Hasegawa 1/48 A-4M Skyhawk
|PRICE:||Currently $38.00 SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Base release 2004|
When Hasegawa embarks on doing a series of aircraft, it goes at the whole thing methodically and rather slowly. For instance, it took over ten years from the initial 1/48 A-4E/F Skyhawk release until they finally did a TA-4J, missing out on the opportunity to sell the kit while the plane was still in service. Fortunately, it did not wait quite that long until it brought out the A-4M, with this box having a 2004 date on it. Typically Hasegawa will bring out a standard kit which will be available pretty much forever. It will then base a bunch of other kits and variants on the base boxing which is where we get all the limited editions. This is the basic boxing.
The initial run of this kit added a small photo etch fret that includes instrument panels, brake lines, canopy mirrors and a few other bits. It would have been nice to have had a seat harness, but there you are. This fret was marked Dragon USA, who was the Hasegawa importer at the time and undoubtedly added this goodie to the kit. To my knowledge, this is no longer happening since Dragon USA is no longer the importer and this fret will not be in the current boxing. The etched fret comes with its own set of instructions.
So how is this kit different from the initial A-4E/F boxing? Well, aside from decals, Hasegawa has developed a new sprue to take care of those differences. The main airframe, wings and landing gear are all the same as before. What isn't the same is a new nose, a new avionics hump, a new fin tip, a new instrument panel, new cockpit anti-glare panel, and on the clear sprue, a new windscreen and canopy. There are also a number of additional antennas that are part of the variant. You also get to use the drag chute housing on this version.
The rest is the same with separate slats, flaps and speed brakes. There is an insert for under the fuselage aft section to take care of the chaff/flare dispenser. You will also need to open holes for pylons, the boarding ladder and a few other bits, so pay attention during the build. You will need weight in the nose. No weapons are included aside from the two wing root cannon, but you do get the large fuel tanks.
Markings are for two aircraft in light gull grey and white from 1976/77, before they went to greys. One is the box art plane from VMA-331 with the black fin. The other is from VMA-214 which has a blue rudder and a nice stripe on the fuel tanks. Hasegawa's decal sheet offers the tail markings without the backgrounds if you wish to paint those areas (often a good idea). The large decal sheet is very nicely done with wing walk and nose anti-glare panels. Also on the sheet are the interiors of the flaps and slats, which will save some painting if you wish to go that route. These are the 'old' decals with the whites that are off white and are a bit thicker than what you might like. However, no worries for the Skyhawk fan as there are lots of aftermarket sheets out there, some of the older ones being sized for the ESCI kit, though they should fit with a bit of fudging.
Until someone goes through the expense of a new tool kit, this one is it. Actually, I have heard little in the way of fussing about the kit aside from all the inserts, but that is pretty well the way it is with modern kits. This one is tons better than the old ESCI kit in every way except in ease of construction. What would have been nice would have been a fin tip that doesn't include the ECM antenna so one could built an initial production A-4M before they were all retrofitted, but those really wanting one of those just needs to break out the plastic card and sandpaper.
Thanks to me for this one.
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