Building the Douglas AD-5W “Guppy”
By Bob Hester, #36955

This model was based on the Matchbox 1/48 AD-5 kit. I read Eli Raphael’s excellent build review from HyperScale, which detailed merging the Tamiya front fuselage and wings with the Matchbox rear fuselage, but as I had a deadline to meet, I didn't have enough time to make this tricky conversion, I simply used the basic Matchbox kit, and parts from the Tamiya A-1H (cowling, propeller, landing gear, tail hook, and drop tanks) and the radome from the ESCI AD-4W.

 Total build time approx. 25 hrs.

Assembly was fairly straightforward, with just a few minor issues. Care should be taken when dry-fitting and aligning the cockpit, as there are minimal alignment pins  to ensure placement. Placement of the exhaust pipes was tricky, requiring care to ensure a balanced fit. Because of the crude wing fold design of the Matchbox kit, extensive filling and sanding was required along the joins. The raised panel lines were sanded and re-scribed, and the edges of the radome from the ESCI kit were built up with putty and press-shaped to match the fuselage bottom.

After all seams were filled, sanded, and polished, the canopies and inside cowling areas were masked.  The rear window areas were painted flat black and masked using vinyl scraps from the the E-Z Mask set for the Matchbox AD-5W. These masks fit the canopy perfectly. The model was then primed with Model Master Light Gray enamel.

Fuselage and upper wing surfaces were pre-shaded; bottom and control surfaces were then painted with Insignia White. Unfortunately, because this was my first attempt at pre-shading, most of the shading disappeared when I applied to base coat - care should be taken to airbrush thin coats.

Upper surfaces were painted with Model Master Flat Gull Gray a clear coat applied with DullCote. Weathering was done with dark gray chalk pastels. A slurry was made from the powdered pastel and water, then worked into the panel lines with a stiff paintbrush. Excess was removed using a damp Q-Tip.

Upon completing the dark panel lines, the middle areas of the panels were lightened slightly using the same pastel method, but this time with white pastel. These areas were blended into the surface color using a dry Q-Tip to create a more subtle effect.

Several light coats of Future were applied, then Decals were placed, using a combination of the Matchbox kit Decals (Unit Designations, Rescue arrows & tail codes), National Insignia from MicroScale #48-305 (AD-6’s), walkways and drop tank anti-glare panels from the Tamiya decals, and a few odd bits of lettering from the spares bin to compile the “AD-5W” aircraft designation.

The Propeller, Landing gear and drop tanks were added, using parts from the Tamiya Kit. True Details resin wheels were added,  and exhaust stains were added using a mixture of black and brown pastels, and the model was then airbrushed with several coats of Testors clear flat lacquer.

The antenna wires were fashioned from 1/2lb. fly fishing line and attached with the aid of some "extra hands". The wires were then painted flat black with Model Master enamel. Navigation lights were then painted with Model Master Chrome Silver, allowed to dry completely, then coated with Tamiya Acrylic clear colors.

This kit is part of the IPMS/New Jersey Club Project for the USS Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum and will be donated as part of a 29 model exhibit in early 2004. I plan to build a second model of this aircraft for my own collection - but this time will try Eli Raphael's Matchbox/Tamiya conversion, along with the excellent Cobra resin cockpit.


“Skyraider in Action” #60
Squadron Signal Publications, by Jim Sullivan

“1/48 Tamiya/Matchbox A-D5 Skyraider”
By Eli Raphael, Hyperscale Review, 2002

“USS Intrepid Service Data”
USS Intrepid Association

“Aircraft Tailcodes, 1964 – 1975”
”By Sea, Air, and Land”
Naval Historical Center Website

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