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North American RA-5C Vigilante (Trumpeter)

built by Christian Jakl (1:48)

North American RA-5C Vigilante
It is strange how the problems that can appear in a model also appear in the real thing. There was also the challenge to build a model that is not as interesting because there are few stories or films about it. It also does not help when one really does not know much about the aircraft at all. Let’s be honest! How many people really know much about this aircraft?

During its heyday the Vigilante was the largest and most complex aircraft to take off from a carrier. In 1961 the first of the beasts saw service. It was developed as a bomber and the A-5A version was to carry one nuclear warhead in a small bomb bay located between the engines. Over the target, the two empty reserve tanks were to be dropped with the warhead. This whole system caused a lot of problems for the Navy. The unreliability of the configuration led to fuel tanks and sometimes warheads to drop during catapult starts unto the deck of the carrier. Navy strategy changed during the following years and rockets with atomic warheads were to be fired from submarines instead. All Vigilantes were re-configured as reconnaissance aircraft and flew numerous missions over Vietnam. During very dangerous low level missions 18 were shot down. Despite the successful missions over Vietnam, the cost of maintenance and the complexity of the aircraft surpassed the utility of its further deployment. In 1974 the aircraft the aircraft was slowly retired.

The kit

Just as in the original there were problems with the fuselage where the engines are joined. There the two halves sag and have to be propped up with support beams. The open air ducts allow a view into the fuselage and hence the insides have to be painted black. Trumpeter really tried to save on the decals; the two variants offered are not exactly the most exciting. If one ignores these minor problems the kit is ok. A few panel lines need to be redone. The canopy is an exact fit. A view details in the pilot’s and navigator’s "office" are a little sparse. The landing gear assembly is very robust and makes it relatively safe to take it to many shows.

North American RA-5C Vigilante (Trumpeter, 1:48)

  Model built by Christian Jakl, photos taken by  
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Finishing touches

The surfaces of the RA-5AC were not difficult to paint. Only a few complaints in order here about the Gunze paint. The correct colors were available but only in gloss. Those of you who have tried to pre- shade gloss paints know the problems. I had to deal with white gray and white tones and shading on gloss is difficult. National insignia, large lettering and lines were painted. The cockpit details were done with Eduard pre-painted photo-etch. The optics are a matter of taste some were painted over some were not. When it comes to the instrument the Eduard bits are of great help. The electrical wiring and the hydraulic lines inside the landing gear wells and on the struts were based on some photographs from the internet and scratch built. I folded the wings in the up position- too bad- because I preferred the down position in retrospect. Moral of the story: one always gets wiser afterwards.


The horror of the sagging fuselage halves aside, the rest of the build goes quite quickly. The kit is not a really great challenge, because the smooth structure of the surfaces without protruding details shouldn’t make anybody sweat. The Vigilante is big and plump but very pleasing to the eye ...
  meet the modeler      

Christian Jakl

  I was born in Vienna in 1971 and now I live in the middle of the mountains in the Tyrol district. I am in marketing and my specialty is graphic design and layout. Ships, planes and automobiles is how it started and now I have taken up aircraft models only. I concentrate on the German and Soviet air force. My favorite mode of display are dioramas in 1/48 scale. Here I can let my imagination run wild and can produce many of parts. Experimentation and the use of new techniques are foremost on my mind. I also combine stock kits with other add onís and try out new tools. There is always a lot to learn.

It is not all that important to me if a detail is no exactly in the right spot; the final product has to look right. If somebody stands in front of my model and is enthused then I did my job right. The only problem I have is the time factor and in this I probably not alone. I wish everybody a lot of fun with this page and hope that critiques and comments are forthcoming.
  Christian Jakl  
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This page:  GALLERY: North American RA-5C Vigilante (1:48) - built by Christian Jakl
was last modified on: May 30, 2009
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Translation into English by Werner Stocker (Ft. Myers, FL USA).
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