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 REVIEW: Hobby Master HA4701 US Navy RA-5C Vigilante RVAH-6 "Fleurs" USS Kitty Hawk, Vietnam War 1971

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Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : Vancouver

PostSubject: REVIEW: Hobby Master HA4701 US Navy RA-5C Vigilante RVAH-6 "Fleurs" USS Kitty Hawk, Vietnam War 1971   Sun Mar 12 2017, 15:31

Hobby Master 1/72 Air Power Series
North American RA-5C Vigilante
156624, RVAH-6 "Fleurs", USS Kitty Hawk, 1971

Production Limited 1700

May 2015 Release

ACpilot (September 13, 2014)

Hi Guys,

I just had a meeting with William in Hong Kong and made the pitch for a RA-5C Vigilante (along with a Trumpeter plastic kit).
His response was positive to say the least, and he has decided that it is the next priority for Hobby Master.
In fact, he has given me permission to let collectors know that they can expect to see a late model Diecast "Vigi" in around seven months time!
I know that I'll be adding several to my USN/Vietnam War collection.

Well William’s estimate turned out to be pretty close! A little over eight months later the Vigi is now available to collectors.

There was a time when I’m sure most of us thought this day might never happen.

Hobby Master has really done an outstanding job here. Previously issued plastic kits of the Vigilante have all had major flaws. Even the kit judged to be the best (Trumpeter) has had its’ share of problems. The Trumpeter kit had an inaccurately shaped tail, the wrong exhaust nozzles, and an anemic “hump” of the RA-5C’s forward fuselage. I am pleased to say that all of these shortcomings of the Trumpeter kit have been addressed with Hobby Master’s tooling and (for perhaps the first time) diecast collectors have access to something plastic kit modelers don’t - an accurate Vigilante!

The Aircraft

The North American A-5 Vigilante was a carrier based supersonic bomber designed by North American for the United States Navy. Its service in the nuclear strike role (replacing the Douglas A-3 Skywarrior) was very short. However, as the RA-5C, it saw extensive service during the Vietnam War in the tactical strike reconnaissance role.

Starting in August of 1964 hazardous medium-level reconnaissance missions were carried out. Although fast and agile, 18 RA-5Cs were lost in combat: 14 to anti-aircraft fire, three to surface-to-air missiles, and one to a MiG-21. Due in part, to these combat losses, 36 additional RA-5C aircraft were built from 1968 to 1970 as attrition replacements. These aircraft were significantly different from previous RA-5Cs. Uprated engines, Leading Edge Extensions over the intakes, revised intake shape, and other modifications made these worthy of being called RA-5Ds - but the previous designation was retained. This last batch of Vigilantes are known as 156 Series aircraft since the Bu No. all start with the numbers 156 (some earlier RA-5Cs were rebuilt to the same standard so there are exceptions). It is the 156 series that Hobby Master's tooling represents.

From service entry in 1961 until retirement in 1979, the Vigilante was undoubtedly the coolest looking aircraft on any Aircraft Carrier Deck.

The aircraft for Hobby Master's first RA-5C release is Bu No.156624 and was delivered new to the U.S. Navy in January 1970. Her first assignment was to RVAH-6 for the 1970-71 Cruise aboard the USS John F. Kennedy. It was during the Kennedy's Combat tour off Vietnam that the aircraft had a very close call during a reconnaissance mission early in 1971

On 1 March 1971, Lt Cdr Barry Gastrock and Lt Emy Conrad, crewing an RA-5C Vigilante of RVAH-6, took a remarkable photograph by accident while performing a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam from USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63).

Their planned route crossed over itself so as to allow the crew to get comprehensive photographic coverage of the Song Ca River. This area was well inside the SAM envelopes around the city of Vinh.

Heading South, the Vigilante appeared back over the river juncture at Hung Nghia less than four minutes after crossing the same village in a westerly direction, AAA had been sporadic on the jet's first pass over the area, and there had been no missile warnings when Lt Conrad saw a flash in his viewfinder, heard a "whumpf" and was thrown against his seat-straps. The coast was not far away, and the crew soon went "feet wet" and subsequently carried out a routine landing back aboard the Kitty Hawk.

A short while later in the ship's intelligence centre, a photo-interpreter cranked the six inch-wide film from one massive spool to another across the light-table and stopped in surprise. Perfectly framed by the Vigilante's vertical camera was an SA-2 surface-air-missile (SAM) still under boost.

The crew was called in to see the near miss. Since there was no terrain visible in the frame, they assumed the SAM passed beside the RA-5C as Lt Cdr Gastrock banked hard to head for home. Knowing the focal length of the camera and the size of an SA-2, the photogrammeters computed that the missile had passed just 104 ft away from the Vigilante's belly. No one knows why it did not detonate.

The Model

First of all I would like to say that William graciously provided me with a complementary copy of this model.

As mentioned previously, all the shortcomings of previous Vigilante model kits have been addressed.

The first thing you notice opening the box is the size of the model. The Vigilante was a large aircraft. Much larger than an F-4 Phantom II or even an F-14 Tomcat. The model has a good amount of weight and has a solid feel to it.

All the modules for the nose and main gear fit very well and are nice and solid. Canopies are removable but are provided only for a closed display option. The cockpit is detailed with an instrument panel and control stick for the front cockpit. The rear canopy can be difficult to remove to insert the Reconnaissance Attack Navigator (RAN) figure - although with only two small windows to see him, the RAN could be left out.

The wings do not fold. Since a folding feature could look awkward to be functional - this is for the best.

There is a join line between the upper and lower forward fuselage halves. Unlike some models, the join lines follow actual panel lines on the actual aircraft. In any event, the join seems sufficiently tight and does not detract from the model in any way.

One feature I asked William for was for the fuel dump mast on the rear port side of the aircraft. Since the mast is such a small and delicate part - it must be attached by the collector with a dab of white glue. Two dump masts are provided (includes a spare) and since they are so light in weight, white glue works just fine.

Below: This photo shows the fuel dump mast which must be attached with a bit a white glue.

The paint quality is excellent. The very slight brown tone to Hobby Master's Light Gull Grey paint is now gone forever and should be a thing of the past.

Below: Photo of the Vigilante compared to the Hobby Master Sundowner's F-4 Phantom II (HA1960). Later HM F-4s began to have a very slight brown tone to the light gull grey. This will be a thing of the past for all future Hobby Master releases.

During the artwork stage there were probably too many detailed corrections made to list here (they were all incorporated onto the model). I have posted them previously, so if anyone cares to go over them again they are available in the announcement thread.

After the Pre Production photos were released a few additional corrections were made for the Final Product. The red engine intake warning triangles were angled down and lengthened. The demarcation line between the light gull grey and insignia white was lowered. The star and bars on the upper and lower wing surfaces were reduced slightly in size. The retractable tail hook has now been painted correctly. The tan colour of the radome has been toned down and the Pilot's name on the port side has been corrected and applied "right side up"!

Anyway, the model is terrific. If you don't buy one you'll be truly missing out!

Highly, Highly Recommended.


The model fits the Gemini Aces F-4 Stand.

Last edited by ACpilot on Wed Jul 05 2017, 22:58; edited 1 time in total
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Posts : 129
Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : Vancouver

PostSubject: Re: REVIEW: Hobby Master HA4701 US Navy RA-5C Vigilante RVAH-6 "Fleurs" USS Kitty Hawk, Vietnam War 1971   Sun Mar 12 2017, 21:12

On another forum someone asked if the Vigilante fit on a Witty Wings stand.

The only Witty stand I have is the F-15 version which works on Hobby Master F-15s and on the Avro Arrow as well - but definitely does not fit the RA-5C.

I thought I would try my Gemini Aces F-4 stand and it seems to work just fine!


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