Italeri 1/72 A-7D Corsair II

KIT #: 1237
PRICE: $10.00 at the bargain bin
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: John Anthony


“The A-7 is not very fast, but it sure is slow.” Such was the verdict of many a pilot that flew the “short little ugly fat fellow”, or SLUFF. But the Corsair IIs were never built for speed like their sleek, sexy cousins the Thunderchiefs and Super Sabres – the A-7s were the plodding, steady, and reliable pack horses of US air power for an entire generation. The overall usefulness of the A-7 is attested to by the fact that the plane lived the entire life cycle of a military aircraft, from state-of-the-art strategic fighter to trainer. It was utilized extensively by the US Navy and Air Force, going through no less than sixteen variants, and eventually found operators in Greece, Portugal, and Thailand. Many extant A-7s can be found in air museums throughout the United States.

An exhaustive survey of this ubiquitous aircraft can be found in numerous sources so I’ll dispense with any history. The Wikipedia “A-7” article is a good place to start for a general overview, and it lists a number of references for further reading.


Friends of mine that closely follow the vicissitudes of plastic from one boxing to another assure me that this Sluff has gotten around, being offered at various times by ESCI, ERTL, AMT, and Italeri. I can’t vouch for the veracity of that however, this being the only A-7 that I’ve built. The kit comes in a lightweight cardboard box with art that depicts an Ohio Air National Guard plane, flying over what appears to be the Grand Canyon. The contents include several sprues of moderately soft gray plastic with engraved panel lines of the correct width and depth for the scale, two clear canopy pieces, reasonably straightforward instructions, and decals for three variants. There is some flash that needs to be cleaned and the parts are molded onto rather heavy sprues – one needs to be careful extricating the smaller pieces to keep them intact. The kit has about sixty pieces altogether – not a big build at all, but certainly not less than one would expect from an average build in 1/72, a scale in which less detail seems to be the norm.

Before we get into the construction I should say that if you are a rivet-counter and concerned with the exactitude of certain details, this is not the kit for you. I superimposed an image of the model over Vought’s line drawings of the D variant and discovered that the horizontal stabilizers are incorrectly shaped, and the wings are a bit too narrow as they move outboard. Despite those flaws however, this kit builds into a decent representation of the aircraft in most of its features, and only the most erudite of aerophiles will notice the discrepancies. It certainly walks like a Sluff and talks like a Sluff.


I tried to devise a creative way to say that construction begins with the cockpit but came up empty-handed.  Well, let’s pretend I did and get on with it. This is a rather Spartan tub – the assembly of a few pieces, a dab of paint, some decals, and you’re done. The decals for the instrument panels are crisp and more than sufficient to the cause in 1/72. I toyed with the idea of replacing the simplistic ejection seat with some resin, but decided to save my spare parts for a better kit. Now all that remained of the innards was to paint the exhaust and add some weight to the nose – this model is a tail-dragger and needs a good dose of lead. While the paint and glue dried on these parts I assembled the wings – they consist of two pieces each: the main section, and an inset on the underside with holes to receive the pylons. These insets don’t follow panel lines on the original aircraft so the gaps have to be filled and sanded.

After I mated the fuselage halves a bit of sanding removed the seams on the topside but the underside had more serious issues – the pieces met with a slightly concave join that would have required some deft surfacing work to correct. I opted to simply apply a bead of putty and sand it out, leaving well enough alone. I was approaching this project as a purely recreational build, a joy-of-modeling sort of thing, and wasn’t at all concerned with churning out a show-quality product. I then attached the wings and horizontal stabilizers and filled the gaps between those pieces and the fuselage – my airframe was ready for the addition of the external tidbits.

This kit has a decent amount of detail when it comes to externals: a refueling probe, radome, pitot tube, various intakes etc., but the instructions are vague when it comes to their placement – often all you get is an arrow pointing to a general location on the fuselage. Photographs of the aircraft are indispensible when attaching these parts, and you can also find Vought’s own cutaway schematics of the A-7D with a Google search. Once I attached all of these external parts, I ran a small bead of Tenax-7R into the joins with a 0/5 brush to close the gaps, and checked my work with a coat of Tamiya Gray Primer.


I chose the scheme pictured on the box, partly because of the distinctive tail art, partly as a tribute to the all-but defunct Ohio Air National Guard. Most of the reference photos I found pictured ANG Corsair IIs with a Medium/Gunship Gray wrap-around scheme consisting of broad, smooth lines. That differed considerably from the angular, pointed scheme in the 4-view of Italeri’s instructions. I didn’t find any photos of this particular aircraft, so I assumed that the designers at Italeri had some information that I wasn’t privy to, but that’s suspect. (The scheme on the box art doesn’t match the painting instructions.) At any rate, I meticulously masked and painted the model according to the directions in the box and what you see is what you get. I still don’t know whether the paint job is true to life but it does have a certain aesthetic appeal, and for a weekend armchair modeler like me that’s good enough!

This kit is quite old and the decals were dry and brittle – they needed a generous bath in hot water to coax them loose. They are beautifully printed however, and they settled quite well with an application of Solvaset. Only one roundel on the underside silvered.


I now painted and assembled the landing gear, doors, external stores, and canopy without any ado. The A-7s have rather complicated gear door systems that utilize four separate covers – installing them all at the correct angles in the open position isn’t difficult but it takes some time. I propped them up with bits of clay as they dried so that they wouldn’t move around, then I installed the gear. The instructions include a front view of the open gear doors that can be referenced for their placement.

 The external stores only needed a bit of sanding to remove the seams. I then painted the stores and used homemade decals for the various stripes. (I can never seem to paint a straight line around ordnance in this scale.) There are a number of armament options suggested in the instructions and I chose a full load-out with Sidewinders, drop tanks, Mk. 82s, and Mavericks. This bird was built to carry a substantial amount of payload, and I wanted it to look the part. (A complete list of the external stores offered in the kit is as follows: 2 Aim 9Bs, 10 Mk. 82 Snakeyes, 2 500 gallon fuel tanks, 2 AGM 65Ds, and 2 AGM 88 HARM Anti-radiation missiles.)

Finally the canopy pieces were painted and attached. The Corsair II canopies had a yellowish sealer between the frames and glass and I simulated that with more homemade decals. They are admittedly too thick but in 1/72 mine are already about half a millimeter wide and frankly, that’s the best I can do. Perhaps a better solution would have been tracing the frames with a pointed felt pen.

I used the FOD cover supplied with the kit as there is a total lack of intake trunking.


 Why would a modeler want to build this kit when there are more accurate and better detailed offerings in 1/72 from Fujimi and Hobbyboss? There are two reasons: economy, and experience. I found this kit in a bargain bin for $10 and it’s the type of kit that you can use to hone your modeling skills. I built many models when I was a child and only returned to the hobby in my middle-age, botching a handful of expensive kits in order to learn basic techniques. I should have been practicing on a project like this one – as usual, education is expensive, and hindsight is 50/50. That being said, this kit does build into a reasonable representation of an A-7D, and it doesn’t present the average modeler (like myself) any insurmountable challenges. Furthermore it’s a brief, facile build that yields a pleasing result – I spent about 10 days working on it, an hour here and an hour there, and enjoyed every minute.

I built this kit a while ago, when I was just beginning to take up the hobby as an adult. I would definitely build it again. But as a slightly more experienced modeler, I would forgo the paint scheme in the instructions and use the wrap-around scheme provided in Hobbyboss kits and various decal sheets, as they appear to be more accurate. I would also fade the colors, not only for the scale effect, but because in real life these aircraft mostly weathered by sun-bleaching. The Hasegawa weapons kit would also make a nice addition, upgrading the external stores. (A number of modelers on the internet have done a fabulous job building and modifying this kit, and it’s worth searching those projects out if you’re interested in building it yourself.)

As a final note, I had this model displayed on the mantle until a few days ago, when the kids got into a scuffle and sent it on its maiden flight. I thought it faired quite well, dropping a few Mk. 82s and decimating a village of pernicious dust bunnies. Once its stores were replenished, the model was safely stowed in an area where children are NOT allowed upon pain of lengthy grounding. Happy modeling!

John Anthony

(I looked for a slide of this plane in these markings, but apparently that one is already gone so here is one of the same aircraft at an earlier time in the SEA Wrap camo. As you can see, not only do ANG units keep the same plane for most of their lives, but they keep them in superb condition as well. Ed)

November 2010

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