Hobbycraft 1/48 A-4B Skyhawk "C-204"

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


                                                (One before) Last Skyhawk Down         

Historical Background:

The last Skyhawk lost in combat in the history of this noble plane was a Kuwaiti Scooter lost during the first Gulf War.

C-204 was the last Skyhawk shot down before the Kuwaiti one. It happened during the 1982 war against United Kingdom. In it, the Air Force lost it last Skyhawk pilot killed in the war: 1st Lt. Danilo Bolzan.

This A4-B took part in the following missions:

May 21st, 1982:

OF 1189: MULA call sign, each plane armed with a Mk-17 bomb (1,000 lb). Capt Pablo Carballo (C-204), Lt Carlos Rinke (C-231), 1st Lt. Carlos Cachon (C-250), Ensg Leonardo Carmona (C-214). They took off from Rio Gallegos at 11:30 am; their mission being to attack the British Task Force ships unloading troops in San Carlos.

While refueling from a KC-130, C-250 experienced technical problems and without being able to top up the tanks, Cachon was forced to return to his base.

Shortly afterwards, the planes started to fly very low over the sea (20 to 30 mts above the surface). Suddenly MULA 2 broke the mandatory radio silence and told his leader that there was a problem and that the fuel was not transferring normally from the drop tanks. Carballo ordered him sharply: “Return!” But Rinke wanted to continue, though he knew that his chances of returning to the base were now slim. He insisted: “Sir, I want to press on!” to which Carballo answered: “I command you to return”. As a consequence, Rinke broke formation and returned to Rio Gallegos. Now MULA had only two planes left.

As they started to fly over land, the cloud cover started to increase to a point that they were forced to turn right as they were running the risk of crashing against the hills (between 600 and 800 mt.). Suddenly they appeared over Estrecho de San Carlos / Falkland Sound and right in front of them there was a transport ship. Unbeknown to them, they were starting their bombing run on ELMA Carcarana, an Argentine transport ship that had been damaged previously by the British. The Skyhawks accelerated but the lack of AAA made Carballo doubt. He made the decision not to drop his bomb on the ship and he told Carmona not to drop his, but it was a fraction of a second too late: MULA 4 had dropped his bomb. Without any more armament left, Carballo commanded his remaining wingman to return to base.

Carballo, now alone, was flying north following the East coast of the sound. Suddenly he broke into Bahia Ruiz Puente where he saw a British frigate. It was HMS Ardent that was shelling BAM Darwin (the Argentine Air Force base from which the Pucaras were operating). The moment Carballo entered the bay, Ardent fired at him for the first time. The splash of one of the 4.5-inch shells hit one of the wings but the water did not damage the plane. Flying low at full speed, Carballo approached his target. All other AA guns were firing at him and he was flying in between the geysers provoked by the defensive armament of Ardent. Suddenly, he had passed the danger zone and was flying in the calm area between the gunfire and the ship. The gunsight was running on the water. When it reached the ship, Carballo pressed the button and the bomb was released. The lightened plane jumped a little bit and now Carballo was flying straight to the antennas and masts. With a very fast reaction, he put the wings of his plane perpendicular to the sea and in that position he passed between the antennas of HMS Ardent.   For him, it seemed that the canopy had passed only a few inches away from the structure of the ship. The jet stream of the Skyhawk put the main 992-radar aerial 30 degrees askew! MULA 1 jumped HMS Ardent and dove to the surface of the sea again, just a couple of meters over the water. Carballo started to count the seconds after which his bomb should go off (the bombs were fuse delayed) while he was turning gently west. HMS Ardent fired a “farewell shot” with her 4.5 in gun, the hit falling only 100 mts behind the lone Skyhawk and surprising Carballo. Some seconds later, he saw smoke rising from the ship. Thinking that his bomb had blown up inside the ship, he started to shout excitedly. In fact, his Mk-17 had fallen short, skidded over the ship and landed on the other side, harmlessly (a couple of hours later, HMS Ardent started to receive direct hits from IAI Daggers from the Air Force and A4-Qs from the Argentine Navy and sunk the following morning). Upon returning to Rio Gallegos, Carballo found to his surprise that the Chief of Staff of the Air Force was visiting the base. This picture reflects the moment. It’s interesting to note that the position of the protagonists in it are very similar to a World War One picture that Carballo had seen when he was very young and had inspired him to become an aviator. Carballo explaining his attack to HMS Ardent to the Commander of the AAF, Lami Dozo. Behind him are (l to r) Capt. Varela, Vicecomodoro Mariel, Vicecomodoro Zini

May 25th:

OF 1237, call sign ZEUS. C-204 was flown by Lt. Osses, as part of the section led by 1st Lt Mariano Velazco. VHF system broke down so Osses was forced to abort and return to base. Velazco’s bombs sunk HMS Coventry (see http://modelingmadness.com/reviews/mod/us/cala4.htm)

May 28th:

OF 1254, call sign CUNA, armed with 3 x 125 kg bombs. Capt. Carlos Varela in C-204, Ensg Moroni, Lt. Roca. Their target was a ship that was attacking BAM Darwin / Goose Green during the ground combats for that location. They took off from Rio Gallegos, refueled from a KC-130 but found bad weather and were unable to locate their target. They returned without contacting the enemy.

June 8th:

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are important discrepancies among the actors of this air combat. The actions told hereby are as described by each protagonist, but sometimes they don’t match the perspective of the other witnesses. You can draw your own conclusions.

After the successful attack to the ship unloading troops in Bluff Cove in what was later called the Darkest Day of the Task Force (Sir Galahad destroyed, Sir Tristam and HMS Plymouth seriously damaged by A4-Bs and IAI Daggers), the Argentine Air Force decided to send a 2nd wave to further damage the troops or ships in the area. The V Brigada component was sent into action following

OF 1296: MAZO call sign. 1st Lt Danilo Bolzan (C-204), Ensg Guillermo Dellepiane (C-239), Lt Juan Arraras (C-226). Bolzan had volunteered to return to action (he was an instructor at the Air Force Academy in Cordoba) and this was his second mission in the war after some refreshment sessions in the Vta Brigada Aerea in San Luis (first mission had been the day before when a section he was part of failed to find an enemy ship)

OF 1297: MARTILLO section. 1st Lt O. Berrier (C-212), Ensg Alfredo Vazquez (C-228), 1st Lt Hector Sanchez (C-231)

Berrier returned with problems in his oxygen supply just before the in flight refuel, while Dellepiane’s plane experienced problems in his engine (RPM fluctuations) and also returned to Rio Gallegos. The new formation was now Bolzan (1), Arraras (2), Sanchez (3) and Vazquez (4). After flying thru rain and clouds, they entered the Soledad/East Falkland and flew from the South towards the target area, where they were received by British AA fire. Small guns and missiles were fired at them. It was impressive. Sanchez plane was hit multiple times and he could feel the little metallic noises caused by the shrapnel. They could see the fire and smoke billowing from the two large ships. When they passed the troops, they entered the sea again and turned south.

At the same time, flying in a racetrack circuit over Choiseul Sound and protecting mutually their tales, Flt. Lt. Dave Morgan (in ZA177) and Lt. David Smith (in XZ499) from HMS Hermes 800 Sqn were watching Foxtrot 4 (from Fearless) sailing towards the coast with a load of soldiers and a Land Rover. The sun was setting and they only had 4 minutes left of fuel before they had to return to their “Mother” for their first land in the dark. Their patrol had lasted at this point 40 minutes.

The controller in Puerto Argentino told the Skyhawks that their objective was further to the West. In the turn, Vazquez surpassed Sanchez who accelerated to overtake #4 and get back in position.

Bolzan saw the landing craft Foxtrot 4 from Fearless and turned sharply right towards it. So tight was the turn that 1,2 and 4 crossed in front of Sanchez and he was forced to jump over them again, gaining height. Now he was positioned behind and to one side of his formation.

Morgan suddenly saw a plane very low approaching his protégé. It was Bolzan.  He called Smith on the radio: “Four Mirages below. Follow me down!” Smith at that point was giving his back to Foxtrot 4 so he reversed violently his turn and dove to the sea. He had lost track of Morgan who was diving at 600 knots towards Bolzan. At that moment, Sanchez look behind and to his left and saw splashes in the sea. Morgan got close to the Skyhawks a little bit too late, as the first Argentine plane dropped his bombs. Apparently these fell 100 yards beyond the landing craft though one of the bombs dropped by Bolzan could have hit Foxtrot’s bow. Arraras attacked in turn and hit the ship squarely with his 3 bombs. Morgan at that moment realized that there was not only a second enemy but also a third (Vazquez), who were flying parallel to him on his left. He suspended his chase of Arraras, turned left and fired a missile to Vazquez who was closer to him.

Something called Sanchez attention to his right. He looked in that direction and saw a couple of Harriers at the same height and 500 meters to his 3 o’clock that at that moment were firing their Sidewinders. Sanchez only had time to warn his friends: ”Break! Missile in the air! Two Harriers!” Bolzan broke south while Arraras and Vazquez turned north. Things happened really fast. In that small fraction of time, the missiles had eaten half the distance to the Argentine planes.

Arraras saw the missile chasing him and reversed his course to apparently force the missile to run for a longer distance and run out of fuel. But the Sidewinder followed his movements, cut into his turn and exploded close to his tail. The Skyhawk seemed to be untouched, gained height and Arraras ejected. The nose and wings fell to the sea. The other missile entered the exhaust pipe of Vazquez plane, which disintegrated in a fiery explosion that killed the pilot instantly. Suddenly, in front of his windshield, Morgan found a parachute with the pilot hanging from it like a rag doll, arms and legs extended. The ejection had been successful but it seems that Arraras was either dead or had passed out due to the violence of the hit with the air or any other injury provoked in the explosion. He was never seen after he fell in the water. Some versions claim that his parachute was also partially on fire.

Shocked by what he had just witnessed, the death of two of his friends, Sanchez did not do anything for some seconds. When he finally reacted, he looked for the Harriers in the original position. It crossed his mind the idea of attacking them but he remembered that his guns were jammed. The Harriers were not at 3 o’clock anymore. One was now at 12 o’clock, above him, and turning in his direction.  The Argentine proceeded to drop his entire external ordinance and start maneuvers to avoid being shot down.

Dave Smith had not been able to locate Morgan but saw the explosions of the two missiles and planes. Morgan, by then, was trying to shot down Bolzan using his 30 mm Aden guns. His HUD was not working and therefore he was not able to aim properly. Those splashes on the sea showed Smith where the target was, and visually extrapolating backwards and slightly to the left he then saw Morgan for the first time after their dive. When he emptied his guns, Morgan shot upwards to return to HMS Hermes as he was short of fuel. “Sharky” Ward and Steve Thomas from HMS Invincible 801 Sqn were arriving to the area to take over the CAP and announced so on the radio. From far away, they could see the planes as little dots and the streak of the Sidewinders in the air.

Bolzan was looking for the island in front of him and trying to evade the gun fire he was under, a term called “guns jink”. Almost out of range, running at 600 knots and no higher than 100 feet, Smith fired his missile. He was unsure if he had fired his missile to the other Harrier CAP and was really worried but then he heard on the radio that Ward and Thomas were still there and were commenting on who had fired that missile. Morgan looked back and saw the Sidewinder flaming out but some instants later it detonated close to the tail of C-204. Out of control, the Skyhawk smashed on the ground, exploded and killed Danilo Bolzan. With no more enemies in sight and really short of fuel, Smith also climbed up and returned to HMS Hermes, where him and Morgan completed their first successful night landing.

Sanchez was now flying very low, maneuvering violently to shake off any potential enemy from his tail while taking a southerly direction. He was looking for the sheets of rain in front of him, as he knew that these could give him some sort of protection against the Sidewinders.


Ward and Thomas were about to chase the last Skyhawk when HMS Cardiff ordered them to climb to engage an Argentine CAP. It was a couple of Mirages that lured them away from the area and thus saved Sanchez. The Mirages, FLECHA, where flown by Capt. Arnau and Mj. Luna. With the British CAP on their tail at 12 miles, a second Argentine CAP (LANZA) flown by Capt Gonzalez and Capt Ballesteros gained the tail of the Harriers.
At that moment, the British dove away and the Argentine controller lost them in the radar.

But Sanchez’s problems had not ended. One of his drop tanks had not transferred all the fuel to the main tank and now he did not have enough gas to return to the continent. After flying some minutes very low to evade any potential enemy, he decided to climb to save fuel while he was calling the tanker to get close to the Islands to save him. The commander of the KC-130 asked:

-“Give me your position”

-“I don’t have it”

-“Read it in your Omega”

-“I don’t have Omega”

-“Turn on your IFF

-“I don’t have IFF. I am standard”

This means that Sanchez aircraft had only the minimum equipment. The plane with all the navigational aids in the formation had been the leader’s, C-204.

The tanker (commanded by Commodore Cano) got close to the island while loosing height, and Sanchez was flying west, gaining height. Finally, the Hercules started to leave a condensation trail as it changed to a colder air layer. Sanchez saw the trail and turned towards his salvation. Flying too fast, he overtook the tanker and had to turn very sharp to try again.  He was able to connect his probe to the tankers’ refueling basket. The commander of the KC-130 exclaimed: “You are safe!” but they could hear Sanchez distressed voice saying: “No sir, it’s not worth it this way. I have lost my 3 companions…” Having topped up his tanks, Sanchez returned to Rio Gallegos safely, the only survivor of this mission.

The combat, from the moment the Morgan spotted the planes until Bolzan was shot down, only lasted 90 seconds.

Bolzan was found by some locals and buried in the same spot his plane had crashed, but later on he was taken to the Argentine Cemetery in Darwin.

Vazquez and Arraras were 2 of the 4 survivors of the 8 that attacked HMS  Glasgow and HMS Brillant on May 12th. That means that out of the 8 that took part in that attack on May 12th, only 2 survived the war (Zelaya and Dellepiane).

These kills made Dave Morgan the top scoring pilot of the war with 4 victories, and the 2nd and last kill for David Smith. These were also the last Sea Harrier victories in the war.

I want to remark that there is an important discrepancy between Sanchez and the Sea Harrier version of the events, and that is that according to the Argentine pilot, both Harriers initially fired a missile each and that these 2 Sidewinders impacted Arraras and Vazquez (one kill for each). Then, as Morgan is awarded 2 claims, then he is the one that would have shot down Bolzan. The British version of the events is that Morgan fired 2 missiles first and that Smith shot down the 3rd Skyhawk (Bolzan). Regretfully, both versions are irreconcilable at the time of writing this article even though I have checked again with the protagonists.

Foxtrot 4 sank that night, while efforts to tow her to safety failed. The list of casualties is as follows:

Royal Marines

* Marine Robert D. Griffin
* Colour Sergeant Brian R. Johnson, QGM (from Foxtrot 4, Johnson had saved the life of Argentine Pilot “Tom” Lucero from the cold waters of San Carlos when he ejected from his damaged Skyhawk A4-C late in May)
* Sergeant Ronald J. Rotherham
* Marine Anthony J. Rundle

Royal Navy

* Marine Engineering Arfificer Alexander S. James
* Leading Marine Engineering Mechanician David Miller

As a postscript Dave Morgan and Hector Sanchez are now friends and have met in a couple of occasions, keeping in touch via email. 


This kit was in fact built many years ago as C-222, the famous Tordillo. It was the only all gray Skyhawk in service in the Air Force in 1982. When we moved to Canada I brought all my model kits by ship, inside boxes full of Styrofoam. During inspection at Customs, it looks like someone did not believe the description of what was inside the boxes, opened some and broke several of the kits. One of those was my Tordillo.

It lost several critical pieces like: canopy, main landing gear, nose landing gear doors, main landing gear front doors, one main wheel, arrestor hook, some bombs, pitot tube, left slat and flap, an Omega antenna, landing light, some arms of the landing gear system…For a moment I thought about throwing it away or using it as spares. It stayed in that derelict state for many years.


Some months ago I decided to fix it, by making the missing parts using resin copied in rubber casts. One thing I noticed is that the gloss varnish I had used to give the plane a gloss coat of the decals had now yellow. It was Humbrol.  As now the entire plane had a yellowish hue, I also made the decision to stick it in bleach to remove the paint. Sitting the plane on different parts of a plastic container full of this solution, I avoided having bleach entering the cockpit. So luckily there was no need to repaint the interior! In this picture you can see the yellowed gray, the original base paint without varnish and the gray plastic. Note the untouched interior and original Tordillo decals.

The dorsal Radome is a mix of the original HC one and a part I had made in resin originally.

The one-minute resin had the disadvantage that it dries too fast and does not run everywhere, especially when the casts have complex shapes (i.e. front doors of main landing gear). As a consequence, these were made up of up to 3 different doors that were partials or had air bubbles. The nose landing gear had a corner missing and I added some plasticard. I used a two-part plumber epoxy glue to fix all the parts that required attention. Some areas in different color show the epoxy.

As there were some bubbles in the new slat, I considered that a light gray color scheme would make them stand out. So I picked a different plane to build. This was C-204, the last Skyhawk lost by the Air Force in the war.

Once all resin parts were fixed and cleaned, I glued the legs. The bomb supplied by HC (spares box) has the wrong fins but overall the right shape. So I cut out the front of the fins (they are square and not triangular like HC depics) and the bomb was ready. The configuration of the plane is the one that Carballo used on May 21st.



The undersides were the first color, in RLM65 from MM Acryl. Then I moved to the top cammo with the red brown (MM Acryl 4707). After masking these colors with blutac, the green was sprayed using MM Acryl 4708.

 I left the red areas exposed. That was the next color, along with the black around the guns.

Finally, the wing tips and tail were masked and the yellow ID bands were applied. These ID bands were applied to all the Skyhawks just before May 1st and later on some of those planes had them overpainted in dark brown. C-204 was not the case, based on the clear pictures of the remains of the plane. These pictures clearly show that the bands were ALSO painted under the wings.

I added some stains here and there, specially around the moveable surfaces (black pastel sanded and dry brushed). These surfaces were also highlighted with a very sharp pencil.

With a brush I painted the red rims of the landing gear doors. The arrestor hook was painted in bands of white and black.

Three or four coats of Future sealed the colors and pastels and then I applied the decals.


Serial numbers and the flags on the tail came from a HC sheet that I had left from other Skyhawks I had previously assembled. Roundels, stencils (including the one for the Mk-17 nicknamed the bombola by the pilots as it was a mix of bomb and ball/rock) came from Aerocalcas.

But one thing that I did not have was the “4” for “204”. So I took them from the Carpena decal sheet, which has black numbers (Sheet # 48.38a).


Tanks were glued in place, along with doors, hook, rest of landing gear and wheels, guns, VHF and Omega antennas, bomb, top ejection handle (original, I still don’t understand how it did not get lost with many other parts), slats and flaps.

The entire plane was given a coat of satin varnish.

Two pitot tubes were scratch built and painted. I made a new gunsight and glued two mirrors to the canopy (it is a vacuum canopy made by Falcon). Codes are #53 for Falcon and True Details 48710 for the mirrors. With this, I glued the canopy in place and the kit was finally finished (or restored!)


Most of my friends tell me that they would have thrown it away or used it for spares. I am glad that will some extra work I was able to recuperate this kit, and now I can use the Hasegawa A4-B to make the Tordillo some day.

Thanks to:

Hector Sanchez and David Smith for their extensive contribution and all the time they dedicated to try to get the historical part of the text as accurate as possible.

Exequiel Martinez for his painting, Allan White for the pictures of crashed C-204, Pablo Carballo for his support and finally to Steve Thomas for sharing his experiences.


Hostile Skies, Dave Morgan

Falklands Air War, Chris Hobson

Los Halcones no se lloran, Pablo Carballo

Dios y los Halcones, Pablo Carballo

Guerra Aerea en las Malvinas, Benigno Andrada

A4-B Skyhawk, Nunez Padin

Historia Oficial de la Fuerza Aerea Argentina, volume VI, book 1 and 2

 Pablo Calcaterra

April 2010

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