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Steel Beach Accessories #48158

ERA-3B Update Set -- 1:48 Scale


The ERA-3B was one of the most unique and rare Douglas A-3 Skywarrior variants of all time.  A total of eight RA-3B recce Skywarriors were modified into ERA-3Bs that served as electronic warfare aggressors.  These shore-based jets simulated Soviet electronic countermeasures (ECM) so that American aircrews could learn how to defeat these techniques.  The ERA-3Bs were visually distinctive.  They flew with a ventral canoe fairing containing ECM gear, an extended tail fairing fitted with chaff dispensers, antennas, and receivers, lots of exterior antennas and fuselage blisters, and two pairs of external ram-air turbines (RATs) on the fuselage that spun generators and powered the internal ECM gear. Additionally, ERA-3Bs always flew with an AN/ALQ-76 jamming pod under each wing mounted on a pylon outboard of the engine.

Trumpeter’s family of 1:48 scale Skywarriors includes an ERA-3B kit.  While they are to be commended on producing an injection molded plastic kit of a rare Skywarrior, it’s not exactly perfect:  there are a few shape errors and various antennas and other details that were either not quite right or missing.

Steel Beach Accessories #48977 combines their various stand-alone resin update and correction sets for the ERA-3B in this set.  It represents all you need for correcting the shortcomings of the Trumpeter kit.  There’s a lot of resin in here, and includes a correctly-shaped radome, the canoe faring, two of the kit’s missing RATs, lots of antennas and receivers, and a pair of AN/ALQ-76 ECM pods.

Since Steel Beach casts their resin under low pressure, it’s always advisable to give these parts a little bit of sanding as you prepare them, and priming them to look for any little air bubble holes can’t hurt, either.  Also, in my sample, both of the AN/ALQ-76 pods were just slightly warped.  This shape abnormality is noticeable in the forward third of the pod. However, this problem is pretty minor, and spending a few minutes re-contouring just one side of the pod with sand paper or a sanding stick should fix the problem.  Also, the radiator grills on the sides of these pods are flat and smooth, whereas the real thing has a very fine corrugated surface.  So, the builder can add a little detail if they wish here.     

If you seek to make an ERA-3B with the most accurate external configuration possible, this extensive resin update set is enthusiastically recommended.  Many thanks to Darren Roberts of Steel Beach Accessories for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at while this set, along with the rest of the Steel Beach product line, can be purchased at

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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