Revell-Monogram 1/48 A-6E Intruder

KIT #: 4578
PRICE: Around $30 when it was last available
DECALS: Two options
NOTES: 2004 Reboxing, used Verlinden Update Set, Cutting Edge Resin Intakes, Royale Resin Wheels, SAC white metal landing gear and Terry Dean Noseweight




“Fighter pilots make movies.  Attack pilots make history.”


The A-6 Intruder was designed by Grumman in 1957 as an all-weather medium attack jet replacement for the A-1 Skyraider.  Originally designated A2F-1, the Intruder entered the fleet in 1963 as the A-6A thanks to SecDef McNamara’s unified naming system.  The airframe was later spun off into the A-6B (anti-radar), the EA-6 Prowler and the KA-6D tanker.  Only the EA-6B Prowler still flying today till it is replaced by the EA-18G Growler.


It saw action in Vietnam as the primary all-weather attack plane of the US Navy.  Flying in the worst weather, when the transistor based DIANE system was working properly, the Intruder proved to be a very useful attacker with it’s amazing payload and range.  Only the F-111 could match and exceed the capabilities of the A-6 as it had a more sophisticated terrain following radar setup and did not require fighter escort or ECM support.  The A-6 bombed “downtown” aka Hanoi/Hai Phong, bridge busted, attacked “suspected” truck parks and dropped many of the mines that shut down Hai Phong Harbor in 1972.  A total of 84 Intruders were lost over Vietnam due to various causes (mostly AAA.)


The A-6E was introduced in 1970 with a brand new integrated circuit electronics suite which provided to much more reliable.  In the early 80s, the A-6E were refitted with the TRAM (Target Recognition and Attack Multi-Sensor) turret which contained a FLIR, laser designator and computer.


The Intruder would serve with the US Navy in the various hot spots of the 70s, 80s and 90s.  Proving itself in Lebanon (one A-6 shot down by the Syrians), Libya (El Dorado Canyon) and the Gulf War II in 1991 (three A-6s lost) thanks to its extensive use of Laser Guided Bombs.


By the late 1980s, it was discovered that the Intruder airframes and wings were starting to crack due to the stresses caused by controlled crashes known as carrier landings endured over some 20+ years of service so the Navy decided to fund a stealth version (aka the A-12 Avenger II/Flying Dorito) and develop two interim versions known as the A-6F and A-6G.  Unfortunately, this happened at the same time the Bush Administration and Navy discovered that the United States could not afford a 600 ship navy, SDI and several major aircraft programs while the primary enemy, the Soviet Union, collapsed from internal pressures, exhaustion and environmental and financial collapse caused in large part by military spending.


The A-12 proved to be a costly failure and was cancelled by SecDef Dick Cheney along with the A-6F and, later, the cheaper A-6G.  This left the Navy without any real medium attack capability going into the 21st Century.  Despite what McDonnell Douglas salesmen claimed, the new E/F Super Hornet would not carry the payloads or have range the Intruder did.


Anyway, the Intruder was soon phased out of service and flew its last missions in late 1996.  The last Pacific Fleet Intruder squadron was VA-196, whose early 1980s markings were used for this Intruder.


Unfortunately, the A-6 was not lionized successfully on film like its fellow Grumman Product, the F-14.  The movie version of the Flight of the Intruder is just awful so one would be better off to just skip it and read the Stephen Coonts novel it is based on and it’s sequel, the Intruders, instead.




This is the only 1/48 A-6E kit available (assuming Trumpeter doesn’t make one in the next few weeks after this has been written.)  The parts have raised panel lines (doesn’t bother me) and simplified detail plus a noticeable amount of flash that needs to be cleaned up.  It makes an okay model out of the box, but I happen to really like this double ugly bird and so I wanted to go the extra marathon on this one.


I originally bought this kit when I became more “serious” about the hobby (hint:  the AMS bug had bit me hard at the time) and soon after bought the Verlinden Update set.  When I looked at it, I realized (surprisingly, I might add) that I didn’t have the skills to do this justice and left the Intruder alone.  A couple of years later, I purchased the excellent (and now out of production) Cutting Edge seamless intakes from Meteor Productions to replace the very shallow kit intakes.   Later, I bought the heavy nose weight from Terry Dean.  During the build, I purchased Royal Resin’s flattened tires for the A-6E and SAC’s A-6E metal landing gear.




Construction actually started several years before when I removed all the resin pieces from the mold blocks and hand painted the ejection seats, adding hand painted copper wire ejection looks.


I started on the plastic side by hacking out the port side crew ladder and kit intakes as I was going to replace it with the Verlinden resin piece and Cutting Edge Intakes which are much deeper than the kit ones.  I thought about doing the starboard side ladder as well, but decided against it (that was a smart choice, looking back.)  At this time, I also removed the refueling probe because I suspected (later confirmed) that if I left it on that it would be a pain in the butt when filling/sanding the nose seams.


The Cutting Edge intakes had their mold plugs removed and the intake fans were hand painted silver and when dry, hand painted silver.  I then spent a lot of time adjusting, trimming, sanding and fiddling with the intakes till they fit.  I only glued the starboard one in place while leaving the port side one alone till I could fit the ladder well in.


One of the problems I immediately discovered was that there is such thing as too much aftermarket. as the Verlinden crew ladder did not line up with the Cutting Edge intake as both were too thick--the Verlinden set was based on using the kit intakes while the Cutting Edge Intake walls were rather thick.  It took a lot of careful hacks with an Exacto knife, wood carving tools and a bit of sandpaper to thin everything down to fit and just barely.  Of course that was before I added the PE walls and they were too deep for the ladder well.  I tried leaving them in and sanding them down which worked till one of the PE walls broke off.  I went to plan B and cut/bent them to size.  It is at moments like this when one wonders about adding aftermarket, but I was committed to do this because I didn’t have much of a choice.  It’s not perfect, but most folks aren’t going to notice the flaws (except here of course.)  There were also obvious gaps that were covered up using plastic card.


The cockpit was next.  Unfortunately, the Verlinden cockpit isn’t an exact fit and there were noticeable gaps between the tub, the rear deck and the fuselage.  I filled in those areas the best I could using plastic card and CA glue to fill the gaps between the rear deck and fuselage which was then carefully sanded down.  It didn’t occur to me till later that I didn’t need to be so fine as that portion of the rear deck could only be barely seen through the rear canopy.  I glued several strips of thick plastic card to add some structural support for the tub.


At this point, I added a Terry Dean noseweight as the Intruder is a definite tail sitter.  This one didn’t fit as well as the other ones I’ve used, but I suspect that has more to do with the ejection pin marks and flash in the interior.  Anyway, Terry’s noseweights are an excellent value and I do recommend them if you need weight for a complex shape/tight fit. 


When I test fitted the arrestor hook, I realized that it does not fit very well and there were massive gaps all along the interior.  I used 40 and 10 thou thick plastic card and Vallejo White Putty to deal with the gaps.  At this point, I took a long look at the nose wheel well  assembly and noticed the same thing and used the same materials to fill it in.


Next, I glued the wings parts together.  No major issues.  I only did a rough fill and sand job on the turbo jet exhausts which would later come back to haunt me. 


The fuselage halves were glued together, but I had to remove the nose gear doors were removed as I needed the space to fill and sand the gaps around the intakes.  It took some careful work to remove and then add them back in when I was done.  I left the midsection interior piece off till that work was done.  Once I was satisfied with the results, I glued it into place.


I glued on the stabs last and then began the painful job of sanding/filling the many seams several times.  At this point, I left the project alone because I had other matters that needed to be dealt with.


When I returned to the plane, I worked on the cockpit rear deck.  This area is very prominent whether or not the cockpit is open or closed.  I followed the Verlinden suggestions and used the PE, wire and other bits provided to make the necessary cockpit details.  I made my own cable harnesses and glued everything into place with PE.  This didn’t take as long as I thought.  Unfortunately, the PE ejector seat supports were more of a headache and required to be redone several times as I screwed up the alignment.


I test fit the unpainted control panel to the shroud.  It did not have the best fit.  I used 10 Thou thick plastic card and plastic putty to fill in the gaps before I glued the control panel into place on the shroud.


The interior and control panel were sprayed with Gunze Dark Gull Grey and once dry, I hand painted the cockpit details using Tamiya and Citadel paints.  The instrument panel used several PE parts, but kept most of the detail.  This required very careful painting and I’m proud of the result.  I then masked off the console and sprayed the shroud flat black.


The console assembly doesn’t have the greatest support, so I made a tab/support from 30 thou plastic card that was glued to the underside of upper nose coaming.  I needed to adjust it when I dry fitted the console assembly in place.  When I was satisfied with the positioning, I glued the console into place and masked off the interior bits.


Finally, I added the old style perforated speed brakes.  I just glued them in place rather than positioning them open as I didn’t want to do all the extra required work.  I filled in the gaps using Vallejo plastic putty.





The 1960s-70s light gull grey and insignia white navy planes is the most colorful era for Navy jets.  I must admit that I prefer this look over the grey/grey/grey/grey versions which are more practical.


The Intruder cockpit was masked and the plane was preshaded with various colors from other builds.


I saw from the photos that even CAG birds were not entirely pristine thanks to the harsh ocean environment and rough life of a carrier plane.  I opted to use a technique I learned to do to represent that.  I first sprayed on a light coat of flat white across the plane’s axis and then sprayed a second light coat along the plane’s axis.  I do this to improve paint coverage.  Once done, I spray a third coat with emphasis on thinning out the dark areas and reduce the number of obvious patterns and panel lines by randomly filling in areas.  This generates a rather multi toned coat that represents muted stressed/dirty paint that isn’t entirely focused around on panel lines.


Once the paint was dry, I masked off various areas that needed to remain white and sprayed on Gunze Light Gull Grey in the same way as described above.


One of the problems with the RM paint guide is that it doesn’t cover everything.  The “Sea gull” painted Intruders had walkways marked out in Dark Gull Grey.  A quick look through Google Images showed most if not all had at least walkways marked out on the base of the wings and stabs and centerline.  I opted to do the walkways on the wings and stabs.  This required some careful masking, but the walk ways were done (and some retouching was required as it turned out that my tape placement wasn’t as good as I thought.)


Also, there is a noticeable black band in front of the cockpit.  It took several attempts to cut masks, paint and then repaint till I got the thing right.  At the same time, I also painted the refueling probe.


A big model like the Intruder sucked up a lot of paint and required a lot of touchups especially around the nose to get the dividing line between the white, light gull grey and black band correct.  It was during the decaling stage when I noticed that my exhausts were not as well sanded as I would like and that blast deflectors needed to be painted steel.  I used some CA glue, let it harden then took a rolled up sandpaper and sanded it the best I could without destroying any of the detail or decals.  Once it was done, I masked the area off using Tamiya tape and Post-It-Notes to keep from destroying the decals and painted the interior flat black and the exhausts/blast deflectors burnt steel.


I added the metallic leading edges using aluminum foil and Micro Metal Foil Adhesive.  This was actually easier than masking them.


Once done, I sprayed on two coats of Tamiya clear acrylic gloss for the decals.



I opted to use the kit decals for the hi-viz Light Gull Grey over Insignia White CAG bird of VA-196 when it served aboard the USS Coral Sea in the early 80s.  I couldn’t use the Grey-grey-grey low viz decals even if I actually wanted to as I used them for a What-If build for my version of a US Navy Stealth Attack plane, YF-19A


The RM decals went on okay using MicroSet, but some were stubborn and required cutting with a knife and some Solvaset.


One error found by a forum member was the wing/fuselage insignia.  The RM instructions is that the larger US insignia is supposed to go on the wings, not the fuselage.  I didn’t redo them because I used Solvaset and I didn’t want to do all that work again.



Intruders, even CAG birds, were not the cleanest birds in the US Navy inventory.  After I glued in the SAC white metal landing gear, I started to weather in stages.  I first did a watercolor wash of the interiors of the landing gear wells and landing gear (it was then when I realized that I could have added a lot more detail, but I stuck to my build philosophy of “if I can’t really see it then I ain’t building it.”)


Once that was done, I glued in the landing gear doors and weathered them (with the same watercolor wash) and the underside.  Next the topside using the same said wash.  I kept the hydraulic fluid and oil stains down to a minimum as the CAG bird was kept cleaner than most, but even a CAG bird gets dirty.


Next I removed the excess wash and decal solution using slightly damp Q-Tips.  After it all dried, I sprayed down two final coats of Tamiya Clear Gloss for the final coat.




In between painting stages, I glued on the SAC landing gear using CA glue which provides more detail and strength than the kit landing gear.  I did have to trim the mounting peg of one leg, but otherwise it wasn’t a big deal to add.  The only prep work that I did on the landing gear was bend them back into shape and add various tiny bits to them before painting and adding a wash.


The refuelling probe’s base was sanded flat and then glued back on using CA glue.


Next added were the ejection seats using CA glue at the base.  I also added the HUD to the console using white glue.


I used the resin rear canopy deck instead of the kit supplied one.  However the fit is rather poor as there is a step between canopy and rear resin piece.  I filled it in white white glue and left it as is (in keeping with my mantra of “it’s not a contest model!”)  The canopies were masked and painted at the same time as the plane.  The rougher resin portions of the rear canopy deck that weren’t supposed to be seen were exposed so I adjusted by masking the canopy more shallow in the rear so the paint could hide those areas.  I used the PE parts which were all painted flat black to spruce up the interior and these parts definitely do with the mirrors and grab handles.  Plus they proved to be the all too common side effect of AMS, exercise in frustration, as I used white glue to keep them in place.  It seemed that all I needed to do was look at them wrong and they fell off.  Plus they are actually a little longer than the canopy pieces so one needs to trim them to get them to fit in without breaking anything in rage.  After several hours of frustrating work, I finally glued the canopies in place.


I’ve said this before, but I really dislike doing ordinance, especially those on “modern” aircraft as they have complex shapes and there is a lot of it (it seems like more when you have to fill and sand everything.)  Having selected the non-TRAM A-6E, I opted to use the kit non TRAM warload of eight Mk20 Rockeye Cluster bombs and 12 Snake-eye Retarded 500 pounders.  Yay... 20 times the “fun.”  It took several sessions to finish the necessary sanding and filling as I got bored very quickly.


Painting was quicker as I used flat white on the Rockeyes and Tamiya Olive Drab on the Snake Eyes.  Once the base coats were dry, I masked off the areas that weren’t supposed to be yellow.  I sprayed flat white on the noses of the Snake Eyes so that the yellow would be brighter.  Once done, I added the sway braces, painted them steel and then glued them to the racks which were glued to the wings.


I did not have fun building the all PE port crew ladder.  If I had half a brain and a soldering iron, I would have used the soldering skills I picked up engineering school to solder it together but instead I used CA glue and it took a couple of frustrating nights to get it sort of right.  The easy and fun part was bending the PE into shape.  The hard part was keeping everything together with CA glue.  I finally figured out how everything was supposed to stay together.  I build the ladder without the actual door and gluing the steps in first.  It was messy with CA glue residue, but it was covered up by the paint.  The part was primed with flat white and once dry, I masked off the exterior portions and painted the rest red.  Once dry, I did a water color wash for the interior and glued it in place using CA glue.


Finally, I added flattened resin tires from Royal Resin.  These just needed to be removed, cleaned, drilled out, painted, weathered and then glued in place using CA glue.



The RM 1/48 A-6E Intruder is the only game in town (at present) for those who like building 1/48 jets.  The basic kit is a nice build OOB, but one will need to use a lot of aftermarket details to improve things such as the simplified cockpit and intakes if one wants to make a more detailed model than what the kit provides.


Unlike what has typically happened in my misadventures in super detailing, I am very happy that this did not turn into a frustrating rage inducing mess and happy with the result.



F-111 by Bill Gunston


Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts

Dan Lee


May 2010


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