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A-6A Intruder - 1:48


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A-6A Intruder
1:48 Hobbyboss


The Intruder was the eventual replacement for the successful and long-lived Skyraider (as was the A-4), and was unusual in having a side-by-side cockpit arrangement for the pilots, which meant a wide nose that became well known due to its involvement in operations and deployments around the world. Entering service in 1963 in the Vietnam war, it performed all-weather and night attack missions extensively throughout the conflict for the US Navy and the Marines, it had a long service life that was ended prematurely by the need to cut costs after the Gulf War.

The A variant was the first into service, and incorporated some leading edge systems to enable it to fly low over terrain with little to no visibility. Due to the complexity of the systems, it was also equipped with a self-diagnosis system that could be used to test and report faults from within the aircraft without costly and time-consuming strip-downs, thus saving many hours in the hangar. The following variants showed the versatility of the airframe from buddy-buddy refueller to electronic warfare in the EA-6 Prowler, but the definitive variant is considered to be the later E, which was upgraded in the 70s with the TRAM (Target Recognition and Attack Multi-Sensor) turret that allowed it to drop laser guided munitions, further extending its usefulness. The Prowler was the last Intruder based airframe to be drawn down in 2009 and was replaced by the EA-18G Growler that took over electronic warfare duties.

The Kit
The A variant was the basic airframe for all Intruder variants that came after, with few changes to the aerodynamics, but plenty of changes to the equipment fits. Almost 500 were built of the A, and this is the subject of the kit. It arrives in a large flattish box with a painting of two Intruders flying over a mountainous area on the lid, and you wonder whether it's going to be one of those boxes that is way too big for the kit. Once you open the box, you find that it isn't, although there is a section at one end that it divided off to keep the canopy and other delicate parts safe from the mass of plastic in the box. The Intruder is also a surprisingly large airframe, with a long fuselage and large tail fin, which takes up a fair amount of room within the box. There are thirteen sprues of grey styrene, three of clear parts, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a bag of metal landing gear parts, two decal sheets, instruction booklet and two glossy sheets containing painting and decaling instructions.









The detail on the parts is impressive, and the breakdown is that of a kit that has been designed to provide other variants, which have indeed just been announced for the 2014 year from Hobbyboss in the form of the A-6E and A-6E TRAM that I mentioned in the preamble. Good news for Intruder fans all round. Construction begins with the cockpit, with two nicely detailed ejection seats with PE seatbelts fitting into a cockpit tub that has substantial detail moulded in. The rear turtle-deck is also nicely detailed, although as you are told to glue it to the tub before it is fitted into the fuselage, getting the angle right might be tricky unless you offer it up to the fuselage and let it dry there in order to get it just right. The instrument coaming is also busy, and the instrument panel conveys a good likeness of the multi-layered nature of the real thing, although there are no decals provided for any of the panels for those that perhaps find the painting tedious or difficult.

For no apparent reason the landing gear is built up next, and here HB have been clever and given the modeller a strong metal casting to act as the central support for the more detailed styrene landing gear parts, which should result in a handsome, strong depiction of the real thing that will stand up to the rigors of time, and the weight of any resin that you might add to your base model, because we all know that's sometimes quite tempting, don't we? The gear of a carrier based aircraft is always substantial due to the hammering it takes on a sometimes pitching deck, and this comes across well, particularly the nose gear with twin wheels and massive retraction link. The main gear centres are L-shaped and the end carries the two-part wheels, ensuring no problems with weight, while the styrene retraction jacks and outer-legs are purely cosmetic.


In order to close up the fuselage, you need to make up the intake trunking amongst other parts, which goes full-length and includes the turbine face that one deck-crew member got to know intimately when he was sucked into the low-slung intakes on night-ops. The outer skin is separate from the trunking, making seam-fettling a little easier, and as they are only around 5cm long, it shouldn't be too hard to make them silky smooth. They are inserted through a hole in the front of the fuselage, necessitating the alignment of the outer skin with the fuselage side, which is just in front of the built-in crew access ladder. The instructions would have you install the aft fuselage mounted air-brakes at this time, but most modellers would probably wait until later for such a fragile part of the build. The detail within the bays and brakes is nicely done, and the brakes have the correct holes moulded in to allow air to bleed through when deployed. The nose-gear bay has separate sides to allow extra detail to be moulded in, and although the instructions show it being installed in the fuselage with the leg already attached, that isn't actually necessary. The arrestor-hook housing is added along with the rudder, which isn't glued to give some "wiggle", and the fuselage is closed up, then the radar that sits within the nose cone is added along with its bulkhead to the front of the fuselage, to be covered up later by the radome, which could be left open, but isn't that detailed inside out of the box.

The Intruder's fuel-efficient wings are next, and as you would expect from a carrier-borne aircraft, they have a hinge-point to facilitate efficient stowage below decks. The wing inner portions have the exhaust bulges moulded in, plus the large flat gear bay sections, and have poseable flaps and slats, and pop-up spoilers on the upper surface, the tabs for which are simply cut off if you are modelling them closed. The kinked exhaust trunking is built up from a single part nozzle, two-part trunking and rear engine-face before being placed within the rear bulge at the wing root and enclosed in the other half of its fairing, and at the outboard end, a nice hinge-plate is added to a ledge within the wing that also has guides moulded in for the hinges themselves that pass through the plate. The inner wings are then mated to the fuselage sides, along a substantial mating area that includes the usual tongue and tab arrangement along the top edge. The outer wings have a similar hinge-plate added, plus poseable slats and outer flap sections, and a choice of two shapes of hinge for the clamshell decelerons at the tips of the wings, with one posed open with two deceleron parts, the other closed, using a single part to portray them at a near scale thickness. Clear formation lights are added to the front of each wingtip, and you then have a choice of using a straight linking rod for wings down, or an angled rod plus lots of ancillary linkages if you're posing it with the wings folded. The hinge-covers are also similarly different, with a single part for wings down, and two comb-like parts for folded. The APU on the top of the port wing root is shown deployed, but it wouldn't be difficult to close that up if you're minded, and the elevators, although they are of the all-moving type, are installed using the tongue and tab method, meaning that if you wanted to show them deflected, you'll have some work to do.


The canopies are very nicely moulded with clear glazing and well-defined frames, which should make masking them pretty easy. The inside of the sliding canopy is fitted out with a "parcel shelf", retraction rails, a small instrument box on the centre rail, and an opening handle, plus a quartet of rear-view mirrors spread around the forward frame. The windscreen is fitted with a single part just off-centre on the frame that bisects the front screen, and both are fitted to the airframe after some interior painting. The radome that is mentioned earlier is capable of being mounted in the open position with a two-armed hinge that fits to the top and engages in matching slots in the radar bulkhead within the fuselage. A PE hinge fairing and two retaining clasps are added to the radome, but whether you feel the radome would need more work before being used in the open stance is entirely up to you. A simple thinning of the lip would be a good start, and as it's going to be difficult to see inside when the model is planted on the table, you could probably get away with just that. If you're posing it closed, just glue it on and add the PE parts, then you're done. The instructions advise you next to assemble and install the integral crew-access ladders before completing the outer skin of the engine nacelles, so perhaps skip forward over this step and come back to it later, unless you are planning on closing them up. It's not immediately clear whether the fit will be good if you close them, but if you feel it'll spoil the lines of your Intruder, it shouldn't be too difficult. The steps are a nice mix of styrene outer skin, PE side-frames and steps, with two more PE retention straps. The two steps within the engine nacelles are added from styrene parts, and of course this is repeated on the opposite side.

If you skipped making up the ladders for now, the next job is to complete the engine nacelle outer skins, which is where your delicate ladders are likely to be rent asunder, causing much gnashing of teeth and wailing. Due to the Intruder's sub-sonic flight envelope, the intake trunking was simple and short, with the bulge of the engines contained by a large fairing that was removable for maintenance. This area of the fuselage is blank for ease of moulding, and the detail is added by installing an insert with separate auxiliary intakes added along the way, and the bulged door to the electronics bay sat between the fuselage mounted air-brakes, complete with a small transparent window. The main gear legs and their nicely detailed bay doors are added to complement the already installed nose gear leg and its doors, and these have closing mechanisms added as separate parts for extra detail.

With airframe construction completed, the prodigious load-carrying capacity of the Intruder is demonstrated by a choice of weapons that hang from the two plyons on each wing and the centre-line pylon nestling between the two engine humps on the underside. The pylons make up from two halves, plus a pair of separate sway braces, which is a good start. The weapons are plentiful and varied, as follows:



1 x Centre-line fuel tank
4 x Wing mounted fuel tanks
2 x GBU-8 HOBOS guided bomb
6 x Mk.82 iron bomb
2 x M117 iron bomb
2 x multiple ejector racks
12 x Mk.81 small diameter bomb
12 x Mk.20 cluster bomb

A diagram on the following page gives a suggestion for what each station might carry, but there's no substitute for checking your references for actual load-outs that were carried. There are no air-to-air weapons included in the box, so if you find a weapons load that includes them, you'll have to source some from the spares, or get hold of some of Eduard's excellent Brassin range of resin weapons.

The A-6A was in service during what's now called the hiviz (or variation on the spelling) period, with colourful tails, national insignia and black unit markings. Consequently, the decals are bright by modern standards, and with the tan radome, you'll end up with a bright Intruder on your shelf. From the box you can build one of the following:
  • US Navy VA-115 Eagles, USS Midway 07/NF Bu.No. 155715 grey over white, tan radome, black tail with grey tip and yellow flashes on tail and fuel tanks.
  • US Navy VA-35 Black Panthers CVW-9 USS Enterprise, 10/NG Bu.No. 152940 - grey over white, tan radome, black panther motif on a white circular background on the tail.


Decals are printed by an unknown source, but are typical of Hobbyboss quality, with good printing, register and colour density, although there is a little over-printing of the yellow past the edge of the white background, and a very slight mis-register of the black that shows under magnification on the slime-lights on the fuselage sides, and the apparently undocumented wrap-around lights on the wingtips, which are shown on the decaling diagrams but not numbered. The stencils are shown on the same diagram as the unit and national markings, so at times it gets a little cluttered, but if you take your time, it shouldn't cause you any problems.

The decals for the munitions are on a separate sheet, and the single page bomb painting and decaling diagram shows where everything goes. If you are portraying the Black Panthers airframe however, a quick check on the colour of the drop tanks reveals that they weren't painted in the same fashion as is shown on the diagram in the style of the Eagles scheme. It appears they were plain white in the pictures I have seen, but if you're not quite awake when you build and paint them, you could easily make that mistake.

This looks to be a promising model of the early Intruder, and certainly comes loaded with detail sufficient for a great many of us out of the box. The inclusion of metal gear leg centres, PE brass parts and plenty of modern slide-mould use gives it the edge, and once the A-6E and TRAM variants are available, the Intruder will be well-served by modern toolings in this scale.

To get you in the mood, why not watch (or re-watch) the Flight of the Intruder, an oldie but goodie, with plenty of in-flight footage to get your enthusiasm going.

Caution before clicking the YouTube link, as there's a little bit of bad language scrawled on the bomb passing the lens at the beginning of the clip.

Highly recommended.


Review sample courtesy of

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I hope the nose/fuselage breakdown will also mean that we'll see in the future an A-6B, completely fogotten so far in term of kit in every scale.

This said, I must admit that it should not be too difficult to convert an existing A-6A.

An A-6C would suits me well, too.

Thanks Mike.

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Early B's are easy as they did not even had the antenna on the nose. The only conversion is the Obsuro one in 1/72. Hopefully someone will do a conversion in 1/48 also with some good Standard ARM's and shrikes. Hopefully someone will do a TRIM pod for the C as well.


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1 x Centre-line fuel tank

4 x Wing mounted fuel tanks

2 x GBU-8 HOBOS guided bomb

6 x Mk.82 iron bomb

2 x M117 iron bomb

2 x multiple ejector racks

12 x Mk.81 small diameter bomb

12 x Mk.20 cluster bomb

Also 2 x GBU-10 Paveway II (first sprue, lower right corner)

2 x AGM-84 Harpoon (second sprue, bottom)

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Can't see any M117 here?

I would say

12 x Mk.82

6 x Mk.83

2 x Mk.84

He obviously got the erroneous info from the decal sheet with the stencils (right to the one with the main markings).


Don't see any M117 bombs either...

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The munitions info was from the instructions chaps. I'll have another look when I get into the workshop and check the sprue numbers against the pics :)

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Don't know anything about this brand, but obscureco's products looks just fine, too.

Only need to be up-scaled.

But I'm afraid the scope of those conversions would be too narrow in term of potential buyers to be of interest to an artisan. There was only a few dozen aircraft concerned (Less than 20 A-6B, and 12 A-6C). And we would also need some specific decals.

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  • 2 years later...


74X9" (1880 X 229mm) or 39X4.7mm in 1/48



87 X 11" (2,220mmX237mm) or 46X5mm in 1/48



120"X14" (3,000X357mm) or 63X7.4mm in 1/48



129"X18" (3,280mmX458mm) or 68mmX9.5mm in 1/48


(The Mk.81 is most assuredly NOT a 'Small Diameter Bomb' but a conventional, tapered, ogive shape in the Mk.80 range. Small diameter weapons are specifically intended for compressed carriage, inside a weapons bay and thus have cylindrical bodies like missiles. This allows them to distribute their explosive filler along the entire longitudinal axis so as to narrow the max casing width as carriage box volume at the expense of some aerodynamic efficiency...).








Aside from being hideously ugly does not look like that hard a mod to me because it's less pod and more large fairing with lot's of right angles.


The thing to keep in mind here is that TRIM did _not_ provide for smart weapons use, only for Truck Ignition (Black Crow), LLLTV and a brutally primitive FLIR which all but whited out in high humidity conditions.


About three squadrons were set up for the AVQ-10 Pave Knife, starting with the famous VA-145 'Dambusters' and these jets could and did employ PW 2,000lb LGB in the final bridge dropping campaigns of 1972 and later, attacking individual vehicles, with PW 500lb weapons in Laos (a good reason to pick up the Hasegawa Set B).


Note: EFT -outboard- of LGB pylons, to minimize masking issues with the zot pod.



AN/AVQ-10 Pave Knife



Hobby Boss with AVQ-10



Myself, I would like to see more intelligent weaponeering selections from later in the Killer Tadpole's career. In both the Sidra campaigns and later in Earnest Will and Desert Storm, it was one of the first jets to used mixed smart/dumb weapons loads as CBU-59+AGM-84A/B+AGM-65F, assymetrically, as well as the unique AGM-123 Skipper to kill enemy SSCs like the Nanuchka and La Combattante 3 class.


This trend essentially reversed the Vietnam stance of PGMs being 'too expensive' and 'too subject to corrosion' for wide spread naval deployment (think about the size of a carrier magazine and realize that 3-5 days of hard fighting do completely depletes available munitions, that another 2 days off-station return to the fleet trains is needed to UnRep another bunch of munitions). This made the A-6 a premier hard target killer and kept the icky folks in the Hornet community from playing too because the AAS-38 had lousy resolution, poor stabilization and no designator while the two seater Hornet was too shy of fuel to bring unexpended, heavy weight, PGMs back aboard and the USN preferred a B/N/WSO for most precision work.


Unfortunately, what the A-6 community didn't have was high quality AVTRs and so much of what they did, especially in 1991, as both under the weather laydown interdictors and very sophisticated SEAD (principally ADM-141 TALD droppers) and Smart Weapons platforms, is not as well known as the missions undertaken by their USAF competitors in the F-117 and F-111 communities. Bad image was a large part of what saw the A-6 rapidly phased out in the later 90s and left us stuck with the 'F'/A-18E/F later on.


A quick and dirty mod for a 'different' A-6 is the Quickstrike mine which essentially means painting your Mk.82 Snakes (they look like Mk.81s to me) with orange and white training markings shown below. Or applying white stripes (two forward, one aft, two parallel to the longitudinal axes, just inside the retarder tail) to standard OD bodies for live weapons with a collar around the fuze spinner to keep it from breaking off and damaging the TDD on water impact.


Mineman's Page, Mk.62 Training Mine = Mk.15 Snake Tail On a Mk.82 body






I also agree that the A-6B would be a quick and easy mod for the aircraft (new main instrument panel, new radome/tail dome with TIAS pimples, 2X AGM-78 STARM, 4X Shrike, new rails). Though the SEAD antenna fit meant they could not bomb in radar mode, the A-6B also often carried MERs with Mk.82 or Mk.20 for 'iron on antenna' assurance in addition to the Anti Radiation Weapons.


Iron Hand Intruder, A-6B Details










And would serve as a great companion release with an EA-6A using the ALQ-76. I would also give it the four Aero-300 + optional D-704 pod and Omega antenna fit of the KA-6D. The A-6 Community being one of the first to also pioneer the 'heavy squadron' (expeditionary) deployment of 10+5 combined attack/whale jets from a single unit to carriers to maximize airwing fighting strength at minimum organizational overhead.


A-6E Tanker



AGM-62 Walleye ERDL with AN/AWW-9 D/L Pod



Mixed Loads-1



Mixed Load-2



Skipper II-1



Skipper II-2






X4 Flat Four ADM-141A TALD (Unpowered, ADM-141B came after A-6 retirement)



AGM-84A Wall To Wall














Edited by Hit Or Miss
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  • 4 weeks later...

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