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Trumpeter 1/72 scale RA-5C Vigilante

Kit: No. 01616
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555,
Price: $29.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 161 parts, decals
Pros: Good detail, excellent fit, canopies can be posed open, wingtips and fin top can be posed folded
Cons: Leading-edge flaps raised, mounting pins for stabilizers weak, a few outline inaccuracies, uninspiring unit markings
Did you see my review of the 1/48 scale Trumpeter Vigilante in the July 2005 issue? Go read it and come back. I'll wait...

OK, you're back. The 1/72 scale Vigilante kit is very much like the 1/48 scale, but with fewer features (and fewer parts). Like its big brother, the Mini-Vigi most resembles a late RA-5C with the J79-GE-10 engines, wing leading-edge fillet, and straight outboard intake edge. Also like its sibling, there are a few shape errors: The intake inboard edge is straight and should be curved, the top of the fin is not angled down as it should be, and the tail cone is a bit pointy.

The surface detail includes thousands of recessed rivets. They don't look terrible after the model is painted, but I decided not to accent them with my usual neutral gray wash. The decals are well printed, but the two marking choices are uninspiring. At least the Bureau Numbers match the late production run that the kit most resembles.

The parts breakdown is similar to the big kit. This time, there is no refueling probe or radar detail, although the radome is a separate piece. Instead of full engines (hidden in the 1/48 scale kit), detailed afterburners are provided. You also get the ordnance and pylons rarely seen on Vigis, and the pair of flasher pods with the strange propeller protectors.

Once again, the wing tips and fin top are molded separately and can be posed in the folded position if you choose. The trailing-edge flaps are molded separately, but the leading-edge flaps are molded raised with the wing. I can understand Trumpeter's aversion to molding the skinny leading-edge devices separately, but on the real Vigi, leading- and trailing- edge flaps operated together. So to be accurate, cut off the little pins on the trailing- edge flaps and glue them in the raised position.

Fit of all the parts was excellent, and the inherent weakness of the 1/48 scale kit's rear fuselage doesn't come into play here. Trumpeter shows installing the afterburners before closing the fuselage, but they can be added through the tail cone later to make everything easier to paint. The short and skinny pins for the horizontal stabilizers and fin are inadequate, so I replaced them with brass rod. The decals went on fine over gloss paint.

The result is the best 1/72 scale Vigilante ever. Vigi freaks will want to tweak the details and come up with more colorful markings, but those who long suffered with ancient kits of this beauty will be relieved.

- Paul Boyer


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