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Douglas A-4B/Q Skyhawk - 1:72 Airfix A03029A


Julien
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Douglas A-4B/Q Skyhawk

1:72 Airfix A03029A

 

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The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was a carrier capable ground attack aircraft developed for the US Navy and US Marine Corps. It is a delta winged single engine aircraft. It was developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company originally under the A4D designation, latter changed to A-4. The A-4 was designed by Ed Heinemann to a 1952 US Navy specification for a carrier based attack aircraft capable of carrying heavy loads. For this an aircraft was to have a maximum weight of 30,000Lbs, and be capable of speeds up to 495 mph. Initially the Douglas design with a specified weight of only 20000 Lbs greeted with scepticism. Ed Heinemann had in fact designed a very small aircraft. This was to be roughly half the weight of its contemporaries. In fact the wings were so short they did not need to fold for stowage below decks. Having a non-folding wing eliminated the heavy wing folds seen in other aircraft, one reason for a low overall weight. The prototype also exceed the maximum speed the US Navy had specified. In fact not long after the aircraft would set a new world record of 695 mph for circuit flying, bettering the specification by 200 mph.

 

The A-4A was the initial production aircraft with 166 being built. The A-4B was ordered with additional improvements over the initial design. These were to be; Stronger rudder construction, a pressure fuelling system incorporating a probe for in-flight refuelling, external fuel tanks, stronger landing gear, additional navigation equipment, an improved ordnance delivery system, and an external buddy refuelling package. A total of 542 A-4Bs were to be made with fleet deliveries beginning in 1957 only a year after the first A-4B flight was made. US Navy A-4Bs were later supplied to Argentina using the A-4Q designation for aircraft destined for the Navy; and A-4P for those destined for the Air Force. In total over 3000 A-4s were produced by Douglas later becoming McDonnell Douglas. The A-4 went on to fight with the US Navy in the Vietnam war, with the Israeli Air Force in the Yom Kippur War, with the Argentinean Air Force in the Falkland’s War, and the Kuwaiti Air Force in the Gulf War. Skyhawks were used by, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Malaysia, and Singapore. Last use by the US Navy was in the aggressor role made famous by the Top Gun Film. Some are still in service today with some of the private contractors who have sprung up in recent years to supply services to various countries.

 

 

The Kit

The  kit is a re-release of Airfix's new tool kit from 2012. The moulding are good as is the detail, although a bit of flash is creeping in.  Construction starts in the cockpit. The seat is built up and added to the tub then the rear bulkhead can be added. A pilot figure is supplied if needed however its a bit generic. The control column and instrument panel are added in, the instruments being provided as decal. Next up the engine intake, and exhaust are made up and put to one side.  The intakes are then added to each fuselage side. Once this is done the main intake, cockpit and exhaust are added i, and the fuselage can be closed up.

 

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The main wing which is a single lower section with left/right uppers is then made up and added to the fuselage, as are the tailplanes. Next up the main undercarriage units and their doors are added to the wing, this is followed by the nose gear. All of the gear doors can be fitted closed if an in flight model is required. The prominent leading edge slats are then added along with the rear air-brakes. These can be open or closed as the modeller wants. At the rear the arrestor hook and final exhaust ring are added.  To finish off the refuelling probe is added to the nose as well as the cannon barrels into the wing roots. A spine antenna is added for the Argentinean aircraft. Fuel tanks are provided for the wings and the centre line pylons. Two slick and two snakeye US 500lb bombs are supplied as it what looks to be a basic British 1000Lb which was used by the Argentinians. 

 

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Decals

The small decal sheet is from Cartograf so should post no issues. Two main decal options are provided;

 

  1. USN 5013 - VA-15 "Valions" USS Intrepid 1966-67
  2. Argentinean Navy -  3a Sqn A de Caza y Ataue, ARA Veinticinco de Mayo, South Atlantic 1982.

 

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Conclusion

This is a great kit of an important US Navy aircraft, it should build with no issues and the choice of two marking schemes is welcome. Highly Recommended. 

 

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Review sample courtesy of 

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Coincidentally the USN subject in this release, Bu No 145013, was one of the first eight A-4S  Skyhawks refurbished from A-4Bs by Lockheed Aircraft Service (LAS) for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). These eight Skyhawks were assigned to a training detachment at NAS Lemoore in 1973-1976. Bu No 145013 was aircraft 607 in RSAF service. It was retired in 1993 and now preserved and on display at the Air Force Museum in Paya Lebar Air Base.

607 composite

The Bu No is stenciled on the nose-wheel door.

Side profile by Miliverse for a project we are working on.

 

Edited by YK GOH
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Its a pity Airfix did not provide an amended decal sheet with the correct blue instead of red for the fuel tank marking for the VA-15 version.

 

Robert

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