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A3J-1 Vigilante
(A-5A) Bomber Conversion

1/48 scale for Trumpeter RA-5C


Cutting Edge Modelworks

S u m m a r y
Catalogue Number and Description CEC48493 -  A3J-1 Vigilante (A-5A) Bomber Conversion
Price: USD$79.99 from Meteor Productions website
Scale: 1/32
Contents and Media: 90 parts in grey resin; 3 parts in clear resin; decals for five aircraft; instructions; Black Magic masks for all clear parts and some markings.
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Large, comprehensive conversion covering all exterior requirements; includes separate slats and flaps; beautifully cast grey and clear resin parts; clever engineering with few compromises; superior surface detail compared to original kit; avoids shape errors on Trumpeter kit; includes high-quality markings for five aircraft and Black Magic masks for painting clear parts.
Disadvantages: Modelling skills required for parts preparation and alignment; limited production.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Brett Green

HyperScale is proudly sponsored by Meteor Productions




Cutting Edge Modelworks has created an ambitious multi-media conversion to transform Trumpeter's 1/48 scale RA-5C Vigilante into the early bomber version, the A3J-1 (A-5A). 

Needless to say, this is a very serious conversion. To their credit, Cutting Edge has managed to deliver this major makeover with only 22 parts in grey resin, plus 3 clear resin parts, without compromising the substantial changes required to the Vigilante airframe.

The casting on my sample is flawless, as can be expected from Cutting Edge.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

This conversion replaces a large chunk of the plastic supplied by Trumpeter. Inside the box you will find new forward fuselage halves, new wings with separate slats and flaps, wing pylons, intakes and spine.

Most resin parts are cast onto blocks, but removal should mostly be managed with a few minutes on each with a razor saw and a sanding stick. If you have had some experience working with resin kits or conversions in the past, you won't encounter any surprises here.

As might be expected, there is a fair amount of surgery required to prepare the Trumpeter parts for the resin conversion pieces. In effect, you will be disposing of the entire forward and top fuselage from the Trumpter kit, and completely replacing the wings. Fortunately, the Cutting Edge instructions offer a good description of where (and how) to cut, plus progress photos of a sample build.



The clear resin parts are very good. Even before preparation they are quite transparent and free of distortion. Clear resin responds very well to a bath of Future floor polish, so they should genuinely sparkle after treatment.

The inclusion of Black Magic masks is a thoughtful touch, especially considering the large areas of Dayglo Orange on a number of the marking options.

Five markings options are supplied with the kit:


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The five colourful options are:

  • 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.





If you are a big fan of US Naval Aviation in general, or the Vigilante in particular, you are going to be more than impressed with this major conversion. USD$79.99 also seems to be a very reasonable price considering the large amount of resin, the high quality decals and the inclusion of two masking sheets.

You will need previous experience with resin conversions, and the confidence required to cut into an expensive donor kit. Having said that, though, the instructions are quite clear, so there will be little ambiguity when undertaking this major project.

Cutting Edge's 1/48 scale A3J-1 (A-5A) Bomber Conversion is a limited run offering, though, so if you think you might like to build one, you would be advised to act now!

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Cutting Edge Modelworks

Cutting Edge Modelworks products, including Cutting Edge Decals,
can be viewed at Meteor Productions website

Images and Information Copyright 2006 Meteor Productions
This Page Created on 28 November, 2006
Last updated 27 November, 2006

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