Italeri 1/72 A-4E/F
|DECALS:||Two options: VA-45 and VA-212|
For history I refer you any of the excellent reviews written by Tom Cleaver among others on this site.
Italeris kit comes in two gray and one clear sprue. I dont know the date of the kit but it has raised panel lines. The kit is marketed as an A-4E/F. However, the fuselage is molded as what looks like an A-4M with the avionics hump integrated into the fuselage. In addition, there are some bumps and lumps that are not used in the instruction along with two different tail inserts once the avionics pod on top of the tail is removed. While I am not an A-4 expert, I think one should be able to build anything from a late E to an M with this kit. There are decals for two versions: an A-4F VA-212 bird and an A-4E VA-45. The decals include only the basic markings and stencils but they are thin and in register.
Construction started with removing the avionics pod on the tail. There is a
grove on the inside of each fuselage halves that acts as a guide for
cutting the avionics parts. I also dipped the canopy in Future and masked
it with Bare Metal foil. Next it was on to the cockpit. The cockpit and
the bang seat are integrated into one piece so the only thing that needs to
be added is the stick. After doing so I painted the cockpit and the side
walls with Gunze dark gull gray along with the outside of the canopy. I
painted the seat Model Master olive drab and the headrest and the upper
part of the stick along with the instrument panel, the side consoles and
the exhaust section of the fuselage Tamiya flat black. I also painted the
blanking plates for the air intakes on the fuselage flat black and masked
them with Tamiya masking tape. I then picked the dials on the instrument
panel with Tamiya gloss white.
After the paint dried I attached the cockpit to the top of the front wheel well and then attached the instrument panel and the wheel well to the right fuselage half. I put some weight in the nose and glued the fuselage halves together while making sure that the instrument panel and the wheel well were sitting right. Next I attached the fin insert on the tail and used CA glue to fill the gaps between the insert and the tail (which is I have found to be necessary whenever plastic surgery is performed regardless of who the manufacturer is). I then sanded the tail flush to get rid of any lumps and bumps caused by the CA glue. I also sanded the seams on the fuselage and rescribed any detail that was lost.
Next the wings were assembled and attached to the fuselage. One thing to note about the wings is that the 20mm cannons on the wings are molded separately from the wings. While this provides very nicely scaled barrels, it also means that attention should be paid to filling and sending to joint between them and the wing. This required liberal use of CA glues to fill the gaps. I also filled the seam between the wings and the fuselage with CA and sanded them flush.
Next I attached the some lumps that go on the bottom of the fuselage. As there is no positive lock for positioning them and the instructions are not very precise I guessed as to where these lumps go. If I was going to build this kit again, I would get a hold some close-up pictures of A-4. I also attached the stabilators at this time.
Then I detached the landing gears and the landing gear doors and proceeded to clean them up. As I was going to build the aircraft with the landing gears down, I had to cut the landing gear doors as per instruction and clean them up. I also attached the canopy to the fuselage with Model Master clear parts glue. The fit here is not very good but my modeling skills are not such that I could do anything about it.
I then built the rocket pods and the centerline fuel tank. Note that the rocket pods and the inner pylons are integrated together and that the outer wing pylons are empty. This is quite unusual as most of the pictures that I have seen of A-4 have fuel tanks on the inner pylons while the outer pylons usually carry ordinance. The center pylon either has ordinance or a fuel tank. Next I attached the rocket pods and the outer pylons to the wings. I realize that this was a mistake as the insignia under the starboard wing needs to be place under that wings pylons. Therefore, I proceeded to remove the said pylons and put them aside for attachment later.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
First I painted the bottom of the aircraft and the wheel wells Tamiya gloss
white. I also painted the flying surfaces Tamiya gloss white. I also
painted the landing gears, the wheels, the landing gear doors, the
centerline fuel tank and the pylons and the rocket pod for starboard wing
that color. I also painted the inside of the air intakes gloss white. After
that was dried, I masked the inside of the air intakes except for the lips
of the in takes. I then shot the lips of the intake with Model Master
insignia red. I then removed the mask on the inside of the intake and
attached the intakes to the fuselage. The fit was generally good and I used
only a little CA glue and light sanding to remove the seams (although I
dont think I did as good a job as I could have).
Next I masked the intake mouths and lips as well as the upper flying surfaces as well as the port side pylons and rocket pod with Tamiya masking tape. I then shot the anti-glare panel Tamiya flat black and the walkways Gunze dark gull gray. . I was going to build the VA-212 bird but the instructions unfortunately do not include a coloring guide for this aircraft. Therefore, I had to resort to looking at the cover picture and the built-up model pictures in the instructions as well as searching the web for finding how this bird was painted. This meant that shape of the anti-glare panel and the walkways are guesswork and if there is anything wrong with them, blame Italeri. I then masked the anti-glare panel and the walkways with Tamiya masking tape and shot the top side of the aircraft with Gunze light gull gray.
I left the paint dry for a couple of days. Then I removed all the masking tapes except for those covering the canopy, the nose, the anti-glare panel and the wing walkways. I then sprayed the whole model as well as the landing gear doors and the pylons and the rocket pod for the starboard wing with Future. After the Future dried I proceeded with decaling using the kits decals. Italeri decals are among the best in the business. Although they hardly include any stencils, they are very thin, always in register and react well to Micro Set and Micro Sol. This was proven here again as the upper wing decals snuggled on top of the rather pronounced vortex generators on top of the wings after a couple of applications of Micro Sol. I also painted the edge of the landing gear doors with Model Master insignia red. This is the part that I hate most about painting US Navy jets as I usually get red all over the place I have to touch up everything. This time it was no exception. So I had to do a tremendous amount of touch up on the model.
After the decals dried I sprayed the model as well as the landing gear doors with Micro Satin acrylic top coat. It was here that I realized that the exhaust on the model needed to be painted steel instead of the fuselage colors. So I made hole in a plastic shopping bag; put the exhaust through it; masked around the exhaust so the whole model except the exhaust was in the bag. I then sprayed the exhaust with Gunze metallizer steel. I then removed the bag as well as the masks for the nose, the anti-glare panel and the wing walkways. The model was now ready for final bits and pieces.
This part consisted of painting the tire Gunze tire black and oleo for the front landing gear Tamiya chrome silver; painting the tip of the refueling probe silver and black as needed; assembling and attaching the landing gear and landing gear doors and attaching the starboard pylons. The model was now finished.
If you dont care about having the latest and greatest A-4 model in 1/72 scale and want a model that goes together with relative ease, then this kit is for you. The canopy certainly does not look right. However, I think the model looks good, Grade: B+.
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