AMT/ESCI 1/72 A-7D Corsair II
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II was a carrier-capable subsonic light attack aircraft introduced to replace the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. The A-7 airframe design was based on the successful supersonic Vought F-8 Crusader, although it was somewhat smaller and rounded off. The Corsair II initially entered service with the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. It was later adopted by the United States Air Force, including the Air National Guard, to replace the Douglas A-1 Skyraider, North American F-100 Super Sabre and Republic F-105 Thunderchief. The aircraft was also exported to Greece in the 1970s, and Portugal in the late 1980s.
The United States Army has not been permitted to operate fixed-wing combat aircraft since the establishment of an independent United States Air Force in 1947. To meet its need for close air support of its troops in South Vietnam, the Army pressured the Air Force to procure a specialized subsonic close air support fixed-wing aircraft that would suit its needs better than the general-purpose supersonic aircraft that the USAF preferred.
The Vought A-7 seemed to be a relatively quick and inexpensive way to satisfy this need. However, the USAF was initially reluctant to take on yet another Navy-designed aircraft, but Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was insistent. On 5 November 1965, Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown and USAF Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell announced that they had decided to order a version of the Corsair II, designated A-7D, for the Tactical Air Command.
The A-7D differed from the Navy's Corsair II in several ways. For one, the Air Force insisted on significantly more power for its Corsair II version, and they selected the Allison TF41-A-1 turbofan engine, which was a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Spey. It offered a thrust of 14,500 pounds, over 2000 pounds greater than that of the TF30 that powered the Navy's A-7A/B Corsair IIs. Other changes included a head-up display, a new avionics package, and an M61A1 rotary cannon in place of the two single-barreled 20-mm cannon. Also included was a computerized navigation/weapons delivery system with AN/APQ-126 radar and a head-up display.
The USAF A-7D flew a total of 12,928 combat sorties during the Vietnam war with only six losses – the lowest of any U.S. fighter in the theater. The aircraft was second only to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress in the amount of ordnance dropped on Hanoi and dropped more bombs per sortie with greater accuracy than any other U.S. attack aircraft.
I found this kit in with the sale items at the LHS. The tag inside stated 'Parts from two kits'. Well, this was correct and after looking things over, I decided to pick it up. AMT's instructions did not include a parts layout, but after sleuthing what was in there, I found that the only things missing were the Shrike and Maverick missiles along with their pylons (the 'J' sprue). Not a major loss as I have Hasegawa weapons sets that include these items and the odds are that when building the kit I wouldn't include these items anyway.
Molded in a brown plastic, this one has nicely engraved panel lines that would look good on any modern molding. There are no ejector pin marks on the inside of gear doors or on wheels or gear legs. Why ESCI could pull this off 30 years ago and some better known companies couldn't is beyond me. The cockpit tub is adequate with a bang seat, control stick, and instrument panel. One uses decals for instruments. A decal for the seat harness is also provided. I like having these included as they are better than nothing and not everyone wants to either make a harness or buy an aftermarket one.
Wings are a full upper surface with an insert for the lower inside. This insert has the two inner pylon areas already drilled out. The outer pylon is a butt join and all pylons are single piece moldings. To model folded wings, the builder will have to do some surgery. To my knowledge, the only 1/72 A-7 that can be built with folded wings is the Matchbox kit. For things under wings you have a pair of drop tanks, a TER and MER with lots of Mk 80 bombs to attach to them. You can also mount either Shrike or Maverick missiles, both of which are appropriate for the USAF version of the Corsair II. I should mention that there are fuselage mounted Sidewinders, but these were frequently not installed so for most cases one shouldn't bother attaching the pylons.
Landing gear is well done and it seems that the wheels included are appropriate for the USAF variant (Navy wheels were a different design). The nose gear is lacking the catapult bar, which is correct. When ESCI tooled this kit, it appears they did different sprues for the USAF and USN versions. This sprue includes the proper antennas (including the Pave Penny pod under the chin) and vents for each version. On this kit one gets the upper fuselage refueling receptacle that is typical of all but the earliest 68-xxxx serial A-7Ds. Those earlier planes had the USN style probe so keep this in mind when doing your build if using aftermarket decals as the USN bits are not included. Finally, the clear bits include a separate windscreen and canopy so you can model this open. Frankly, without an aftermarket cockpit, it would be best to keep it closed as the cockpit is rather Spartan.
Instructions are well done providing FS 595 color references. There are three markings options, all in SEA or similar camouflage. One in the standard four color SEA scheme is with the Greek Air Force's 388 Filo (that may be the 338 Filo). The two US Air National Guard planes are in the SEA wraparound scheme of three colors. The box art plane is from the 120 TFS, Colorado ANG, while the second option is with the 149 TFS, Virginia ANG. The latter is in the markings before they started using tail codes. The decals are well printed, but typical of AMT decals are quite glossy and quite thick. ANG A-7Ds wore all four of the camo schemes used by the Corsair II so with the use of aftermarket decals you can have quite a selection.
Of all the 1/72 A-7D kits, I would put this one in second place behind the Fujimi kit. The main reason for this is that the Fujimi kit has a bit better detail in that things like the edges of gear doors are thinner and it comes with a full intake. The AMT/ESCI kit does not having an intake about 1/2 inch deep. The AMT/ESCI kit also does not have nose pitots and a few other minor bits. That being said, it is just as nice in terms of shape, especially when compared the seriously flawed Hobby Boss kits and has more detail than the very basic Matchbox offering. As you can see, the kit can be found for very little money and it will build into a nice representation of this important aircraft.
One final note. As nice as this kit may be, their 1/48 A-7 is a complete disaster and should be avoided at all costs.
Thanks to me for the preview kit.
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