I thought collectors would be interested in knowing how Hobby Master's RA-5C Vigilante is progressing.
When I met with William in Hong Kong in September to pitch the RA-5C he said it would take seven months to produce. It shoud leave the factory for retailers at the end of May of this year, so his estimate is looking pretty accurate.
The RA-5C version being modeled by Hobby Master is that of the final production run by North American. Known as the "156 Series" (Bureau numbers all start with 156_ _ _) they featured uprated (J79-10 engines replacing J79-8s), a reshaped tail, and leading edge extensions continuing all the way forward above the engine intakes. Several earlier production RA-5Cs were later rebuilt to the later standard so the 156 rule does have some exceptions.
As mentioned previously, William gave me the opportunity to see the developmental tooling and any potential errors have thankfully been avoided. Compared with previously released plastic kits (Trumpeter being the best) the tail shape has been corrected (the top should angle downwards towards the rear), the forward fuselage hump has been made more prominent, and the correct engine exhaust nozzles (J79-10 engines) have been incorporated. On the tooling the wings do not fold - which I think is the best decision.
The next stage is to ensure that the paint scheme and markings accurately reflect #156624 as she appeared during the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk (CV-63) WestPac Cruise 1970-71. It was during this cruise on March 1st, 1971 that Lt Cdr Gastrock and Lt Conrad famously photographed the SA-2 missile that failed to explode as it flew by their aircraft during a mission over North Vietnam.
Below is the first edition of the four view artwork. I will list the required corrections after. Most of the reference photos which follow come from the Kitty Hawk's WestPac Cruise 1970-71 Book (similar to a High Scool Year Book with photos of all the personnel and departments on the ship during a particular deployment).
Below a photograph showing the subject aircraft 156624 along with 156625 during RVAH-6's deployment on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk 1970-71.
(RVAH-6 included RA-5Cs 156623, 156624, 156625, 156626, and 156627)
Another B&W photo of the actual aircraft during the cruise of 1970-71.
The following corrections to the drawing were pointed out.
1) As was the case with the all RA-5Cs, the paint scheme had the tail painted white and not gull grey (this seems to be a common mistake on several model kits and also on many profile drawings).
2) The camouflage pattern on 156 series RA-5Cs had a "wavy" demarcation line between the upper gull grey and white colours The drawing has a straight demarcation line which would be correct for RA-5Cs during their later final years of service.
3) On the starboard side, the tail code NH has been reversed on the drawing.
4) On the top surface of the wing it was common on RA-5Cs to have the aircraft numbers on the nose (602) painted on the flaps. However photographic evidence clearly shows that only the number "2" was painted on the subject aircraft during this cruise.
5) The drawing shows the top surface of the wings and tail plane painted the same colour as the radome. Only the radome was cream (off white) in colour - not the upper wing and tail surfaces which were white.
6) On the drawing the Pilot's name and rank are not correct.
LCDR B. GASTROCK is correct - not CDR P. BASTROCK
7) The red jet intake warning mask actually angles downwards when viewed from the side. In addition the red area continues underneath the leading edge of the intake as well.
8) The Black and White markings on the tail hook are missing (The Vigilante had a unique retractable tail hook complete with doors that covered the aft portion when retracted).
9) The wing leading edges can appear to be black in many photos. In fact the colour is a dark silver metallic or "burnt iron".
10) Minor corrections to the Rescue Arrows underneath the cockpit.