Spads Forever! – If you can get your hands on a copy of the 1967 cruise book for USS Intrepid CVS-11 you’ll find an interesting mixture of photographs of the different squadrons of Attack Carrier Air Wing Ten carried by the Fighting I in this tour off the coast of Vietnam. Consisting of eight squadrons, CVW10 carried a diversity of airframes consistent with the weight limitations of the angled deck Essex. As you leaf through the pages you’ll find VSF-3 Chessmen classified as a ant-submarine fighter squadron and flying the A4B Skyhawk; VA-15 Gold Tails also with the Skyhawk; VA-34 with the Skyhawk; VFP-63/Det-11 Roadrunners with the photo Crusader; VAW-121 Air Warning with the E1B Tracer and VF-111/Det11 Sun Downers in their F8U gun fighter Crusaders. The squadron photographs of these units display various styles from single high school yearbook photos to group shots. They are all pretty standard with some pilots smiling and some not. Then you come to a squadron which clearly marches to the beat of a different drummer, ATKRON-145 Swordsmen. Their motto is "Spads Forever" in celebration of their aircraft. The squadron starts their section of the yearbook with: "The ‘Swordsmen’ of Attack Squadron One Forty Five invite all readers to return to the World War I days of the cloth flight hats and jaunty ‘Devil-may-care’ aviator of the day. Fly with us in our final tribute to the passing from the Navy scene of our A-1 ‘Spads’ no longer to fly from the carrier decks off Yankee Station – no longer dripping that lovely oil on the catapult tracks of time. We will miss the gallant bird! To this famous lady from the Douglas Iron Works we dedicate our six pages of this cruise book. ‘Spads forever and ever." The photographs below reflect the esprit and panache of ATKRON-145, to which is added a few photographs of the Skyraider from the 1958 USS Hancock CVA-19 cruise book.
The Douglas SBD Dauntless will forever be in history because of its role in World War Two, especially in turning the tide at the Battle of Midway. The SBD (Scout Bomber Douglas) was the first Douglas bomber design for the USN but had a short service life. By 1944 the SBD had been replaced in most fleet carriers with the SB2C Helldiver, which also had a fairly short service life. After the war the navy needed a new bomber design and further redesignated the nomenclature. Gone was the ambiguous Scout Bomber designation and in was a new designation as clear and simple as a punch in the face, Attack. Douglas entered a design, which was selected as the A-1 Skyraider. Known by many names; Skyraider, Able Dog, Big Oily Beast, Spad, Crazy Water Buffalo, the Douglas design flew through two wars and served far longer than the Dauntless. Revell has issued and reissued many incarnations of the angled deck Essex class carrier. Originally issued in 1956 as the USS Essex, other incarnations have been as the USS Oriskany; Gemini recovery carrier USS Wasp; Apollo recovery carrier USS Hornet and training carrier USS Lexington. However, the carrier remained the same although the aircraft compliment may have changed with the reissues. Since it has been reissued so many times it still can be acquired at reasonable prices. However, now thanks to Starfighter Decals you are no longer relegated to the plastic aircraft found in any particular incarnation of this 1:540 scale Revell classic. Starfighter Pro2 A-1 Skyraiders provides six resin A-1 Skyraiders in 1:540 scale to populate your Revell decks with Big Oily Beasts. Included with the six one piece finely cast resin aircraft are separate wheels and landing gear, which are basically plastic discs and rods. You’ll have to provide your own photo-etch propellers. Also included is a decal sheet with common insignia and markings but no specific squadron markings but then Starfighter also produces all sorts of lovely squadron decals, which will look just dandy on these gems.
At US$15 per box of six Big Oily Beasts, these resin aircraft are certainly not cheap but they are nicely done, provide far better detail than the plastic aircraft in the kits and come with excellent decals. These Able Dogs will certainly outshine any of the kit supplied aircraft in markings alone. With Starfighter Pro2 A-1 Skyraiders you to can join ATKRON-145 in a rousing chorus of "Spads Forever".