Skyhawk A-4E/F Hot Rod
comes with RNZAF markings
The Douglas A-4 is one of
aviation’s great success stories. It was a small, delta-winged single-engined
jet fighter that was highly agile, nearly supersonic and could carry a hefty
payload. Designed by Ed Heinemann (of SBD Dauntless fame) it was originally
intended as a nuclear bomber, but over the years it was a fighter, close-support
aircraft, bomber, aggressor (as in the classic 1986 film
Top Gun), interceptor, trainer,
target tug and air-to-air refueller.
Between the prototype
XA4D-1’s first flight in 1954 and the delivery of the last A-4M in 1979, close
to 3000 Skyhawks were produced. The type was first blooded in the Vietnam War,
seeing active duty with pilots of the
Navy and Marine Corps. The Israelis used them in the Yom Kippur War, the
Argentinean air force and navy flew them against the
forces in the
War, and the Kuwaiti Air Force used them in
They eventually saw service with ten
different countries around the world, and upgraded examples remain on the front
A-4SUs now relegated to training duties in
examples also now trainers alone. Examples are also flown by civilian companies
for training duties, and there are even privately-owned “warbird” A-4s on the
circuit. However many are now consigned to museums, their distinctive howl lost
from the skies.
be honest, I’m not sure how old this kit is (the artist’s signature on the box
art is dated 1989), where it came from, or how many boxings there are. But I do
know I’ve built it before, and remember it as being nice. This one has quite a
bit of flash.
The kit seems to be fairly old,
with all panel lines being raised and some deep lines around the speedbrakes.
There is a very simple cockpit with seat-tub combo, no sidewall detail, stick
and a raised-detail instrument panel. The gear doors are all moulded in the
closed position and will need to be cut, there being no option given for an “in
External stores are
limited to a centreline fuel tank and rocket pods for the inboard wing pylons.
Any of the available weapon sets would probably add greatly to this one. The
canopy is very thick, but with the pretty Spartan cockpit that’s probably for
The box says A-4E/F,
but the fuselage seems to represent an A-4M with the ECM(?) pod on the tip of
the vertical stabiliser. The instructions point out that this should be cut off
immediately, along with the pitot tube below. The only real options that seem to
be there relate to the vertical stabiliser, there being two different tips to
use one the A-4M pod is removed; and the choice of the early straight refuelling
probe or the later curved one.
sheet gives the modeller two options, both
Navy aircraft in grey over white: A-4E Bu.No.151040 from VA-45 aboard USS
Intrepid in 1973, and A-4F Bu.No.154973 from VA-212.
The Royal New Zealand
Air Force flew the A-4 for more than 30 years and this, combined with their
much-debated retirement, means that the type has quite a following here. As a
result this Skyhawk kit gets an additional decal sheet from the importers,
giving the modeller the option of six RNZAF A-4Ks from 2 and 75 Squadrons. The
decals are the super-lo-viz black markings as used from about 1997 to their
retirement in 2001, and aren’t really suitable for this kit as the aircraft
underwent a major airframe and avionics upgrade (including removal of the dorsal
“hump”) before this time. This either means major surgery, or (my choice)
putting the sheet aside for another, humpless kit. Coincidentally, this kit was
actually available with only RNZAF decals as a Flying Kiwis bagged kit, as
reviewed here by M2’s previous resident Kiwi, Mark Fordham (he opted to remove
the hump – please check out his great build review).
Based on what I’ve seen of the
kits, this is not the nicest kit out there, but it is cheap and both readily
available and (with the extra decals) good value for money.
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