Fujimi 1/72 A-4F/TA-4J Skyhawk
|All of the Blue Angels aircraft|
|Builds either an A-4F or TA-4J|
The Blue Angels are the premier US military aerobatic team,predating the Thunderbirds by at least ten years. They first started flyingGrumman Hellcats, then switched to the Bearcat, then on to the Panther, Cougar,Tiger, Phantom, Skyhawk and now fly the Hornet. Until just recently, the Skyhawkwas the aircraft with the greatest longevity and was finally phased out in1986/87 by the F-18 as it was thought that a newer aircraft would be moresuitable for the team.
The A-4 was chosen in the early '70s over the thundering F-4because it was felt that the Skyhawk was more fuel efficient than the Phantom.Those of us who were around at the time, recall that this was a time of one oftwo 'oil crisis' where OPEC had cut back production and raised prices. Therewere long lines awaiting gasoline in the US so it was felt that the A-4 would bethe most Politically Correct aircraft to field. Actually, the Skyhawk wasn'tthat much cheaper to operate, but the perception was there.
What resulted was a totally different display team. The nimbleA-4 was basically the opposite of the brutish, powerful F-4. By adopting theSkyhawk, the team now had an aircraft that was much more aerobatic than before.This allowed for a tighter display and the ability to keep much of theperformance in front of the audience. In case you hadn't noticed, US flightdemonstration teams are a lot of zoom and flash where the aircraft scream infrom different directions and perform maneuvers in front of the crowd beforedashing off into the distance. European teams do a more flowing display,changing from one formation to another in sight of the crowd. They also tend touse trainers, whereas US teams use fighters.
Anyway, pilots of the Blue Angels really liked flying the A-4.Accidents were quite low and maintenance was comparatively easy. However,everything comes to an end and they were replaced by the F-18s that you seetoday. It seems as if the F-18 will be the longevity champion as there is noother type yet in fleet service to replace it!
Fujimi's 1/72 Skyhawks are without a doubt, the finest A-4scurrently available in any scale. They are quite modern kits with engraved panellines and engineering that allows for all different variants to be kitted byadding or deleting certain sprues in the box. In addition to making the kitquite accurate, it also makes it a bit fiddly to build. However, the result iswell worth the work as the kit is superb.
Molded in dark blue , there are enough bits and piecesto make either an A-4E/F or a TA-4J. There are both single and multiple piececanopies supplied as well as the option for the speed brakes to be open orclosed. There are also underwing and underfuselage fuel tanks provided. Leadingedge slats and trailing edge flaps can be displayed in the lowerd position ifdesired. The cockpit is quite complete with instrument panel and console detailsbeing provided by decals.
Outer wing pylons and bomb racks are provided but these are notused by Blue Angels aircraft. One other thing is that the leading edge slats onBlue Angels planes are fixed in the up position. What you don't get with thiskit that is offered on other Fujimi Skyhawks are weapons. That sprue has beendeleted from the kit. Not really a problem as your spares box or the HasegawaWeapons Sets will provide any you need should you decide not to do a BAaircraft.
The instructionsare superb, offering clear instructions. There is a separate section for boththe single and twin seater, even though many of the steps are duplicated. Neededcolors are referenced to Gunze paints and shown where applicable. As you mightguess, the only decals provided are for the Blue Angels, however you can modelany of the seven aircraft on the team. These include all the flashes and othermarkings, so you don't have to paint on any of the markings.For those notwanting to do a BA plane, there are enough aftermarket Skyhawk sheets around tolet you do a number of other aircraft. The only problem will be covering up theblue plastic, but a good primer coat should eliminate that problem. The kitdecals appear to me to be a bit too orange when compared to the box top photoand I'm not sure how well they will work against a dark blue background, thoughFujimi decals have shown themselves to be pretty opaque.
Overall, it is a really nice kit and one that builds into asuperb model. I can recommend this kit to anyone with intermediate buildingexperience. The many small bits make this kit unsuitable for beginners. Thoughthe kit has been OOP for a number of years, it can still be found.
Here is a photo of the TA-4J version of this kit that I builtabout 12 years ago. It is done in non-Blue Angel markings.
Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!
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