Italeri 1/72 KA-6D Intruder
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The KA-6D was a tanker version of the Intruder, created by conversion of existing Intruder airframes.
Grumman had tried out a buddy midair refueling pod underneath a conventional A-6A (BuNo 147865). In addition, Grumman fitted an internal refueling package into BuNo 149937. But these projects never proceeded any further because of a lack of any perceived need for a tanker Intruder.
However, in 1968 the Navy changed its mind and Grumman was finally given authority to proceed with a tanker version, designated KA-6D. The first KA-6D was obtained by modifying BuNo 151582. It first flew on April 16, 1970, crewed by Chuck Sewell and D. R. Cooke..
The KA-6D was fitted with an internal hose-and-reel refueling package, with the drogue fairing protruding from underneath the rear fuselage. It could also carry a D-704 refueling pod on the fuselage centerline. The D-704 acted as a backup to the internal refueling system, and provided its own power via a ram air turbine mounted on the front. The radar and most of the DIANE equipment was removed, but the KA-6D still retained a visual bombing capability (which was seldom exercised). There were only minimal controls provided for the second crew member, whose duties were now navigation and the monitoring of the refueling operation.
A total of 90 KA-6Ds were produced by modifying existing Intruder airframes. Although all of the planes used airframes that were originally built as A-6As, 12 of them had previously been upgraded to A-6E standards. When rebuilt from A-6As, the KA-6Ds received all new fuel tanks, with two fuselage bulkheads being replaced. There was extensive rework of the outer wing panels. The aircraft was completely rewired. The Omega global inertial navigation system was fitted, with the entire suite being controlled by an ASN-41 navigational computer. For typical missions, the KA-6D caries four fuel tanks on the wing pylons. The D-704 is sometimes carried as a backup to the primary hose-drum unit, or as a means of ferrying the pod to other units.
The first deployable Intruder squadron to receive the KA-6D was VA-176, which received its first tankers on September 25, 1970. Each deployed Intruder squadron typically had 3 or 4 KA-6Ds assigned to it for the tanker mission.
There was always the ever-present danger that the refuelling hose could become stuck in the deployed position after a refuelling operation and could not be reeled in. While the refueling hose is deployed, the carrier arrester hook could not be extended and it would be impossible to land on a carrier. The unfortunate aircraft would have to find a land base very quickly or the crew would have to eject. In order to prevent this from happening, there was an emergency explosive cutter which severed the hose and allowed it to drop into the sea.
Italeri's line of Intruder kits is a nice one. The kits have engraved detail, and provide the option of folded wings. It is a bit more detailed than the equally nice Fujimi offerings. The cockpit provides raised detail on the instrument panel and a decal for this panel if one wishes. The side consoles have no decal and will need to be painted. A four piece bang seat is provided for each crew member and it has some molded on belt detail. When it comes to attaching the windscreen and canopy, you can model the canopy open.
Typical of A-6 kits everywhere, there are inserts for the lower fuselage and compressor face pieces for the intakes and exhaust. Speed brakes can be posed open, but these were generally modified to be in the closed position. Both perforated and solid speed brakes are supplied. Since the kit does offer folded wings, you have wing stubs to deal with and then outer wing panels to attach. The instructions initially show you building the kit with wings folded, but you can also build them spread. Holes for the various pylons are already opened for you. A full suite of fuel tanks are also included.
Instructions are well drawn and you have Italeri acrylics for color references as well as FS 595 numbers if using other paints. The very large decal sheet provides four options, all of them in light gull grey over white. As the KA-6 was not a combat aircraft, they generally retained the more colorful paint scheme right up until the end. Those units are VA-176, VA-35, VA-75, and VMA-224. The decal sheet is very nicely done and includes the black nose anti-glare panels as well as the upper wing/fuselage walk areas.
Thanks to these kits not being all that expensive (as things go), one could easily add one or two to their collections without having to take out a loan. Often people overlook these older kits and that is a shame because they are well done and a good value for the money.
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