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Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - Finished! 27/04/2020

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This is my first WiP thread. I am not sure how it will develop. It will definitely end up with four finished aircraft, but how well I chart my progress to that final goal remains to be seen; I'm yet to see how much work is involved in keeping one of these updated...


The aim is to make Hasegawa's 1/48 A-4E as this (stock from the kit with Fight's On decals):




and their 1/48 A-4L as this (kit markings):




and their A-4H as this (kit markings):




and finally their TA-4J as this (kit markings):




At this stage the plan is to make them all OOTB.


Thus far I have made some progress with the cockpits. For the first time I've tried painting with magnification, in this case using a x10 hand lens from my distant geologist past. Not ideal, but it was a revelation. The grey is Mr Color 317 and the black is Lifecolor. I've done the painting with an old paintbrush; with a decent brush and slower drying paint, this could definitely be a lot better. However, since all the canopies will be closed and the view into the cockpits is very restricted (at least in the single seaters), this will be adequate for now. The cockpits are very small - even the most zoomed-out image here is larger than real life.










That's it for today. Next goal is to get the cockpits finished, the interior intakes done and the fuselages all together. Progress may be a little slow...


Thanks for looking.




Edited by Jon Bryon
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If this is the level of quality you're going to keep up then take as long as you need - we'll be watching :D 

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A fair amount of work today without much to show for it. The closing of the fuselage halves is close...just mustn't forget the nose weight!


I haven't got time to spend on detail that won't be seen, so the cockpits are pretty basic (the canopies will all be closed) and the exhausts, whilst painted, are really there just to fill the hole. The intake trunkings have been done but the photos don't show how white the trunking is and how aluminium the fan blades are.






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A couple of hours' work before I head to bed.


The weight has been added to the noses, using a combination of steel bearings and small lead balls. I think the latter is sold as ballast for model train rolling stock to weight it down; somewhat cheaper than buying Liquid Gravity. It's all superglued in there: (A-4H and TA-4J)




The fuselage halves are glued together with thick superglue on all visible joints. Invisible joints, like the bottom of the fuselage which will be covered by the wing, and the rudder trailing edge, are glued with Extra Thin liquid cement. I use superglue because it's the only reliable way I have found to eliminate ghost seams and get invisible seams. It's certainly pretty brutal to start with and you have no working time for alignment: (A-4L)




Work then starts on sanding down the joints. With kicker, this can happen minutes after the fuselages have been joined. I use Infini sanding sponges and sticks as my main weapons of choice, with plenty of other sanders on hand as required (especially those made by Wave). This part is now actually my favourite part of the whole modelling process: eliminating the seams. Here's a start on the upper nose of the A-4E:




This is all then polished through the various grits to end up with a reflective surface. I go from 400 or 600 up through 800, 1000, 1500, 2500 and then the 4000 buffer. The joint can then be held up to a light for inspection. It looks like there is still a gap, because the super glue is acting as a filler and a darker colour than the plastic. However, there is no seam at all and this can be visually seen when held to an acute angle with a bright light. I then check the seam, as I have done here, by dragging a needle under its own weight back and forth across the seam. If it catches or moves, you know you still have work to do. If the needle moves smoothly across the joint along its length, then it will be invisible. What I love about this process is that it takes minutes and is 99% accurate at determining the quality of the seam work; I almost never have to readdress any seams after the primer is down because the inspection work is all done at this stage: (A-4E; the hole is meant to be there)






That's it for tonight. Now there will be many happy hours of sanding down seams, to be followed by rescribing all the lost detail in.







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  • Jon Bryon changed the title to Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - update 04/01/20

Great start, I love the crispness of the paint job in the cockpits. I have never had the guts to use superglue for filling seams but it sounds like you have it nailed.

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This may not have been the best choice for an inaugural WIP! Progress worth sharing will be slow as everything has to be done four times.


I've already built 5 Hasegawa A-4s in the past, and so I am well aware of many of the issues. The kits are nice, but depend heavily on inserts to cater for variations between all the different versions. In my experience, nearly all these inserts do not fit nearly as well as they should.


The nose for the A-4E is pretty much done. That lump in front of the windscreen took a while to get into shape; we'll see later how it looks against the windscreen. The joints don't look great in the bare plastic because the super glue leaves a black line, but the joint is invisible and soon rescribing in the lost detail will commence.




Here's the fuselage spine for the A-4E. Again, the joints look a mess but it's all smooth. You will have to see the photos of this area when the thing is finished to believe me! The insert at the base of the front of the tail fin is too narrow and I have not finished the joints here yet. The navigation light mount is difficult to sand around and again there will be a lot of detail to rescribe in this area.




This is the tail of the A-4E. That large semi-circular insert is always a difficult fit, being a bit too narrow. There is a lot of detail to try and preserve and some to replace. The joints are not perfect here by any stretch of the imagination and I will try and get away with rescribing some of the lost panel lines to hide the worst of it. The airbrakes are a tight fit and I intend to leave these undressed as they often stand out in photos of the real thing.





More inserts are visible here. I am not too worried about the centreline seam as this will largely be covered by the tailhook.




The tip of the tail is a separate part that's also too narrow:




So the E model is coming along. I've started on the L as well, beginning to deal with the joints around the hump and nose. I'm remaining positive that what looks a mess now will all come good in the end:




That's all for now. It will be more of the same for a while!






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  • Jon Bryon changed the title to Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - update 06/01/20

Interesting to read your thoughts and findings on the various fit issues with this kit Jon. Nice progress so far as well.

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This is why it's a good idea to keep all the spare parts.


Here are all my spare rear fuselage inserts from the nine Hasegawa A-4s I've made/am making:




The reason this is useful is that all those little 'nubs' (each part has two of them) are easily lost from the insert and from the fuselage parts during sanding. With all these spares I can remove those nubs on the kit I'm building, attend to all the seams, and then replace the nubs with spares sliced from parts first. Obviously I try and slice them from the kit first, but I need a good source of spares to make up for those that get lost, or get damaged when slicing them off, etc. Here's one of the replacements in place:




The fuselage of the A-4H is now together and my focus is repairing the seams on the L and H. The brown areas circled are for removal for the Israeli H:




So here's where I stand at the moment. The E has been rescribed and has some thin white plastic card glued in place behind where the exhaust will sit to cover the seam in this area.




Thanks for looking



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  • Jon Bryon changed the title to Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - update 08/01/20

I've spent a good few hours on these kits today, and progress is good, although not that exciting to look at! I think I'll divide this post up into the individual models. Apologies for the poor image quality; one of my LED bulbs failed and I'm going to have to start to use a tripod for the in-progress shots so I can get a longer exposure and a decent depth of field.


1. A-4E:


The fuselage is basically now done and the intakes have been added, but not smoothed in.


Rear fuselage insert on its way to being blended in to the fuselage, and the white plasticard 'cover' behind the exhaust has been faired in:




When painting the intake interiors with Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500 White I took the opportunity to spot prime the upper fuselage seam, which is looking pretty good:




With the wing temporarily fitted in place and the intakes added. Next steps will be fairing in the intakes:




2. A-4L


Superglue added as a filler around the rear fuselage insert. I hate this piece.




Spot priming the upper fuselage seam with Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500 White:




Intakes added:




Spot priming the rear fuselage insert. Marks indicate some more work is required. You can also see the plasticard cover behind the exhaust fitted and sanded down for this airframe.






3. A-4H


Areas marked out that need removing/filling for the H model:




Nose now sorted:




Superglue in place as a filler ready for sanding out tomorrow (hopefully!):






4. TA-4J:


Fuselage has been glued together with super glue and awaits the joints being sanded down next week:




And finally:


Intakes for the H and J still need to be fitted once their fuselages have been cleaned up:




Wings are now all glued together with Mr Cement S and will be cleaned up in due course:




That's it for now. It's all looking very grey, and will do for some time as construction continues.


Thanks for looking




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  • Jon Bryon changed the title to Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - update 10/01/20
1 hour ago, Jon Bryon said:

Thanks. But actually it's 4 :)



Oh sorry!

How could I miss the 2-seater! The 3 others need to train of course ;)


Great production line :)


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  • 3 weeks later...

Building in quadruplicate means many hours of work without much apparent progress!


Here is where we stand:







These are mainly finished with the fuselage halves all together, the inserts faired in and the main intakes added (the fronts will go on later). Detail has been rescribed and all the seams eliminated.


This will be a bit repetitive, but here is the A-4E:








A-4H - note the reinforcement plates present on the E around the intakes have been removed:




And here's the underneath of the TA-4J:






The leading edge lights, which are a terrible fit, have been faired in with superglue and polished:




One major fault with the Hasegawa A-4 is that the leading edge slat 'bay' is recessed into the wing. It should be a smooth transition to the rest of the wing without a lip. Having already built five Hasegawa Skyhawks without caring about this inaccuracy, I was prepared to do the same with these four. However, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see if I could fix the issue. 


The first step is to use some 0.4 x 1.6mm Evergreen plastic strip superglued against the lip:




This looks a mess. After sanding it down with progressive sanding sticks (400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, 2500 and 4000) it looks like this:




You can see I've used some washi tape to minimise damage to the surrounding area. The brown circles are where there are some imperfections that need a drop or two of superglue. Once these are added and sanded down, the finished wing looks like this:




Some of the recessed detail needs to be rescribed in, which has been done and highlighted here: (Note that this photo is of the first wing I did where I snapped off the slat actuator during the sanding process. This was prevented on the later wings by using the washi tape.)




Bits and Pieces.


Many other happy (!?) hours have been spent cleaning up a ton of pieces: landing gear, gear doors, slats, flaps...




And when not in the modelling room, I've been doodling away at adapting the decal instructions into a masking stencil for the A-4E:




Well, that's enough on the internet. I'm off to finish the last wing...


Thanks for looking




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  • Jon Bryon changed the title to Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - update 27/01/20
  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I don't think I'm well-suited to writing WIP threads! I'm far too inconsistent with updates - sorry about that.


All four airframes are basically finished now and it's time to focus on one at a time for the painting. First up is the A-4E in the two-tone tiger stripe aggressor scheme. All paints are Mr Color.


The undersides are all painted and coated with Tamiya X-22 for some protection:




Painting is well underway on the top surfaces. I'm a fan of the black-basing method which I'm halfway through:






The intakes were added after priming, painted, and then sanded in and re-primed. The was to make sure the area behind the intake splitter was correctly painted:





The refuelling probe has been dealt with separately and is temporarily fitted in place here:




The tailplanes have been more or less finished. The tiger stripes were masked using vinyl cut on a Silhouette cutter from drawings I made. They work ok, but for the next tiger striped aggressor I make (which will be an F-5E) I will just go with handcut masks.






The flaps and slats are all done. Here's a flap showing the slight streaking from the black basing:





The undercarriage is also basically done. Here is the nose leg. The oleo is Bare Metal Foil, but I won't use that again - the shape is too complex and the foil struggles to adhere where the surface area is small.





Well that's all for today. I'm aiming to get this one done by mid-March if not sooner. The main challenge will the masking of the stripes on the fuselage, especially at the wing roots and underneath the intake bulges on the fuselage.






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  • Jon Bryon changed the title to Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - update 17/02/2020
4 hours ago, Scooby said:

Wow, four at once? I have trouble with one at once!

Outstanding work!

In 2002 I built two at once:





Then in 2005 I built three at once:






2020 will be four at once and then I'll retire from making Skyhawks...unless Hasegawa ever releases an A-4A/A4D-1.





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You're making better progress with 4 than I manage with one! 


This is a great exercise in seam surgery, it's great when you know a kit and where you need to apply the extra care. Really nice work so far. 



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Brief update now that painting the stripes has started. It's taken an entire morning to apply my pre-made mask and spray the stripes on one wing. Given that this is the easy bit (apart from the vortex generators), doing the entire airframe is going to take absolutely ages...


Mask as cut on my Silhouette cutter:




Mask applied and some of the stripes sprayed. I am approaching this a section at a time:






Some of the mask removed. There will be touch-ups...




Thanks for looking.



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  • Jon Bryon changed the title to Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - update 19/02/2020
  • Jon Bryon changed the title to Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E/H/L and TA-4J Skyhawks - Finished! 27/04/2020

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