Cutting Edge Modelworks

1/48 A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante Conversion kit

Product # CEC48493 for $79.99 for Trumpeter kit

Product Article by Steve Bamford on Dec 4 2006




These new resin conversion set from Cutting Edge Modelworks will permit you to change the Trumpeter RA-5C kit into the A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante.  This aircraft was not a small aircraft and this very comprehensive set is also not small in any measure of the word.  This huge conversion set allows you to create an accurate Viggie bomber from the 1/48 Trumpeter RA-5C kit...and yes, there's not much Trumpeter plastic left when you use this set! Vigilante bombers were built between 1961 and 1963. In September 1962, all A3J-1s were redesignated as A-5As in accordance with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's edict forcing all services to use the same aircraft nomenclature system. You will see both designations in this set. Also note that quite a few A-5As were actually rebuilt as RA-5Cs!  This set includes all airframe parts necessary for the conversion, including new wings with separate slats and flaps, wing pylons, intakes, spine, correct front fuselage, beautiful canopies cast in clear resin, etc. The set also includes TWO full decal sheets that include markings for FIVE different birds! Because of the large areas of International Orange or Dayglo Orange on some of the aircraft, they also include TWO huge sheets of BlackMagic(tm) Precut Painting Masks to make your painting chores extremely easy! However, this is a MAJOR conversion intended only for modelers with advanced modeling skills, and Cutting Edge Modelworks are not planning to produce all that many of them. These big sets are a pain to produce won't be in production for buy it while you can. 

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You get 3 canopy parts that are flawlessly cast in clear resin.  You also get a full set of correct resin intakes.  As you can see by the photo above the recessed surface detail is beautifully excuted.

Here's a bottom view of the upper fuselage/wing root section.  This is a very large model and the equally large wing/fuselage overlap joint will ensure there will be no problems with the model coming apart in the future.  Don't take on this conversion without carefully studying the 8 pages of instructions before you begin cutting.  This set is not for the faint of heart, but a determined and careful modeller with a healthy dose of patience can easily get this project done.

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The 1/48 Trumpeter RA-5C front fuselage has numerous shape errors, including being too wide and not having the "mae west" or "double bubble" shape along the bottom of the canopy and spine. This set corrects these errors, and even includes clear cast windscreen, pilot's canopy, and rear cockpit cover. It also includes a correct pitot tube to fit the new resin fuselage and a correctly sized and shaped upper vertical fin to replace the too-short and misshapen kit part. 
Here's a photos of the fuselage section by the cockpit.  There is flash that covers the cockpit opening but it is less than paper thin and will be easy to remove with no effort.  The recessed panel lines are nicely done.

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You get 2 decal sheets for a total of 5 different aircraft including one NASA bird.  Here are the specific aircraft for which markings are included on the decal sheets: 
  • A-5A, BuNo 147858/NASA 858, NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards AFB, for SST Program testing, 1962. 
  • A3J-1, BuNo 147856, Modex 856, Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility, Albuquerque, NM, for special weapons testing, 1961. 
  • A3J-1, BuNo 146697, Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, MD, used for the first Vigilante landing on an aircraft carrier, the USS Saratoga, 22 July 1960. 
  • A-5A, BuNo 149295, AG/607, VAH-1 "Smokin' Tigers," USS Independence, 1963. 
  • A3J-1, BuNo 149283, AF/710, VAH-7 "Peacemakers of the Fleet," USS Enterprise, 1963.


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The 8 pages of instructions walk you through this project step by step and helps you keep organized and avoid problems during the conversion.  This set is for advanced modellers, but with care and patience a skilled modeller could pull this project off.  

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Resin casting is of a very high quality and all the detail is very well done with no air bubbles.  This new resin set from Cutting Edge Modelworks will permit modelers to build themselves an accurate version of this wonderful bomber in it's bright '60's paint scheme.

I would like to thank Cutting Edge Modelworks for providing me with this review sample.


Photos and text by Steve Bamford