North American RA-5C Vigilante

Published: July 19th, 2015     
Product Image
Book cover
Author: Charles Strafrace
Reviewed by: Dave Morrissette - IPMS# 33653
Other Publication Information: Illustrated by Richard Caruana; 60 pages, softbound
Price: $24.00
Product / Stock #: Warpaint Series #97
Product provided by: Guideline Publications

If you have never have had the chance to review one of Guidelines Warpaint series, here's a brief description. First they provide a complete and detailed history of the subject including a complete production list of air frames, squadrons which used the planes along with a list of serial numbers and codes, and a comprehensive specification list covering the technical aspects of the plane. With this they have the historians covered. Secondly, they have 1:72nd scale multiple view plans. Also included are detail pictures, pages of superb color camouflage drawings, and photography in color and black and white. There is also a list of kits, decals, and accessory list. Modelers are covered too.

The subject of volume 97 is the North American Vigilante. This was an aircraft of extraordinary performance, and introduced aerodynamic, technological, and electronic features that were much ahead of their time and which were to become standard in combat aircraft that followed. The text takes you through its development as a shipboard nuclear attack bomber, and its final job as a shipboard Mach 2 long range reconnaissance bomber. The book goes into detail about how North American, with little effort, converted the Vigilante to carry out this mission. It also shows it longevity as this was carried out until the planes retirement in 1979.

Another thing the book focuses on is the innovations that the Vigilante had which included the first variable jet inlet using horizontal ramps, first use of fly-by-wire control, and the first aircraft in production to use a HUD.

One thing to note about this book is the lavish use of photographs. As the history and deployments of the plane are shown, there are period pictures covering that time period. There are shots of its initial catapult trials all the way through its service in the Vietnam War to its retirement. Each squadron and deployment is covered.

From a modelers standpoint, there are pages of color plates depicting the squadron markings, an all view 1/72nd scale drawing, and in addition an area for detail shots. Lastly, there is a chart "Kits, Decals and Accessories" which covers the kits available, the decal options, and all the resin and photoetch accessories available. This is superb, but I did note one issue- it's missing the excellent 1/8th scale Trumpeter offering under kits but is does list resin and decals for it.

As a summary, the book contains no less than 125 photos, many of which are in color, seven pages of color artwork, and 60 pages of text that describes the development and operational career of both the bomber and reconnaissance versions of this remarkable aircraft. It is a highly valuable reference for modelers and plane fans alike and is very reasonably priced.

Highly recommended. My thanks to Guideline Publications for the chance to review this great reference

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