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A-10A (Academy 1/72) - Operation Iraqi Freedom


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After a long build of the Italeri KA-6 I'm switching gears to simpler quick build. That would be the Academy A-10A which can be found for dirt cheap at Hobby Lobby in the US. 

 

Exterior detail and panel lines are very nice for this kit. However interior details are nonexistent.  The instrument panel is bare piece of plastic and requires a decal. There's also no side panel details. The seat is also very basic. We can spruce it up a bit, but for a quick build it might not be worth it. The canopy also comes closed only. So not a lot of options but again - quick build for cheap.

 

What is impressive - as with all recent(ish) Academy kits - is the armament. This bad boy comes with 4x AGM-65 mavericks, 2x GBU-24 LGBs, 12x Mk. 82 bombs (500 lbs),  2 Mk. 84 bombs (2k lbs)! Of course they can all be mounted at the same time too. I can't speak to whether that would be a realistic load out or not (probably not) but it makes for a hell of a display!

 

On the downside, The cannon is VERY lackluster. This is essentially what MAKES and A-10. BRRRRRRRRRRRRT. There's aftermarket brass for this for about $10-20 USD. But this is a 1/72 scale. I could justify it at 1/48 but the scale is so small that we might have to make do. You can see the cannon pieces in Sprue "D"  towards the middle left of the sprue (4th picture from the top).

 

So let's dive right in to the box contents.

 

Box Art

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Decals - This is specially designed for an Iraqi Freedom build. 

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And now a shot of the sprues:

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Edited by Fox_Two
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Posted (edited)

Part I - Cheap kits are cheap for a reason...molding details edition

 

Here's the cockpit prior to assembly:

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Basic seat detail and no cockpit detail whatsoever. Unfortunately, what detail IS there for the seat will be hidden due to the side consoles.

 

 I also flung the control stick to no mans land so I had to make one from stretched sprue. You'll never tell the difference. 

 

So here's the bad boy all painted up. Just basic dark gull gray with some olive green drab for the cushion and a little white paint and green oils to give it a little texture and variance. You'll never see it though with the canopy closed. No need to waste time. If you really want to show this model off and have unlimited money just get a photo etch or resin cockpit for this kit. It is a must at that point. But I still think PE is only viable at 1/48 where you might actually see it. So for this kit I just added the decals and called it a day.

 

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I added weight (lead balls) to the cockpit per instructions and dropped the cockpit and instrument panel and glued the fuselage together. That will be in my next post.

 

Edited by Fox_Two
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Posted (edited)

Part II - Cheap kits are cheap for a reason...fitting issues edition

 

So, as expected this kit has numerous fit issue around the fuselage.

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The gear bay - that attaches the cockpit - had significant fit issues. Also some areas alone the fuselage didn't fit well either. It's going to need a lot of putty and sanding but it isn't the worst i've ever seen.

 

Here are some images after putty has been applied.

 

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After sanding and more putty we'll rescribe some panel lines and then work on the wings and engines. When those attach we'll have to repeat the putty and sanding all over again.

Edited by Fox_Two
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42 minutes ago, Fox_Two said:

So, as expected this kit has numerous fit issue around the fuselage.

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A suggestion, with a fit problem like the above, try using some plastic sheet or strip to shim out the problem, so the bay is then in line with fuselage.

Can make a clean up much easier and destroys less detail, and quicker in the long run. 

 

  It really worth doing some careful dry fitting, and seeing if some careful scraping and will help the fuselage joint.   Also make sure alignment pins are actually helping,  sometimes they don't!   Either remove them, or enlarge the hole, giving a little wiggle room.

 

The photo in the first post are missing as well.  Does the kit only have Gulf War decal option?    I remember seeing an A-10 doing practice runs in a river estuary valley near me in the mid 80's in the lizard scheme,  which looked great.   Does the kit have these as well?

Unusual sight too, as there were no USAF bases near me either. 

Possibly the location was picked as it's the only undeveloped river estuary on the English South coast, Cuckmere Haven in you are curious.

 

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33 minutes ago, Troy Smith said:

 

 I remember seeing an A-10 doing practice runs in a river estuary valley near me in the mid 80's in the lizard scheme,  which looked great.   Does the kit have these as well?

Unusual sight too, as there were no USAF bases near me either. 

Bentwaters bird probably, but that's on the other side of the Thames estuary.
On the mainland, we had them at Ramstein AB - they used to do BRRRRRT at Nordhorn range just past Hengelo.

33 minutes ago, Troy Smith said:

Possibly the location was picked as it's the only undeveloped river estuary on the English South coast, Cuckmere Haven in you are curious.

 

Lovely area that :) Spend some time there in the late 70's on holidays, fond memories.

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Don't know where your photos are hosted, but all I'm seeing are little grey boxes with 'spacer.png' - when I right-click and 'view image', I get taken to a Google sign-in page for an account I don't have...

....no issues with your A-6 pages -all pics there show up fine...

Edited by andyf117
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Probably Google Photos. 
That really doesn't work. Neither does FB hosted pics... something to do with logon/sharing session tokens that expire. 
A dedicated picture host works best (although OneDrive seems to keep working I've noticed)
 

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1 hour ago, alt-92 said:

Probably Google Photos. 
That really doesn't work. Neither does FB hosted pics... something to do with logon/sharing session tokens that expire. 
A dedicated picture host works best (although OneDrive seems to keep working I've noticed)
 

This. I used imgur in my A-6 thread but those die if no one loads the images for a year. I'm trying to find a free one that keeps the images indefinitely.

 

I'll fix the links when I get the chance.

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3 hours ago, Troy Smith said:

 

A suggestion, with a fit problem like the above, try using some plastic sheet or strip to shim out the problem, so the bay is then in line with fuselage.

Can make a clean up much easier and destroys less detail, and quicker in the long run. 

 

  It really worth doing some careful dry fitting, and seeing if some careful scraping and will help the fuselage joint.   Also make sure alignment pins are actually helping,  sometimes they don't!   Either remove them, or enlarge the hole, giving a little wiggle room.

 

The photo in the first post are missing as well.  Does the kit only have Gulf War decal option?    I remember seeing an A-10 doing practice runs in a river estuary valley near me in the mid 80's in the lizard scheme,  which looked great.   Does the kit have these as well?

Unusual sight too, as there were no USAF bases near me either. 

Possibly the location was picked as it's the only undeveloped river estuary on the English South coast, Cuckmere Haven in you are curious.

 

First, images are fixed. I went back to Imgur. So you should be able to see the decals now.

 

One option is an Iraq war specific bird (with named pilot) while the other is a generic 81st FS based USAF bird. 

 

Secondly, this is a great suggestion and I'm kicking myself because I have an assortment set of evergreen and just forgot about it. Would've been much better to use shims here. The good news is that the wings and engines have poor fit as well (when attaching to the fuselage) so it I will be a good use of the styrene sheet for those pieces.

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So some more sanding and filling. I've also attached the wings, nose cone, and tail planes. The rudder planes actually fit ok so i might leave them off until the build is finished to make it easier to paint.

 

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There's a small raised ridge her from the wing root. I'm going to leave it since sanding would be too difficult. I filled the gap with putty and feathered it out smooth. I'm not sure that the fit is flush here on the real thing anyway.

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The nose doesn't fit properly so it's going to need some light sanding as to avoid losing it's shape. I want to avoid filling it too as I want there to be a panel line where it attaches.

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Here's the underside puttied and sanded smooth. Hopefully those seamlines won't show when the primer goes on.

 

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On 3/31/2020 at 1:10 PM, alt-92 said:

Bentwaters bird probably, but that's on the other side of the Thames estuary.
On the mainland, we had them at Ramstein AB - they used to do BRRRRRT at Nordhorn range just past Hengelo.

Lovely area that :) Spend some time there in the late 70's on holidays, fond memories.

As far as I know, A-10s were never stationed at Ramstein.  There was a detachment at a base in northern Germany (Jever?) for many years.  GB had A-10s at (at various times) Alconbury, Bentwaters, and Woodbridge.  In the early 90s, Spangdahlem had one squadron of A-10s for several years.  Ramstein during that period had F-4Es, transitioning to F-16C Block 25s then Block 30s.  Sorry for the hijack.

Steve

 

by the way, if you or anyone else should try this kit again, the cockpit and associated parts from the Monogram kit fit almost perfectly and improve the look immensely.  Nice job you're doing.

Edited by Steve Collins
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I was about to correct that after thinking a bit more, but couldn't find the thread directly :D

 

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Still having a lot of issues sanding some seams and gaps on the rear underside of the hog. These antennas molded with the kit keep getting in the way. So we'll hack em off and then reattach.

 

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....and after

 

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Much better and definitely worth it to get some extra breathing room when sanding. Just be sure to cut them flush with your nipper tool then use CA or TET to reattach them. 

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Posted (edited)

Some work on the engine. It's an OK fit but will need some seam line clean up. Overall the plastic is either warped or has flash or both. You'll see more below.

 

Remember, this is a 1980's kit. The molds are old and engineering is old and it shows. I suspect you'll find a better engineered kit with Italeri's 1990s 1/72 offering.

 

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After some cleanup and rescribing:

 

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The nozzles have a weird shape. I'm not sure if it's a mold issue or flash. I tried sanding in there and using a scalpel but its too much of a headache. I'm going to leave it as is. Also is an issue with the thinning plastic around the nozzel leaving a small gap or seam line.  Tried a little bit of cleanup but it may be more trouble than it's worth.

 

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Edited by Fox_Two
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Posted (edited)

Things are picking up fast now as we move towards painting.

 

Canopy has been fully masked. Unfortunately, at this scale, Academy only included the outline of the canopy. There is no raised edge. This makes masking extremely difficult. If this were a better, more expensive kit, I would just opt for pre cut masks. Instead, I cut thin strips of tape and just had to guess that they were aligned right since the outline is also on the inside of the canopy. This means you get a bit of distortion when looking through the clear plastic. I can already tell it might look funky once painted and the masks are removed.

 

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Using craft (white) glue I attached the canopy to the frame. It fits well but the canopy and front windscreen dont sit 100% flush against each other so there is a small gap. Should any fogging or weirdness occur after painting it wouldn't be the end of the world to remove the canopy, clean it up, and reattach, since I did only use craft glue. I didn't add any putty or anything that would seal the canopy.

 

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At this point I also masked off the engine exhaust and intakes. So now we're ready for primer!

 

 

Edited by Fox_Two
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Primed up and mottle coat applied - as you'll see below. The primer coat showed off a few blemishes and a few mis-scribed panel lines but nothing worth the time fixing. They're very minor and would only show on really close photos or detailed inspection. Not worth it for a $15 or so kit. 

 

For painting I obviously went with a black primer coat. I then went over the whole craft with a marble coat of German Field Grey by Vallejo. When using marble coats you always want to go Dark >>> Light. So it's not a good idea to use a white or light gray for a marble coat when the final blend coat is also a light gray. The Field Gray is excellent as it it a darker shade but also has a greenish hue to it. I tested it out on a paint mule and it looks great!

 

Also, color of the mottle coat does not matter - at all. It gets lost when you do your blend coat. So don't waste your time highlighting panels with various shades of browns and yellow, etc. It won't matter. Do those AFTER the blend coat goes down. 

 

I might add a second marble coat of another gray color but I'm not sure yet. It's more about adding pattern variety rather than coverage. Using a lighter shade will brighten up areas when the blend coat goes on.

 

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I ended up trying another marble coat layer. I thought a neutral gray would look good but it ended up being too light compared to the Light/Dark Ghost gray that will be the blend coat. It caused some bright spots on the final blend coat that I don't like. Next time I'll use a darker color or just leave it with the German Field Grey. Good practice though to see what works and what doesn't.

 

Here is that second marble coat:

 

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So the blend coats went on nicely. I used Mission Models Light and Dark Ghost Grey. I like MM paints for the blend coat because even when flooding the model with paint it's still pretty translucent. So you can build up the blend coat in layers without loosing the marble coat underneath. If I were to use Vallejo Air I would need to really thin it down and it would get spidery/splotchy.

 

Overall I think it looks good. The shades of the two colors are so damn close it's hard to see the demarcation for the camo on the wings and engines. In reference photos I've seen the camo either super prominent or barely noticeable. 

 

See here you can barely tell - but it's there:

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....and here it's super prominent:

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It's the same way that these hogs are either really dirty or really clean weathering wise. 

 

Here's the final product:

 

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Again, you can barely tell. It's also hard to see in photos as opposed to looking at it directly. I did a quick n dirty masking job which could be part of the problem.

 

So what do you all think? Should I remask and make the camo more prominent or leave it as is?

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I wasn't satisfied with the camo. As in the previous post the colors blended together too much. So I decided to add some white to the light ghost grey. Because it was another cost of paint I lost most of the marbling on the wings and upper fuselage. We can fix that with some oils to fade it in the weathering stage.

 

Check out the difference below! I think it's much better.

 

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Final paint touch ups are complete including the indicator lights (clear blue/clear red). These pieces always add an extra bit a flare to your model so I highly suggest doing them and not skipping it.

 

Decals have also been applied. Academy decals are always a mixed bag and should almost always be tossed for aftermarket. Some of their nicer kits like the F-8J Crusader have VERY nice cartograf decals, but these older bargain bin kits have the korean decals.

 

All of the decals went down smoothly and could be adjusted without issue. Even the shark mouth decals went down very well. The "mixed bag" part was that almost all the decals with clear film had silvering. That's just the nature of bad decals. The ones that were painted throughout, like the shark mouth, showed little to no silvering. You'll see it clearly in the images and on the tail fins. 

 

The decals also are not very high resolution. A lot of smaller details are just specs of black ink and you can't really make them out. This is common on bargain bin kits. I've had cartograf decals in 1/72 where you can clearly make out all the words/letters/numbers on even the smallest decals. This kit does not have that. If I were to take my time with this build (remember this was supposed to be a quick build) I would've gone with aftermarket decals.

 

About decals...

First, I do not gloss anymore before decaling. The old old school thought that it needs a smooth surface is just plain wrong. Decals will silver if they're bad decals and with the appropriate decal solutions good decals should never silver. There's a good image circulating of someone putting down a decal on SANDPAPER and it laying down smooth with no silvering. As long as you test your decal solutions on a paint mule first, to ensure it won't react with the paint, you'll be fine. The paint I use, Mission Models, dried hard and smooth and won't react to decal solutions. 

 

Second, I don't like to gloss first because you have the potential of losing details. The less clear coats you put on before weathering the more you'll get small details and panel lines to pop.

 

With that said, I'm hoping a nice gloss coat AFTER the decal application will tone down the silvering - but I doubt it. We will see.

 

So I suggest you all throw your future and gloss coats aside and try applying directly to the paint!

 

Anyway, here's what we're working with now.

 

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Gloss coat has been added. My go to is Alclad Aqua Gloss. Great product - you can go super heavy, hit it with a hair dryer, and it dries smooth as glass. I like to polish it a bit though before adding the wash. Usually like 2500 - 4000 grit and just lightly go over the model.

 

Here is the wash applied. I use a custom oil wash with Dark Sienna mixed with Black. I put it in a old tamiya paint bottle and I'm good to go. The pigments settle quickly though so you need to give it a good stir with your brush after a few applications. Once it's somewhat dry i just take a dry shop towel and wipe in a circular pattern. It will slightly tint the color but most will be picked up on the towel leaving the rest in the panel lines.

 

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Posted (edited)

When it rains...it pours. As things go sometimes, things went from bad to worse fast with this kit. So let's start from the top.

 

1) It all started with the final satin varnish I applied after weathering. While it worked great throughout the model, the wings had some serious orange peel. Queue hours of sanding polishing, sanding and polishing. It still doesn't look great but you can only really see it in the proper sunlight.

 

Below is a pic of what it looked like after the first round of sanding

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2) I finally attached the gear struts. They didn't fit quite right so I had to hand drill out the fitting holes to make them a bit larger. Well I flip it over and of COURSE it's a TAIL SITTER. Son of a $%$#. 

 

If you scroll to the top you'll see I added a metric TON of lead weight to cockpit. Way more than I thought was needed. So the fact that it's sitting on it's tail really pisses me off. So now I faced a new challenge.

 

The only real solutions are to open the cockpit and fill it or fill up the gear bay. With the canopy secured and filled with putty it would surely shatter or crack on removal. So I used some deluxe materials liquid gravity and filled the gear bay. It for sure won't be winning any awards now but at least no one is looking directly under the gear bay. 

 

This also led to a serious fit issue with the front gear bay door. So now it's on a bit awkwardly. Oh well at this point I guess.

 

(Liquid Gravity)

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(Gear door fitting)

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3) Lastly, is the canopy. While the masking ended up being fantastic - despite no raised detail to guide the masking - It seems paint/varnish or just dust seeped into the inside of the canopy. As I described earlier, there's no way to really remove it without cracking it. I *might* be able to remove the front windscreen to get at the main canopy but that could screw up things even more. We'll see how it turns out in the photobooth but you can see it's not quite fogged but it's more dusty/speckled. %$#%$#^&^% <-- lots of curse words.

 

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Edited by Fox_Two
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Posted (edited)

COMPLETED!

 

This quick build was done in about 2 weeks spending a few hours a day or every other day on it. I'll be posting a link here shortly to the finished builds section.

 

Some final thoughts:

 

Weapons

As I stated in the initial impressions post at the top this kit comes with a plethora of weapons - as per usual with most Academy kits. All can fit on the rails and pylons at the same time. The issue is quality - they're garbage. All the bombs have NASTY ejector pin marks on them and they're deep. You could spend weeks - im serious it would take weeks - to fill and sand them all and hope it still retains is rounded shape. Not worth it for this quick build.

 

So if anyone wants to really take their time on this kit - don't waste it on the weapons. Pick up something like the Hasegawa or other brand dedicated weapon kit.

 

Weathering

I didn't really go over this or spend time on pictures. You'll see it in the final images. I used some reference images for weathering and added a few oil streaks to the top side of the wings. I added some white and burnt umber shading the panel lines on the fuselage as well as some oil sponging on the bottom of the plane. Nothing crazy but wanted to give it something other than a squeaky clean look.

 

That's pretty much it. It was a decent kit but I think I would recommend the Italeri or Revell (rebox of Italeri) in 1/72 for more serious builds. Again this was a cheapo $10ish kit so feel free to pick it up and experiment. 

 

 

Edited by Fox_Two
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