietnam.

There have already been several decent books about the Skyraider so do we really need another? In a word, yes. This 168-page soft cover book covers the history of the aircraft from the original prototype through its development phases. There are chapters on its US actions during the Korean War and Vietnam. Then it looks at its use by South Vietnam, the French, Royal Navy, and other users. Throughout are useful sized pictures depicting some of the different versions and many action photos. Most of the early year shots are in black and white but from Vietnam on most of the pictures are in color. I only noticed a couple of editing errors and nothing that distracts. The history is followed up by 9 pages of color profiles. These are nice but only show one side of the plane.

The Modeling section is next and this was a letdown for me. There are four builds covering a 72nd Hasagawa kit, a 32nd Trumpeter and then two 48th scale builds using the Monogram and Tamiya kits. These all depict the single seat version and only the last build includes pictures of the build process. The other three just have pictures of the finished kits. While the writing is informative I would have enjoyed more build pictures and a build of one of the multi seat versions would have been nice.

Next up is a section of Technical Diagrams which give some pretty good details, especially for the cockpit. This is followed by a section of pictures showing various weapon load-outs which will be helpful for the modeler.

Color walk arounds of three aircraft cover the A-1H Lieutenant America which is a flyable warbird, a Navy EA-1E, and a Royal Navy AEW Mk 1. The pictures give some good references and there are some great shots of the A-1H cockpit.

There are several appendixes covering General Characteristics, a list of Skyraider Variants, Skyraider units of the US Armed Forces, Skyraider Serials, and a decent Kitography section showing a listing of contemporary kits, decals, and accessories. This does leave out some of the older kits like the Airfix and Fujimi 72nd scale versions and the Revell 1/40th kit but looks pretty good.

The book ends with a short Index, a Glossary of terms, and a pull-out section of plan drawings for the AD-6/A-1H versions in 48th and 72nd scales.

Overall, I found this to be a good read on the history with some great photos showing markings, armament options, and diorama ideas. The book is published in England, hence the Pound Sterling price tag, but I have ordered from SAM before and they have great service to the US. I did see the book on Amazon for $39.99 for those of you who would rather go that route.

Thanks to Sam Publications and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

  • Sample page
    Sample page
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  • Book cover
    Book cover