Verlinden 1982 V Brigada Aerea Fighter pilot – Fuerza Aerea Argentina

KIT #: 2010
PRICE: CAN $40.00
DECALS: None, paper printed items.
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: 120mm figure


This is a project I always wanted to tackle. I had seen some white metal pilot figures in Argentina many years ago but at that time they were out of reach for my pocket…and for sure for my skills.

Except for the 1/48th ones that some of the planes I have built bring, I have never made pilot figure before. Of course, as you can see, it shows!

The pilots of the V Brigade flew the oldest attack planes of the Air Force (1950s Skyhawks) and were responsible for the following losses incurred by the British Task Force:

HMS Coventry, HMS Antelope, LCU Foxtrot 4 - Sunk
RFA Sir Gallahad badly damaged - sunk
HMS Argonaut, HMS Glasgow, RFA Sir Tristam - out of combat
HMS Broadsword damaged

HMS Ardent damaged (according to some sources) when first attacked single handedly by the then Capt. Pablo Carballo – later sunk by 2 further attacks of the Argentine Air Force and Navy. Carballo was later to be the only pilot of the V Brigada to receive the most important medal by the Argentine Congress (along with the 4 A4-C pilots that took part in the attack to HMS Invincible): “To the Heroic Valour in Combat”. For more information about medals issued to the pilots, you can visit the Argentine Air Force website at:

Of the 26 Skyhawks B that took part in the conflict, 10 were shot down.

 Pilots of the V Brigada that intervened in the 1982 war were:

Vice Commodore Dubourg (Squadron Commander) , Vice Commodore Mariel, Vice Commodore Zini (Squadron Commander) , Capt Bergamaschi, Cap Carballo, Cap Palaver (KIA), Cap Varela, Cap Zelaya, 1st Lt B, 1st Lt Bolzan (KIA), 1st Lt Bustos (KIA), 1st Lt Cachon, 1st Lt Fillipini, 1st Lt Gavazzi (KIA), 1st Lt Guadagnini (KIA), 1st Lt Nivoli (KIA), 1st Lt Sanchez, 1st Lt Velazco (shot down and ejected), Lt Arraras (ejected - KIA), Lt Autiero, Lt Cervera, Lt Ibarlucea (KIA), Lt Galvez, Lt Gelardi, Lt Mayor, Lt Osses, Lt Rinke, Lt Robledo, Lt Roca, Ens Barrionuevo, Ens Dellepiane, Ens Carmona, Ens Gomez, Ens Moroni, Ens Vazquez (KIA), Ens Vottero.


I saw the Verlinden Top Gun pilot (2010) and thought that it was a close match of what the Argentine Air Force (c.1982) pilots would have looked like. I purchased also kit 561 and with the initial help of Air Forces (Osprey) book I decided to start with a V Brigada Pilot (flying A4-B Skyhawks for the 5th Air Brigade, based in Villa Reynolds, San Luis Province). The second pilot (561) will be a VI Brigade one (Dagger).


As I had never paid too much attention to the pilots themselves and their equipment and suits, I soon found that I had lots of questions and there seemed several major differences between the original kit and what I wanted to achieve. S0 / T2

 Therefore, I contacted one of the 1982 War Skyhawk pilots to get clarification regarding all the differences and doubts that now had started to snowball. Tony Zelaya, leader of the Skyhawks that disabled HMS Glasgow in front of Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley on May 12th, 1982 endured email after email and question after question. We exchanged pictures, descriptions and graphs between Cordoba and Canada. Without his help, I am positive that I would have had to drop the project. Gracias, Amigo!

 The first step was to remove from the upper half of the body all the locating plugs for the different pockets used by the US Navy pilots. The obvious next step (and easier one) was to sand out and cover the straps for the seat pant as the buckles of these ones would come out some holes on the “bombachudo” (the way the pilots referred to the vest that would run from between the legs up to the shoulders and that held underneath it all the different straps and belts in check) To cover the remainder of the US strap and make that part of the “bombachudo” I used a two-part epoxy glue that is very malleable and can be worked very well while it dries and it’s easy to sand.

 The helmet has 2 runners/guides for the visors that are longer and located on the sides, instead of one on top. I cover the one on top with epoxy and scratchbuilt the two on the sides. Three supports that run behind the protection for the visor are not present in the model used by Argentina, so I cut them out and smoothed the lines. Tony took several pictures of the helmet he used during the conflict and that was invaluable help to understand the modifications I had to make and the color of the different parts. I took the knob from the forehead of the helmet and attached it to the side runner. For the runner on the other side, I cut another knob from one of the helmeted heads supplied by Verlinden.

 One of the outstanding characteristics (and challenges for this project) was the survival vest used by the Skyhawk pilots. There were at least 2 different models. Using the picture on the cover of the last of Vicecomodoro Pablo Carballo’s book (Halcones de Malvinas) I molded the different shape on the back of the pilot.

 Always with the help of this great epoxy glue, I made the Squadron scarf around the neck (having previously removed the neck of the jacket) and the big pockets that the vest had below the armpits. I created a step on the jacket to represent the fabric and zipper that go under the pockets of the survival vest and that are part of it. I took narrow pockets from the Verlinden kit and the horizontal ones (from the waist area) and attached them to the front of the torso. We did not have a very clear picture or one that would show all the different angles and characteristics. I am positive that the vest I have made is not an exact match to the models in use by the pilots, but quite close enough for me.

 The US floating vest is flat, the ones used by the Argentine pilots were more cushioned. So the area around the neck was thickened and rounded using epoxy, and the two halves of the body were glued together. As the “bombachudo” covers all the vests, epoxy formed the “bombachudo” on the waist area. Using rolled sandpaper, I added some waves to the fabric.

 This part of their equipment had to be expanded on the front side of the torso, and the zipper was then made using an Xacto knife. To complete the floating device on the front of the body, I used two halves of the Airfix’s Mosquito in 1/48th bombs, removed the tail, sanded and twisted them. I attached these two pieces as the front “continuation” of the floating device.

 Once I was happy with the shape of the different parts of the body, I attached the arms and primed the kit using Aeromaster grey paint to also check for imperfections, holes, gaps, etc. I used acrylic base with a brush to cover some of the deepest gaps.

 I added some reinforcement straps on the back of the survival vest using Tamiya masking tape, and the same material was cut to make the little rectangles that represent the cord that runs along the floating vest.

 While all this was happening, I was also working on the face. As both faces supplied with the Verlinden pilots are identical, I decided to give it a more “argentinized” look by sanding the nose a little bit (making it flatter, not so pointy and sharp) and adding a moustache made with epoxy and applied and shaped using a toothpick (practically worn “by regulations” by most of the pilots of the Air Force during those years). Now, as I was afraid of making a blunder with the head, I copied it using a rubber molde and casted 3 new ones using two-part resin (Araldite). So I used one of those copies to practice, but I was so happy with the results that that’s the only one I worked on and I used it for the kit.

Hand and head were given a coat of Aeromaster4603 and 4601Skin tones mixed together to check for imperfections. None that I could find. I painted the eyes and teeth in white, the hair in black and drybrushed the eyebrows. Using a toothpick I painted the pupils. I sanded pastels Brunt Sienna Tint 1 and 3 and applied it to give the face and hands different shades of skin color. With dust of sanded black pastel and a little piece of cotton I added a not too well shaven beard. The head was left aside practically ready.

I airbrushed the body in green. Using different greens, I brush painted all the different layers of equipment the pilots had: one color for the anti G, another one for the pants, yet another one for the survival vest, a fourth for the floating vest. The colors used were Aeromaster 4720, 4724, 4726 and 4727.

The 3 reflective bands on the front of the helmet were made using Tamiya tape. The helmet was airbrushed with gloss white, having previously masked the hand that holds it. The central band was painted red and the other two were brushed with a mix of silver and white, trying to give it a slightly different glow that would represent the shininess of these bands. The knobs were painted blue, the earphone pads black, the cushion behind the head in brown and the different hoses and mask that are bundled inside the helmet in green. The attachment points for the chin strap in silver, the chin straps were cut from Tamiya tape and painted in blue. A buckle was scratchbuilt, painted silver and slid on one of the chinstraps. These straps were then glued inside the helmet.

I painted the palms of the hands and the nails using a lighter shade of skin color. I attached the left hand. The shoes were painted in black, with the shoelaces picked out drybrushing them in brown. Brown pastel was sanded and applied with a brush on the shoes, to represent some dirt.

The scarf (yellow for the V Brigada pilots) was brush painted (3 different coats to cover the green and add some shades).

As the V Brigada badges had to have some thickness (the one on the helmet was a sticker, the one on the jacket was a XXX) I printed them in paper, gave them a careful coat of Future to protect the ink and added them in place using white glue. Note: the head of the hawk should have been grey, not light blue.

I drybrushed some pastel dust in areas where there would be more wear/contact: around the zippers, pockets, etc. Some parts of the zippers, the antiG plug and the buckles were painted in silver.

A difficult task was to make the cord/handle on the left side of the floating vest. I took a piece of stretched plastic (I always keep the ones from the price tags when we by clothes) and added drops of plastic glue at intervals to represent the little yellow beads. I took three or four different nights to add different layers of glue to get an acceptable (at least, for me!) size and shape for those beads. It is a very fragile structure and carefully painted it in yellow and attached it to the side of the vest.

I gave the whole pilot (except for the helmet) a good coat with matt clear varnish. The helmet was given a couple of coats of Future with a brush to further protect the badge and the reflective bands. And a drop of Future on the eyes

Finally, I added the head, the hand with the helmet and the shoes. The pilot was finished but I wanted to have it standing without fear that it would fall and break.

My good friend Dave from Hornet Hobbies in Toronto suggested using 400-grit sandpaper to represent pavement and I painted with 5 (!) different coats a wooden base. I dirtied the sandpaper in parallel lines and then I brushed a thick layer of matt clear varnish. I made a couple of little holes in the sandpaper, glued it to the base and when dry, I attached the pilot to the base thru those holes using instant glue.

The Skyhawk pictured behind the pilot is my heavily modified 1/48th Esci A4-M (converted to A4-B C-214 with overpainted brown 1982 ID band on tail and wings).

Pilot in front of the somehow inaccurate artwork of the Hobbycraft A4-B kit.


It took me practically 2 months to complete this project. But 20 years to start it! I am quite happy with the  results.

Again, thanks Tony! 


Tony Zelaya

Falklands War - Air Forces (Osprey, 1983). Only relatively good for the pilot figures/paintings. The rest of the book is extremely inaccurate. It shows that it was written immediately after the war.

Halcones de Malvinas – Pablo Carballo (Ediciones Argentinidad, 2004)

A-4P/C Skyhawk – Cettolo, Marino, Mosquera & nunez Padin (Nunez Padin, 1997)

Pablo Calcaterra

November 2008

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