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Grumman A-6A Intruder. 1:32 Trumpeter


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Grumman A-6A Intruder

Trumpeter 1/32

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History
The A6 was developed to meet the U.S. Navy's need for an aircraft that could attack ground and sea based targets in any weather, day or night. These needs generated a Request for Proposal in 1956 to which eight companies submitted no less than twelve design proposals. Grumman's design number 1280 was the winning entry and a contract was issued on March 26, 1959. The aircraft was originally designated the A2F1, and the first flight of BUNO 147864 took place on April 19, 1960.

When aircraft designations were standardized, the A2F1 became the A6A. The first A6A entered service with VA-42 in March 1963. The "Intruder," as it was nicknamed, joined Navy/Marine squadrons on board fleet carriers in 1964, complementing A4 and A7 aircraft in the attack role. The A6 provided the Navy with an all weather strike capability for the first time. Its design enabled it to carry both nuclear and conventional weapons, which consisted of over three dozen types of ordnance, from guided missiles to cluster munitions.

The Intruder's lack of eye appeal has resulted in a low-key image in the minds of many uninformed aviation enthusiasts. But throughout its 32 years of service, it has earned and maintained a reputation as the workhorse of Naval Aviation from the countless Battle Group Commanders who were responsible for projecting United States power abroad. Time is one of the key yardsticks used to determine the relative success or failure of almost anything man develops. And time has clearly signaled the success of the A6 design. It leaves the fleet as it entered the sign and how adaptable that design is to accepting improvements and technology. The A6 has proven exceptional in both areas.

One of the main advantages of the Intruder has always been its ability to carry a lot of ordnance, both tonnage and variety, to the target. The aircraft can deliver twenty-eight 500 pound bombs with pin point accuracy day or night. It also can deliver the Navy's entire arsenal of available weapons, from bombs to ground attack and air-to-air missiles, flares, and also provide a full array of target services for air and surface training.

The Intruder's range is also legendary. She can strike targets at over 500 miles from the carrier unrefueled. Her ability to go long distances with minimal additional fuel has greatly simplified strike planning for over 30 years, as airborne refuelling has been and continues to be one of strike planning's most irascible problems.

The Model
It has been on the wish list of many modellers for a long time and finally an A-6 Intruder has been released in 1:32 scale. Trumpeter have started, naturally with the A model and hopefully they will be releasing more marks in the future. The kit comes in a large top opening box, with a very nice artists impression of two Intruders in the air, one with a full weapons load and the other with racks empty but with undercarriage and wing tip air-brakes extended. Inside the box is crammed to the gunwales with twenty seven sprues of grey styrene, three sprues of clear styrene, a small etched brass sheet, rubber tyres, metal undercarriage legs and three sheets of decals. The mouldings are really rather nice with very fine details, engraved panel lines, well defined, but not overly done riveted areas, no sign of flash anywhere, (which is always a good sign in a new kit), and only a small number of moulding pips. Apart from the number of sprues, and therefore parts, (there are 570 parts in the kit), it is the size of the fuselage halves that gives the game away as to how big the completed model is going to be and it will certainly be impressive, being 522.2mm in length with a 502.8mm wingspan with wings extended.

There is a wealth of internal detail included in the kit but there is always room for additional detail to be added by the more fastidious modeller should they so wish. Each of the sub-assemblies should be considered models in their own right as they are quite complex and will require some careful building and painting. Each engine build starts with the assembly of the intake fan which comes in five parts which is then fitted to the two part intake trunking, the seams of which shouldnt cause too much of a problem since its quite short in length. Around the rear of the trunking the four sections of the engine body are glued into position. Once the glue has set then another three sections that make up the rear of the engine are attached. Along with the auxiliary accessories pack there are a number of electronic boxes, pipes and sundries that are attached around the engine body. Before fitting the three piece exhaust duct and nozzle, the five piece engine exhaust is fitted to the rear of the engine. The way these engines have been designed they shouldnt cause too many problems with painting, my only reservation would be the filing and sanding of the seams, particularly if the engine bay doors are to be left open for all to be seen. The two assemblies can now be set aside until required later in the build.

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With the engines complete, its on to the cockpit assembly. Each of the two seats are made up of the main seat frame, two side arms, main gun tube and lower firing handle. Onto this the two piece backpad, seat squab and headpad are fixed. To complete each seat the upper firing handle is fitted and the four piece harness, made of PE is attached. The cockpit is constructed of the main tub and rear under canopy panel. Two circuit breaker panels are fitted to the rear of the tub, followed by the ejector seat assemblies. Several fittings are the attached to the rear panel along with a pair of pipes. The instrument panel is assembled next, with the clear part attached to the rear of the styrene part, (best painted beforehand). The panel is then glued into position on the underside of the coaming, before fitting to the cockpit tub the pilots rudder pedals are affixed to their mounting then to the cockpit floor. With the coaming in place the reflector bombsight and glass are fitted to the pilots side.

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The kit comes with a fully detailed rear equipment bay which swings out from the belly of the real aircraft. The two shelves are fitted out with black boxes before the swing arm frame, bay sides and bottom panel are attached. Four support rods are then attached, two per side. The next sub-assemblies built are the main undercarriage. Each side is made of the metal main oleo, onto which the main retraction jack, two part scissor link, additional linkages and tie down rings are attached. Each main wheel consists of the rubber tyre, inner and outer hubs and the brake unit, the completed items are then attached to the axle. Next on the production line is the windscreen and canopy. The windscreen is simply fitted with the magnetic compass whilst the canopy is fitted with an internal l shaped panel, onto which two boxes are attached. The two slides are then fitted to the underside of the panel and the whole assembly fitted to the inside of the canopy. As well as a small overhead console there is a small pipe, T handle and four rear view mirrors fitted. The nose wheel assembly is constructed from the metal main oleo, onto which the nose wheel steering motor associated link, and two additional items are fitted, along with the main scissor link, launch bar and motor, main retraction jack plus additional linkages are attached. The nose wheels themselves are made up of the rubber tyres plus inner and outer hubs, when assembled they are attached to the axle stubs. The last of the sub-assemblies are those for the two fuselage air-brake bays. Each bay is fitted out with from frames and three sections of pipework.


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With the above sub-assemblies complete, its onto the build proper. The keel beam panel, complete with nose wheel bay moulded onto it is fitted with the nose wheel bay sides and a couple of internal fittings. The nose wheel assembly is then fixed into place, followed by the main longitudinal keel beam. The cockpit assembly is then fitted to one fuselage half whilst the air-brake bays are fitted to both halves. The main intakes are constructed from three parts and also affixed into place. Each fuselage half is also fitted with a bulkhead just aft of the main wheel bays. With the keel beam/nose wheel assembly in place the fuselage halves can be close up with the single piece rudder sandwiched between them. The instructions call for the air-brake s to be attached at this point, but unless being posed in the closed position it may be better to leave these off until later as they could easily be broken off whilst the build continues. On the underside the arrestor hook bay is fitted along with the two piece arrestor hook, although this could be left off till later to aid painting. The forward bulkhead is populated with a complex array of black boxes, main radar and terrain following radar before being fitted to the nose section.

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The build progresses with the construction of the inner wings. Each wing section is made up of upper and lower panels, onto which the multi part flaps, slats and spoilers are attached, each of which has the option of being posed extended or retracted. The wing fold mechanism comes in pre moulded complete the two halves of the pylon situated at that point. Each inner wing section can then be attached to the fuselage, after which the two engine/intake/exhaust ducts are fitted into place, as are the nose wheel bay doors and their associated retraction jacks. The outer wings also come in top and bottom panels, which, when glued together are closed off by the outer wing fold mechanism panel. The wings are then fitted out with actuator fairings for the wing tip air-brakes and flap hinges. The air-brakes, flaps and slats are again able to be posed in the extended or retracted state. If the outer wings are to be posed in the spread position there is a rod that will help in support in the outer wing panels in place, followed by the appropriate wing fold cover on the upper wing. The two piece horizontal tailplanes are also glued into position, as are a couple of small intake ducts, the tailplane positioned pitot probe and the Ram Air Turbine in port wing root, which can be left off if required and the bay covered by a panel. If the wings are to be posed folded then the inner and outer wing fold cover needs to be fitted and the wings glued into position. Two large wing retraction jacks are then glued into place, followed by four small links and pipes.

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With the build nearing completion it is only a matter of fitting the nose radome, either open or closed, the windscreen and canopy sub-assemblies, and the main undercarriage. The crew access foot steps are assembled out of both styrene and PE parts and fitted into position on either side of the forward fuselage. Finally the engine access doors are attached. Once again these have the option of being posed open or closed and if open there are quite a few internal fittings that need to be attached first. There are a number of external air intakes to be fitted to these panels in either case. The central fairing, covering the exhaust section is also glued into position, followed by the main equipment bay sub-assembly, the forward nose wheel bay door, complete with clear parts for the lights, main undercarriage doors plus the centre and inner pylons, each made up of two halves onto which the crutch plates are added.

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There is a comprehensive array of weapons that can be fitted to the kit and each made up of multiple parts, including styrene and PE as well as having their respective adapters and fittings. For the iron bombs the kit comes with two TERs and two MERs. The selection of stores include:-
  • Centreline drop tank
  • 4 off wing mounted drop tanks
  • 2 off AGM-12 Bullpups
  • 2 off AGM-45 Shrikes
  • 2 off GBU-8 2000lb HOBOs
  • 12 off Mk82 500lb iron bombs with normal or extended fuses and slick or retarded tails
  • 6 off M117 750lb iron bombs with normal and extended fuses

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For the correct or historical loadout check your references, for all other instances load it up to the hilt.

Decals
There are two large decal sheets and one small one provided. There is one for the aircraft and one for the weaponry and one for the instrument panel. They are all very nicely printed, in good register and opacity. They are quite glossy and thin, with minimal carrier film visible and with a good gloss coat beforehand they should bed down well without silvering. Two aircraft schemes are provided, these are for:-
  • US Navy, VA-35 Panthers, BuNo. 152940, USS Enterprise
  • US Navy, VA-145 Swordsmen, BUNo. 155717, USS Ranger

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The weapon sheet provides the yellow live weapon rings and placards for the each of the different weapons, with the rest of the sheet covering the placards for each of the pylons.


Conclusion
Grumman had a reputation for build strong, well built aircraft and the Intruder lived up to that reputation. It could carry a huge amount of stores great distances and deliver them accurately. With this kit you really get to appreciate the size and construction of the real aircraft and the amount of detail included is quite amazing and will keep even the out of the box builder busy for a good while, whilst giving the detail enthusiast an excellent starting point onto which to practice their art. I cannot comment on how accurate the model is as I dont have plans, but it sure looks right. Highly recommended.

Walkround photos are available HERE

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Review sample courtesy of
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