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Intruders and Prowlers and Growlers 17 Nov. An update at last!

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I beg a little forgiveness; I need to tell this tale to explain how in the world this build got out of control.

It all began innocently enough when a good friend (Let's call him TM, not to be confused with PIF my Project Instigator Friend :winkgrin: ), mentioned that he had in his closet, a kit of an aircraft he had worked on when he started his service with the Navy Reserves. He had heard from a mutual friend (here enters my infamous Project Instigator Friend) that I occasionally build models for friends. Could I build a model of one of the EA-6As that he worked on while serving with VAQ-209? Since I was looking for something a bit less challenging than the recently completed CASA movie star series, I agreed. As I already had a kit of an A-6E in my stash, I would even waive my usual fee of supplying me with a second kit for my collection. Two models to build, no problem.

A couple weeks later we were out for dinner with our wives, and the conversation turned naturally enough to airplanes. Here is where things began to go awry. TM thanked me for agreeing to build the EA-6A but wished that there was a kit of the aircraft he worked on for the majority of his career, the EA-6B Prowler. I told him that such a kit did exist, but was relatively expensive.

Never underestimate the connection between a maintainer and HIS aircraft! Soon the call came, 'I found two of those Kinetic Prowlers, if I get them both, will you build one for me? Oh sure, I'll probably never buy one of those for myself, it's a deal and thank you! So now I have 4 models to build of very similar types, should be fairly easy.

VAQ-209 Star Warriors is based at Andrews Air Force Base just outside Washington DC, not far from where TM and I work. He thought that with both of us working for the FAA and he being a former Star Warrior we should be able to arrange a visit to obtain reference pictures. Would I be interested? Uhhh yeah, I might at that! :mental:

The Squadron showed us the utmost hospitality, the maintainers positioning scaffolding, one of the aircrew spending most of the morning with us, and the CO himself acting as our escort for a time! Perhaps the fact that we are both former air traffic controllers and worked the squadron in and out of ADW for many years helped. Skipper and I spent some time talking airplanes; turns out the Prowlers are due to be replaced soon by EA-18Gs. My comment that the departure of the big Grumman was notable in light of the type's long service history was the turning point between reason and this project.

That's when Skipper appealed to the historian in me, would I be willing to be part of preserving the Star Warriors legacy by building a display for the Squadron? TM (who I think was trying to take over the role of Project Instigator :poke: ) offered to supply the kits, and wouldn't it be great if we could find some EA-18G kits, and if I was going to build one for the squadron, we could all have one. So this makes how many? How hard can it be? But how could I turn that down!

The final line up, as seen below is:

Three EA-6A (Revell), Four EA-6B (two Kinetic, two Italeri), Three EA-18A (Italeri), One A-6E (Revell). Note: two of the -6As have been combined in one box, two EA-18s yet to arrive



Some aftermarket to spruce up some of the weak points.


Let's get started! A motor tool and files were used to open up the engine bay cooling intakes on the Revell EA-6As .



EA-6A and 6B cockpits parts prepared for assembly.


Wish me luck, this project is gonna be a challenge!

Eric aka The Yankymodeler

Edited by Yankymodeler
title update
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In some ways it makes perfect sense, same paints, reference material etc but I think you'll be seeing them in your sleep by the end of this build(s).

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Thanks all for the incouragement! This is going to be quite a build!

Wow that's a nice project! Good luck with them. Will be watching with interest. Where are the A-6 seamless intakes from?

We were hoping to get all Seamless Suckers but so far only have one set of those. The others are a mixture, I'm not convinced of their accuracy I need to check on that and get back to you. Five of the Grummans will have open intakes, the others will have FOD covers in place.

Revell Prowlers? Check the wings, CHECK THE WINGS! W

Thanks for the warning! We are using Revell kits only for the two place EA-6As and my A-6E From what I've researched, the wings on the A-6 and the EA-6A are very similar, an additional fence is needed. The EA-6B differs in the root gear door fairing area and wingfold hinges. We have Kinetic/Italeri kits for the Prowlers which depict those changes

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Some of the Intruders and Prowlers will be displayed with FOD covers in place, and some not. Widely noted is that the kit supplied intakes are too shallow, and a number of aftermarket replacements are available. We were unable to get enough of the OOP Seamless Sucker,s so we ordered sets by AMS and SBMR from the normal model supply houses. Preparing the Intruders and Prowlers that will not have FOD covers, I came upon the first issue. On inspection there seemed to be some discrepancy as to size of the fans. A quick check of references showed the diameter of a J52 engine as used in the Intruders and Prowlers should have a diameter of 38 inches. Seamless Suckers scaled out pretty close, but the other fans and ducts are a bit undersized as seen below. The intake portion of the AMS and SBMR, to me look very good needing only the small flat step to be added to fit the Prowlers.


Closely inspecting the Seamless Suckers I thought I noticed a difference in height between the left and right intakes. Getting out the calipers (I'm not normally a retentive rivet counter but asymmetry drives me nuts!) I found indeed a difference in exterior and interior measurements. The difference doesn't seem like much but is apparent when seen in position on the model. The fan faces and deeper parts of the intakes are very close if not identical to each other.




The question now is what to do, I have one set of fans and ducts of the proper diameter, and 4 sets of good intakes. I have some ideas, I'm going to try out a prototype this week. I'll get a report out as soon as I see how well it works

Some work on the cockpit bulkheads to allow a rod be used for the canopy opening ram.


Edited by Yankymodeler
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Not a lot of progress to show, but I think a plan has developed. After about a week of deliberation I think I have a reasonable solution to the problem of the intakes, ducts, and fan size issue.

One Intruder and one Prowler fuselage is being used to test fit, clearances and to determine the proper alignment of the duct to the intake. When all is finalized, my plan is to make molds and cast duplicates for the rest of the models.


As the SS set has a fan of the proper diameter, I started there. I cut off the intakes ( I can heat the cry now: "You did WHAT!!!! :blink: ) only to find the ducts, like the intakes were different in size.


With files and sandpaper I refined and matched the interior profiles. Test fitting into the fuselages revealed a number of clearance issues. The exterior of the ducts were refined with a motor tool and files to resolve the fit. Quite a bit of excess material was removed, there is not a lot of room in that section with the ducts, nose gear well and cockpit all competing for space.


The SS intakes have a significant mis-match in size left and right, inspecting the other aftermarket sets, I chose the AMS intakes as to my eyes they seem to have the best exterior shapes and are well matched left to right. The ducting and fans supplied with this set are seriously undersized with the result the shape of the intake's transition to the duct is much too abrupt. The trick will be to match this to the front of the refined SS ductwork. Excess material at the top and bottom will be filed to match, the inboard side tapers much too sharply and had to filled. I used epoxy seen here to add material which will be shaped with files.

Here are the new components ready for final fitting.


That's all for now, I at least have what seems to be a workable plan. For the Star Warriors following this build, I should be able to get some more progress yet this weekend, I'll let you know how it goes!

Eric aka The Yankymodeler

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  • 2 weeks later...

To accommodate the tapered interior and exterior of the patterns a two piece mold is needed. A few castings were pulled and at first glance didn't seem too bad with just a bit of cleanup needed.



As I proceeded to check the fit I noted a few areas that could use some improvement. The castings were a little rougher than I expected and the fitting work ended up shortening the intakes enough to distort the profile. Choosing the best set of castings, I corrected the length by epoxying a styrene spacer to the back of the intakes which also helped create a truly flat surface.


The ducts interior were also refined and soon a improved set of patterns were complete. This weekend I hope to get a set of molds made up and start casting. If the castings turn out well I will use them on all the Intruders and Prowlers.


The Intruder cockpits need quite a bit of work to bring them to an acceptable level of detail. The kit seats will be replaced by the beautiful Aries aftermarket sets, so the first order of business was to remove the molded-in seat bottoms from the cockpit tubs. This left a fairly good sized hole in the tub that was filled with styrene, the bulkhead had grossly over sized 'seat rails' molded in that were also rmoved. The equipment well in the shelf behind the cockpit is represented by unconvincing, shallow soft detail. I removed this and replaced the 'bottom' with sheet styrene.




The Prowler cockpit tubes are pretty good starting points and after attaching the bulkheads, both sets of cockpits are ready to start receiving some additional styrene details


Once past this stage I'm anticipating (and hoping ) the builds will become a bit more straight forward!

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A short update, but with a message of success! :yahoo: The masters for the intakes, ducts and fan faces were refined and new molds made. Just a few minutes ago I pulled the first castings from them and they look good, though a little clean up will be required. I didn't scribe any access panels or other detail as I will be using the same castings for both the Intruders and Prowlers and there are slight differences between them. After the intakes have been fitted, the appropriate panel lines can be scribed.

Here are the raw castings. I was a little concerned about the fan faces as the detail is deep and fine but the mold seemed to handle it well.



Now the big job of getting the intakes and ducts into the airframes can begin. There's only eight aircraft to do, how hard can it be! :banghead:

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  • 2 weeks later...

For those following this build, particularly the members of VAQ-209, my apologies for the delay in getting an update posted. As usual, I had a slight setback. A sufficient number of castings for the intakes, ducts and fans had been made and clean-up work began. Squadron green filler was applied to small imperfections just before stopping work for the night. The next day I continued with the intention of sanding smooth the filler only to discover to my discomfort the filler had remained soft after having almost 20 a full day to dry! I'll admit to some consternation and disappointment at this point! :badmood: What in the world caused this?!? Then it struck me, I had used the same resin for the Battle of Britain CASA 2.111 build that resulted in the saga of the plastic eating resin!

To make a long story somewhat shorter,by this time the molds were also showing signs of wearing out. A new set of molds were made up and casting began using a different resin. With the new resin, the castings look good and no issues have risen so far. :pray:




When it came time to begin work on the cockpits, it became clear that the kit parts of the Prowlers and Intruders needed a lot of work to be acceptable for models that were going to represent the VAQ-209's history. The EA-18Gs were totally unacceptable. I am not one to turn immediately to aftermarket details but the amount of work it would take to improve multiple cockpits of each type would be prohibitive. Fortunately my project partner offered to supply sets of the the excellent Aries cockpits for the Prowlers and Growlers. Thank you TM! :angel: We have been unable to locate sets for the Intruders so some scratch building will be necessary, but the work load now is reasonable.



In the meantime the fuselages, wings and tails were removed from the sprues. When I realized it took be over 30 minutes the scope of this project became apparent! :blink2: Here are the major components layed out, note that only the top surfaces of the wings are displayed!


The intakes and ducts are next to be installed, and will be the subject of the next update

Eric aka The Yankymodeler

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