Italeri 1/72 KA-6D Intruder






Two Aircraft


Scott Van Aken




The US Navy has needed carrier-borne tanker aircraft since the late 1950's when it realized that its jet aircraft didn't always have enough range when fully loaded. There was then a mad scramble to find an aircraft that would fit the bill. Generally, these were planes whose mission had disappeared and were available for modification. The first of these was the AJ Savage. It was followed by the KA-3 Skywarrior and finally by the KA-6D Intruder. Currently the main plane for tanking is the S-3B Viking, though there is no airframe modification as there was with previous aircraft.

This is due to the D-704 and other 'buddy' tanks. These are carried on a pylon and allow transfer of fuel from the aircraft's fuel tanks to the receiving aircraft. The buddy stores also are able to carry a small amount of fuel as well. Currently, most tanking is provided by USAF KC-135s and KC-10s, though to rely on assets that you cannot rely upon seems silly. At least the USMC has had the foresight to equip itself with KC-130 tankers to handle most of their needs.  It has never failed to amaze me that this vitally important job has never been fully appreciated by the Navy. Though I'm sure there is not and probably never will be a budget for such a thing, a dedicated fleet air tanker should be a priority.


Italeri's kit of the KA-6 is a real beauty to behold. Detailing is crisp and engraved, there are a oodles of parts and you have options. Those options are for an open or closed canopy, open or closed speed brakes, raised or lowered boarding ladder, and the choice of having the wings folded or not. You also get a lot of drop tanks as the KA-6D was festooned with them on every available pylon.

Those of you thinking that you can do a regular A-6 with this kit will be a bit disappointed. Though all the bits are there for an A-6A, there is no TRAM pod for the A-6E, no bomb racks and no bombs! You could get these from the appropriate Hasegawa Weapons set if you really wanted them, though.

As it typical with modern kits, there are all sorts of fiddly bits that were designed into the kit so that most of it could be used to do different variants. As a result, you have separate hinges, separate wing fences, and separate speed brakes. Don't forget nose weight otherwise you will get a major tailsitter.

Instructions are superb as they have been for some time. The directions are clear and all paints are referenced to Model Master brands which is very nice. The decal sheet is for two aircraft during the early 1990's; actually their last fling in service. Unlike the regular A-6s, the KA-6Ds were not painted in the low-viz tactical paint scheme, but in the nice gloss light gull grey over white. The decals look very nice and are quite thin. Markings are for a VA-196 bird  circa 1993 as is shown on the box art. The other is for a VA-95 plane from 1991. You get a nice selection of stencil data and the walkways on the sheet which is a very nice touch.

Overall, this really looks like a super kit. I have not built it, but would like to hear from those who have.


Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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