1/48 ERA-3B Skywarrior – VAQ-33

This next build is Trumpeter’s 1/48 ERA-3B of VAQ-33. This is being built for a Chief Petty Officer who was part of the air crew. The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior was originally built as a jet bomber in the 1950’s. It evolved into a few variants. The KA-3 was used as a refueling craft. The ERA-3B was an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) role used in Viet Nam and for many years during the Cold War. It performed briefly during the Gulf War then was finally retired in September 1991.

I will be adding photo etch details from Eduard. Starting with the cockpit I detailed the 3 seats, rear bulkhead, dash and equipment rack. The photo etch set even includes the handles for the electronic equipment. I then built up the nose radar assembly and the nose gear bay. There were no extra details for the radar but the nose gear bay had detailed photo etch walls and wiring. I added some hydraulic lines as well with 32awg wire. Next was the electronic ELINT cabin that sits behind the cockpit. There were no details except for seat belts so I added some cushions using cloth tape. Next up will be detailing the main gear bays then assembling the fuselage.

This week’s update covers a lot. With the current virus situation I have more time on the bench. To begin with I used the photo etch accessories to detail the main gear bays, The air brakes, the rear wheel bay, and the tail hook area. I then noticed on the reference photos there is a scoop aft of the air brake on the starboard side. The kit provides a very crude representation of this. I trimmed the edge then scratch built the intake vanes.  The kit comes with detailed engines so I built them up and added some detailed plumbing with some wire then built up the engine assembly. Fir the exhaust and the rear engine housing I used pastel chalk to weather them. Starting at the exhaust I used black faded to brown and finally blue to represent the heat discoloration of the panels.

Details on using pastel chalk is in my Tips and Tricks section Weathering with Pastel Chalk

Another thing that I noticed in the reference photos is they forgot to add the chaff blocks under the air brakes. I had some extra photo etch chaff blocks so I added this missing detail myself.

Finally I started to base coat everything using Gull gray on top, white bottom and red for the inside of the air brakes, tail wheel, and side scoop. It is now ready for the decals.

The ERA-3B Skywarrior has been finished. This was an interesting kit to build. Some of the things to watch for if you build this are some of the antennas are not included I the kit. The main landing gear can be challenging as noted before. The side APUs will need to be modified. If you mount them as the kit has them they sit way too close to the fuselage. I trimmed off the mount and used a styrene rod to move them a little farther from the fuselage. It is nice that they included the ELINT section, however you can barely see it thru the small window. The decals were very good. They laid down well and with a little decal solvent the underlying details came right in. The overall fit was pretty good with very little putty was needed.  The one thing that was kind of a pain is that the injection marks on many parts were on the sides that show, especially on the landing gear bays. The photo etch covered most but there are a few that need to be addressed. Now I just need to wait until the shelter in place restrictions ease up so I can present it to the Chief.

1 thought on “1/48 ERA-3B Skywarrior – VAQ-33

  1. anthony dagostino April 20, 2020 — 2:02 am

    I love the style of seating from the 50’s, its as if the designers had taken cues from sci-fi movies to create the consoles and chairs.

    As per usual, your level of detail is astounding. Cheers,


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