1/48 Czech Model Douglas EF-10B Skyknight

Gallery Article by Eric Hargett on Dec 1 2009

 

The Douglas F3D-2Q Skyknight (nicknamed 'Willy the Whale'), later re-designated the EF-10B in 1962, was the first U.S. Navy and Marine Corp tactical jet aircraft dedicated to electronic warfare missions.  The large and heavy aircraft was powered by two 3000 lb. thrust Westinghouse J34-WE-24 turbojet engines, carried a crew of two in side-by-side seating and was armed with four 20 mm cannon.  The F3D-2Q and EF-10B aircraft were equipped with the APQ-36 search and acquisition radar.  In the spring of 1965, the Joint Chiefs of Staff authorized the Rolling Thunder bombing campaign against selected targets in North Vietnam.  Faced with the rapid buildup of radar controlled AAA and newly identified SA-2 surface-to-air missile sites, an urgent order came to deploy VMCJ-1's EF-10Bs to Da Nang, South Vietnam.  These EF-10Bs were quickly assimilated into the TF-77 and USAF 2nd Air Division's daily frag order providing threat warning and ECM support for their strike and reconnaissance aircraft against North Vietnamese air defense radar nets.  The historic first USMC combat mission employing active ECM or jamming against enemy radars was conducted by EF-10Bs on April 29, 1965 in support of a USAF strike mission.  Another occurred on July 27, 1965 when four of VMCJ-1's EF-10Bs supported a massive USAF strike against one of the newly identified SAM sites near Hanoi.  Although the Skyknight's missions were to jam enemy radar while escorting air strikes in North Vietnam, the aircraft were soon attacking ground targets on their return flights.  These homeward attacks on targets of opportunity, pinpointed by their sophisticated ECM equipment, proved very costly to the EF-10B community.  Such attacks were quickly outlawed by command, as the Skyknights did not have ejection seats or sufficient power to exit the target area at a high rate of speed.  From that point on until the EF-10Bs were retired from Vietnam service in October 1969, the focus of the squadron's ECM support was against SA-2 and its associated radars (information from http://www.mcara.us/VMCJ-1.html and Steve Ginter's F3D Skyknight book).

My 1/48 Czech Model F3D-2 Skyknight kit represents an EF-10B, BN 125849 of  VMCJ-1 based at Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1967. 

Click on images below to see larger images

  

  

  

CONSTRUCTION

This is a typical limited-run kit with a mix of polystyrene and resin parts that require some clean up prior to construction.  Like most limited-run kits, there will be some inherent construction problems that will need to be addressed as described below:

Engine Nacelles:  Careful application of putty and sanding (particularly around the intake areas) will be required at the fuselage joins between both the right and left engine nacelles due to improper fitting of the kit parts. 

Intakes:  After the intake tube halves are glued and the seams are filled, each intake tube will need to be installed with the auxiliary inlets positioned just inside the intake.  This will result in about 1/4 of each intake tube protruding past the respective intakes.  The protruding portion of each intake tube will need to be removed followed by several applications of putty and sanded smooth.  It takes time, but you'll be rewarded with a seamless transition from intake into intake tube with the auxiliary inlets positioned correctly.

Wheel Bays:  The rear wheel bays supplied with this kit are cast in resin and although are quite detailed, the back of each wheel bay will need to be grinded down to almost paper thin thickness.  This will allow both the upper and lower haves of each wing to be joined. 

Cockpit:  The resin cockpit is decently detailed but both the left and right sidewalls in addition to the bottom of the cockpit tub will need to be grinded down appreciably to fit into the fuselage and provide sufficient clearance for installation of the front wheel bay.

Nose:  Weight must be added to the nose to prevent tail-sitting.

Fuselage:  Once the fuselage halves are joined, there will be a sizeable gap on the ventral side between the engine nacelles.  A thick strip of sheet styrene along with several applications of putty and sanding will fix the problem.  Panel lines in this area will likely need to be rescribed.

Wings:  The wings do not have locator pins for correct insertion to the fuselage.  This problem is fixed by inserting a length of styrene rod through the fuselage by way of two holes drilled into the wing roots.  This not only provides a 'locator' for the wings but also adds support to the wing/fuselage joins.  Once joined, it will be noticeable that the wing roots are narrower than wings.  Again, several applications of putty and sanding are required to build up the wing roots to the wings.

Canopy:  Czech Model provides a three piece canopy with this kit which is thick and the middle piece being slightly too wide.  The rear portion of both the left and right pieces will need to be thinned by sanding to provide sufficient clearance between the canopy and resin details of the cockpit rear.  The middle piece will need to be sanded approximately 0.75 mm on both sides to fit between both the left and right canopy pieces. 

ENHANCEMENTS

The basic kit was enhanced with:

  • 1) PE seatbelts from the F8F-1 Bearcat Edward PE set (these are the same seatbelts used in EF-10B)

  • 2) Styrene tube to depict a deployed tail bumper which is typical when the plane is parked

  • 3) Two 300 gallon fuel tanks from my spare box (these tanks were used on EF-10Bs for long range missions in Vietnam rather than the 150 gallon tanks supplied with the kit)

  • 4) Dorsal and tail lights from my spare box

  • 5) Styrene sheet to cover the gap between the instrument panel and front of the cockpit 

  • 6) Copper wire brake lines

  • 7) 4X tippet for radio rigging

  • 8) Additional decals from my spare box for the ventral surfaces

PAINTING

A variety of Tamiya, Model Master and Aeromaster acrylic paints were used for this kit.  The colors in order of application are described below:

Cockpit - Flat Black primer followed by a light mist of Gunship Gray, red headrests, Flat Black acrylic wash followed by by a mist of Flat Clear and a dry brush with White oils.

Wheel Bays - Flat Black primer followed by light mist of Flat White primer and finally Flat White is selected areas, Neutral Gray acrylic wash and Burnt Sienna oil wash followed by a mist of Flat Clear and weathering with pastels.

Camouflage - Pre-shading of Flat Black; Flat White primer on the ventral surface, dorsal elevators and ailerons and tail fin, followed by a light mist of Flat White; Light Gull Gray on the dorsal surface followed by tints of Light Gull Gray on selected panels; Flat Black on tail fin leading edge, tail fin tip and nose; buffed aluminum on leading edges; Burnt Sienna oil wash on panel lines followed by a mixture of pastels and oils to simulate fuel/hydraulic fluid streaks and weathering.  I kept my kit moderately weathered to depict the conditions of these aircraft during the Vietnam conflict.

Steve Ginter's book on the F3D Skyknight provides an invaluable reference when building this kit.  Approximately 75% of the time one spends on this kit is during the construction phase addressing the many deficiencies of the kit parts and fit.  In the end you'll have a fine representation of one of the lesser known aircraft that participated in the Vietnam conflict.  Enjoy! 

Eric Hargett

Click on images below to see larger images

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Photos and text by Eric Hargett