Hobbycraft 1/48 A-4B Skyhawk

KIT #: HC 1433
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: Aerocalcas decals #48011


Skyhawk A4-B C-225  This particular Skyhawk was one of the luckiest ones of the 1982 as it not only survived the war but also was flown in combat missions by the leaders that led some of the most significant actions of the South Atlantic (Malvinas/Falklands) war.

May 12th: Attack to HMS Glasgow and HMS Brilliant that were shelling Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley.

Two waves of 4 Skyhawks B were to attack with a 15 minutes interval.

The first wave (OF 1177) was named CUÑA and was led by 1st Lt Bustos and his wingmen were Lt. J. Ibarlucea, Lt. M. Nívoli and Ensg. A. Vázquez. They attacked with the sea on their backs thus giving the Sea Wolf system of HMS Brilliant an excellent chance to operate. Their windshields were covered with sea salt. Nívoli and Bustos were shot down practically over the ships, while Bustos crashed on the sea while calling his wingmen to join him. He had seen a 3rd Sea Wolf and touched the sea while trying to evade it. The only survivor was Vázquez who managed to drop his bomb and return to his base. They caused slight damage to the deck of the ship. After the debrief, still affected by what he had gone thru, Vázquez was asked what was he going to do next. After witnessing the death of his 3 friends, his only answer was: “Get ready for the next mission”. Everybody in the room was shocked and admired the resolution of this young Air Force officer.

The following attack was OF 1180 and their call sign was ORO. J. ORO: Capt. Antonio (Tony) Zelaya in C-225, Lt. Arrarás in C-244, 1st Lt Gavazzi (C-248) and Alferez Dellepiane in C-239.

The inbound flight took place without problem, except for the fact that Zelaya’s navigational equipment broke and he was forced to navigate by compass and clock. The attack time had also being pushed forward 15 minutes and they tried to comply with it but they made it 7 minutes late (and 8 before the original time!).

When they arrived to the Goose Green area, Zelaya realized that there had been a drift in their direction and that they were now 4 miles to their right, when in fact they should have been 7 miles to their left. Hence, he corrected their heading.

On the radio, he was confirmed to proceed as originally planned. Nobody was talking on the radio.

On both sides he could see his wingmen, Arrarás and Gavazzi, flying even lower. Zelaya had to fly higher to check his maps and charts.

When the got to open sea, heading southeast, he descended even more. His idea was to fly on that heading for 3 minutes and if nothing was found, return to base.

The ships were not in the area where he was told they would be. He kept on flying and shortly afterwards they saw the two ships leaving the area at full speed after the attack of CUÑA. They were 20 NM to the south of the town. Nothing was said to his wingmen, as instructions had been given before take off: the leading section would attack the ship to the North, and the following one the ships to the South.

No missile was fired at them but guns and machine guns were in action. Even the noise of the AA could be heard over their jet engines.

As the planes were this time coming with the shore behind them, the Sea Wolf system had trouble locking on them and no missile was fired at them.

The only one who made a mistake was Zelaya himself, as he attacked the ship that was closer to him (the one on the South) so 3 ships attacked one and only 1 went for the ship that was to the North (following the other ship).

At the moment when he had to drop his bomb, Zelaya could only see his gun sight and the target. He still remembers the large radar antenna, turning. It was HMS Glasgow.

After jumping his target, Zelaya found himself turning at a height of 300 mt, trying to see what had happened to the ships. There was a great commotion in the sea close to the leading ship, and ripples on the sea, as if something had fallen there. Realizing that he was too high, he dove to the sea surface. All the pilots were shouting excitedly but radio silence was kept except for Gavazzi who said: “Long live the Homeland!”. Arrarás claimed that he had probably hit his target while Gavazzi was sure he himself had succeeded. Though officially Gavazzi is credited with the hit, recently Zelaya said that he believes that the pilot that hit Glasgow was in fact Arrarás.

The fact that the ships had been further South made them fly away from their original return route. Tony entered the islands at a 90 degree angle, in that place the coast runs in an angle, so they started to fly NW instead of W.

They flew back split in two sections. Arrarás was forming with Zelaya, 90 mt away. Gavazzi was leading Dellepiane some miles behind. They kept on flying low as they had lost contact with the MLV radar and they did not know whether they were being chased by Sea Harriers or not.

Now calmed down after the exciting attack, Zelaya checked his map and compass and realized he was off course, with a different heading. He saw something suspicious ahead of him, something shinning on the ground. He had a hunch and decided to break left. Gavazzi, instead, kept on moving ahead.

The AA guns in Darwin who mistook them for Harriers had caught them. Gavazzi’s plane was hit by one of the Argentine Army’s radar guided 35 mm guns and lost one aileron. He said: ’My plane has turned upside down!” and immediately crashed, with no chance to eject. Dellepiane, very affected, kept on repeating that his leader had crashed and Zelaya ordered him to shut up and join them.

Now they were all silent and saddened. Dellepiane was forced to climb to save fuel but Gavazzi and Arrarás kept flying low for 90 kilometers more.

Their windshields now covered with a layer of salt, their landing was a difficult one. Vazquez plane landed ahead of them and accidentally left the runway before stopping.

As a result of their attack, HMS Glasgow received the hit of one of the 1,000 lb bombs that did not explode, fell into the sea on the other side of the ship and left two holes in the hull. Thru those, water was coming in. Engines and electric systems were also affected by the attack. After some days, the ship now unable to continue in the war theater due to the damage, returned to the UK.

NOTE: of the 8 pilots that took part in this mission, only 2 survived the war: Zelaya and Dellepiane. Arrarás and Vázquez perished on the attack to the LCU Foxtrot on June 8th at Bluff Cove/Bahia Agradable. This vessel was sunk in this attack. 

May 21st: San Carlos landings.

C-225 was flown by 1st Lt Mariano Velazco but had to return due to mechanical problems. The rest of the planes (ORION) joined the LEOs and together they attacked HMS Argonaut, hitting her with 2 bombs that left her out of service for the rest of the war.

May 25th: Attack and sinking of HMS Coventry

OF 1236 (VULCANO): C-225 was flown by the Capt. Pablo Carballo with Lt Rinke as his wingman (Ensg Carmona was forced to return due to mechanical problems).

OF 1237 (ZEUS): 1st Lt. Mariano Velazco (C-207), Ensg. J. Barrionuevo (C-212). Lt. Osses also returned with mechanical issues.

During the morning, a 42-22 combo located to the north of Borbon/Pebble Is. had managed to shot down two Skyhawks with the Sea Darts from HMS Coventry (not 3 as claimed by David Hart-Dyke in his book). It’s important to highlight the fact that these planes were returning from their attacks to San Carlos, and were NOT on their way to attack the combo. In fact, they were climbing as they had been damaged and were loosing fuel. The crews in the ships were in high tension as they knew they had been located and they might attract the resources of the Argentine Air Force, which could not withstand such a dangerous couple placed on their route to San Carlos waters.

Each section had their own route, so they were flying using different routes.

The now well-known shape of the islands started to show on their windshields when a thin layer of salt started to form on Carballo’s oval windshield. This had happened in previous missions but had been solved by 1st Lt (biochemist) Haggi, who found a solution to fix the problem.

He immediately remembered non commissioned officer Escobar, a mechanic who had cleaned with all his love the windshield and who had asked Carballo if he was satisfied with his job. He had cleaned away the solution! Pablo thought he might have to return because it was difficult to look forward and also now his gunsight was useless. Therefore he would have to calculate the point where to drop his bombs and decided to keep on going.

They arrived to the first notification point, Puerto Ruiseñor, and contacted the Rayo (tactical support aircraft), generally operated by Vicecomodoro “Duro (Tough)” Pereyra and Major Medina. They would tell them if their target had moved, where the enemy CAPs where…

Carballo soon discovered he was not going to be able to follow the initial route, as he would not be able to fly above land from Puerto Ruiseñor onwards, to Rasa Island (West of Borbon Is), due to his now restricted visibility. Hence he started to fly a little bit away from the original route.

Skimming the water, as the only bumps are the waves, they flew towards the North of Gran Malvina/West Falkland.To his left and slightly lower and behind, almost touching the sea, was his “Iron-made wingman” as he called him, Lt Rinke.

Suddenly they were warned by Ranquel (Pereyra):

“Careful as there is Harrier CAP entering the Sound from the South!”

Carballo acknowledged and understanding that he could get to my target before they could be intercepted, he decided to continue.  This CAP was being flown by the 800 Sqn pilots Neil Thomas and Dave Smith. Diving on the Skyahwks, Thomas was able to get visual while Dave was covering them, as all good wingmen do. At that moment, they were ordered to break as the ships were going to take on the incoming attackers. Frustrated, they turned away as they risked being shot down by their own side.

Once the VULCANOs turned at the other extreme of the island, they turned East and started to fly in the original direction. The nose of their planes started to look for the place where the target should be. There they were, in the horizon.

Pablo remembered a phrase that Pepe Biondi (a very famous Argentine comedian) would always repeat during his performances: “I am so lucky to get into unlucky situations…”

They were two dark dots, two impressive frigates against the horizon, covered in mist, away from the coast, deep in the sea. Carballo thought: “This time, it will be very tough as we will be exposed to their AA guns for a long time”.

They were a CL42 (HMS Coventry) and a CL22 (HMS Broadsword).

Carballo opened up all my engine, pressed the VHF button and said

“OK girls, I have them in sight, Long Live the Homeland! Maximum power! To the one behind!” (The one to the West)

They started the bomb run. Carballo felt very small when he started with my only wingman, attacking those two huge steel constructions, that commenced their defensive fire the moment the Skyhawks entered the sea flying from Rasa Is, even though the planes were not in range. Their hits were at the beginning far ahead: water was dancing and jumping high and there were explosion in the air that formed a band that seemed to be alive. The ships were covered in smoke after each shot. Carballo thought they were in the middle of a sea battles movie. The wall of fire was very dense and both ships were firing with everything they had, and the salt on the windshield prevented Carballo from seeing how close their hits where. The windshield has 3 parts and he could only see thru the ones on the sides as the oval one (center) was covered in salt.

“Which one do we attack, sir?” asked Rinke.

“Let’s go to the one that’s behind, as it is less defended” Carballo answered.

Both ships started to accelerate, with high lips of water on their bows. They were heading East with approx 200 mts of distance between them.

The Sea Wolf system failed again, as it had happened on May 12th. This time, as the planes were flying so close, the system could not decide what target to shoot at first, so it turned itself off. It had to be reset manually, but the process takes some seconds, vital seconds that they did not have.

C-225 was hit under the right wing by the defensive fire put by the ships but Carballo kept on going. When the whole ship covered both sides of his blurred windshield, he let his 1,000 lb bomb go, waiting a little more time than usual due to his bad forward vision. He remembers that Coventry, the other ship, was still firing at them!

“Did you pass, #2?”

He did not answer immediately but then Pablo got very happy when I heard Rinke shout:

“Yes sir, I am here behind you and in sight!”

Almost at the same time, they heard another voice in the radio:

“I don’t see anything!” It was 1st Lt Velasco who was arriving.

Pablo shouted:

“They are just North of the IP (Rasa Is)! Go on, go on!”

And Alferez Barrionuevo said:

“Ok, we have them to the left”

An explosion lifted a column of water close to C-225 when he was fired at while escaping. Carballo said:

“I was hit, I think I was hit because I have felt several hits underneath” (I had been hit by a small piece of shrapnel under his right wing).

Broadsword had stopped, with a hole his her hull, her landing deck and a hangar. The nose of her Sea Linx was torn away by Carballo’s bomb (another unexploded one that fell on the other side of the sea!). 

Velazco and Barrionuevo started their attack. Broadsword was pointing to the East, while Coventry, with a decision that’s important to highlight, turned West to cover the CL-22 and put herself between the ship and the attacking planes.

The 800 Sqn pair started to track the second wave of Argentine planes, but again they were called off by Broadsword.

As the attention of their enemies was now focused on the ZEUS, Carballo and Rinke were able to watch everything, while gently turning towards the continent.

With an unbelievable agility, faster than what anybody can imagine, Coventry turned towards the planes of the second section and a Sea Dart left the ship. The missile started to wave trying to find the target, but passed above and to the left of the planes who did not change their direction and then got lost, while Rinke was shouting:

“The missile, the missile!”

Then the ship put the side against the planes, as there is where it has more armament, and started to shoot at the planes. The Sea Wolf system had clearly acquired the targets. To prevent any mistake or mishap, the operator was controlling the system manually and had one on the Skyhawks clearly in the center of his screen. Ready to fire, the operator said: “You will die, b…!”. But when Coventry “shielded” Broadword, she blocked the later’s radar and the missiles could not be fired as they would have hit Coventry.

After dropping his bombs (Barrinuevos’ did not fall), Velazco asked the standard:

“Have you passed, #2?”

“Yes sir, you hit it perfectly, it was a CL42, I saw her clearly, I almost crashed against one of the domes, I saw your bombs hit the hull and in the other one, close to the water line, there was a column of smoke!”

HMS Coventry had been hit by 3 bombs on her port side one meter above the waterline. One failed to explode but nevertheless contributed to the posterior flooding. The second one entered below the bridge and spiraled down from deck 2 to deck 4, below the computer room and exploded killing everyone there almost immediately. The third bomb exploded as well, this time in the Forward Engine Room and killed everyone in the dinning room, located above the FER. With fire on board and taking water, the ship started to list and the damaged caused by the bombs only helped the water to rise to the upper decks. Sadly, 19 members of HMS Coventry lost their lives.

The 4 pilots started to shout at the same time while they were still being fired at, but the columns of water were quite behind. They shouted several “Long live our Homeland!”, sapukays (traditional shouts from the Corrientes province) and insults until a voice, believed to be the one of Vicecomdoro Duro Pereyra, commanded them:

“Silence on the radio!”

After a practically quite trip back, except for Carballo’s concern about his loss of fuel due to the slight damage to his plane (he even considered the option of ejecting in case he run out of fuel), they made it back to their base.

Thomas and Smith returned to their carrier, “spitting nails”, completely angered and frustrated as they could have prevented the catastrophe had they been given permission to engage the incoming Skyhawks.

With the runway in sight, Carballo pressed the button on his radio and said:

“In our Homeland day, with the landing strip in sight!”

To their “eyes”, the radar operators, he said:

“We are all returning with the mission accomplished!”

Tala” (Rinke) said:

“I never thought the sight of the airport would seem so beautiful to me!” and asked Carballo:

“Sir, lets do a flypast over the base!” but he got rebuked:

“Are you nuts? We have survived the British and you want our own side to shoot us down!?”

As soon as they landed, the preliminary results of their attack were received. From the ground (Borbon/Pebble Is) the Argentine garrison was able to see that 2 minutes after the Skyhawks left the area, 4 Harriers arrived and flew over the ships. Shortly afterwards, choppers from San Carlos arrived to rescue the sailors, as the ship attacked by Mariano (HMS Coventry) sunk in approximately 20 minutes, while Broadsword limped away very slowly, her helicopter destroyed and with a fire on board that was controlled shortly afterwards. 

The place thru which, as tradition says, the Skyhawks crossed Borbon/Pebble Is on their way to their target (in Pebble/Borbon) has now been called “Skyhawk gap”.


This kit was made in China, instead of South Korea. The kit itself is fine, with the same errors (nose with wrong panels and doors, radome) but with bad decals (out of register, wrong type of numbers) compared to the original offering. Decals used were therefore from AeroCalcas from Argentina.


The cockpit is fine. I painted the padded sides in green and details to the instrument panel, with drops of Future on the little round glasses. The seat is a resin one, much better than the one supplied with the kit, and it’s from Pavla models (48008).

To correct the nose, I took the two halves of the Hasegawa kit, made a rubber mold and copied them in resin. They were not perfect due to my impatience and the two halves did not fit as good as they should, so I spent some time fixing the union of the halves with sandpaper, putty and re scribing some panels again.

The internal walls of the air intakes were painted in the cammo colors as they are difficult to access with the airbrush, and then wet tissue paper covered them.

The main parts (fuselage, wings) were put together. Some pieces of the tree were glued under the union wings/fuselage to make a firmer contact zone that would resist better sanding if required.

Then I moved to the radome. The front of the part supplied with the kit is OK, but the area around the red light is not. I had scratch built one several years ago, made a rubber molde and now I used it again to cast a resin part. More putty and sanding to flush the union…There is another little radome under the fuselage, in the tail area. This is for an antenna. I made it in resin too.

I used acrylic base (water soluble) to hide some of the unions, improve the fit of the parts. The advantage is that you don’t need sandpaper, and just before the base gets dry, you can remove the excess with a soft damped cloth. A couple of repetitions may be needed as some tiny holes may develop, but it’s much better than using sandpaper. This only works for SMALL gaps.

I put together the external wing tanks (very good ones) and added the stations (3) and landing gear under the plane.


First I painted the undersides with Acryl RLM65. Once masked, I painted the upper surfaces in Acryl 4707 and 4720. The interior of the flaps I painted in red and the whole kit was masked to paint in yellow the ID bands. Interesting details is that most publications show that the bands go all the way to the tip of the wings, but recently found pictures in Internet show that they only go up to the end of the slats (crashed Skyhawks found in the islands).

I gave the kit a good coat of Future and applied the decals. The most challenging part was to create the “5” for the numbers of the plane. HC and Aerocalcas don’t have this number among their sheets. So I took the “9”s from the HC sheet (left from a previous build, so quality of the number is much better) and cut the round part in a way to form the bottom part of the “5”s and using some straight parts from other numbers for the top part of the “5”s. This, I had to repeat 8 times! I added two ships from the Aztec set of decals, roundels and flags along with other stencils.

Finally, a coat of semi gloss coat to seal the decals, attached all the rest of the parts (refueling probe, slats, lights, wheels, arresting hook, VHF and Omega antenna, including a correct 1,000 bomb sent by Fab Nevarez which has a decal from the Aerocalcas set) and scratchuilt the little pipes on the nose, gunsight, rear mirrors inside the canopy and top ejection handle.


I felt very happy with the results. The nose is not standing as high as it probably should, but overall I believe it is an extremely accurate depiction of this famous fighter bomber.


Halcones de Malvinas, Pablo Carballo

Hostile Skies, Dave Morgan

Dios y los Halcones, Pablo Carballo

Historia Oficial de la Fuerza Aerea Argentina, volume VI

Emails with Allan White, Tony Zelaya, David Smith and Pablo Carballo.

Official Argentine Air Force website.

Four Weeks in May, David Hart Dyke

The paintings are used with permission by Exequiel Martinez. Note that the planes on the Glasgow one don't have the yellow bands painted (an omission).
The picture is the survivors of the May 12th attack, along with their commanding officer, pointing out the ship painted on the nose of one of the planes that took part in the mission. From left to right: Vázquez, Dellpiane, Dubourg, Arrarás, Zelaya with C-239. Picture used by permission of Tony Zelaya

Pablo Calcaterra

May 2009

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